When it comes to service and serving we have all heard and perhaps quoted the expression, “go the extra mile” but can we understand what exactly this means? As it is with most common expressions this one too means differing things to different people. The person offering the service understands it with one meaning well the person receiving the service may see entirely different.
Those offering service understands it to mean that they have given absolutely all they have, reaching deep within and giving completely beyond what is required and at times even able to do so.
Those receiving service believe this to mean that all they require, want or need is met to their satisfaction regardless of the demand. When the service provider fails to have gone the extra mile then the customer becomes upset, unhappy and depending upon their mood at the time irate. “Why should I pay for what I did not get?” Then within the exchange of money for service becomes the area of conflict.
“Go the extra mile” becomes bad advice to give a co-worker if the co-workers perception of service differs. Service is the art of precisely meeting the expectation of the client. In cooking we meet the demand by giving the customer exactly what they ask for, (ie: a medium rare steak should be just that) any variances and we have failed both the customer and the ability to perform the service. The extra mile is not met and we have not preformed a service.
The first key to our expression then is found in the first word. GO! Having an understanding of this word will allow us to proceed with service. Without it we come to a complete stop. For you are at a stop when you cannot go.
One definition of go is: an attempt or a trial to perform something. We have failed right there. Service is not attempting to perform it is rather performance in itself. We are servicing a client when are simply trying to do so. We must be successful at servicing for in a trial the client will always judge us as lacking therefore failing them.
Go can also mean to traverse, as in “to go the entire distance.” Certainly service will take one from beginning to an end, but is it the desired end. When we perform a service we have a set goal we desired to see gained when we are complete. However the client may have a differing goal in what they are seeking for the service they are requesting. Without each have a clear understanding of the service being provided conflict is sure to arise.
We have all heard another service expression, “the customer is always right” this falls short when the customers has not defined what they want or has not communicated what they desire is. Therefore, without having a clear understanding what the customer wants, becomes a cloudy mess, in seeing the finish and therefore understanding how right the customer truly is. This maxim also gives the customer a false sense of entitlement which is often expressed in verbal (or worse) abuse of the one providing the service.
Originally coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London in 1909, his goal was to give the customer the assurance that their demands would be clearly met, therefore service would be given at the highest standard. The opposite happened, the more demanding the customer the less the service provider became willing or just unable to meet the demand. The service went down, demands went higher, were not met and service went down, demands went higher, a seemingly unbreakable circle. The result, both client and provider became unsatisfied. The clients went elsewhere as did the employees.
Question, if the abusive customers get’s his or her way by unreasonable demands does this means the nice customer is therefore not right and also needs to become abusive as well. Who will return to the service offered the abusive customer or the nice one, focus on the one most likely to return. Unhappy abusive customers who believe they are right are not coming back so focus on the happy one who really believes they are right because they are satisfied. Perhaps the expression should be, “the satisfied customer is always right.”
How is the customer satisfied, by a happy service provider (employee). If keeping the employee happy is the key to keeping the customer happy then we must rethink and see our way to satisfying our employees. Bad customers are bad for business great employees are great for business.
Recently we saw an example of this posted on the internet. A customers with “literally” a holy than thou attitude took great service and belittles with a crude note on tipping, invoking (more likely provoking) God and leaving the service provider with nothing. The server posted the nasty note and the company terminated the server instead of siding with the server they apologized to the nasty preacher. They gained a nasty customer, lost a good server, lost nice customers who sided with the server and lost reputation with the public who saw the injustice of their “customer is always right” position. While the customer claimed that the posting “soiled her reputation” it clearly showed who the pastor is and that she demands far more than she herself is willing to give. The result is the restaurant chain will most likely not suffer much for the retention of the nasty over the nice but some will think twice about supporting them, some other servers will think twice about continuing or beginning employment with them. The only winner is the pastor who will have to answer to the God she invoked.
We also have a problem with if the customer is “always” right then the service provider is “always” wrong. If we (or our employees) see ourselves as providing a service in which we cannot complete believe in then we are apt not give the service that our product deserves therefore not providing the service our customers expect. If we are the ones that are wrong we cannot defend our service when the customer is wrong, and believe it or not, the customer can be wrong from time to time. The customer who throws a temper tantrum only get his or her way (at the expense of other customers or the service provider) is not right. A great service provider will stand their ground when they are right, to take away the right of the service provider from being right will reduce the employee’s pride in doing their job, and their pride in working for a company who will not defend what is truly right.
In one of my restaurant we had a special dining offer with a condo sales company where when you viewed the sales offer you were given a dinner for two at our restaurant, you simply had to pay for beverages, taxes and tip the server, we served hundreds of these a month. It was a good deal for our clients. A fifty dollar meal and you could walk out by paying ten. One evening we had a guest who raved about his meal, his server, the view (we were on the top floor of a hotel) we went on and on about how good everything was…..until he got his bill. Then he went into a well rehearsed temper tantrum, all day long he would do this when he didn’t get what he wanted, regardless of what others with him and around him thought. Suddenly his great server became the worse, he berated her into tears, the dining room manager could get nowhere with him, the only way to calm him down was to take the takes off his bill (he was not going to pay the tax of 3.65). He threw such a fit he was ejected from the restaurant. After his departure the manager, server and myself were given a standing ovation by the guest of our full dining room many of which were the companions of this customer who had enough of him and his abusive behavior. When you believe in your product and your service there comes a time when you are right and you need to defend the product and your service provider because it is the right thing to do.
There is an expression “do what’s right, do it because it is right, then do it right” if you have done so then there is no reason to back away from.
Proceed Without Delay
Another definition of go is: to proceed without delay. Delay is a huge enemy of service, yet it is one of the most common mistakes committed by the service provider. There is a song “Make Someone Happy” by Jimmy Durante, the last verse is:
“Make someone happy,
Make just one someone happy,
And you will be happy, too.”
This is the goal of service, to make the client happy. Happiness is not found in delay. Delay causes the client to feel their request is not important to the one offering service. That the need is secondary to all else, that the procrastination of the service provider means there is little or no value in the one requesting the service. Therefore there is no opportunity for happiness.
Consider the church “service” the advertising announces that the service begins at 10 AM but many people arrive late is the service is delayed to 10:15 to accommodate the late comers. The delay disrupts the flow of the service, worship is rushed, the sermon is cut in order not to go long and ministry to the needs of the congregation comes under pressure. Those who arrived on time did so in respect of the needs of others, those who arrived late will have an excuse but all will be centered upon self needs and no consideration of serving others. The same ones late are generally late each and every week, the delay they cause is not an issue to them. 10 AM is never 10:15 and to serve one correctly means beginning on time.
Delay of course disintegrates trust, do I really trust anything else the church may say or do if a simple service time is not trustworthy? This may seem a minor point but the small actions carry forward and reflect the attitude of what the service being offered could be. In a restaurant for example, can you trust what the menu states to be true if the service offered is not trustworthy, should you actually trust that the food is going to be at the highest standard if that trust has been broken? Possibly not.
