May 4, 2018 • By Dennis Beaver
“As an Administrative Law Judge, I hear appeals from restaurant servers let go for misconduct, being rude to customers, co-workers and the employer. Millennials, feeling entitled and believing they are smarter and better than others, represent an enormous miss-match between job requirements and personality of the person wanting to work in the hospitality field.
“Several years ago you did a marvelous piece on Bridgit, who was in her 23rd year at the Sutton Place hotel in Vancouver, Canada and just loved her job as a server. I have handed out copies of that article to employees who lose their jobs because of failure to understand their role and have very poor attitudes towards customers. They get fired, and then, as part of the “me” generation think they are entitled to ‘free’ money.
“This situation isn’t getting any better, and you could do a real service for anyone wanting to work in a restaurant or hotel by pointing out what’s needed in order to succeed. Maybe you could check in with Bridgit if she is still working at the same hotel. Thanks, Henry.”
Great with computer screens and cell phones but they don’t get it
We caught up with Bridgit Martin, several of her colleagues, and Sutton Place General Manager Navid Sariolghalam during our family reunion in Vancouver, still one of Canada’s best tourist destinations.
“Career servers have definitely seen a change in the type of person who wants to work in a restaurant, where loyalty and wanting to engage, to connect with the customer is rarely present,” the 28-year restaurant veteran observes, adding, “for so many millennials who communicate through cell phones and computers, it’s all about the tips, and they don’t get it,” she states, shaking her head.
And what does “Get it” mean?
“It means establishing a relationship with the guest, making it an enjoyable, memorable experience. People remember, return, the word spreads; ‘Ask for so and so,’ and after a brief time, guests will request to be seated at your table. But you have to be genuine, as phoniness can be sensed immediately.
“If you look at customers as merely the next tip, that message will come across loud and clear. If you see people only as a means to get what you want, life will reward you with far less,” this happy woman stated with a smile that could melt Vancouver’s snow.”
Experienced, career hospitality people, she believes, “Can tell you within a very short time who will fail as a server.” It’s the person who:
(1) Doesn’t like to talk.
(2) Who is robotic and not smiling.
(3) Just doesn’t seem happy
To Martin, anyone who fits into that category should skip this industry, “Because here, you have to listen to people’s complaints, try to make them happy, be accommodating and try to make their experience an enjoyable one. If you are not willing to bend over backwards to help somebody, find another line of work.”
“Have a strong work ethic and realize that it’s show time”
Walter Day manages the Chambertin Breakfast Lounge, has been in hospitality “for most of my adult life” and “would have no other occupation,” pointing out the importance of having a strong work ethic. “I always come to work early, on my time. I come to work no matter how sick I am (but not with the flu!) and remain on the job until they can find someone to take over.”
To Walter Day, one of the keys to success in hospitality is attitude. If he’s had a quarrel and might be upset, “When I come to the back door, I think, ‘Wally, show time!’ I put in the code, come in, greet everyone with a smile because the show is going to start and that’s what it is.”
There is no better example of a person with the right attitude, who “saw the long term,” going from valet car parking assistant to General Manger, and that’s Navid Sariolghalam.
“The people who succeed as servers don’t come to work because of the tips. They come to work because they enjoy being here, dealing with people, wanting to be here. Of course, part of the enjoyment is the monetary side of what they do,” he observes, adding, they don’t worry about money because their character and desire to be with and help people is well rewarded.”
Perhaps the happiest person at the entire Sutton Place Hotel is Mark, the Doorman, there over 30 years. “This is my home,” he proudly states.
And all who work in this lovely hotel, or pass through its entry, are his family.
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.