Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Restaurant Skills

There is a perception that working in the food and beverage industry is a half-assed career or time-buyer for people who want to make quick money and go out and blow all that money on alcohol and drugs. But I happen to disagree. It is not the most difficult job on the planet, but I would love to see some people who think they are above it to come try it out.

Waiting tables takes patience, communication skills, and planning like you would not even believe. On a near daily basis I deal with people who are having the best day of their lives and want to celebrate, people having the worst day of their lives and want to relax or blow off steam, couples on dates (just imagine how awkward this can be sometimes, then multiply the awkwardness exponentially), and many more scenarios. At one moment, I may be trying to diffuse a group of angry rednecks locals because I haven't had a moment to refill their Diet Cokes and Sweet Teas for the 6th time in a half hour, and the next moment I may be attempting to explain the difference between an oaky/buttery and an un-oaked chardonnay to a table who clearly has no idea about wine in general after not understanding that a red zinfandel is in no way similar to a white zinfandel. It can be downright difficult to make everyone happy all the time, but there is no harm in trying. After all, it is my job.

So, what skills have I learned while working in a restaurant? Multi-tasking, planning, and a multitude of other skills, but by far the most important is communication. I try to understand what my table wants out of me within the first couple seconds of meeting them. About 200% percent of the time my tables ask me about my name, so I can quickly gauge what kind of people they are and in what mood they are. Sometimes they are down to business and only want straight professionalism, sometimes they want to chat and make jokes, and sometimes they are rude and there is nothing on the earth short of a newborn puppy that will cheer them up. Without understanding who the person is and what they want, I would be completely lost, and an incompetent server.

I have always wanted to understand why everything is the way it is. Whether it was my golf swing, people's reactions in conversation, or tables getting upset with me when the food (which I very obviously did not prepare) is not up to their standards and expectations, I have always wanted to understand what led to the issue or problem at hand. Through this curiosity, what may have taken me decades to learn about behaviors, I have learned in a very short period of time the past couple years. Will this apply to the marketing world? ABSOLUTELY!!! I do not know how each company is structured and I will not know until I am hired and working, but I know I will be answering to people: people who may be having the best day of their lives, people who may be having the worst day of their lives, and people who may have just run out of Diet Coke. While they may not be sitting at a table waiting for food, they will be demanding some sort of service out of me, and I will know how to deal with them when confronted with any circumstance.

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