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The difference between a void and a comp

Sometimes, waiters are confused about the difference.

A void means that something is removed as if it never existed.

A comp means that something was served but had to be taken off.

The difference is important in that a comp becomes part of the costs of the restaurant whereas a void doesn’t.

An example:

I accidentally ring in a N.Y Strip instead of filet. I immediately realize that I’ve miss-rung an item so I rush back and tell the chef, who puts the kabosh on the steak going on the grill. We didn’t cook it and so it was never “wasted”. Therefore, it’s a void. I re-ring the proper steak and all is well.

I don’t immediately realize that I made a mistake, so the steak gets cooked. Unfortunately, it’s at the end of the night and we can’t sell it. It gets tossed. That’s a comp (there are different categories of comps, as we will see shortly).

I don’t immediately realize that I made a mistake, but it’s in the middle of the rush, so the broiler person can actually use it for a different order. This is a void because the steak gets used.

The steak is miss-cooked. I ordered medium rare but the steak comes out medium well and we have to cook another steak. This is a comp.

I made a mistake and ordered medium well when the guest said medium rare. Another steak has to be cooked. This is a comp.

I made a mistake and ordered medium well when the guest said medium rare, but someone else made a mistake and the broiler person is able to use it for my steak. This is a void.

The owner’s brother-in-law comes in and the manager-on-duty decides to take off the steak as a goodwill gesture. This is a comp.

The MOD decides to take off an entree because the guests had to wait to be seated even though they had a reservation. This is a comp.

It’s important to get it right because a comp counts against inventory and can skew food costs or mess up inventory counts. A void has no effect whatsoever except to give management an indication about which servers are sloppy in their ringing up of food. Some managers will judge a server by the number, or lack of, voids that have to be done for them.

They are concerned about this because voids (and comps for that matter) can enable theft because a void (or comp) can be the fraudulent giving away of product to friends or valued guests (it was served but the server gets it taken off of the bill using subterfuge or fraudulent reasons). Also, if it’s a cash sale, the waiter can take payment but then get an unwitting manager to take off an item right as the guests are leaving. If this happens, the waiter gets to pocket the cash for the item without anyone being the wiser.

Plus, if a waiter rings in a lot of items that are wrong, this can be an indication of their general proficiency.

Hope this clarifies the difference. A manager will appreciate it if you can tell them upfront whether it’s a void or a comp.

3 responses to “The difference between a void and a comp

  1. deborah December 6, 2009 at 11:46 am

    How is the procedure of serving a bottle of wine at at talbe with two men and two women?

    • teleburst December 6, 2009 at 12:04 pm

      If a woman orders the bottle, then you present the bottle to her for tasting. If she approves it, then you pour the other lady first, then the two men and then return to the original lady and fill her glass last.

      If a man orders the bottle, then you present him the bottle, and when he approves it, you pour the two ladies first, then the other man, returning to the original man to fill his glass.

      For larger tables, sometimes it’s best to simply go either clockwise or counterclockwise from the person who ordered the bottle (whichever is either the standard in your restaurant or the most logical and comfortable) ignoring the sex of the next person. Just go around the horn. It can get a little distracting to bounce around trying to serve the ladies first, especially for really large tables. However, it’s always “proper” to serve the ladies first. so you have to use your best judgment and also to follow house policy.

  2. xoxbrianaxox December 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I have no confusion about what constitutes as a void or a comp. What I dont understand is that one night I ordered a few things that we ran out of on a busy night. My manager flipped out on me saying I costed the company all kinds of money and I got sent home…um only thing wasted was time and printer paper… how can voids cost a company money?

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