So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Yeah, I know. It’s an old saw.

But for waiters, it’s true.

We all have bad shifts. We all have shifts where nobody seems to tip well. We all have periods where if it can go wrong, it will.

At those points, we have to look at the big picture.

That’s the point where you look at how much money you’re making over the long haul. It’s possible that you’re working in a restaurant that just doesn’t produce for you (or you don’t produce for your restaurant could be another possibility, I suppose).

If you have a couple of bad shifts but you average a respectable amount of money, try to concentrate on that. Bad shifts tend to run in trends, but, unless you are in a declining situation, the trend usually returns to normal within a few shifts. The same is true for great shifts. There are usually only so many great shifts that you can rely on. At some point, the average kicks in.

If your average is comparable to what others are making in your market segment, then you don’t have a lot to worry about. Just try to stick it out and continue to fine-tune your approach. Know that it will be better tomorrow (and if not tomorrow, then perhaps the day after that).

Also, try to remember that the economy has put a big burden on spending and the psychology of the consumer, just as it has put pressure on you. We seem to be slogging our way out of the bottom, but we’re not back to “normal” yet. One thing that you can be sure of if you’re a reasonably competent waiter working in a reasonably successful restaurant – you should do better this year than last year. Take comfort in that.

Tracking your tips can give you insights about your current situation. It can tell you if you’re slacking off or hitting your marks; it can tell you if the restaurant is flourishing or if it’s foundering. It can tell you how you’re doing in comparison with the past. But you have to put in the proper context.

The point is, don’t concentrate on the bad shift that you had yesterday – concentrate on the great shift that you’re going to have today. This isn’t just Pollyanna talk, it’s survival talk.

2 responses to “It’s a marathon, not a sprint

  1. waiterextraordinaire April 9, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Well put. I had a shit night tonight but tomorrow is another day.

  2. PurpleGirl April 10, 2010 at 2:40 am

    I’ve been trying to remember this; been having a string of thoroughly average but incredibly aggravating nights. Trying to remind myself that over the long term it’s worth the blood pressure increase!

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