Service Excellence: Best Practices for Hospitality Professionals

Bartenders and servers have a tough job. They must juggle customer satisfaction and safety with fast-paced service, heavy lifting, and hot kitchens… and do it all with smiles on their faces. Given the rigors of the job, a great hospitality worker can be a rare and welcome find.

What can one do to make sure they are putting their best foot forward? Robert Plotkin of Nightclub & Bar Magazine laid out some of the cardinal rules of superior bar service in his recent article, “The 10 Commandments of Excellent Service.” We here at TAM of Nevada agree with all of these points on what makes for excellent bar service. Like we stated in our blog post, “Set the Tone and Increase Your Earnings with Positive Body Language,” making an excellent martini will only get you so far. A positive attitude, an ability to multitask, and friendly, welcoming attitude are all must-have qualities in a top-notch hospitality professional. You can read the full article here, and here are a couple more tips that we’d add to the list:

  1. Know the menu. Familiarize yourself with both your regular menu, as well as any specials for the day, happy hour deals, etc. Guests with dietary restrictions may have questions about ingredients or preparation, and if you can correctly and quickly answer those questions without heading to the kitchen to confer with the chef, all the better. Guests will also appreciate your tips and suggestions on what’s best if they’re deciding between a few options.
  2. Check in on your guests, and listen to their feedback. Dropping off a drink or meal and disappearing only to return once they’ve finished is bad form. Check back to make sure your guests are happy, and when you ask, “How’s everything?” listen to the answer. If something isn’t right, do what you can to fix it.

Hiring managers at bars, casinos and restaurants are looking for well-rounded staff members who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure guest satisfaction. Making small changes to your routine to make sure you’re treating each guest like they are appreciated and welcome is the first step toward becoming a first-rate team member in the eyes of your manager. What insider tips would you give someone looking to excel the in hospitality industry?

Resources

The 10 Commandments of Excellent Service – Nightclub & Bar

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

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The Return of Four Loko – Even Without Caffeine, Still Popular with Teens

The ban on caffeinated alcoholic beverages, also called alcopop, was one of the biggest stories in the beverage service and sales industry in 2010. Popular beverages such as Four Loko were called dangerous, a binge in a can, and worse. Last November the Food and Drug Administration declared alcoholic energy drinks to be a public health concern. The FDA concluded that caffeine added to malt alcoholic beverages was an unsafe food additive (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

What made the combination so dangerous? The FDA raised concerns that caffeine additives may have masked some of the effects consumers typically rely on to determine their level of intoxication. In fact, drinkers who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are 3 times more likely to binge drink than drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). All of this was alarming enough to get these drinks pulled off of shelves, but also concerning was their popularity with teens and young adults.

Four Loko was, and continues to be, extremely popular with teens. A single can of Four Loko came in at 23.5 ounces, contained 12% alcohol, and also contained unsafe additives caffeine, taurine, and guarana. Four Loko came in much larger, and more potent, than a can of beer. In fact, concerns were raised that these drinks were marketed to appeal directly to teens (Marin Institute).

Several months later, Four Loko is back on shelves, without the caffeinated punch. The drinks have been reformulated and no longer contain additives like caffeine, but they still come in 23.5 ounce containers with 12% alcohol by volume (Omaha World-Herald). Teens may not realize they are consuming as much alcohol as they are until they are well on their way to unsafe intoxication. Four Loko still comes in fruity, teen-friendly flavors like fruit punch and watermelon. It also continues to be the drink of choice for many young people around the country (Bar Business Magazine).

What can you do as a beverage service professional to keep teens safe?

  1. Make sure that ‘alcopops’ such as Four Loko sold off-premises are displayed in areas dedicated to alcoholic beverages, not in the soft drink section. Many of these drinks can be easily confused for non-alcoholic energy drinks, and it just makes it easier on everyone involved to keep them separate.
  2. Always card anyone who appears to be under the age of 30. Retailers and off-site sales professionals should be diligent about checking IDs to make sure teenagers are not trying to purchase liquor with fake or borrowed identification.
  3. For more ways to help curb teens’ access to alcohol, read our blog post, “Teen Drinking is a Dangerous Business,” and refer to We Don’t Serve Teens’ suggestions.

What policies have you instituted at your organization to deter teen drinking?

Resources

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Are Your Safe Beverage Service Policies Working? If Not, It Could Cost You

A recent news story regarding the accidental service of an alcoholic beverage to a minor is making waves, and it serves to remind us exactly why alcohol awareness education is so important. A toddler was recently served an alcohol-infused margarita mix in place of apple juice at an Applebee’s restaurant in Michigan, possibly the result of a mislabeled bottle at the bar. You can read the full story on The Detroit News’ website here.

