Almost 3 years ago I arrived in South Africa as a college student. I left my country as soon as I turned 18, and with no previous work experience except for an Industrial Chemistry Internship I did during my last year of High School.
Working in a restaurant was never my idea of a first job, I always thought I would be sitting in an office, doing what I enjoy and be paid for it.
I was shocked when I faced reality, or should I say the day of my first shift.
Coming Through! Go with that table! Bell!
It seemed never ending.
I always considered myself able to multitask, but this was just beyond it. As soon as I served a table, there were already three more waiting for me to take their orders.
An hour passed, and all I had in mind was the wine glass I hit by mistake that gracefully made it to the customer’s white shirt, the disapproval look I got from the customer that received a garlic pizza instead of a Bali pizza (English Second Language problems), the order worth $65 that could not be delivered because I wrote down the wrong address and the customer who made it very clear that they would not pay for such rubbish.
I definitely made a lot of mistakes throughout my time working as a waitress, but the good thing about mistakes is that as much as they can bring you down, they can also become a foundation for improvement.
3 things I learned from mistakes.
Serving is more than a task.
As part of my college experience, I serve in a church over the weekends.
I remember how one day my boss asked me if I could work on a Sunday night, and my answer was “No, I am serving at church”.
His answer was pretty confronting, he looked at me and asked “ Don’t you serve people here as well? or does that only happen at church?
The truth is, you will never be able to be excellent at your job if you don’t understand the concept of service. No matter if you are a waitress, doctor, receptionist, journalist, manager or any other position you can think of, your job will always be to serve people in a way or another.
Take the time to ask yourself the following questions:
- How can I make the customer’s experience the best?
- How can I help my boss in managing the store in an effective way from my position/role?
- What is my attitude when it comes to receiving feedback from customers?
- How can I improve the quality of my service?
These are all valid questions that would help you think through what you do on your day to day.
Own the job.
One of the main reasons for poor quality when it comes to waitressing jobs is the lack of ownership.
It is very easy to develop a mindset of “ I just want to be paid and leave” and completely ignore the big picture / vision of the business.
Imagine if you were the owner of the restaurant, imagine if instead of a restaurant that was actually your house; How would you like people to feel when they come in? How much effort would you invest in making the house beautiful or making sure it is clean? What impression would you like people to leave with?
Start to see things through the eyes of the people above you, and remember that excellence is not an act but a habit.
People can be more or less complicated than you think.
Last but not least remember that there is grace. The mistakes you make are not the biggest ones you will ever make and for every problem there is also a solution.
Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Instead, fight for the solution.
Yes, the customer may get mad at you and complain, but they may also be patient and give you a chance.
Whatever happens always try to do your best and bring not only food, but excellence to the table.
Have you had a waitering job? What were your experiences? Let us know in the comments below!