Tomorrow will be the last day as waiter.. at least for the moment. In two weeks I’ll go back to Rome, Italy for almost six months to work in an infopoint of Camping Fabulous, followed by a yoga teacher training at Samyak Yoga in India and traveling in Thailand and Indonesia. So no more tables, orders and guests anymore for this moment, but you know:”Once a waiter, always a waiter”.
And guess what will be the final song of CrazyWaiter – The Musical ??
In France there is a competition for being the best maître d’hôtel in the country. The maître d’hôtel is the person who runs the restaurant in the diningroom.
Often overshadowed by the chefs in the kitchen, the maître yet has a key role that this contest aims to promote, highlighting the excellence of the knowledge-how specific to the maitre: the kindness of his reception, his ability to put you at ease and guess your expectations, the range of its knowledge throughout the service, attention to detail, elegance and know how tho manage his team. “You have to be a star in everything!”.
The first thing the ten participants have to do is to dress a appetizer buffet in a beautiful, luxery way. “6 guests will enjoy a champagne or other beverage of your choice, which you can promote. This drink should not last more than 30 minutes. Champagne and 5 pieces of appetizers per person are provided.. “. It’s clear that you don’t put 6 plastic cups on a campingtable
Then they had to make a Crêpe Suzette, something you do normaly near the guests at table with sugar, orange zest and Grand Marnier. This was followed by the third test to see whether the maitre is able to manage a conflict between a chef and a waiter played by two actors, which reveals the ability of diplomacy and conflict management of the candidate.
After a little break, at 8 o’clock the big test started, serving a table of 5 people (of which one is a jurymember). Of course it was not made easy for the candidates with tricky scenarios etc.
And this was not the end, the next morning there were oral tests about the English language and general knowledge. And that is taken seriously in France, here are big books available with sample questions like:”When was the end of the era of the king after Louis XIII ?” (1715 of course).
After all these tests and examens there can only be one winner! This year Kevin Chambenoit has the honourful title of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France Maître d’hôtel of 2015. Félicitations !!!! He is F&B director of the Bristol Paris . In this luxery 5 star hotel in Paris there are 6 people working who won this prestigious competition (in different areas in different years).
Funny to know that monsieur Kevin participated in the test in solidarity with four colleagues and to see where he stood. “If you want to be demanding to your teams, you have to be strict with yourself. Lead by example.” How cool! A very interesting and inspiring interview with Kevin Chambenoit can be read here in French and here in Google translated in English
You can read an more extensive article about this competition here in French and here in English with Google Translate. (in fact this blogpost is an abstract of it)
… there was a beautiful lovely princess wandering around in a park. Suddenly she found on the floor a very very magical wine-opener. She tought: “The person who did loose that one must be very special”.
She asked every waiter in the country whether he lost his corkscrew. Everybody said they did, but couldn’t open a bottle of wine of it. All the time the cork stayed firm in the bottle of wine she brought with her.
Finally after visiting all the restaurants in the country, she saw someone in the very last one who was cleaning the legs of the tables. “Don’t ask Cinderello, it won’t be him”, everybody said. However she did, showed the opener and by the happy look in his eyes she knew it was him. He took the opener and the bottle in his hands and with a magical movement the cork glided smoothly out of the bottle.
It seemed to be CrazyWaiter who was deemed to clean forever the restaurant because he couldn’t do his normal job anymore. Who wants a waiter who can’t open a bottle of wine?
After he thanked her with a hug they looked eachother deep in the eyes. They fell in love, he moved into her castle …
Since 4 months I’m doing yoga now and it helps me a lot to relax and to concentrate. Of course I’m glad to share you my favorite poses to do Backstage, while waiting for the barman to be ready, during breaks etc. Most are standing poses (since there is no mat next to the bar yet), working on concentration, relaxation, shoulders, neck, and the lower back. Namasté !
Edit March 2016: Updated with more poses of which also my favorite: Supported half dog
Every girl likes firemen and rich managers. But smart girls date a waiter ofcourse
We are highly passionated about food. Isn’t that the first need in life?
We know everything about wine. And if you don’t like wine, what about a cocktail? We have an extensive knowledge about all the other drinks a bar offers
We have a positive attitude in life. Otherwise we don’t survive
We always smile!
