Friday, February 23, 2007
I'm going to rant for a bit. If you don't like my rants, skip this (and most) posts.
The Red Lobster 3 table policy.
We, as RL Servers, are limited to three tables max at any given time. It can be three 1-tops, or three 7-tops, but only 3 tables. It makes no difference if one table has been sitting in your section for 3 hours, you cannot take another table. If you have two one tops sitting in your section reading books all afternoon, you will only have one table that you can wait on. If some people are working on business, a couple buying a house for instance, are sitting in your table all afternoon looking through paperwork, you cannot take an additional table. If a guy decides he wants to read the whole newspaper during rush in you section you cannot take another table. If your tables want to sit and watch the game (if you are in a RL with Bar tables and TV's) you cannot take another table. During the World Series, we would have tables sit for hours. Think we made any money? It is an asinine policy. It has cost each and every one of us money, except for those who make these kind of decisions. Did the Corporate leaders loose money when we made this switch a year and a half ago? Nope, they certainly didn't. It's easy to screw with things when it's not your livelihood you are screwing around with.
The 3 table policy does not take into account server skills. We have some people that I would testify before congress should never have more than two tables. We have a couple of middle aged women who between the two of them would struggle to maintain 3 tables at a level I can hand 5 or 6 tables. It's less about me being good and more about them sucking BTW.
Another thing that pisses me off is that if a mid-afternoon person wants to leave after their guests have paid, but while the guests are still seated in our restaurant, they can have another employee watch/clean up that table. So now the other employee can have their own 3 tables, and be babysitting 4-10 tables depending on how many sitters and servers we have that day. But could that employee watching 8 tables actually take a 4th table, certainly not. Do those tables that sit there for the next two hours still require service - yes, though admittedly a diminished amount. This is the case every single day of the week. This same scenario plays out at the end of every shift. Come in late at night and you might see 10 tables in the restaurant with guests, but only 2 servers in the store. Red Lobster only applies their policy when it is to their advantage. By letting those other 2-4 servers go before their tables leave they save labor hours, they are getting servers off the clock. I understand the servers wanting to leave early as possible, that isn't the issue. The issue is the double standard employed by Red Lobster.
Another place this 3 table rule makes no sense is in the bar. Bar Tenders do not have the same limits as do servers. A bar tender might have 12-20 sitting along the bar on a busy night eating and drinking. Plus they have at times other tables they are responsible for. In addition to that, they are supposed to be making drinks for the servers. If their choice is to take care of their own guests eating the 2 Ultimate Feasts and drinking a few cocktails (likely netting them a $10+ tip) or getting the drinks for the servers, they are going to choose taking care of their own guests at the expense of the server. They are likely to only make $10 all night for their service to that server. So the servers get to stand their waiting while the bar staff runs around taking care of themselves. Further, the bar tenders do not have the table service training that servers do. Watching a bar tender take a table is painful. They don't have table approaches. They don't know the menu. And this is our long tenured bar staff, not even the new people.
Splitting large parties
If a table has 8 or more guests, two (or more) servers are required. A table of 4 adults and 4 sets of breast feeding twins (12 people) requires 2 servers. If 16 people come, only one orders a meal and the rest just drink water 3 servers would be required. If a retirement party of 22 people comes in for drinks and appetizers you have to have 4 servers. Not only does this policy jack us as servers, it causes increased wait times for virtually every table of 8 guests or more during a busy period. Now not only do you have to wait for tables to open up, but you also have to wait for all the servers involved to have an open table before the table can be seated. So when a table of 15 people shows up, they have to wait for all 3 servers to have open tables. Our large party wait times have increased substantially the past year and a half.
The further insanity is that if you are just starting your shift - this happens frequently on weekends - you can come onto the floor an be sat a party of 6 or 7, and two four tops simultaneously. But you cannot take that 8 top by yourself. We have sections where when servers aren't on in adjacent sections it is possible (and it happens) that people get sat two 5-tops and a 4 top all within two minutes of coming on the floor. Do you think it is harder to deal with 10 people at one table or 10 people at 3 tables? At the 10 top everyone can listen to the same table presentation, everyone is going at the same general pace. Not so at three separate tables. Do you think Red Lobster is going to go on a wait to give you enough time to take the order of the 7-top before they bring you the other two 4-tops? Nope. In spite of their idiotic 3 table policy, Red Lobster DOES NOT want to go on a wait. They will seat overly busy bartenders instead of asking guest to wait in the lobby with empty tables in full view. They will allow guests to seat themselves at the bar rather than make them wait for a server with an open table.
Related Tags: Red Lobster, Darden, Food Service, Server, Waiter, Waitress, Bartender, Bar Tender, Bar staff, Corporate policies, Stupid policies, Bad Leadership, Bad Management, Bad rules, Customer Service, Host, Management