I seem to be on a service rampage as of late, but my last two months of dining have been riddled with enough poor service to make me want to stay home to eat.
In fact, if it wasn't my job to eat out and report the results back to OnMilwaukee.com, and I was just a normal diner, I probably would stay home from now on. It would certainly be much cheaper and less frustrating.
I am truly fascinated by how much money servers these days are losing for themselves tip-wise, and for their restaurant owner in purchases. Those of us who have worked the industry know that usually, if you offer average or better service, the higher the customer's tab, the larger the tip you will receive.
So, wouldn't it just make sense to try to upsell me to a Korbel old fashion sweet instead of assuming I just want rail? Why won't you offer me dessert or coffee? If you have a dessert menu, or a dessert tray, why wouldn't you bring it out to show me? Do you seriously want to get rid of me so badly that you can't offer me dessert?
Let's assume the average server sells 30 mixed drinks an evening, and let's assume that the difference between rail and call is $2 a mixed drink. That is $60 the restaurateur isn't getting in his pocket every night, and $9 in tips (assuming 15 percent gratuity) the server is cheating herself out of.
Based on a five-day work week, that's $300 per week or $15,600 a year in lost revenue for the restaurant per server! And the server is walking away with $2,340 less annually than she potentially would by simply asking, "Did you want that with "Ketel-One/Korbel/Tanqueray/insert other call brand liquor here?"
Let's assume that same server sells dessert and coffee to five people every night. The average dessert cost in Milwaukee right now hovers right around $7. Coffee is likely an additional $2. So, for every dessert and coffee sale, the server is ringing an extra $9 into the register every night. Why would you not want to do this?
From a diner's perspective, maybe sometimes I'll stick with the rail rum over Mount Gay, especially if I'm doing a frou-frou type cocktail, but you know what? It's nice to be asked. And maybe I won't sample your homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on this visit, but gee, it looked so good when you showed me the menu, that I may just have to check it out next time.
I guarantee, if you ask me, most of the time I'm going to at least want to see that dessert menu or tray, and watch out -- if the person next to me is eating a crème brulee, I'm probably going to order something, too.
What a great way to put more money in your and your boss' pockets -- by making your customers feel like you care enough to ask if you can make our experience better.
Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.
The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.
Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to OnMilwaukee.com.