We have a great condition and endurance because we walk more then 5 kilometers a day!
Our communication skills are best in class because there’s nothing else we do.
We have always great stories… “Once I had a guest…”
We are very, very kind. That’s the way we earn money.
We have humour and we are smiley. At least most of the times.
We can deal with everybody from poor to rich.
We are hard workers and have an iron mentality.
We earn a lot of money because we make a lot of tips.
We are princes who know how to treat a princess
Life is never boring with us
We know a lot. In any case a bit of everything
We can read people and feel in an instance how to deal with somebody
We respect everybody because we know the importance of being respected
We know how to organise a party or diner. Most likely we’ll help you or your friend while throwing a party
We can connect people.
We are born problemsolvers. Lifeproblems, work problems, logistic problems… say it and we solve it!
We have a lot of patience
Work hard, play hard. We know how to enjoy life
We have great listening skills because we (have to) listen all day to guests and collegues
In the hospitality business people come and go, so we appreciate a stable factor in life a lot
We are capable of handling stress and yes, we can multitask and know how to plan
We know how to deal with children
We pay a lot of attention to our grooming.
We speak a lot of languages, so we can help you order food or find a taxi wherever in the world
We have everywhere in the world (ex-)collegues we know, so traveling has never been that nice
We don’t work at office hours, so if you need food, clothes or other stuff it is calm in the shops
We are galant and we know the etiquette while dining with you and your parents
We have a good taste for clothes (uniform? Who wants a uniform, we wear whether custom made suites whether nice casuals)
We can read a restaurant or bar with a single glance, so you will always going out in the right places
We believe in karma so we give a lot! We are givers by nature!
We are used to take care of people and especially of those who are really important!
So ladies, where are you waiting for ?
(Because I’m a man who likes ladies, I wrote from that perspective. But every combination (M/F, F/M, F/F or M/M is possibile of course!) (Partly inspired by firemenlists etc and this page) (Photo : CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Peter Drier)
The regulars on this blog know that I have a passion for Service Quality. Today I had an inspiring talk of Mrs. Quality of the hotel where I work at. Normally I’m not keen on listening to these stories (often they think we’re living in a fairytale where everything is already perfect) but this was a pretty good talk with a lot of passion without closing the eyes for the daily reality. Full of inspiration I collected “everything” I already know in a new presentation
A quote of a recruiter tickled me:”People apply to be a teamleader but they don’t know nothing about teamwork or leadership. It’s in the word. Team-Leader” This has made me thinking about leadership. What is leadership? How can you show leadership if you are “just” a waiter and not the boss?Now I’ve set my new focus for the next five years… being a leader, in whatever form or position….
I already wrote earlier about the SERVQUAL model. This model has been adapted into a questionaire called DINESERVE to see what guest think of a restaurant (#/*). There are 29 items, each judged on a scale from 1 to 7. DINESERV items fall into five service quality dimensions. Reliability was found to be the most important dimension, followed by tangibles, assurance, responsiveness, and empathy. After the jump you’ll find the questionaire!
One of the plans in the near future is to create a vision, no… *my* vision on leadership in the hospitality to be able - together with my collegues around me- to create even greater experiences for my guests… this video of a fellow Castmember (although far away and a lot of scales higher – see linkedin) is a very nice start… See a longer (other) presentation about leadership worth seeing from this lady here (read more about her interviews here and here)
Happy 2015 everybody! I just discovered that I didn’t post for a year. Oops! Partly this was due to being offline because of too much traffic. Another reason is that I spent 5 months at the infopoint of Camping Fabulous in Rome, Italy. But I ended 2014 at the place where dreams come true (a big entertainment parc with a castle and a mouse near Paris) and I retook my job as CrazyWaiter. So you will hear more from me soon!
I’m working already 20 years in the restaurant business and I think I can say I know how to do it. I’m very easy to manage, but even better if you keep the following things in mind! I guess it doesn’t work only for me, but for most of you – so feel free to reuse it!