Jimmy wrote “Make someone happy” the very goal of service. As go indicates we “proceed” forward. Delay of course is not forward going but actually causes us to go backward instead of forward. The service, when done right, always accomplishes the same results, to make someone happy. So then service is the “the art of accomplishment” or achieving our goal successfully. An unhappy churchgoer can cause the restaurant server grief later on and not even realize that they are unhappy because of the actions of the church and not those of the server. A happy churchgoer may in fact serve the restaurant server by giving him or her a larger tip than required to do so. So then the happy service becomes contagious, happy churchgoer, happy server, happy family, all connected to one simple action.
When we view a person who is excellent at what they do we say they are accomplished. Service then, when given in excellence, is therefore accomplished successfully. Accomplished servers are those who have skills in seeing the needs of the clients and then filling those needs in the most effective manner without any delay. One becomes accomplished through practice and skill.
Making mistakes is a huge part of becoming an accomplished server. For every mistake one makes, a lesson one learns. Remember “how do you get to Carnegie Hall, practice son, practice.” In one of my restaurant I had a baby grand piano in the center of the dining room; we had to put a sign on it to prevent anyone and everyone from playing it. The sign read, “Please do not play the piano without the permission of the chef, the chef never gives permission.” One day a gentleman came in, he looked rumpled and had a club foot, he asked if he could play the piano. I judged him on his appearance (very wrong) and asked if he knew how? He answered, “I’ve played in a few halls” then I thought, oh brother, but he quickly said, “Massey Hall, Carnegie Hall to name a few.” I gave my permission and he served myself and our dining guests to one of the finest concerts I have ever heard. A more accomplished pianist I have never heard. I think of the mistakes he must have made to become so accomplished, yet what pleasure he gave in playing, this was a service well worth hearing.
He could not proceed without gaining an understanding of what I expected from him. I did not want someone playing the piano who would only serve my customers with noise; he understood service is to make someone happy, first me as the one responsible for my guests then to the guests themselves. To proceed you must have a plan as to what the final result is to be. The client has a request you are the one responsible to fulfill that request.
You may have to be creative in fulfilling the desired goal, being the source of an answer is great; serving is the ability to use all sources available to fulfill the request. Usually we begin small but as we become more accomplished we tend to take on more and therefore serve even more. All great servers begin small. Look at the Mississippi the greatest river in North America and how it serves the life blood of the country. Its source is Lake Itasca is a small glacial lake, approximately 1.8 square miles in area, in north central Minnesota, yet from it the mighty river derives the force serving the country. Our beginnings are the same, we start by serving one or two but as we do so we become more accomplished and therefore serve many more, passing on our knowledge to others who serve and so on and so on, becoming a mighty force in service.
At times, some look at those who serve as less than they are, inferior. Yet all serve. A waiter or waitress is often considered inferior, less intelligent, by many who do similar work in differing fields, we all serve, and some are more visible than others. Your sense of service is found within you not from what others want to put upon you. I once drove 1275 miles one way to serve a dinner for 10 people, not for money (I didn’t charge) not for praise, but simply because I wanted to do something nice for a friend. He loved it as did his guests but his wife made both my wife and myself feel as if we were servants. Here lies a huge difference.
To serve is making someone happy, to be of assistance or promote the interests of another. To be a servant is one who performs duties of the master. We have but one master and to Him and for Him we may be a servant. Scripture tells us to become great in the kingdom of God we must become the servant of all.
Mark 9:35. New King James Version (NKJV)
35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
Here we Jesus explaining that the servants do not carry a high standard those who are high minded and feel they are greater than others become servants. Yet there was no greater example of serving as His, after He gave His very life in service to your living.
Serving is an infection, it infects life, the finer the service the more we desire to have. One of my sisters works for a company that makes clothes that protect first responders. Firemen and women, police officers and many others depend on the uniforms she supplies to keep them protected; needless to say she takes that very seriously. Her service to them keeps their lives, so should all service be. A bank teller, a restaurant server, a mechanic or the president of a company all should serve as if life depends upon it. If I am infected with service then I am giving the very highest service I can, this means those who receive my service have a better life, even if it is just a momentary event. I serve to make someone happy.
Look at the last line of the song, “and you will be happy too.” There is your reward for giving great service. So don’t delay, give great service today.
Extra, Extra, Extra
Good service is doing your job correctly, no delay, no mistakes, completing the task and making someone happy. But there is so much more one can offer their clients by moving from good service to great service without a lot of extra effort.
Extra service does not hinge on the freebies or give a ways that may be part of the marketing of the business (done too often the clients begin to expect these). A freebie given with poor service, places something in the client’s hand to degrade the business. A free key chain given away at a sporting event where the home team loses reminds the guest of the loss, and then produces negative speech against the team. When they win the guests looks at the key chain only as something they got for free, but they don’t talk about the win based on the freebie. Service in this case was left lacking, it is the team’s job to win and therefore serve the paying fans. Even diehard fans of continually losing teams speak negative of their team which in turn affects the player performance, the circle begins.
Free food given in exchange for poor service in a restaurant never produces a return customer nor does it negate the customers’ feelings of being cheated by the poor service, whether it was the server or the kitchen, an unhappy customer becomes a non customer, they speak with their absence from the establishment.
So what is the answer to exception service? The simple answer is, “go the extra mile” but simple as it may sound many who serve do not understand its simplicity. “Why, it’s just common sense, isn’t it?” Perhaps, the problem lies in what is common to you and It may not be so to another. Someone who has had 20 years of experience knows more than someone with just one year experience. So there must be a way to give that knowledge to those who need it. The answer is simple, train.
No-one who serves should ever be placed in a position of service without being taught to do so. Teaching the fundamentals of the industry you serve in should be the first and most important gift you can give an employee. Without knowledge of what they are doing they fail themselves, their employer and most importantly the client.
I have always considered myself a pretty good sales person and over my years have had a few sales jobs which I have received high awards for performance, happy customers mean’s a happy employer mean’s a bonus for me. However in each job they trained me in the way I should do my job then I went beyond my training to satisfy my client. A few years ago I thought I could become a car sales person, what a miserable failure I was. I stayed for four months and sold only one car. Why? No training. The dealership gave a couple of hours on the paperwork required and then said go for it. I needed a far more knowledge than that. I am not inclined to understand how cars work (in fact I am terrible at it). So because of my lack of knowledge I failed my employer, myself, my clients and most importantly the family. I needed to be trained.
This however is so very common in many industries. Waiters with little experience are placed in positions of serving without knowledge of the menu. They do not know what ingredients make up a dish. Do not know the wines available or how to serve them and so on. What is the problem? The employer and not the server, the employer did not train the server. He should never have been placed in the service of the business without a solid knowledge of the job. The lack of knowledge produces poor service in that there may be allergy issues, dietary issues, or just effective service. If the servers has to constantly excuse himself to check with the kitchen then he is providing a service of delay and therefore very displeasing to the client. How often do you receive service from a server who does not know the soup of the day or the daily special, does this not equate poor service? With today’s POS system’s many simple training exercises could be complete when the employee checks in.
Every business who offers service should have an established training system. This means going through each area of the business in detail and why we do what we do in addition as to how. Educate each employee to the highest level of the company’s standards. Education leads to knowledge, knowledge when applied is wisdom, wisdom in operation is common sense. All begin with education.
Once one is educated it doesn’t stop there, everyone performing a service should be encouraged to improve themselves. Giving extra comes from a heart filled with a positive attitude toward self. Any employee who believes they can will in fact do. Those believing they cannot, will find a way to avoid doing. Every employer should encourage their employee to go beyond the training and learn more to improve on self and their service.
