Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday morning detention.

One of the downsides of being at a corporate restaurant is how they get all uptight about sales and add-ons and crap. At my restaurant, they used to look at your average dollar amount per guest, but they didn't make a huge deal out it. We'd have contests sometimes, and they'd talk about ways to increase it, but it wasn't something they really focused on.

Well, now that's changed. They don't look at the check average anymore, actually. We have a whole new system. Basically we get points for things, like upsized drinks, salads, desserts, etc. Each item is worth one point, and then that's divided by the number of guests. I actually like this system better, as it gives me specific things I know I get credit for and that I know are easy up-sells.

What I don't like so much is that they've decided that there's a cut-off percentage. If you're below that cut-off, you have to come in on Saturday mornings before we open for ... well, I'm not sure exactly what. Since it's run by Lapdog, I'd assume it's going to be an hour of bitching about how things need to get better, with some reiteration of "sales tricks" we've heard before.

Today was the first one of these classes, and I didn't have to go--I'm usually at the top of the chart. Actually, last week I was fifth from the top because I was deliberately slacking off. I'd been first or second for several weeks in a row, and I figured that's a good way to get saddled with leading those Saturday classes or being put on the spot at other times.

So I'm not particularly worried about it--if all else fails, I know how to work the computer system so guests get what they want and I get decent scores. If someone orders a "bacon cheeseburger with no cheese", I order a hamburger add bacon. Same price, I get credit for an upsell. I don't think there's anything wrong with that example; but I know it's just a matter of time before someone I work with gets in trouble for only ringing in one guest per table in an effort to avoid the Saturday morning classes. Which is exactly the kind of trouble corporate is asking for by punishing servers for not being salespeople.


teleburst said...

Here's another way that the system can be gamed.

Let's say that Corporate is worried about PPA (per person average). Most systems are normally designed to count covers by way of entrees. One entree, one cover. In many of these systems, the key that you have to use to split an entree takes this into account. IOW, if you hit the "split entree" key, it will actually keep a two top splitting an entree as 2 covers. Some systems actually have two keys - "split" and "split entree, no cover". The split, no cover" disregards the split command and keeps the cover count consistent with the number of entrees.

If you want a higher PPA, you'll use the "split, no cover" modifier button because it will actually throw all of your sales oonto a single cover instead of dividing it between two covers (the way a PPA usually works is taking the number of covers and dividing it into the total sales). So, you can actually use the dreaded "We'd like to split an entree" situation to your advantage in terms of building your PPA. I've never worked in a place where there's a split charge, but I'm guessing that most systems will use that key in the same fashion as a "split key" and it will automatically split the number of covers. In that case, you might not have an option.

There's another solution to the cover count situation. If you don't have a "split, no cover" key, you can always type in your split modifier. This can't be tracked by the system. There could be a potential downside to be aware of though - the kitchen dupe that's printed might not treat a printed instruction in the same way as it does a keyed modifier. By that, I mean that you might find that if you have, say, 3 burgers, 2 medium, 1 medium well, the split button might put the instruction with the proper temperature while the typed instruction might just be at the end of the "3 burger" entry. It all depends on the priority that has been programmed into the system. If the priority isn't done a certain way, the keyed in instruction might not stick to the actual product that is on the screen at the time and might simply go to the end of the cumulative entry on the dupe (if this makes sense). It's a good idea to check your kitchen ticket the first few times you do it.

You can check how the various split functions affect your cover count by checking the cover count against the actual number of people who had their own entrees when you print it up. In other words, if you had a split between two people on a four top, see how your issuing the split order affected it. If you only have 3 covers, then you have gamed the system in your favor. If you still have 4, then you need to look for another "legal" alternative.

Thanks for prompting a future post, PG! I will definitely give you credit...

Pseudo Waiter said...

There are a million ways to validate, empower, and motivate employees to generate better sales. After many years and many restaurants, I find it amusing how corporate love to treat their staff like children. I would love to hear how your lecture went.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to know if they pay you for that hour early on Saturdays, and if they do, at what rate.

purplegirl said...

Those are great kinda sneaky ideas, Teleburst! Wouldn't work in my system, unfortunately!

Pseudo Waiter, I didn't have to attend the lecture and the people I've tried to talk to about it haven't really been able to explain what it was about. So I'm assuming nothing useful!

Anonymous, for any meetings like that the restaurant has to pay minimum wage. Not nearly enough to be out of bed that early!