First of all: never ever use the imperative. You absolutely don’t have to beg but at least ask friendly because I’ll do it anyway
Say what I have to do and try to avoid explaining how to do it
In 90% of the cases there is a reason when I do something in a different way as usual
Try to collect as much tasks as possible and give them in one time. It is annoying if you keep giving a new task after I completed the former task. When given the complete to do-list I have (also) an overview and I can combine things and make priorities
Don’t stay immobile watching after giving orders. Help me, do something else or walk away
Most of times I know what and how to do. If I don’t do it immediately I’ll see it a moment later or something else has a bigger priority to do
Don’t give feedback when the heat is on
Give me the chance to work as independent as possible. Just let me do my thing.
Don’t worry, when I need help or don’t know anything I won’t be afraid to ask
I’m not blind for the interests of other stakeholders but never ever forget that the guest is the central point in (almost) everything I do!
I like review sites because it’s a mirror of your own work. Also it’s a great source of finding new restaurants and places which I use a lot. Especially when the company answers because it shows that they care (a bit more) of their guests. My favorite answers are from Hotel Villa Schuler in the beautiful Taormina (Sicily, Italy) at Tripadvisor, especially this one should be in all hotelschool textbooks. I used their answers as inspiration for this article. There are also some answers from EasyHotel Amsterdam.
We’re delivering quality. But what is it? In very short it is the difference between expectation and that what you get. If you get more than expected, the quality is high, and vice versa.
If you ask people about quality you’ll get a lot of words. If you put all the terms which come up in a box and sort them in groups, you’ll find five groups. Clever people (scientists) speak about dimensions. They are easy to remember with the word RATER
Reliability (26%) Reliability is the ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately. Do we deliver what we promise? Tangibles (10.8%) Tangibles are the physical facilities, equipment, and appearance of personnel. Assurance (32.3%) Assurance is guaranteeing the process of performing services Empathy (10.1%) The care and personalized service given Responsiveness (20.8%); With regard to the dimension of responsiveness, the quick problem-solving ability of the service personnel is a good opportunity to impress the consumer
To be noted is that the percentages are valid for hot spring hotels. But my feeling says its the same for restaurants and other businesses. A lot of managers think that the Tanglibles are very important, but they really should take care of the capability of the employees on assurance, reliability and responsiveness. The term RATER comes from (Parasuraman et al., 1988). The weights of every dimension are from Hsie, 2007
This weekend the CrazyWaiter spent his time spending assisting a friend who threw a party. Of course I concentrated myself on the food and beverage with serving his guests and friends. When J. asked some weeks ago for help to plan how many drinks he should buy for his party, I made a calculator. I’m happy to share it with you. You enter the values in the yellow and the blue cells, and the list to buy will be visible in the pink cells.
As always with calculatingmodels, the quality of the output depends strongly on the input. If you enter 40 guests during 6 hours, don’t be surprised that you can bring back 75% of the stock to the shop when there are only 25 guests during 3 hours. Luckily we could get the money back, but what a pity that we had to spent this money on a parking fine – never felt so stupid BTW, when I entered the right data, the shopping list was very close to what the people had consumed in reality :proud:
The party was nice, but it is over now, so here it is…
A very nice quote to put on the wall somewhere in your backstage. And yes, ofcourse you’ll change the word customer in guest !
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.
He is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it.
He is not an outsider of our business. He is part of it.
We are not doing him a favour by serving him.
He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so
Mahatma Ghandi (in a speech in South Africa in 1890)
Not a very happy subject today but basic common knowledge. One of your guests or collegues can have a stroke or TIA. Both a stroke and a TIA are medical emergencies and need immediate medical attention. As a way of helping the general public become more aware of the symptoms of a stroke or TIA, a simple ‘symptom checklist’ to remember has been devised and publicised. This is to think of the word ‘FAST‘. That is:
F – Facial weakness. Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
A – Arm weakness. Can the person raise both arms?
S – Speech disturbance. Can the person speak clearly? Can they understand what you say?
T – Test for each of the above three things.
If any of these symptoms suddenly develop, then the person needs to see a doctor urgently. So call an ambulance FAST. The FAST checklist does not cover every possible symptom of stroke or TIA. However, it is easy to remember and it is estimated that about 8 or 9 in 10 people with a stroke or TIA will have one or more ‘FAST’ symptoms.
It’s a fun trick to show to kids. First you bend as much as possible. Then you push just above your knees for about 15 seconds. Then you bend again and you’ll see that you’re much more flexible! Of course they don’t believe you. Let them do it themself and they’ll see that the CrazyWaiter is always right!