Training gives the employee self confidence. An employee who knows what they are doing serves at a much higher standard than those who question their ability. Customers are the reason for business but when my customer feels they are not getting the service they want they simply go elsewhere. The customer is not the problem; they may have a problem and serve to correct it. Thus we build a relationship, a problem fixed, a happy customer and they tells others who can resolve their problem, therefore more customers, more business and the need to expand. It all began by training.
Large stores have a customer service department to handle returns and complaints but most of these stores realize that the more training they give the front line employee the less likely the customer service department will hear from an unhappy customer. After receiving exceptional service I will often tell the supervisor or owner of a company about it and encourage the employer to give that employee a raise. I will rarely complain about poor service but I never return, this is the employers fault for not training properly.
Ask yourself, I am as good as the next or I am the same? If you answered yes, check your training as being as good as the next is not exceptional, training coupled with self improvement brings you out of the common and the same into something exceptional.
If you’re an employer and you are not training then your business will fail. If you’re an employee and you’re not learning then you are prepared to be unemployed.
Training will reverse the attitude of delay in a sense of urgency. A skilled server wants to give the customer what they want in the most effective manner possible. They want to be acknowledged or greeted within seconds not minutes. This simply states to them that they are important to the well being of the business and in turn their business has value.
Training teaches the right actions to take with a customer. When a customer is greeted within 30 seconds with a smile and acknowledgment the customer is set at ease at once. Leave them wait and not acknowledge them and they quickly become irate and ready to go elsewhere. Just making eye contact with a customer assures them they are important to the business. Yet some do not realize this, training teaches them and gives them an edge.
Training teaches the employee the value of the words they speak, a harsh greeting makes for an unhappy customer. Be friendly and sincere with your words and you will find a customer that is at ease and willing to listen while they are complaining. Let your words show confidence in doing so your client will also have confidence that the server truly cares and resolve their problem.
Think about all the companies that do just what you do, why do your clients return to you? Have you trained beyond what the competitor does? Is it because of the training that your customer has complete assurance in you and your service? Training always returns a higher payback that what it cost to do it when you bring a new employee into the business.
Many believe education is training; however education does not replace what goes on in your business. Education cannot be replaced however training is an imperative to business. If you prefer you can call training “continuing education” either way it is important. Training helps the learner solve known problems with a high degree of expertise. Education will perform some training, give a mindset, develop thinking abilities, and develop attitudes and behavior patterns. Training gives the skills to use these. Simply put education is the giving out of knowledge; training is the applied use of the knowledge learned. We need both.
Miles To Go
Matthew 5:41 states, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” Back in the first century AD, when the Roman Empire conquered what used to be Israel, a Roman soldier could tell a Jew to carry his baggage. As one can imagine, the Roman could abuse this right by forcing a Jew to carry his bags indefinitely. So, a law was passed that no Roman soldier could make anyone carry his stuff for over one mile.
When Jesus gave His Sermon on the Mount, His audience were aghast as He came to the part that says, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matthew 5:41). This was a revolutionary thought. It would be like the Jew offering the Roman soldier, “Sir, I carried your load for the obligated one mile. Would you like me to carry it for one more mile?” To freely paraphrase what Jesus was saying, “Sure you have enemies. Who doesn’t? But don’t regard them in silent contempt. Do something good and kind to them that they do not expect or even deserve. If you don’t, what would make you different from ordinary people?” Therefore we must ask ourselves what makes your service different from ordinary competitors.
In a world of cookie cutter businesses, restaurants that are all identical, superstore’s that offer the same merchandise, big box electronic stores that need a sound check, what is going to differ one from another? Service, media and cell phone companies offer nearly identical plans, what is the convincing factor to a customer to choose one or the other? Service.
The service is absolutely the difference, but when they all offer service just as they are, very much identical to each other then it becomes our job as the person requesting the service to gain knowledge of our service provider before choosing them.
When we consider the extra mile we have to think about the term” mile” what is exactly we are talking about. Put another way we need to the distance required to provide our service, then push forward way beyond that.
As a restaurant person, let’s just look at the areas I am most familiar with. Going that distant, do we greet the customer at our door why not go a little further and open the door for them, this lets them know “you are most welcome here” opening the door for them as they leave says” thank you so very much for your business” certainly not hard things to do but things that speak largely in the mind of the customer.
Want to keep the customer from leaving while they wait in line at the door, offer them a bite size something. Amuse bouche (literally mouth teaser) a French term for a tidbit of free food offered to keep you happy while you wait for your first course. When offered during a waiting period it does a few things, first it puts the taste of your chef’s culinary ability in their mouth causing them to want more (if good of course.) Secondly because they are hungry and now with a flavor in their mouth, they may order more once they are seated. Thirdly, this little gesture speaks to the customer that the patience they have given in waiting for the table is rewarded with a kindness by the restaurant setting the customer somewhat at ease. I learned this little kindness many years ago when a friend took me to a BBQ restaurant. We drove for nearly an hour on back country roads to get to this little shack of a restaurant. It didn’t look like any place I would ever enter, out in the middle of nowhere. But although it was miles away from anything there was a line up of people in front. We were greeted by a hostess and informed that the wait would be nearly 45 minutes (an honest time period) two minutes later she returned with a couple of barbecued ribs to snack on. Once we tasted those ribs we knew we were not going anywhere no matter how long the wait may have been, they were just too good not to have more once inside. This was great service.
Once inside, the service just got better and better, drinks with 1 minute of ordering, food within 10 minutes, and a friendly smiling “knowledgeable” server just what a great dining experience should be. We drove many miles and were treated very well for doing so. A restaurant could have the best food in the world but if the service is poor or worse than the experience of the food is not worth the time it took to get there, even if it’s just walking across the street.
Going the distance, means, getting proactive. Do you wait for the customer to request something or do you foresee the need. Just having one napkin in BBQ restaurant is not likely enough, does the server bring additional ones before asked to? Service foresees the need and responds; on hot days does the server bring ice water with lemon as they bring the menus. A proactive service cuts the problems down quickly and if one does arrive it is often far less than what it could be with poor or even average service. Being proactive is simply anticipating the need before it arises. It sees that the request of the customer is met beyond the expectation, when a special request is made it is fulfilled “exactly” as the request was made.
Thinking about going the distance, as if you are forming a relationship that you really, really want badly. You are absolutely willing to do anything to see to it that it will work. Great service is exactly that, a relationship with your client that you want to continue for a very long time. As in all relationships remember actions speak larger than words. What you do in service must be beyond what you say. When you do speak, say what you mean and mean what you say. Remember back in grade school we had a time during class called “show and tell” that is exactly what service should be show me what I need and tell how you’re going to fulfill my need, then I will be a happy customer. We used to do business with a simple handshake, why, because they always stood by their word. Service must be the same always do what you say. Today instead of the handshake we have long legal binding agreements which deal mostly upon one or the other not keeping their word. How much easier to say what you mean then do it.
When a customer has a need don’t just tell where you find the solution, take them there. When they need something on the other side of the store take them to it. A good concierge of a hotel always sends his clients what he considers the best, not only telling them about it but arranging the transportation to get them there as well.
