If your restaurant has a Facebook account, you might want to become a fan because sometimes you can find out what’s going on in your restaurant quicker than you can find out through the grapevine or preshifts. This is possible especially with larger chains that might do regional promotions or test promotions that haven’t hit all of the stores. It can also give you a sense of the corporate culture. Are the powers-that-be dinosaurs that don’t understand social media and the internet and have just started a Facebook account because they’ve heard about this social media thing and don’t want to be left behind? Or are they überfreaky nerds who have decided that the operation can’t survive without social media? Perhaps they are “scientists” who decide to use Facebook as their own little chemistry lab, trying this and that little micro-promotion in order to see if they can get 50 people in their bar at 7:30 on a Monday night through the use of “shooters for a penny”.
In any case, if you haven’t checked out your restaurant’s Facebook page, perhaps it’s time you started.
You might not want to become a fan though. First of all, it gives your corporate office a direct link to your own Facebook account. As I’ve written in the past, an impulsive status message after getting stiffed by a prominent actor could cost you your job. Plus, do you really want Corporate to know that you are a fan of The Dead Kennedys, that your political affiliation is anarcho-syndicalism and that the last book you read was The Phantom Tollbooth? Do you really want them to know that you’ve linked to this blog as well as Waiter Rant, Crazy Waiter, and Serving Trash (What, you haven’t linked to us yet? What in the hell are you waiting for)?
There are plus sides to becoming a fan. One is that you get updates through your newsfeed. Perhaps you have nothing worrying on your profile – perhaps it might be a plus that you are proud enough of your restaurant to participate in its social media methods. You might even be able to draw attention to yourself to potential call parties my marketing yourself through notes or status updates. For instance, you might do some micro-micromarketing by offering to buy a free appetizer for any guests that “mention this note” between June 1st and June 15th. This is a very sketchy sort of thing because first, you have to find a way to drive your potential guests to your own newsfeed. Of course, you need to make sure that this sort of offer is OK with your GM/corporate office and you also should be careful not to abuse this by surreptitiously having the restaurant buy those appetizers because, “They waited a long time for their entrees – can we buy their appetizer” sort of scam. Keep in mind that this sort of thing could cost you some money and only you can decide whether it’s generating more business for you personally. While it seems unlikely to make a big impact right now, as the fanbase for your restaurant grows, the possibilities could increase geometrically. I have actually seen restaurants be successful in driving a “Facebook only” event. Perhaps you could find a way to do this for your own section. Think outside the box. However, you should always vet something like this through your GM (who can do the checking with Corporate to make sure that it’s allowed).
This idea of using the restaurant’s own Facebook page is a function of thinking outside the box because, unless you have authorization to use the restaurant’s Facebook account, you really have no way to identify yourself as a waiter. You’re just one of a thousand fans of a Facebook account. But I mention it because perhaps one of you is clever enough to figure out a way to make it happen. Obviously, the simple solution is simply to write on their wall…but this doesn’t give you the ability to write a more interesting “note”.
A more likely strategy is marketing through your own network. This is really no different from telling someone who you met at the bowling alley that “I work at Pedro’s Tex-Mex Emporium. You should check us out – our food is great and if you ask for me, I’ll take care of you”. Doing it through Facebook leverages this sort of personal networking. Once again, you should weigh carefully whether you want to out yourself as a waiter in a particular restaurant. First of all, it makes it more likely that your own restaurant could find out that you are on Facebook. Second of all, if you have a wacky stalker, it’s like giving them crack. You’ll never know if they might come in and stalk you in the restaurant.
Obviously, this all applies to other social media such as Twitter.
Just remember, posting on social sites is “forever”, even if you delete a particular posting.
Here’s an example of a posting that might or might not work for you:
Special offer for my friends!
If you come into Pedro’s this month, ask for me and mention this note, you will get a free upgrade from well to topshelf on up to 4 drinks per meal.
Pedro’s is also offering a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees and is also rolling out the new “Chef’s Specials” portion of the menu this month. One of the new highlights is our brand new Chicken Chocolate Chimmichanga with raspberry mole sauce. It’s delicious!
I look forward to serving you in June!
<insert cute photo here>
Note that you have to be careful offering any type of drink modification due to local regulations. In some places, it’s actually illegal to “give away alcohol” and the above posting could be interpreted as contravening said statute. You also obviously have to make sure that this is OK with your GM and that you can actually follow through with it (in other words, you have to make sure that the Assistant GM is in on it because if only the GM knows, other managers might not be prepared to do any discounts for you). You might even be able to get the restaurant to fund this if they are interested in seeing how much effect it might have to have an individual server drum up business on Facebook. But even if they aren’t willing to fund it, they might OK it for you to do as long as you pay for it out of your own pocket. You’ll need to make sure that they have a way to allow you to pay for the difference in price, which could be difficult.
I hope I’ve given you food for thought here. Better minds than mine are reading this post. Get your thinking caps on! This applies to managers as well as waiters, especially managers in restaurants that rely on four-walls marketing:
PS, I take no responsibility for any outcomes should you decide to use Facebook or any other social media outlet. All readers should do their own due dilligence and are responsible for their own actions.