Downwind"May I Take Your order?"
My wife, the beautiful and talented Mrs. CCFB Manager, has a belief that all people (especially young adults) should be required to be a “server” in the restaurant industry as an important training ground for life and dealing with people. I believe she is correct (not just because she is my wife). Serving as a waiter, waitress, or hostess places a person in the front line.
Servers have close contact and direct interaction with people of every potential personality and situation possible. Pleasant, angry, demanding, indecisive, caring, aloof, distracted, pleased, disappointed…different personality packages at every table! And as the frontline server, you must interact, adjust, perform, and ultimately, deliver. Flexibility matters. Skills in gauging and reading people grows. Training under fire comes to mind. True preparation for all that life brings.
That is why, when reviewing headlines of various farm and food news articles for the Family Farm and Food Bytes feature (on page 8 of this publication), the headline “Full-Service Restaurants Beat Fast Food Chains in Customer Satisfaction During the Pandemic” article from Food & Wine intrigued me.
I read further…
“This month, The American Consumer Satisfaction Index, upon releasing their annual Restaurant Study, found that despite the Covid- 19 pandemic, traditional sit-down food chains improved their customer service ratings in 2020.”
How could that be, I thought? The sit-down restaurants were in various stages of shutdown for most of the year.
I continued to read…
“The pandemic forced restaurants to rethink the way they do business or risk being shuttered but, in the end, these changes paid off for restaurants as satisfaction with full-service restaurants significantly increased.”
I find it fascinating that sit-down restaurants received high customer service ratings during a pandemic when everything changed. Great service which leads to great customer satisfaction. As they re-thought approaches to food preparation and sales, they had to amp up service through customer communications and delivery.
I have never been a restaurant server. I did not have a chance to learn (or fail) as a server growing up. Somehow, I feel like I missed an important training ground. My excuse: my dad, the Farmer, required my services, such as they were, on the farm doing farm work (farm work is defined by whatever he told me to do). Another excuse: I was not fond of talking to strangers.
My “service” training was mostly working on the farm. I had plenty of one-sided service conversations and interactions with pigs, sheep, cattle, and an occasional horse. Those “customers” appreciated my delivery of plenty of fresh water and feed on demand. Usually, the order was simple… the blue light special feed rations created by Dad, the Farmer.
The closest thing to “human” food service training for me was working in the FFA snack booth during high school at some football games. Service training is a stretch as I remember preferring to work behind the scenes filling the shouted-out orders from those working the counter.
Restaurants and patrons should count their blessings I never attempted to take anyone’s order!
Now, many years later, I do wish that I had restaurant related food service experiences during those impressionable years. I can’t help thinking how useful for me to have that forced interaction with “strangers” required by serving, interacting, and connecting with people within that environment.
Cook County Farm Bureau is a “service” association, meeting the needs of members every day. We are so very fortunate to have a terrific group of staff to answer phones, work with members, solve problems, communicate with benefit providers, work with affiliate company personnel effectively, and provide great support. During the pandemic, CCFB staff performed admirably and received great feedback and high ratings by members in the area of member service (although we did not receive a “best of customer service” award yet).
Was restaurant “service” a part of your CCFB staff’s life training? The answer for most is “Yes”!