Have you ever wondered how or why your server may appear to know a little more about you and your quirks? Why some guests may receive preferential treatment and you don’t? It’s not a mistake. There are notes on you! That’s right, there are notes on you. Your server knows more about you than you think. You know…the important things: good/ bad tipper, high maintenance, annoying, never happy, difficult, oh…yes, and then there’s the really important stuff …your food allergies, how many different mistresses you have and who is actually your real spouse. When my server told me this, my eyes popped out and I blurted, “Genius! This is just GENIUS!!!”
He shared some of the notes of actors in Los Angeles and of the difficult guests next to us. Then he showed me the notes on me. Phew. I am good. Of course, I am good! I was once a server!!! I promised him that I would not reveal the name of this establishment, but it’s for a popular restaurant group here in LA (they also have locations nationwide). Did I mention? These notes follow you.
Having been in the restaurant industry (I waited tables in college), we’ve had many discussions with servers and for the most part, they want their guests to enjoy their time. I’d like to share my top 10 Common Sense Dining Tips with you so that you can maximize your dining experience:
- Double check your check. I was always surprised at how often guests would hand over their credit card without looking at their check. Don’t do that. Your server can be balancing a dozen tables at once and can accidentally hand you the wrong check, unintentionally charging you the wrong amount. And yes, while this example is an accident, a fellow server I once worked with would consistently “accidentally” add a few dollars to the tip amount. Be sure to double check what your credit card charge is once it’s posted to your account.
- It’s HOW you ask. Do you think your server wants to run to the person who is snapping their fingers at them? No. I used to love it when my guests would start a request with, “When you have a minute, do you think you can…?” It’s easier to be nice. Be nice.
- It’s your server’s job to be nice to you. The nicer they are, the higher the likelihood that they may earn more money. They are trained to smile. They’re not hitting on you. Don’t flirt with your server. This objectifies them and makes for an awkward experience.
- Upselling, it’s a part of the game. If you know what you want, you won’t fall into this trap. Know what you want.
- There’s a schedule to things. You want to know when those eggs in the Cobb salad you’re craving were boiled? Just ask. Sure your server may lie and say daily, but an honest server may tell you that it was boiled last Monday, de-shelled, thrown in a large tub of water with about a hundred other eggs…yes, all on Monday!
- A person’s favorite sound is their name. Your server usually introduces him/ herself by their name or they have their name tag on. It’s pretty nice to be called by your name and you’d be surprised how this goes a long way.
- Karma. Servers believe in karma and don’t forget. A fellow server never forgot how he was belittled, so when the rude guest returned with his colleagues, he made sure that his credit card “didn’t go through,” and asked, “Do you have another form of payment.” Oy Vey!
- There’s a Sequence of Service. It’s annoying. Servers don’t like repeating it, customers hate hearing it…it’s part of the experience. Find a way to deal with it.
- The Secret Shopper. Most restaurants have a secret shopper program. Which explains why your server may be rigid. That…or they have no personality.
- It’s not your server’s fault. Or is it? Most mistakes are administrative (entered incorrectly) or the cook, or food runner made a mistake. It’s not a perfect system and many hands are part of this process.