I seem to be on a service rampage as of late, but my last two months of dining have been riddled with enough poor service to make me want to stay home to eat.
In fact, if it wasn't my job to eat out and report the results back to OnMilwaukee.com, and I was just a normal diner, I probably would stay home from now on. It would certainly be much cheaper and less frustrating.
I am truly fascinated by how much money servers these days are losing for themselves tip-wise, and for their restaurant owner in purchases. Those of us who have worked the industry know that usually, if you offer average or better service, the higher the customer's tab, the larger the tip you will receive.
So, wouldn't it just make sense to try to upsell me to a Korbel old fashion sweet instead of assuming I just want rail? Why won't you offer me dessert or coffee? If you have a dessert menu, or a dessert tray, why wouldn't you bring it out to show me? Do you seriously want to get rid of me so badly that you can't offer me dessert?
Let's assume the average server sells 30 mixed drinks an evening, and let's assume that the difference between rail and call is $2 a mixed drink. That is $60 the restaurateur isn't getting in his pocket every night, and $9 in tips (assuming 15 percent gratuity) the server is cheating herself out of.
Based on a five-day work week, that's $300 per week or $15,600 a year in lost revenue for the restaurant per server! And the server is walking away with $2,340 less annually than she potentially would by simply asking, "Did you want that with "Ketel-One/Korbel/Tanqueray/insert other call brand liquor here?"
Let's assume that same server sells dessert and coffee to five people every night. The average dessert cost in Milwaukee right now hovers right around $7. Coffee is likely an additional $2. So, for every dessert and coffee sale, the server is ringing an extra $9 into the register every night. Why would you not want to do this?
From a diner's perspective, maybe sometimes I'll stick with the rail rum over Mount Gay, especially if I'm doing a frou-frou type cocktail, but you know what? It's nice to be asked. And maybe I won't sample your homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on this visit, but gee, it looked so good when you showed me the menu, that I may just have to check it out next time.
I guarantee, if you ask me, most of the time I'm going to at least want to see that dessert menu or tray, and watch out -- if the person next to me is eating a crème brulee, I'm probably going to order something, too.
What a great way to put more money in your and your boss' pockets -- by making your customers feel like you care enough to ask if you can make our experience better.
Regarding this comment: "What happened to all the "service lifers" who could read the guests needs before they articulated them?"... if business owners want competent empolyees, they need to be paid a competitive wage and provide healthcare and retirement benefits just like every other job out there. None of this "server minimum wage" garbage. If you want people to choose to work in your restaurant forever, you need to offer employment that keep them from choosing another line of work. Not all servers are students looking for part-time gigs until they find a "real job". Make being a server their "real job" so they're proud of working there.
As a restaurant manager I can tell you it's more than just a little difficult to motivate your staff to do a simple thing that is going to make them more money. We train, we reinforce, I repeat myself endlessly and still I find that certain age group resists the chance to make their income multiply. What happened to all the "service lifers" who could read the guests needs before they articulated them? Are the legions of current server candidates so oblivious to customers needs that they stumble through their shift by saying " oh I'll be right with you", oh I'm sorry, I'll be right back with that...or offer a deer in the head lights look when a real problem occurs. It's really a frustrating time in the service industry. The quantity resists becoming the quality.
I disagree on the liquor upsell. When I place my order I know whether I want rail or call. I would think that others do also, at least in my circles. I do agree on the dessert tray though - show me the goods. It's a visual thing.
This is exactly why I never tip based on a percentage of the bill. I won't reward a server for not having good prices.
I'm just happy when I see the waiter write down my order. But here's my wish for restaurants everywhere: print out a current beer, wine, and drink list. Update it every day if necessary. Don't rely on a waiter to memorize it. List the prices and include any daily drink specials, if offered. I can't order a special beer if I don't know you offer it, and I can't read all your tap handles from across the room. It might even make you some extra money.
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