Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dancing equals SMILES!

I was put into training with the fountain staff to get the hang of the ice cream when they are not around during the weekdays. The boys were really nice in showing me how each ice cream was made. A funny comment was about the malts - if you put one scoop of malt powder in it's just right, but two scoops, and you'd be running to the bathroom the rest of the night! haha!

You couldn't say we didn't get dirty, I had ice cream remnants up to my elbows and washed my hands and arms often. One of the customers had a special shake order of bananas, vanilla ice cream and peanut butter sauce mixed together! Crazy, but cool!

There were some slow periods, and I learned how to be able to get out of the refrigerator and freezer if ever I get locked in, there is a handle on the side. Being locked in is a big fear of mine, so I'm glad I asked.

During a slow period I thought that it would be the most opportune time to mention the absence of ambiance to my manager. He had said that some of the customers do not like the music, so we have to turn it down sometimes. I suppose they forget to turn it back up again once they leave, because it was almost non existent. If you stood directly underneath a speaker then you might be able to hear something. I told him I have one request: turn up the volume on the music! Music provides a pleasant atmosphere and a jovial place for happier customers. Not only that, it really makes my job a lot easier when I'm bopping to the music!

After prodding him a bit, I told him that if he allowed me to turn up the volume, I promise to do a dance down the aisles. He seemed a bit amused at the thought, and directed someone to show me where the volume was, and we turned it up a smidge. Not blasting or anything, but loud enough to hear it.

Then there was another problem: where were the 50's tunes?? This was 80's music! Better something than nothing though, right? I couldn't seem to figure out how to change the channel to have the oldies back. If you work at Friendly's or have been to Friendly's, do you hear 50's music or something else? This will be something I'll inquire to the manager on another day, but a promise is a promise!

I waited for a good beat song to come on....aaaaannnnnddddd

I danced!

And every customer smiled. Some even laughed!

I did it mostly for the kids, and it's not like I'm an amazing dancer, but jumping around and moving and grooving did make the kids laugh. And it made the parents happy too.

I asked one of the fountain boys to dance with me, and he sheepishly agreed. We waltzed down the aisle, and when there was a table of five and little space in between for the both of us, I did a twirl to get us through. Even the elderly laughed at our funny waltz.

Everybody loved it, including the manager. He asked me if I would dance the next evening, which is Halloween night. I said YES! I would LOVE TO!

And so begins my grand master plan of dancing.

My prediction is that the satisfaction of the customers will be higher, and the tips for the waitresses will be greater during the slower moving times when I get out and do a dance for our Friendly's customers.

Now this is not to say that I am not bound to get some ridicule. The fountain boy that danced with me was made fun of by everybody for the rest of the night. (I apologized to him and he said that he gets it all the time and it doesn't bother him in the slightest). They didn't make fun of me who had the idea in the first place, probably because I was new. But just wait. It's going to come, I know it. But it's alright, the dancing and the music is worth it!

So why am I doing this? Well if it makes the customer's Friendly's experience a little brighter, then why not? Is not our motto "Service With a Smile" ?? and "Friendly, you bet we are!" ?? So what is wrong with doing something to encourage that?

Absolutely nothing.

This is a tough and depressing economy as it is, and I believe in a Friendly's that has the ability to change that!

I rest my case.

-The Spontaneous Waitress

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No Napkins, No Name Tags, No Shirts, No Music?

Today was my first day of work, and I would like to share with you a few of the things that have changed since I last worked at Friendly's.

First, and most ridiculously, the rule of "only one napkin per customer, unless they request more napkins." This napkin is the one that is rolled up with the silverware. There used to be a little silver box on each table with napkins for customers to use to their need or desire, but not anymore. No, only one napkin. So if the customer requests more napkins, then it's an extra few steps into the kitchen and back to get them napkins. Are we saving trees?? No, this is a budget cut of unnecessary expenses, but at the expense of the customers and the waitresses. The more time they have to fill small requests such as more napkins, the more time it will take to make sure their food is out and everything is rolling smoothly. A waitress is responsible for housekeeping, meaning they are given chores throughout their work period that they need to complete. That and then make the salads, put in food orders, make and bring out drinks, bring out the food, and make the ice cream. this puts a set back on the customers because this particular Friendly's has always been considered "slow." Now you know why. napkin, unless you ask, then you will have two.

It may seem easy to be a Friendly's waitress, but it's a lot of work to be a waitress here. I've always known that though because of working her in times past. I predict that this weekend when I am actually put on the floor to flap my own wings, I will make quite a few mistakes. I only hope that the customers will understand when I mess up. I'll be sure to apologize and correct the situation for sure! But I always feel bad when I make a mistake, especially on a food order.

The second thing that has changed is the absence of name tags. I even brought my old name tag to work, but my manager said "no, we are not allowed to use name tags anymore." I was so shocked! As a customer I always appreciated the name tag in case the name of the server was a bit foreign, like "Xavierian" or "Teniqua". I would always forget those kind of names, but if they had a name tag on then I would be able to address the waitress or waiter by name, and I would feel good that I am talking to them as a person instead of "excuse me miss?" I wonder if I have my name tag on anyway, would they be angry with me?? Should I push that? But the District Manager said "no name tags," and so for right now I'll just have to hope that I make a good impression when I present my name to the customers as I greet them.

