No training required

HIT-AND-MISS: Receiving good service is not a given in many eateries. Credit: Shutterstock

THERE are some occupations which are shunned because they are poorly paid or are commission based.

I am sure that some jobs are avoided because of the stigma attached to them. Some occupations are sought after because of the opportunity to boost the meagre salary with tips.

This may be the case for some but not all waiting staff in eateries.

Sub-tropical Spain is host to the most restaurant-minded people in the world. Dining out is a major draw and boost to local economies. Why then is this noble trade downgraded to steerage-class status in terms of service.

Waiting on tables is one of the most physically demanding jobs imaginable. The work calls on a need for tolerance, diplomacy, people skills, stamina, and patience whilst under fire – and at the same time having expertise and product knowledge.

Why then isn’t this type of employment better respected, not just by customers but by those employed in the industry? Self-worth is one of the most rewarding aspects of any job, as is respect. Both face famine conditions in the dining out trades.

Having achieved much as a business doctor, an occupation I held for twenty years, I think the buck for poor standards stops at the boss’s desk. Is it because it is difficult to hire and fire incompetent, rude and even insolent staff that dumb waiters are so common, a word which rings true in more than one sense.

The problem of discourteous waiting on staff has not reached epidemic proportions. However, it is a major fault line that can spoil an expensive evening for many who dine out.

We all know how difficult it can be to attract the attention of staff otherwise who are busy doing things that could wait. None are as blind as those who will not see, as my mother used to say.

On several occasions, having finally attracted a waiter´s attention, the requested bill, without ceremony or word of thanks, has been curtly slapped on the table in front of us.

In truth, we the customers, must take some of the blame. Tips are not and are never presumed to be an unavoidable part of the settlement. Tips should only be given when the service is clearly over and above the call of duty, which unfortunately it rarely is.

I strongly advocate what is known as mystery shopping; I used to be a mystery shopper. Most department stores and auto main dealers profit immensely from engaging mystery shoppers.

Mystery shoppers, or fake customers, complete a carefully pre-thought questionnaire as to their shopping or dining experience afterwards. This ploy enables the employer to see their business through their customer’s eyes. In too many cases, his eyes will widen with horror. A friend in need is a friend indeed; invite associates to shop at your business.