Relationships do not require permission to move forward. Give the service worker training and they will have the required knowledge to handle a situation without the need for a manager’s approval. When the situation requires a manager’s attention then the customer will know that server has already done the best to resolve the problem and manager may find the customer less hostile in dealing with.
Once you have the relationship, be sure to keep it. Many “loyal” customers leave because they believe they are not important any longer as a customer. Customers return because they feel valued far more than a gimmick or freebie that may be offered. Sure they’ll take the freebie and move on to where they feel wanted. Freebies, give a way’s, coupon’s and gimmicks are not, nor do they equate, good customer service and certainly not going the distance. The advantage of discounting is only as good as long your competitor doesn’t match you, but excellent service is often never matched by the competitor. Having a big sale or great offers mean little when the service isn’t as big as the sale. Seek to serve and you may not need the sale.
Great service is helpful service even when there is no apparent benefit in it. There is a win always customers with a customer who is happy. The customer who leaves happy lets others know how happy they are and therefore they will come for the service as well.
Going the distance means to be known as the company of “always.” Do you always serve the same meal every time it ordered, or does it vary from time to time? Do you always clean the interior of a car after it has been serviced, or just when you’re not busy? Do you always treat a child when servicing the parents or is just employees who really love the kids. Do you always check a guest with a smile and a comforting word? The two demons of always are “new and improved” this tell your client that there was something wrong with the old. Do remember how Pepsi was able to cash in on Coca Cola with they introduced “New Coke” this told the customer that the old Coke simply wasn’t good enough, they quickly switched back.
We know the expression “don’t fix what is not broken” so don’t mess with always. What works always do it and stay with it, if you don’t your customer will, by always staying away. On August 29, 2010 a sewer worker walked out of the sewer and into the Parkway Bakery & Tavern in mid-city New Orleans, dirty and grimy he orders a shrimp PO-Boy sandwich, later that day the president of the United States (much cleaner) did exactly the same thing. Why, because the Parkway always served the very best sandwich. For them always has meant over 100 years of the same great food and service.
The PO-Boy sandwich in the late 1800s was the fried oyster sandwich served on French loaves. Well known in New Orleans and San Francisco as “oyster loaves”, a term still in use. The sandwich was alternately called a “peacemaker” or “La Mediatrice”.
There are countless stories as to the origin of the term “po’ boy”. The term is likely derived from the French word pourboire, referring to a tip given to a waiter. A popular local theory claims that “po’ boy”, as specifically referring to a type of sandwich, was coined in a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benny and Clovis Martin (originally from Raceland, LA), former streetcar conductors. In 1929, during a four-month strike against the streetcar company, the Martin brothers served their former colleagues free sandwiches. The Martins’ restaurant workers jokingly referred to the strikers as “poor boys”, and soon the sandwiches themselves took on the name. In the heavy Cajun/Creole Louisiana dialect, this is naturally shortened to “po’ boy. The best of these today is served at the Parkway.
When you think of companies with great service you can trace the history, Parkway Bakery & Tavern 101 years old is still young compared to some with great service (still around today.) Here are just a few:
Hoshi Ryokan a Japanese hotel established in 717 AD the worlds oldest hotel.
The Bingley Arms Pub in the UK founded in 953 AD.
Weihenstephan Abbey a brewery in Germany founded in 1040 AD.
The Old Crown restaurant UK founded in 1368 AD.
Delmonico’s A New York restaurant founded in 1837 AD.
Durgin Park Cafe of Boston founded in 1827 AD.
AntoInes of New Orleans founded in 1840 AD.
Griswold Inn in Connecticut founded in 1776 AD.
Buckhorn Exchange of Denver founded in 1893 AD.
Think how an establishment can be found and then centuries after it came into existence it still is here today, one answer, service.
Always know who the company is, when you represent your employer you are the company. In the eyes of the client you are the company so then treat both your job and your client as if they are your own.
Have you watched Undercover Boss, they go undercover to see how their employees treat their customers and their business. What they discover is the best employee always treats the business as their own, and the customer is always first. These employers have come to understand that the quality of service is totally dependent on the quality of people. Money is not a good qualifier of the quality of a person; many minimum wage employees have greater quality of person than those who make 100 times their wage. However those of high quality should be compensated for their high standard.
Everyone however has a rough day from time to time, so how do you insure that great service is always a surety? Like common sense, the answer is to train. Training becomes a second nature of the service provider. When the service is so ingrained within the worker regardless of the day the worker is having they will follow the training.
So then that extra mile is, going way beyond the distance. Again we can go to scripture to conclude, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matthew 5:41) Successful service is doing that which unsuccessful people will not.
Service Life’s Conduit
There are four areas in life that cannot be excluded, they embrace each other, fulfill each other and make an individual complete. Without them there is a lacking in all areas of living. These areas of course are Faith, Love, Passion and Serving.
We each can speak of faith, love and passion as our personal experiences require of to be true to what we believe most, what will guide us through life. However when we have established these core values in our lives then they set the standard for how we serve. Make no mistake “we all serve.”
We serve but are not in servitude, those will little or no education serves, the B.A. serves, the M.B.A. serves, the PHD serves. When you visit a doctor’s office you are served, from the receptionist, to the nurse who sees you then finally by the doctor who examines and prescribes a needful remedy. We must always see the service we receive in every area of our lives.
It is our core values that will allow us to see and receive service, if we believe we are not receiving service, we must first see what kind of service we perform, then and only then can we demand the same from another. Our standards or core values must be visible to others in the service we perform and in the manner that we receive service from another. If we give praiseworthy service it is highly likely we will receive the same, demeaning service will reap the same.
There is a law of nature and spirit, “we reap what we sow” sow corn get corn, sow wheat get wheat, sow apples get apples, sow kindness get kindness, sow love get love, sow service and be served. Keep in mind however the law of sowing and reaping brings forth another law, the law of multiplication. When you sow a seed it grows and returns a much higher yield. If you plant an apple seed you get a tree which produces many apples over many years. Sowing great service produces a crop of great service which you receive over and over again.
Our personal mission statement should have a list of our core values, every company’s mission statement should have a set of core values. Look a great service company, notice what the call themselves.
Calgary Police Service Core Values
“All members of the Calgary Police Service are expected to adhere to the core values of the Service, conducting themselves at all times with honesty, integrity, respect, fairness and compassion, and courage.”
Honesty: Tell the truth with candor in a way that is clear and to the point.
Integrity: Display actions and express oneself in a manner consistent with the values of the Service.
Respect: Treat all people with value and decency. Listen to the views of others and maintain open communication.
Fairness and Compassion: Deal with people fairly and in a manner that displays empathy and understanding.
Courage: Take a stand on issues of value and importance to oneself and the Service. Make decisions and take action regardless of the possible consequences, to maintain public safety.
They not only recognize that they are in service but they embrace it by placing the word within the very essence of their being. They exist to serve, not just to enforce laws but serve the needful in a manner that is of the highest standard. Should there be any question as to the standard of service they list those standards for all to see.
The slogan of many Police Departments is “To Protect and Serve” and when you examine the core values of each department you find they all hold true to Calgary’s. No matter how you may try you will find that you too, serve. So find how you may do so at the highest level.
