So You Want To Be A Waiter

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Daily Archives: October 27, 2009

Getting into holiday mode

As you might have noticed, my posts aren’t as frequent as they were during the summer. There’s a reason for that. In my market, Labor Day signals the start of the holiday season after the traditionally slow summer period. It’s a fits and starts sort of thing – shortly after labor day, you get an “Indian Season” – you get busy for a couple of weeks and then you get a reprise of the slow summer. Then it gets busy again, fooling the novice into thinking that the holiday season has started for good and then you get another slowdown as people start adapting to the change of weather and daylight hours. In my particular market, Halloween signals the beginning of balls-to-the-wall business, business that lasts well into February (January sees the return of all of those gift cards that were given for Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza).

Since Labor Day, my restaurant has been particularly busy, with the exception of a few short slow periods lasting four or five days. I work in proximity to the 3 major entertainment venues in town and you’d never know that we were still struggling with a teetering economy based on the attendance at these venues.

For those of you who are just getting into the business and are experiencing this phenomenon for the first or second time, fasten your seat belts. Now’s the time to get your head right. The coasting that you might have gotten used to is about to be passé. And you’d better get mentally prepared for it now or risk getting ground up like so much mulch.

The days of getting cut early are going to be few and far between. More double and triple-seating will occur more frequently. The days of standing around waiting on your first table are just about over.

This is the time when you’ll make the most money of the year.

Some things to consider:

Now’s the time to save some of your money so that you can get through the next summer. It’s hard to do when you are flush with cash, but just think back on how hard it was to get by this summer when everything was slow.

Now’s the time to think about getting ahead on taxes (read my previous post on this subject).

Now’s the time to adjust your party habits. You might have the constitution of an ox, but even beasts of burden can be beat down. You don’t have to live like a monk, but be strategic about how you party. This is not the time to get worn down. Flu is all around you and nothing hurts worse than to miss a couple of $200 nights because you had to call out (plus, this is the time when call outs really screw up your fellow waiters because the floor needs everyone).

Be on top of your game and try to focus 100% of the time. Now is not the time to get weeded over some silly little screwup. You’re going to get weeded simply because of the crush of business.

Now is a great time to be a waiter. The nights fly by because you’re busy. Your pockets are full of cash. The holiday spirit is infectious (better that than influenza!)

Enjoy the ride but keep your eyes on the prize.

PS, for those of you who work in summer resort areas, read this post next April or May…