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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Restaurant Mayhem

I recently had the opportunity to go to a number of restaurants with various groups of people and experienced an interesting difference. I do not mean in the menu options or even the food quality or quantity, but in the organization of the service. Let me explain. In each case there were from six to eight people at the table. In some cases a person led the group to the table, helped people settle in, and offered something to drink.  Call this the Type A situation. In Type B situations the group wandered to a table, sat down and waited for a server.

In Type A, the person that took the drink orders returned, served the drinks and took the meal orders. For Type B, when a drink order was taken a different person came to serve the drinks and had to figure out, either with the help of notes left behind or by asking the patrons which drink to serve to each person. Another person came to take the meal orders.

The Type A group server had assistance removing the used tableware, but was the person that took additional drink orders as well as desert orders and served them as well, while the Type B group had different people for each of these activities. Anyone that walked by the table might (or might not) serve a course or remove used tableware. In each case a computer screen entry was made to issue orders to the bar and/or kitchen as well as keep track for billing and maybe inventory purposes.

When items arrived from the bar or kitchen, for Type A servers, they generally knew which items to serve to each patron. In the case of Type B, a sort of “Three Stooges event” took place to determine “who to serve what” among the available staff. This was a hard act to keep track of if there happen to be a few staff people available at a given time.

If most restaurants operate on a theory that “time is money”. Which of these examples made the best use of time and therefore made more money? And which one had the best customer satisfaction?

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor
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