Establish core values that you can never stray from here are some that make a good beginning:
Tell the truth, it is what it is, if you stay with the truth you never have to be concerned about the repercussions of the lie. The truth is transparent, clear, your reward is you are believable have credibility and respect. Remember, say what you mean and mean what you say. A false claim is still a lie, if it’s not the world’s best don’t call it that. Be sure you have something to sustain your claim, certificates, awards, etc. Restaurant menus of course are a great example of untruths, state what it is and be sure you state nothing less. A Black Angus hamburger is not Kobe beef and just because 99% of your guests cannot tell the difference it does not permit you lie on your menu.
In the 1970’s we had another saying that went like this, “I know you believe that you understood what you thought I said, but I don’t think you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Clearly communication was lacking one believed they spoke correctly the other they heard correctly yet there was a misunderstanding. The very reason to, say what you mean and mean what you say.
Promises promises, make them and keep them. Never leave them unfulfilled, in doing so you break the above core value. When I promise service in 15 minutes or it’s free I must deliver or not charge. The promise given must always stand. A 10 minute oil change is rarely 10 minutes, how can you trust a service center that makes that promise, they delay on purpose so they can up sell you on other products. But their promise means nothing therefore the service they provide also loses its value. The result is the customer is always seeking an oil change service center.
Respect, a customer does not have to demand respect, they already are your customer therefore I respect their choice of choosing me so they have already gained my respect, why would I not give the same to them. We show that respect (even with the most difficult) by being courteous, considerate and attentive to their needs.
Loyalty, great service seeds loyal customers; they become faithful followers, committed to your service. When we break that loyalty by not fulfilling our word to them they feel beyond betrayed, it becomes very difficult to win them back. We must be just as faithful and loyal to our customers as they are to us. Why do “new” customers get better deals than the loyal faithful customer? Is there a double standard, often the answer is yes?
Empowerment, I have been well trained; I must be given the freedom to use my training. Empowered to make decisions and resolve problems. In exchange I will take responsibility for the decisions I have been empowered to make. Having been empowered I will make only those decisions within the guidelines I have been given and will seek assistance from a superior seeking decisions outweighed by my empowerment.
Discipline, as we have a defined set of rules and guidelines we are trained not to vary from them. By be disciplined in these actions I improve my skills, enhance my training, and develop my behavior. When I am disciplined, no matter my day, I vary not from my core values.
Leadership, we lead by example, therefore it must be the example one that others want to emulate. Innovation, creativity, and forward thinking are hallmarks of the leadership we demonstrated. We never hear a leader say “that’s not my job” no matter the job it is the responsibility of everyone, the name of the job is serving the client and every leader takes on every job.
Undeniable truths are what core values are, once ingrained within the very being of the soul they are demonstrated in our very being; they are an inseparable part of us. Serving is a choice of the heart; servitude is a burden of the soul. In service we always look to another best interest before our own. Phil 2:1-4 (Phi) Now if you have known anything of Christ’s encouragement and of his reassuring love; if you have known something of the fellowship of his Spirit, and of compassion and deep sympathy, do make my joy complete–live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but consider other people’s interests also.
We serve because we have been given a great example of service for our lives, Mat 20:27-28 (NEB) “…whoever wants to be great must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the willing slave of all–like the Son of Man; He did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give up his life as a ransom for many.”
Serve With Honor
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Albert Schweitzer
In a world that has so many vast needs the art of service may be the walk that we require to take us to the answer to these needs. Fulfilling needs truly is the art of service; the needs are great the service must be greater. In other words, we minister to the needs of the people. Minister in religion, in government, in business, in health care and in family, ministry is simply meeting the people where they are at and then lifting them above it. Serving the people, Christ of course was the greatest example, Stephen (a waiter) gave his life to serve as did Philip (Acts 6:5) Serving is always life giving, life changing and for life.
However one’s service can only be as genuine as they are. A corrupt person will serve from a place that focuses upon self and not upon the need of those whom they serve. Those who are motivated by anything other than to serve and to make someone happy must check their motivations. Some are motivated by need themselves, when the need is met then the service becomes lacking. Those motivated by greed never serve the needs of others and only are there to serve their own need. Check your motivation and you will see what kind of server you will be.
Service is and must always be an act of compassion, but understand that compassion is not just feeling sorry for another and the situation they be in. Compassion is far greater than this. When we read scripture we find that compassion was all that moved Jesus, He met the needs of the people when He had compassion upon the people. In other words He served the people by meeting their needs through the motivating power called compassion.
We therefore need to know what compassion really is if it is not just feeling sorry for another. Dakes says compassion is “a characteristic of God and Jesus and should be of the believers. It is the drawing and the agitation of the innermost parts at the sight of any distressed or miserable object. It causes revolting action in the innermost being to bring deliverance from such unlawful and inhuman misery and suffering”. In other word’s compassion is “to experience what another undergoes and have the power to change it forever”.
No matter what we do as servers we always to the same thing, see a need and meet the need. When we do so through compassion we often eliminate that need. A governmental minister sees that the populous needs a way to have health care that is affordable, so they pass laws mandating that the need be met. The pastor of a church sees a need within the congregation and takes them to scripture to fulfill the need. A banker, doctor, dentist, mechanic, electrician, plumber, waiter all are presented with a need, Having gone through a similar situation each knows the anxiety of the problem and each knows they possess the power to answer the need, in doing so, they eliminate it.
Compassion has its own motivating force, it is called honor. Without honor our compassion is misapplied even distorted and then confused with a feeling, (like sympathy) but all too often not a feeling for the one with the need but rather for self.
Honor is best defined as: honesty, fairness, or integrity in ones belief and actions. To serve without honor is but to mock whom you are pretending to meet their needs. So let’s break this down. Honor defined as honesty. Many are surprised to learn that the scam artist actually believes himself to be an honest person. His own personal welfare far outweighs any other considerations. His thief is to serve himself and in his mind he is being honest to himself, harm to others is not factored into his actions. Look at the history of the greatest scam artist of all, Bernie Madoff, and you find someone who began with great intentions for the good of those whom he served. Life and welfare of others really was important to him at one time, he even began serving as a lifeguard. The well being of another was important to Bernie at one time, but along the line serving others became only a means of serving himself. Horribly wrong, incredibly dishonest. The trademark of any scam artist is to believe they are the ones who were honest and it was another who caused them to become a cheat locked in deception and delusion. Bernie’s reward 150 years in jail, a wife and youngest son will not visit, his oldest son committed suicide and a life left unfulfilled. He lost it all because he stopped honoring what he once believed so valuable, the welfare of another.
One doesn’t have to be a Bernie to stop this action. Honor has no off switch, a bartender who over pours a drink may believe himself to be a person of honor, he in fact is a cheat. Like a Bernie, he over pours for a bigger tip, give a little extra to a friend, or just doesn’t care about the quality of the drink. Whatever the reason, his action is dishonest in that he steals a little at a time from the employer. Added up over a year and it becomes grand theft. I once had a singing bartender at my restaurant in Branson Missouri who stolen over his time there close to 50,000 dollars along with doing other harm to the business. When we caught him, like Bernie, denied it all, he could sing like an angel but stole like the devil. His service is ever marred, and forever is known as a thief. The waitress who bill for the extra fry’s, the builder who uses inferior products, the repair person who fix’s the problem with a used part charging for a new, the cashier who short changes a customer all are not in service but to themselves.
In serving with honor we protect the only thing we truly have, and that is our name. Say Bernie Madoff and honor is not something that jumps to your mind. Say the name of that bartender to me and I cannot bring myself to say anything worthy of him (I even refuse to use his name). Our name must be protected at all times and we can only do so by living up it with honor. Do something that takes away from your name (even a little) then you take away from your very being not just your well being (the reason most cheats are who they are.)
Honor will do what it has promised or offered to do even to one’s own hurt. A contractor may offer to complete a job at a certain price but did not price the job correctly, honor completes the job. He may discuss the problem and believe that the extra may be paid but the price should remain as the quote. A store sale price should mean it applies without unknown factors. Honor always does the right thing. When we serve people with what has been agreed upon and do it in excellence then we live a life in honor.
Honor is the foundation for the expression I quoted earlier, “do what is right, do it because it is right, then do it right” yes even to your own hurt if need be. I am in a situation right now that is one of honor. Opening a second location, one of clients advertises their restaurant as if I approved of it, using both my name and trade name in their marketing. Yet they had no contact, or approval to do so. They make claims that leave their clients believe that they use the finest ingredients and freshest product and that I have approved such. None is true therefore it is cheating the customer, me and even them. They mistakenly believe that because they are doing well the other factors are not important. Honor says they are important, to claim an international chef has approved your food when he has not is a falsehood, to claim you use the finest ingredients when you use far inferior ones is a falsehood, it will catch up with you.
Romans 12:10: Expanded Bible (EXB) 10 ·Love [Be devoted to] each other ·like brothers and sisters [with family/brotherly affection]. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves [or Outdo one another in showing honor; or Be eager to show honor to one another].
Simply put we are to honor those who get on our nerves, those who do us wrong, yes even the cheats of the world. In doing so we build ourselves and the reward they have for their actions will come. The cheating bartender lost all, Bernie Madoff lost all, honor is meant mostly for our well being and not another.
Some believe in honor so much that they are willing to kill for it. Recently we have seen a surge in so called honor killings especially in western countries, but there is never any honor murder. These are meant to service the honor of a family however every religion in the world forbids the taking of another’s life. Most honor killings are a crime against the youth (average age is 23) surely it must be easier to instruct than to kill. Honor provides and loves whom it may want to instruct. To live with honor is to teach the most important lesson of life, to serve another.
Serving with honor is to serve with fairness, in 1949 the FCC saw a need lacking in the broadcast industry and would pass what became known as the Fairness Doctrine. The focus was to be sure that a broadcaster would handle controversial issue that were of great concerns to the public in a fair, equitable and balanced manner. The broadcaster would give the public an honest response to their need serving the viewer with comfort. So then to be fair is to be honest, equitable and balanced. These should be the minimum standard of any server.
Fairness in service should:
- A) Give the customer what they paid for, more when it is fair to the service provider, but at a bare minimum what the customer has paid for. We may have need to educate a customer as to what exactly they are paying for, they then are comfortable they are getting what they pay for. I recall an automotive company once advertising “get a trip to Hawaii with any Chrysler product sold” so a customer went and bought a spark plug and demanded the trip. The car company saw the advertising mistake but honored to ad and gave the trip to Hawaii. In the long run they could not have got more exposure as the news wires told and retold the story. The customer was very happy, getting far more than what he paid for, the car company happy to be fair and honor their advertising.
- B) Never take advantage of the customer. Most customers are not qualified in the service they seek, therefore the need of the service. Our priority must always be that we are serving in a manner that leaves the client feeling that they were served extremely well. Customers rely on the expertise of the server and know within when they are being taken advantage of. This always leaves a sour taste in the soul and you can be sure that you will never see that customer again.
- C) Offer the customer the best you have. We have said this much during this study but always needs repeating. Excellence will always be rewarded mostly by gaining a loyal customer.
- D) Create a loyal customer. There is a difference in a satisfied customer and loyal customer. A customer who is satisfied is one who received service which they considered the same. Same price, same offer, same service, they see the business only there to provide what they need. The loyal customer sees beyond, the service is better the product better, so they form a personal relationship with the service provider. They are swayed by gimmicks and freebies but by the service. A satisfied customer may not be a returning customer, a loyal customer thinks twice about going elsewhere. Going beyond, being fair will switch the satisfied customer to a loyal one.
You will find the loyal customer has emotional attachment to the service provider, therefore they begin to refer to the establishment as their own, and in no way could they be found elsewhere, no other establishment could be better than their own. In all my restaurants my loyal customers refer to as their chef, they have taken me on as a possession of theirs. I would have it no other way for many I will see several times a week. In Branson I had many of the entertainers who ate in no other restaurant many just considered it their own. The emotionally attached customer is your best advertising tool, they simply tell everybody to go to “their place”.
- E) Eliminates the embarrassment of closing questions. If a service provider has been fair then why should they be embarrassed to simply ask the client for their business? Would you buy the car today, have I explained everything and answered all your questions? ‘Yes, then let’s go a write it up. There is never a poor reason to ask for the client’s business when fairness, honesty and honor is the foundation of the negotiation.
- F) Good is not good enough! We just watched this year’s Academy Awards, we watched how one Oscar winner after the other received their award, and they were the best at what they did. All the others were good but these few excelled in their service to the moviegoer. TO BE FAIR IS TO BE THE BEST,
Serve with honor and success will be yours.
I now want to speak to the art of service, and given my background I will speak to service industry of waiters and waitresses, but the following applies to all who are dependent upon the TIP as part of their wages.
Waiting tables is an “honorable” profession and should be treated with a certain level of high respect. If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out. We as servers have actually have had patrons say (usually angry ones) “Why don’t you get a real job.” So for those who would make such a statement, SERVING TABLES IS A REAL JOB. This statement is often from the lips of someone who simply does not want to leave a tip regardless of the level of service. We will discuss the tip later but i want to discuss the duties of most servers (good ones.)
* Arrive before schedule and check POS for specials, a la mode offerings, and eighty six items.
* Greet guests in a friendly and courteous manner during all interactions.
* Handle all guest interactions with the highest level of hospitality and professionalism.
* Abide by the policies and procedures as set out in the Associate Handbook and any other applicable policies.
* Must adhere to the appearance and grooming policy.
* Perform other duties/tasks and projects as assigned
* Offers suitable wine pairing options to enhance guest experience.
* Informed wine, spirit and cocktail knowledge, constantly improving and updating to suit guests’ needs.
* Ensure guests meet the legal age in order consume alcohol beverages, check valid government issued identification.
* Must be able to perform accounting duties as it pertains to closing out checks, giving change and accuracy in balancing end of day reports and paperwork.
* Must be able to up sell and suggest specialty food and beverage items to each guest.
* Writes customers’ food and beverage and keys into POS.
* Clears and resets tables, including removing and replacing dishes, glasses, utensils and condiments in a timely manner.
* Ensures cleanliness of the dining room, service areas and back of the house.
* Have knowledge of menu and private party menus.
* Responsible for pre-sets and removing unused pre-sets from the table.
