One of the difficulties of the frantic posting regimen I have taken upon myself is trying to come up with new and interesting things to write about.  I want this blog to be informative and provide real world tips that you can apply on your next shift to make more money.  This is one of the reasons why I am happy to get phone calls from time to time with suggestions.  This topic was inspired by a phone call from my friend Roman of the Subatomic Pioneers.  Give me a good idea and you get a mention.  Solve the other problem of coming up witty opening paragraph and I will link to your band too.

Guests have a significant amount in common with my ex-girlfriends.  Both of them can be noticeably unhappy and rather than tell you the issue, they will make you guess.  The old “If you don’t know what is wrong then I am certainly not going to tell you” treatment.  In both cases, failing to spot the signals and act upon them will prevent you from getting what you want.  In the guest’s case that means your entire tip.  Knowing how to spot these problems and how to get them to admit the problem is the key to saving your tip.  Guests will often respond to disappointment by lessening your tip even if they choose not to admit the problem or recognize you, as the server, did not create it.

Here are three ways to spot a complaint that is never verbally mentioned:

Watch the Posture: It is sometimes obvious when a guest has an issue.  They might not cross their arms in a huff and refuse to speak to you like an ex-girlfriend, but the signs are there.  A drastic change in their posture or demeanor will often signal dissatisfaction.  You might not be the source of the problem, but if you don’t try to find out you will infuriate the guest more.  Ask specific questions about the food or drink in front of them.  Be sure to offer any assistance possible.  Be approachable and give the guest the time to know you care.

Watch the Plate: If more than a quarter of the food is on the plate at the end of the meal, this is can be a signal of an unhappy guest.  Instead of asking a generic question like “how was it?” ask something more specific.  I like to use a question with two outcomes.  “Were you not happy with it or did we just get you full?” This forces a guest to either lie or avoid the issue.  Either way the other guests at the table are aware that you care and tried to address the problem.

Watch the Other Guests: Realistically, I am as bad about this as any of my exes or guests.  Just last night I was out with a friend and had a dessert that was incredibly sub par.    They were fried brownie bites that were obviously put in a transfer bowl used for french fries and were covered in salt.  This led my friend to name them “chocolate salty balls.”  The server seeing all but two left on the plate asked very sincerely if I was unhappy with them.  They were less than four dollars and she had our check in her hand so I did not complain.  My friend’s reaction made it very clear that I was unhappy, she picked up on it, and I still didn’t complain.  The difference of course is that I still tipped her the same amount understanding it wasn’t her fault.  Don’t trust your guests to be so logical.

Once you can get the guest to admit the problem, you can take steps to address it.  The same guest that will not complain to you will most likely take their complaint to an email or tell their friends.  This is in addition to taking it out on your tip.  The effort you take in showing you care by giving them every opportunity to voice their dissatisfaction is the key to saving your tip.  This is the key to turning unsatisfied guest into satisfied ones.  As far as girlfriends go, you are on your own for advice on that one.

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