Food Service Bootcamp # 5 Appreciate your Service Leaders

There is a big difference between bringing the food to the table and really serving the table. To serve, one needs to have a service mindset. Recently I led a service delivery session with a group of experienced servers and found some sad attitudes that can prevent good service and be the downfall of your business. Unfortunately, they are more common than you think.

Being in the hospitality business requires, as obvious as it sounds, a need to be hospitable to those people being served. Some servers seem to resent being a server of people. I know that this sounds simplistic, but if you do not have servant heart then find another career. If you frequently hear things like: “they can wait”, “whatever, I am not their servant”, or “they are just rude”, you need to act. These types of attitudes are not sustainable in this industry. If anyone on your team thinks of their role as just a job to get you through school, and they seem to do it with resentment, then you are doing them, yourself, and the guest, a huge disservice. Please put a stop to it. You cannot allow this attitude to fester in your restaurant. Whether you are short-handed or not, for everyone’s sake, point them in the direction of an alternative career. That attitude can be like a disease and spread quickly in your restaurant!

A server must be organized, able to multi-task, be able to read people, be passionate and knowledgeable about the food, the drinks, the menu, the city and practically any other subject. They must be a good listener, know how to work as a team and support other team members, and be a leader - one who is not afraid to speak up when working with the kitchen, the leadership, and support staff to help solve issues that may arise.  Your star servers will be excited to talk with their guests, take pleasure in making someone’s day, and enjoy the challenge in turning that frown upside down - and if they cannot [which does happen] then they will do their best to be happy, cheerful and efficient!

Great servers are many, and you can see if you watch, who they are. They glide through the restaurant with grace and a big smile connecting with your guests. Identify and recognize these service leaders when you have them on your team; give them space and support and let them rub-off on everyone else. Appreciate them in any way that you can: for they are worth far more than you can imagine in bringing back repeat business and setting the level of service for the rest of the team.

“Service is an attitude. You either have it or you don’t” … Certainly food for thought!

Russ Blakeborough, Managing Director, is a Food & Beverage consultant and thought leader with Focus F&B.