The next thing is the lack of Friendly's collared shirts. They changed their policy that would require me to go out and buy my own collared shirts under a new color code. These shirts look like pastel golf shirts. I suppose that is another way to reduce expenses, and I understand this new policy because Friendly's also has an open door policy, meaning that you can leave the job at any time for no reason. So if Friendly's continues to give shirts to people who only work a month, that is a big expense to the company. So I'm going to suck this one up and buy my pastel rainbow Wal-Mart shirts in good faith.

One of the saddest things I would have to report is the lack of music. I used to love the oldies music, and it would also play in the back where the dish washer was so I could continue to listen and move and groove. It was up-beat and would keep my feet going during the busy hours. I used to always be able to hear the music...but not anymore. The oldies is not being played in the back, and the volume of the music on the main floor is put to a low. So if there are a few customers talking you cannot hear the music at all. I am very saddened by this, since the ambiance is one of the sole reasons for coming back. I have not said anything as of yet, but I plan to request the music be turned up just a little. Music is my entire mission here! Hopefully I can convince them to have it so we can hear it.

I asked the name of the regional manager so I could talk to him about my idea, and my assistant manager got a little nervous. He asked why and if I wanted to try to fire him! I said no, not at all! The assistant manager said that the man who is over the district manager he has met only once, and he seems like a really nice guy.

Score, an open minded thinker. That's exactly the man I need.

I told him his job is not on the line. Rather, I have an idea that will:

1- boost the number of customers at an off peak hour each weekday,
2- bring smiles, good feelings, and returning faithful customers, and
3- best of all, it's completely free.

I think there were some ooohhhh's and aaaahhh's after I said that, but I told him my idea is a secret, which it is. I want to get a feel for this company and get the hang of everything before I drop the bomb on them with my idea.

And by the way, if I lose my job in all this scheming and meticulous planning and maneuvering around the "one napkin per customer" rule, then so be it. It may be all about the money when it comes to my hiring manager and the district manager, but thankfully for me, this job was never really about the money. It's about serving the customers and making sure that the customers get the best experience while being at the most wonderful restaurant: Friendly's!

Oh's also about eventually presenting my grand master plan!


The Spontaneous Waitress

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Research On Tips

Tips are important for me because that is where I will be banking in on, and I don't want to fudge it! I did a little research and here are my findings:

1- bring a set of pens and some dollars/change to break

It's always a good idea to bring a few pens so if two tables have pens to write on their reciept, then I would have one to write down a new order at a table. Also bring some dollars, 2 fives, 10ones, and a couple dollars in change so I can break the bills when I receive them in cash.

2- consolidate your steps

This means that if two tables are requesting something (one some ketchup and the other needs a credit card swiped) when you go back to the kitchen, do them both while you are there. grab the ketchup and swipe the card and come back to both those tables.

3- make the customer happy

the majority of my wages come out of the tips that I receive, and so it is important to know that I need to make sure that the customer is receiving everything they need and at an efficient rate. Drinks refilled, food coming out on time, checking in on them to make sure the food is good, etc.

4- know your menu

knowing your menu shows that you are professional and passionate about the food you serve, and when a customer asks what is good, you can tell them based on their personal preferences in food.

5- apologize if you mess up

If you or even the cook messes up your order, the customer sees you and not the cook, be a mature sport about it, apologize politely and find a way to fix the problem. If it's really bad then you can ask the manager to go to the table and help you out. They can sometimes smooth things over better than you can.

Anyone have any good advice on what makes you tip high? I always like a good joke from a server, but not everyone likes that.

The Spontaneous Waitress

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just Got Hired

Let's get one thing straight: I was not originally a waitress, I'm an artist!..And starving one at that. It's not that I'm not a good artist, it's that nobody wants to buy art when they are struggling themselves. My watercolors have not been selling at the galleries. My husband has his master's degree, and for some reason no matter how many interviews he goes to, every one of them has turned them down. Perhaps one day in a better economy, art will come back and I'll start selling again.

So what do I do? Something's gotta give, so I apply to a little Friendly's Restaurant. I'll have to go through some training, but I actually waitressed at the same restaurant back when I was going to college. It all should come back to me fairly easily.

On my way home from the restaurant I was reviewing all of my highlights of my waitressing experience while back in college, and there was one thing that stuck out to me the most. There was a time when a little girl was dancing in the aisle, and I danced with her. A week later I had received high reviews by the mother from the website. I love to dance in the restaurant because they play a fun fifties music. I would dance when I was cleaning off the tables, bop my head when I was serving food and...

then it hit me.

An idea!

It seemed so ridiculous, and yet the more I thought about it, this idea seems so perfect in this struggling economy to lift some spirits and bring smiles to the customer's faces.

And it would also bring in more customers, boosting profit during a normally slow hour.

It's perfect!

All I need to do now is survey the land when I finally start work, and see if my idea is even feasible. Then figure out a way to best present this idea to the manager as well as district manager for approval. We'll just have to wait and see!


The Spontaneous Waitress

Hooray for Friendly's! It's the coolest place to work!