Laying the Foundation for Success – Tips for a Successful Restaurant Career

service-excellenceDo you love your job? Not everyone can say that they do! A career change could result in a number of benefits including increased job satisfaction, increased earnings, and a chance to try something new and expand your skill set. If you enjoy interacting with people, working in a fast-paced environment, and you love variety, you may want to consider looking for your dream job in the hospitality or restaurant industry. Hospitality professionals work in a variety of positions including bartenders, servers, managers, hosts, security professionals, clerks, business owners and more.

National Restaurant Association chairman Jack Crawford recently spoke to new graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, offering them advice as they begin their careers in the restaurant industry. Mr. Crawford’s speech was summarized in an article titled, “7 Tips for a Successful Restaurant Career,” and we here at TAM® of Nevada wholeheartedly agree with his suggestions! You can read the full article here, and check out a few more suggestions for TAM® Card holders that we’d add to the list:

  1. Passion for what you do can make you more successful and fulfilled in your career choices. “A passion for excellence is what makes a person tick. It helps you to work through the noisiness and find your success,” says Account Manager and Certified TAM® Instructor Sherry Cummings.
  2. Continually honing, improving, and expanding your skill set is important in any career. If you’re new to the industry, why not get a leg up on the competition with additional skills and techniques to set you apart from others? Likewise, if you are a restaurant veteran, consider adding to your skill set to stay competitive. Additionally, adding to your skill set isn’t just about remaining competitive. Learning and improving can be a generally enjoyable experience, and it can reignite your passion for your career.
  3. Obtain your TAM® Card. All hospitality professionals in Southern Nevada are required to obtain their alcohol education card prior to working at a location where they’ll be selling and serving alcoholic beverages. The Techniques of Alcohol Management® will give you the skills and knowledge you need to serve responsibly and begin your hospitality career in a position to succeed!

Our most important advice of all of all? Remember to have fun and enjoy your new career! What is the best advice you would give to someone looking to start a career in the hospitality industry?

Note: If you need to obtain your TAM® Card, now is the time! Due to the upcoming fight weekend, we will be open until 7:00 PM Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, April 29, 30 & May 1st (this week only) to accommodate any last minute TAM® Card proctored exams. See you soon!


7 Tips for a Successful Restaurant Career – National Restaurant Association


Restaurant Technology – Digital Restaurant Menus Appeal to Busy Customers

tablet ordering in restaurantIt’s considered rude to browse the web on your smart phone while seated at the dinner table, but in an increasingly tech-savvy world and competitive dining industry, restaurants are breaking their own rules. Some restaurants are looking for new ways to appeal to busy consumers, and to move as many happy customers in and out of their establishments in the most efficient way. As Mitch Lipka points out in his article, “Will digital restaurant menus get you to spend more?” one method is asking patrons to get more involved in the dining out experience by ordering or viewing menus on tablet devices such as the iPad®. We here at TAM® of Nevada really enjoyed this article and are interested to see if, and how, this technology will continue to grow, especially in the Las Vegas area.

The draw of digital menus includes the benefit of being able to offer more information about menu items without worrying about taking up too much real estate on a menu page. Diners are likely to spend more money and order additional items if they can see photos to go along with dish and cocktail descriptions. Additionally, there’s an opportunity to include allergen information, or even suggested wine pairings to go along with each dish.

Increasingly tech-savvy customers are seemingly open to the new trend. According to the National Restaurant Association, 41% of consumers surveyed said they have used a computer to view menus, order food or make reservations online in the last month. Additionally, 46% said that if offered they would use a smartphone to make a restaurant reservation or place an order at a touch-screen kiosk (National Restaurant Association).

Of course as with any new technology, digital menus and ordering also run the risk of becoming a passing fad. For another opinion on this new movement, check our Michael Austin’s article for the Chicago Sun-Times, “Pour Man: iPad wine lists let your fingers do the ordering.” Do you think moving away from paper menus and into digital menus will catch on and become mainstream? Only time will tell.

Have you seen these types of programs in use anywhere yet? What do you think about allowing customers to order off of digital menus: great idea or doomed to fail once the first drink is spilled on a device?


Las Vegas Restaurant Week Returns

restaurant_weekLas Vegas Restaurant Week is returning to town once again from August 23rd through August 30th.

Now in its seventh year, this event continues to be a resounding success and an opportunity for restaurants and diners alike to help Three Square, southern Nevada’s food bank, combat hunger. Restaurant Week offers up the chance for diners to check out some of the most popular eateries on and off the strip if they haven’t had the chance (or the budget!) just yet. Additionally, a portion of proceeds from each meal sold at participating restaurants will go to support Three Square Food Bank. How cool is that?

What does that mean for Las Vegas’ servers, bartenders and kitchen staffs? Prepare to be VERY busy! Expect crowds of hungry diners eager to sample cuisine from the dozens of participating restaurants. Diners are heavily encouraged to make reservations, so that removes the element of surprise for many establishments.

If you are a service professional at a participating restaurant, there are a few things you can do to manage the crowds, maximize your tips, and wow your guests. For starters, make sure you can explain to guests a little bit about the Restaurant Week program and how it will help the community – your guests will feel good about participating in a worthy cause, and your restaurant also gets kudos for the same. Additionally, make sure you are familiar with the prixe fixe menus and are able to answer questions about Restaurant Week options (ex – menu substitutions, exclusions). Need a little more advice on how to keep your cool during this busy period? Make sure to read our blog post, “Feel Like You’re Stuck in a Pressure Cooker? Managing Stress on the Job.”

To learn more about Las Vegas Restaurant Week, Three Square Food Bank, and participating restaurants, you can visit the event website here.

Is your establishment participating in Restaurant Week? Which restaurants are you most excited to dine at?

© 2013 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Qualities of a Top-Notch Service Professional – How to Project A Positive Image and Attitude

As a server or bartender, you’re often the first, and last, staff member a customer encounters. Your interactions will set the tone for the evening so you want to greet your customers warmly, and leave them reflecting on a positive experience once they head for the door. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure it’s a great one. Professionalism and competence are very important, but so is projecting a positive image and attitude. There are a few simple steps you can take to boost your image and set the tone for a positive evening.

  1. Reflect a neat and clean appearance. Your company may have a dress code, or you may be required to wear a uniform, so always follow company procedure. Additionally, a hospitality professional should remember to keep fingernails clean and trimmed if they are handling food and beverages, and keep long hair pulled back or styled. By projecting an air of professionalism, it makes both you, and your company, look great.
  2. Maintain an engaged and positive attitude when waiting on guests. By remaining focused and attentive, your guest will pick up on your can-do attitude. Take it a step further by providing suggestions and answering any questions from the guest. They will appreciate your tips and suggestions on what’s best if they’re deciding between a few options.
  3. Remember to check in on your guests. 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. If you notice a guest with a half-full drink, ask if they would like another. Just remember to serve responsibly, never over-serve a guest.
  4. Be mindful of your body language. Service with a smile goes a long way towards putting your guests at ease. For additional easy body language do’s and don’ts for hospitality workers, read our blog post, “Set the Tone and Increase Your Earnings with Positive Body Language.”

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 hospitality professional. Additionally, providing stellar customer service is likely to net you greater tips and also impress your manager or supervisor. What other tips would you give someone looking to excel the in hospitality industry?

© 2012 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada