A foreseen problem is a problem less
One of the targets in our work is to foresee problems at the moment that they aren’t there already. To do so, there are (at least) two techniques which you might already use and makes the difference between a bad waiter and a good waiter. I also teach them to trainees who are eager to learn. Instead of speaking of technique, try to see it as a game to make it more fun.
The first one is that you see in one single second if everything is all right at a table and in the restaurant. This is called La Vista by John Vincke, a dutch maître-d’hôtel who died in 2007. In fact you take a global glance and you see what happens on a specific table, a station or in the room.
Related to this, the second game is that you have in your head in which phase the tables in the restaurant are, how many people they are, what they ordered etc. The guests at table 1 are eating main course, those at table 2 are waiting for the dessert, the german people at table 3 is have received the bill and are waiting to pay etc. Sometimes I ask the trainee backstage to close his eyes and tell me in which stadium the tables are. It’s difficult in the beginning but practice makes perfect!
The greatest kick of both ‘games’ is when you act in a way that the guests don’t have to ask for something. Not easy but a nice challenge!
(PS: The original quote is “Un problème prévu est un problème en moins” / M. Dantec)