Lyle's Blog

Service is a four letter word

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Let me prefice this by saying that all restaurants have good food. If they don't, they will soon be out of business because people will just stop coming. So, if you want your business to stand out, there is one aspect that you need to pay particular care to and that is service.

And service, in my opinion, can be wrapped up in one four letter word...."care". Let's take, for instance, the server. The most important aspect of a server that I look for is that they honestly care for the person that they are serving more than the money that is put on the table. To one degree or another, every one of my servers has that characteristic or they just won't work out on my staff. Any time that one does not have that, they generally don't last very long with us. And I am not saying that I fire them, I actually don't fire many people at all. They just don't fit in and most of them come to that realization quite soon and just move on.

A case in point is a recent server for us. She had worked for me 10 years back and she had a bright dynamic personality but I had forgotten that one flaw that she had. I quickly remembered it however when I caught her asking the cashier if a particular customer had tipped on their visa card. It brought back the memories of her past time. I instructed the cashier that she was not to give her any information regarding her tips other than the total at the end of the shift. I then began to pay more attention to the busing in her section. I would insure that I was the one picking up the tip and then when she would ask where they came from, I would say "Oh, somewhere in your section. I am not sure which table.". The fact that she didn't know where the money came from (even though she did pretty well) seemed to eat her alive and she soon moved on and is now serving in some other restaurant in this town.

Now, I am not saying that my servers don't have flaws. As a matter of fact, all of them have at least one. But, one thing that they all have in common is the care of their customer to one extent or another. I have one in particular who at times drives me up the wall with her other characteristics such as forgetting to put drinks on her ticket, not pricing out something, spending to much time with a customer when she has many others, not always paying close attention to her presentation, or not doing all of her backup. But that one part of her work outshines all of them and she is one of our most sought after servers. "She cares!". She laughs when they are happy, she cries when they are sad or hurt, and she takes the time to know them on a personal basis and I love her for that.

I have and will continue to preach that one word to every employee that I have. The dishwashers have to care enough to insure that cleanliness and sanitation of every plate and silver. The cook has to care enough with his or her food whether that be in preparation or in presentation and taste. The cashier needs to care enough to greet each customer and attempt to insure that their food and service was what they expected. And the server needs to show each and every one of their customers that they are important to our business. I am not saying that all of those things happen all of the time. I am saying that that is what we strive for, however.

BTW, I ran into another blogger today. I talked with Duncan on the phone regarding his father who is one of the Docs who meet twice a week in our diner. We really enjoy (Judy especially) the presence of the retired Doctors who were the foundation and the epitome of what medicine used to be in this town. Back then when a Doctor specialized in his patient not just a particular part of his body. We are truly blessed to have these guys come in a couple times a week and have coffee and talk. When I was 11 yrs old, I had to have emergency surgery. One of them put me under while another worked on me. I told the surgeon about that and he said, "Wow, I found a survivor!".

Anyway, Duncan told me to keep on blogging and I returned the greeting. I am sorry, Duncan, that I could not keep on talking. I was caught up in my responsibilities at the time. I realize that we both have something in common and that is we both remember Bend the way it used to be and in our own ways strive to keep that up in our own businesses. One day, I hope to be able to sit down and get to know you better.

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