New procedures have been put in place by the company to prevent this type of mistake from happening again, but the damage has already been done. The parents are suing, and there is a monstrous wave of bad publicity for the Applebee’s franchise. Luckily, the child who consumed the beverage and began behaving strangely is OK, but he did register a .10 BAC, more than the legal limit of intoxication for an adult driver. Worth noting and also alarming is that this is the fourth such related incident reported since 2006 for Applebee’s. This is why staff training and alcohol awareness education is so important. There are legal, ethical and moral obligations to keep patrons, of all ages, safe.

Policy changes put into place by Applebee’s include only using apple juice from single-serve containers and retraining staff on beverage pouring policies and procedures. You can read Applebee’s response regarding the event and more about their new procedures here.

As a reminder to all hospitality workers, there are a few common-sense solutions that everyone can use to make sure that patrons are receiving what they ordered, and are being served safely and responsibly.

  1. Store alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages separately, and make sure containers are labeled properly so that bartenders and servers are aware of the contents. A pitcher may look like it contains juice or something else recognizable, but if you aren’t 100% sure of the contents, do not serve it.
  2. Double check that your guests are being served exactly what they ordered. If you deliver beverages to your guests, aside from visually inspecting the glass to make sure that they are receiving their correct beverage choice, you can repeat the beverage name to the patron upon delivery to confirm with them that they are receiving exactly what they ordered. If another staff member delivers beverages to your patrons for you, swing by to make sure the order is correct and they are happy with their beverage.
  3. Always card your guests if they appear to be under 30. Hospitality workers need to be concerned not only with incorrect orders and beverages, but also underage patrons who are trying to illegally obtain alcoholic beverages. To learn more about recognizing a fake or borrowed ID, refer to our blog post, “Are Minors Using Fake IDs and Sneaking Past You?” Most establishments also have a guidebook, like the I.D. Checking Guide, for validating various forms of identification. Ask your manager if you have a guide like this in your establishment and refer to it if needed. The I.D. Checking Guide can be purchased from TAM® here.

To learn more about safe beverage service, take the Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM) ® course offered by TAM® of Nevada. Do you think this incident could have been prevented? What types of procedures does your establishment have in place to prevent these types of accidents from happening?

Resources

Toddler’s Alcoholic Drink Prompts Changes at Applebee’s – The Detroit News

Applebee’s Corporate Statement on Incident in Madison Heights, MI – Applebee’s

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Anatomy of a TAM Card® – Find Out If You Are At Risk by Not Having An Official TAM® Card

Often imitated, never duplicated, TAM® of Nevada has been the sole provider of official TAM® Cards to the Las Vegas community for over 25 years. There are several providers of credible and effective alcohol awareness training and drink cards, but TAM® of Nevada is the only authorized provider of the official TAM® card. Also, more employers recommend TAM® of Nevada for their employees’ alcohol education than any other provider. Wonder why? You can learn more about what sets TAM® of Nevada apart and makes our training unique here.

Make sure whatever training program you choose is approved by the Nevada Commission on Postsecondary Education, and be wary of any company other than TAM® of Nevada that promises to sell you a TAM® Card. All training is not created equal, and working with a fake alcohol awareness card can land you, and your employer, in serious trouble. If you already have your TAM Card®, it is easy to check to make sure you’ve received a legitimate drink card and training program. Check out the sample TAM® Card shown here, and make sure yours has the same or similar look. Look for each of the following identifying characteristics which can be found on every card:

  1. TAM® name and registered trademark. Your card should have ‘TAM®’ written across the top in the title with the registered trademark symbol.
  2. Official TAM® logo. Look to the bottom left corner of your card, underneath your photo, and make sure you see the TAM® logo.
  3. Unique Control Number. On the front of your card, you should see a chain of numbers which begin after the letters OE. A different control number is issued to each TAM® Card holder, and is unique to you. Older TAM® cards may have “LVMPD#” followed by a chain of numbers.
  4. Signature on back of card. The back of your card should have the official TAM® logo along with a pre-printed signature.

If you are concerned that your current card may be invalid, or if you’d like to register for an alcohol awareness course, you can reach TAM® of Nevada here. Remember, alcohol education is mandatory for almost all service professionals in Southern Nevada, and you can learn more about alcohol awareness education requirements by reading our blog, “Call It What You May … But There’s Only One TAM Card!

Resources

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada