The Interview Process
There are so many things you want to know about a person when you interview them, the most important being his/her work ethic. There are ways to find that out with proper questions and review of a resume.
If an applicant submits a resume, take advantage of it! Do the research that others perform to make sure a candidate is a good fit. Ask the legal questions of a former employer.
You want to set the stage from the beginning that you operate a professional business. It isn’t just a café, diner, restaurant or deli. It is your business and, if you want to take an aggressive approach, ask questions of your applicant that will reveal the salesperson in him/her. I might suggest a simple test for starters. Give him/her an example of a regular guest check that you see on a daily basis. Ask him/her to take five or ten minutes, go over the menu and respond to you with ideas on how he/she might increase the check amount. Ask him/her to say to you what he/she might suggest to the guest to increase the amount. Simply listen for words used. Keep your request simple and see how far he/she goes with it. Set up a role-playing situation. You don’t even have to get up out of the seat. There is no need to make them more uncomfortable than necessary. More experience people will have a better idea of what you’re looking for and will either go along with you or decide this is not the job for him/her. Body language will tell you that decision instantly.
If you treat your restaurant as a professional business and treat the interview process that way, the person applying for a server’s job is going to get the impression that he/she is applying for more than just an order-taker’s job. He/she is going to know that being a salesperson is what you are looking for. If they do not have experience as a salesperson, and you believe they possess the desire to do so, take a chance and hire them! If they have had serving experience and you are afraid that perhaps they will come in with bad habits, as many of them do, then your training has to be such that is doesn’t promote those bad habits. If you have given the impression that you operate a professional business, then those you hire should expect professional training. They should be pleasantly surprised that someone is taking the time to allow them to practice the things they have never been properly taught.
Focus on good habits and don’t promote the bad ones. Sometimes waiters just don’t know the proper things to say. Sometimes they truly don’t know how to suggestive sell and, worse yet, they have no concept of excellent customer service! No one has ever taught them true customer service skills. We are dealing with a younger generation in many cases. They are intelligent. However, sometimes they lack direction. Those are the new people you want! You can be a part of their future successes! Offer them the tools to be the best salesperson for your company and, if they decide to move on, you have a proven formula for the people who take their places.
It all starts with you and the interview process. You know the law and what you can and can’t say or ask. Don’t worry about the law and get on with business! Create a professional atmosphere from the moment they encounter your establishment and you will quickly weed out those whose intentions are to just make a few dollars and get free food. Look for the salespeople. They will reveal themselves when you ask the right questions. Seek salespeople and you will find them.
My newsletter wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that I do the kind of training I’m talking about. I know you don’t have the time to do what I am suggesting, and that is why I am here! Good habits are practiced and role-played so that people become used to saying customer service oriented phrases. I show them how to make more money and, of course, that means more money for you.