* Effectively communicates to management, both front and back of the house, any problems (e.g. Allergies), special requests (e.g., no garlic, no MSG, etc.) concerns (e.g. Timing) to ensure the guest a pleasurable dining experience.
* Coordinates with kitchen and floor staff to ensure an exceptional guest dining experience.
* Answers or finds the answer to questions regarding menu items, property and area events and attractions.
* Resolves customer complaints including invocation of complete satisfaction policy.
* Completes required side work as assigned.
* Meets the attendance guidelines of the job and adheres to regulatory, departmental and company policies.
* Fluent in English both written and verbal. Proficiency in other languages would be an asset.
* Ability to work flexible hours including days, evenings, nights, weekends and holidays, including overtime as required.
* Ability to follow all safety policies and procedures within the work area and respond properly to any hotel emergency or safety situation.
* Ability to work well under pressure. Ability to serve up to 30 guests at the same time.
* Work harmoniously and professionally with co-workers and management.
* Must be able to initiate and engage in conversation in a professional and friendly manner.
* Excellent interpersonal and customers service skills. Problem solving, and guest retention skills are required.
* Must be able to work in the assigned bar and lounge.
* Must be able to carry and balance cocktail and serving trays that weigh at least 15 pounds.
* Must be able to stoop and bend, as well as maneuver up and down stairs.
* Must be able to use hand motion when serving drinks and wiping down tables
* Must be able to stand for extended periods of time to continuously perform essential job functions.
* Must be able to attend to the needs of guests of differing age groups, seniors, adults, young adults, children and toddlers ensuring an excellent experience in dining.
How then does one actually say “get a real job” what exactly is a real job and how do you classify it as such? Why is a job not serving a real job and one of serving not a real job? A bank teller is that a real job, or the doorman, the theatre usher, the restroom steward, the car sales person, are these also not real jobs? Or is it only for those with a degree and various letters behind their name. Take a look at what my name could actually be written like, Rev. Ronald Kalenuik, BA, MBA yet I am a server, does this discount my degrees? Perhaps the real job means the amount of money one makes; professional servers make sums much higher than those with a BA or other Bachelor type degrees. A real job must be one where the needs of the individual and his or her family are being met. The taxi driver or counter server work in no less of a real job than the doctor or the lawyer. The difference is the value that society places upon the individual, but the job they perform is very much real.
This job of serving requires extensive knowledge in various areas, it requires the individual to multitask at multiple tables while keeping health and safety of the customer foremost but not letting the customer realize it. Performing all the requirements, while dealing with the demands of a logistic corporation, a manufacturing corporation, an educational institute and a day care center (that’s just the first hour.)
The server is required to a peace maker, have knowledge of obscure ingredients, tracking information as to the locale where the ingredient is grown. Knowledge field and farm, fresh and salt water fish and seafood, and is the product wild or farmed grown. They are required to do the exotic and then the mundane. An expert in time management, they are required to know the exact timing of the preparations of the kitchen to ensure all is delivered fresh and at the correct temperature. They must be ambassadors, diplomats, politicians and skilled orators. They become skillful at handling ego’s of managers, chefs, sommeliers, and more importantly the customer.
Servers work every special occasion and birthday except their own. All long weekends take on a completely different meaning to the server. While they attend to the needs of those with the “real jobs” being sure that their families are having a great long weekend of fun, the family sits at home to wait for the server to return, tired, hurting, deprived of rest, exhausted, and it was all at or below the local minimum wage and a percent of the tips. (Most servers’ tips are split in various ways, we’ll see this later) Special days or holidays are always the highest in stress, in customer dissatisfaction, in errors committed, and at the door wait times all potential disasters that the server needs to defuse.
Although many view the job as temporary (as they gain knowledge to transcend to their career) those who have made a career of serving, often find it a more rewarding and fulfilling career. In comparison to those who have successfully entered into their field of their choice and the professional server statistics show the server is happier in their job.
The song “Take this job and shove it” by Johnny Paycheck, may explain the attitude of many, it is not a general feeling of the professional server. Given the stress and the high demands the professional server everyone who serves this is not a job but rather a vocation. A vocation is a term meaning “a divine call” which most servers truly believe they are. Another meaning is: occupation, or the principal business of one’s life. Talk to most servers and they will tell you that they do what they do because it is in their blood to do so. They leave for a time but soon they are back, many who have departed serving for another career will be found returning, often giving up the career to serve. The professional server is reminded daily of what they do, an acronym for service is: Social, Enthusiastic, Responsible, Vibrant, Intelligent, Courteous, Engaged. The professional server has been trained in service.
When I conduct service courses for my clients here is what the staff will be trained in:
- Hospitality and the waiter • Menu: Types, uses and services: Buffet service; Family service; Plate service; Silver service; Functions service. • Food service equipment• Food service procedures • Mise-en-place (everything in its place) • Taking orders • Suggestive selling • Styles and sequence of service • Silver service • Gueridon service, (food is presented, cooked, or finished on a trolley in front of the guest.) • Beverage equipment and service procedures • Beverage product knowledge • Patron-care • Wine rituals • Cash register operations • Handling customer complaints • End–of–service procedures • Espresso machine operation.
Having a complete understanding in these areas requires dedication to professionalism, and once learn it does not end there servers are constantly upgrading their knowledge as food trends become popular.
So much of the server’s job is to provide the guest with the highest of standards, the standards must be in place and enforced by all, servers, chefs, managers. They are never up for debate; a standard means the way it is done, automatically without thinking. Think of it, after the manner of a car’s transmission, there is the manual which requires coordination and thought but for most they drive an automatic, just get in and go, the work and thought are completely done with the car. Everyone applies the standards without thought; a server cannot serve hot food if in fact the cooks do not follow the standards of providing it hot. The manager cannot change the standard when he or she just happens to feel like it, they put are in place to the delight, satisfaction and safety of the customer, not the ease of those who must enforce them. Any business without standards will frustrate the employees, managers, owner and most importantly the guest. They are likely not to exist too long. Those which do stay in business will see the business struggle in retention of employees and satisfied guests.
Truth In Service
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Winston Churchill
Truth or Consequences? a city in New Mexico or a game show or a life lesson? I know, I know, all of them. Well it is the life lesson we will concern ourselves with, truth in service and what are the consequences for either disobeying or obeying the truth. As a chef I will use my industry to be an example, but it holds true for all industries.
We are a “five star” restaurant states the manager to a guest, it’s a lie. No one awards 5 stars; the best is 3 stars from the Michelin Guide, 5 diamonds awarded by AAA and Zagat’s rates on a point system as does Wine Spectator. For someone to claim such, shows how little they know little about what they are talking about and if they can lie about their rating what other lie’s may be found upon the menu.
Common menu lie’s are over inflating the ingredient used, (farm salmon touted as wild or even Copper River salmon sold fresh in October (the Copper River season is mid May until July) cannot be true. Other menu lies are the latest catch words such as sustainable, local or organic. These are the latest hot button terms in the greening of a restaurant, but do you really receive what they claim on the menu. Certified organic means there is a record to track the product, sustainable is a philosophy and subject strictly to the claims of the farmer or operator, local often refers to product farmed within 100 miles of the operation (something that can be verified but often is not.) Many restaurants use these terms without providing the required documentation. I dined in a restaurant just today who made these claims, in Canada, in winter you cannot get any fresh produce grown within 100 miles, the ground is frozen. So they clearly lie to the customer. There are times of the year when ingredients are simply not available within that 100 mile zone, strawberries may come from California or Florida or even Chile. Apples are waxed and stored in the fall, getting a fresh one in May it simply doesn’t happen although the apple from Washington State may be available year round it still may be last season’s apple (which is ok as long as you don’t claim it was just picked). In defense of the chef who actually goes to the farmers market (very few do) they need to be asking the right questions as well, the farmer may be getting what he is selling shipped in from elsewhere too. Many farmers will sell other regions until their own product is ready.
