In honor of National Waiters Day, I wanted to take a look at some of the rudest – and oddest – guest behaviors and the various ways staff can handle them. I did some research with various people in the service industry and paired it with my own experience and came up with a list of the most annoying, and all too common, guest behaviors.
Top 5 Pet Peeves from the Service Industry:
- Bad Manners: This is somewhat all-inclusive and covers most of the list, but it is still a top issue. We all know that person, he’s easy to spot. He’s the one shaking his glass in the air, snapping his fingers for attention, and then doing his best to ignore the wait staff unless he has something to complain about. And he “knows the owner”.The Fix:There isn’t one – train your staff to be cool under pressure and never take revenge. A good venting session at the end of the week with a free meal for the staff member with the rudest guest may help alleviate some of the tension.
- Tipping: Servers depend on tips for a living, so when a guest refuses to tip – especially for reasons that are out of their control – it is a big deal. Small tips are also an issue – the few cents left over to round out the bill, the people who still tip a dime no matter what, or those who put a few dollars on the table at the beginning and remove one for each perceived drop in service.The Fix:A great server will make enough each shift to cover a table or two of non-tippers, but managers should not charge employees for guests who walk on their checks, and tips should belong only to the person who earns them.
- Alcohol: Guests who have over indulged bring a lot of problems to the table, from bad manners to forgetting to pay, most servers cringe when approaching an inebriated guest.The Fix:Cut people off when appropriate, and get your server some back up if needed.
- Kids: Kids are still learning, and most people understand that. The problem comes when there is a disconnect between the way the child behaves and the way the parent reacts. If a child is being rude to the server, parents should intervene. If a child is making a huge mess, parents should keep it to a minimum and let the tip show their appreciation for the clean-up. And under no circumstances should children be allowed to run around a restaurant – not only is it disruptive to employees and other guests, it is very dangerous.The Fix:Let your staff know which issues they should and should not bring up with parents of young guests, and keep a stock of non-messy snacks for the less patient youngsters.
- Inappropriate Behavior: Some guests seem to feel that wait staff has a secondary responsibility to inflate their egos by flirting, and often go far beyond flirting and well into lawsuit territory. Servers are working hard to provide excellent service.The Fix:Your staff should know that they can refuse to serve someone who is treating them inappropriately – take over the table for them or ask the patrons to leave.
While speaking with some friends about this post, I came across a few stories that were less pet peeve and more…well…weird.
Top 3 Odd Stories:
- One regular at a BBQ joint discovered that the sauce kept at the table is a big factor in food cost. He would spend the entire time he was waiting on his food to arrive eating BBQ sauce from a spoon while staring at the manager. He never had to wait long.
- More than one guest, when running into a server in the restroom, has deemed it appropriate to go ahead and place their order right away.
- One woman annoyed her server by asking for the largest table in his section even though she was dining alone. When he arrived to take her order, he her happily engaged in conversation with photographs she had placed at each empty seat.
What are some of the rudest (or oddest) behaviors you have come across? How you do you handle them?