Thursday, December 28, 2006

Almost Famous

Waitress from Naked Women and Beer stopped in earlier and pointed out that we (along with a number of other blogs) were highlighted in an article in Buffalo Spree Magazine for our blogging about our jobs.

I am glad I can blog about my job. It is a great release, a place for me to vent rather than soiling my relationship with my wife and family on a near daily basis. It is also an opportunity for some bloggers like me to be watchdogs of their particular places of employment.

Do I think my employer is happy I blog about them? No, I'm sure they aren't. They are a big soulless corporation that wants everyone to be a mindless server robot walking in goose-step on the company line (especially their management). Red Lobster is the anti-flare of all restaurants. They don't care who you are, what your experiences are, you must follow this very exact way of doing all things. As an example, people have been getting fired the past few months across the country because they have not been using the word "promise" in their table approaches. They don't care if you are their best server with the most experience, if you miss saying "promise" or half a dozen other specific things 3 times (and of course are caught each time) they will fire you for it. Red Lobster gives no consideration to their employees needs. They know that their employees are basically disposable because there is a nearly endless supply of other people in many markets looking for work. This also means that managers become glorified babysitters rather than leaders.

An example of how Red Lobster screws someone other than their servers would be the hour requirements for managers. If you are a manager at a Red Lobster, you must work a minimum of 50 hours a week in order to receive your full salary for that particular week (vacation not included). This is so that each store can operate on one less manager than a family friendly 40 hour work week would require. Then you worsen this by having a fairly high turnover rate in management company wide. This results in stores with only 3 managers covering 4 managers schedules and work for extended periods. And then they wonder why there is such high burn out and turn over. Red Lobster spends an incredible amount of money training their managers, only to have them leave for better work environments at their first chance.

So yes, I blog, and I blog about work, and I work for a soulless corporation.

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MHAithaca said...

OK, I give up. Why do you have to say "promise"? Do you have to promise that the food is good? Tell them how much promise their daughter in kindergarten has?

Jen14221 said...

Hi Lobster Boy,
I wrote the article in the Spree; I hope you liked it. If you want a copy sent to you, e-mail me with your name/address and I will have one sent to you. I will keep your name and location top secret.

Lobster Boy said...

Thanks for stopping in Jen, I appreciate the publicity. I don't need a copy of the article though, but thanks for the offer.

RE: Promise

Red Lobster has instituted a new component to our table approach. We MUST include the word promise and make a statement about how we will care for the guest. You wouldn't believe how many people laugh and snicker when they hear us saying this. Red Lobster thinks that because we have made a promise that we will follow through with it. I say BS, and haven't seen anything change where I work because of this new BS requirement. But I do it, because it is my job to do so. I wish we could say "I promise to put my foot in your ass if you don't understand proper etiquette for dining out." or "I promise to smash your phone on the floor if the whole restaurant has to hear your damn Nextel chirp again." I suppose the second one is covered by the first but I digress. We must make a promise, and if we don't use that exact word we get a verbal warning, written up, then fired on the third failed time. It is 100% lame and childish the way we are treated as adults.

Lobster Boy

Brad #1 said...

I really don't think that 50 hours on your feet as a manager is too much to ask. Nearly every management job that I've had has pretty much required that. It's kind-of one of those expected things. Hell, in my job now, I log over 60, but I am pretty much the only manager.

It's the management jobs that don't pay shit AND expectations are way above 50 hours that are ridiculous. Believe me, I've been there, and that's the definition of burn-out.

mrclm said...

Congrats on your mention LB!

I don't know about LB's store, but our management team all clearly log considerably more than their minimum 50 hours a week. We have one manager who we might have to start having his wife drug him so he won't come in on his "days off" to do trainings and such. While it isn't a requirement of him to do them on his days off, the reality is that it is basically the only way for him to get it done. Then you add in weekly staff meetings as well as other things (like covering for each other during vacations) and you get a metric buttload of hours. I've worked 60-70 hour work weeks for years on end and know just how draining and unsatisfying that quickly becomes.

Big Chris

barista brat said...

this is my first time visiting your blog - i saw your comment on 'naked women and beer'.

i can't believe that 50 hour work week for managers! i know some companys have been successfully sued by their employers about too many hours. and that whole 'promise' thing would get to me in two seconds flat. i have a hard enough time with 'just say yes'.

Lobster Boy said...

Welcome BB! I've visited your blog a few times too. Thanks for stopping by!

Lobster Boy

ktlee said...

I've been following your blog for a while and am now compelled to comment. I used to work for a chain like yours. It was named Don Pablos, or Hell on earth. They have lost many good managers & servers over the years. I am now working for a chain that treats their managers & employees much better. I enjoy serving again.

I "promise" to comment more often. I only said it once, please don't write me up or fire me for this.

Maya said...

I stumbled across your blog quite by accident and felt compelled to tell you a little story.
I worked with RL as a server for 7 months when I visited Canada last year. One day my favourite manager says to me "next Wednesday will be the last of my 23 days in a row, I'll get 4 days off." Our GM was managing 2 restaurants at the time because another GM quit unexpectedly, they spent most of their time at the other store. Our other manager had taken their annual leave I suppose, and was gone for 3 weeks. The only other person was the Manager in Training. Manager abuse? I think so.

Also regarding the Red Lobster Promise, I tried it a few times. Perhaps I should have used it more but I felt it was an empty promise that puts unnecessary pressure on servers to do what they are (in most cases) well capable of doing. To me, making that empty promise to my guests I felt I was letting them down from the start by being a drone.
Its the responses too that are completely degrading. Blank stares, cheeky comment threatening to be horrible guests so I'd have to break my promise. RUDE! Besides, people usually know straight away that we're doing it because "they told us too."

I'm sorry RL, you will have to try harder to program your robots to be enthusiastic.

The other thing that got to me was the idea of "closers" I don't know if it is the same for your store but closers were servers given a promotion to a Supervisors position without a pay rise. Its small but it all matters.

Sorry this comment was a little longer than I expected :/ hope you don't mind.