The restaurant operator must present what is stated upon the menu, so if they claim an ingredient comes from a certain area then it must: Scottish salmon; Atlantic salmon (can be both a type and a region); Crassostrea gigas or Pacific oysters; Bluepoint oysters raised in Long Island’s Great South Bay ; PEI or Idaho potatoes; Bay scallops; Gulf shrimp; PEI Mussels, Smithfield ham; Limerick ham; Alaskan king crab; Long Island duck; Florida stone crabs; French white asparagus.
Leeway may be given for styles rather than districts, New England, Manhattan and Boston style clam chowder, New York style cheesecake, Maryland style crab, New York or Chicago style pizza, Kansas City or New York strip is commonly accepted and most realize that it is a style of cuisine rather than a district, we all understand that Chinese food does not come from China but rather it is the preparation method of the food.
Often restaurants boast of servicing the” finest” and “freshest” ingredients however when questioned they use terms like IQF (individually quick frozen) to refer to the food ingredient, no matter what frozen is, it is still not fresh. I recently watched a TV commercial referring to bagels as “fresher than fresh” because of the IQF process, still frozen is not fresh, thus it is a lie. Often compounded with the lie there is just out and out fraud. Veal cutlets made of pork, shrimp used instead of scampi, and common beef sold as Black Angus, Kobe or Wagyu (watch out any restaurant that claims the burger is made of these) wild mushrooms must be wild.
Bar’s who use well stock instead of the requested brand name knowing most people cannot tell the difference once mix has been added to the drink. How much more money can I get if my customer orders a Masterson 10 year old whiskey at 4.00 an ounce but I give him a Centennial 10 year old at 1.00 per ounce, if they add cola will they know the flavor difference. The Masterson would sell for 25.00 per drink and the Centennial for 6.00 (at the bar 17% liquor cost) so if two drinks are served with mix I can charge 50.00 and only have a cost of 2.00 instead one of 8.00 (after all he will never know) so the bartender has lied, committed fraud and theft, (after all who is going to pocket the 38.00 difference in just those two drinks?
Truth will prevent the restaurant from using many canned and RTU items as well. Is that sauce on your steak Oscar really Béarnaise (eggs, butter, white wine, lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper) or is it something made of modified milk ingredients, palm oil, wheat flour, modified corn starch, monosodium glutamate, corn syrup solids, hydrolyzed protein (corn, soy, wheat), salt, onion powder, silicon dioxide, locust bean & guar gum, citric acid, spices, hydrolyzed casein (milk), hydrolyzed soybean oil, garlic powder, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, color with allergens of milk, wheat and soy. Would it not be far nicer if the cooks only knew how to make the sauce in the first place instead of relying upon a microwavable “something”. The big factor here is most restaurants proudly declare themselves as MSG (monosodium glutamate) free zones, cooks simply make an instant product that calls itself Béarnaise sauce and states to the server no MSG because they have not read through the ingredients listed upon the package. Reading labels prevents problems in the dining room as well, maple “flavored” syrup is not maple syrup for pancakes.
We may ask ourselves, how is that we are not speaking truth? This is so easy to answer, in doing so let’s look at what a lie is. There are two kinds of lies, both wrong, both destructive. What there is not is what we call a big lie or a little lie, a lie is a lie. So what are the two kinds of lies, white lies and black lies?
Something white has always been thought of as day, light, beneficial, good, pure, not presenting any harm. Whereas something black is considered dark, night, destructive, very harmful. Other terms we use this comparison with: white and black magic, black and white ideas or choices, seeing everything in black or white, an agreement written in black and white.
So then a “little white lie” can’t be harmful, can it? Most white lies are conceived to manipulate someone into a course of action that who favor the liar, not usually beneficial to anyone except the liar. In a restaurant my menu white lie manipulates the customer into buying an item at a cost higher than what I should charge or reassures the guest I am offering them what they want when in fact I knowingly am not. Morality says we don’t lie, compromising our morals gives us the needed permission to tell little white lies. We want our customers to think highly of us therefore we tell them what they want to hear so that our self-esteem or our confidences in our business skills do not come under question.
The little white lies are ok because we have not harmed anyone, right? Wrong for we have caused harm first to our sense of morality which devalues who we are, once caught in our lie we generally tell another and yet another cover of the first, it eventually gets lost in a maze of lies and our integrity is now gone. Some may believe that the telling of the white lie is really just being kind and showing kindness. To be kind is defined as being: useful, to lie to someone only serves you and has no good use ever. People want the truth regardless of the circumstance, you’re not being kind to tell them anything less than the truth. If the truth cannot be expressed because of a possibility of harming sensitivities, just ask yourself what will be the repercussions be in the end? If they will be harmful (and they will be with a lie) then tell the truth. Everyone can be truthful, just word the answer in a way that holds integrity.
Truth is kindness, those who receive the truth have knowledge upon which they may shape their future, immediate or for the long term. “Is this the best thing you ever ate?” asks the new cook, when it was not so good at all, the comforting lie would be a simple yes, the truth could be worded “there is potential for you to produce the best thing I ever ate if you will only do….” No lies and the cook will get a useful bit of knowledge. We place greater value on hearing the truth so we may move forward than hearing a falsehood that only strokes our ego.
No matter the circumstance there is never the place for the white lie, especially in service. We want to build relationships and to do so on the grounds of a falsehood will only catch us in the end and we suffer the loss of the relationship. What price have you placed upon your integrity?
A black lie of course, is any lie spoken to cover and protect ourselves or out and out deceive another for our personal gain. We talked earlier about Bernie Madoff the King of the Liar’s he did only that which pleased or made gains for himself, all based upon black lies. Be sure that the fall is great; I wonder what price Bernie had upon his son’s life.
Most bartenders, like car salespeople, insurance salespeople are masters at the lie, telling the customer what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear, that is the kindness we cans serve, speak the truth.
Service demands truth and if you want the best of your customer than give them the best you have, the truth. Many states, provinces and most city health departments actually have “truth in menu” laws, and the operator could be closed for misrepresenting their menu with lies. Homemade (house made) must be so, not a purchased product, using ingredients which are claimed to be not in the building (MSG), Most government law enforcement can enforce truth in menu laws and literally hundreds per year experience some punitive action for lies expressed on the menu.
“Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.” Albert Einstein
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” Winston Churchill
“Our duty is to encourage everyone in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.” Swami Vivekananda
“Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness.” Khalil Gibran
“Tell me I’m clever, Tell me I’m kind, Tell me I’m talented, Tell me I’m cute, Tell me I’m sensitive, Graceful and wise, Tell me I’m perfect – But tell me the truth.” Shel Silverstein
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 Jesus the Christ