4 Things No One Tells You About Working in a Restaurant

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For those who have never worked in the service industry, it can be described as a business that’s like no other. It’s businesses that completely depend on the needs – and whims – of others. And every day might be different than the next. But even the most prepared of workers (and owners alike) don’t necessarily know what they are getting themselves into when they sign up. In fact, even those who have worked in a chain or alternate type of restaurant might not know what to expect with a new location.

From dealing with unhappy customers to finding the most efficient way to complete daily tasks, here are four of the least shared secrets that come from working in a restaurant.

4. The Customer Isn’t Always Right

Let’s face it, we’ve been told that customers are always, always right, since we were old enough to understand what the phrase meant. But in reality, customers are often wrong. They bring in expired coupons. They tell you they ordered their burger with cheese, not without, when in fact they are mistaken. They might brag that “last time” a worker gave them a deal or let them get away with so-and-so. And that once they report you, you will be fired, even if you’re the owner.

And an entire list of additional annoyances proving that customers are in fact wrong. But that doesn’t mean even when they are the wrongest of the wrong, that you can tell them this. You have to make them happy and try your hardest to put on a brave face through every lie and teeth-clenching bout of behavior. Because even though they might not be “right,” they can take their business elsewhere. And, whether burger cook or chain owner, it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen.

3. Different Chains and Bosses Do Things Different Ways

The same goes for employees. That doesn’t mean one way is wrong, or better than the other. It just means that, based on requests, you have to adjust how things were from before. The faster you’re able to change, the easier your job will become. Those who are more willing to try new things will also gain the respect of their coworkers (whether they are superiors or subordinates), which can create a closer work bond and more efficient space.  

Often times these changes and/or expectations are listed in a company manual. However, showing up to work and listening – and watching – also offers a foolproof way to see just how the new place does it, and what’s the best way to stay in line.

2. Business Runs the Schedule

While in an office job, hours might be set in stone. Coffee pots are shut off at 5, and employees are able to walk out the door just as soon as their computers have been logged out of for the night. With restaurants, however, that’s not the case. Busy hours might stay similar, but you never know when an impromptu round of eaters will walk in the door, wanting to order breakfast or all types of food items to go. In fact, it might even happen right at one’s shift change, causing you to stay a few minutes longer than you’d planned.

That might sound like an inconvenience, but it’s also just the nature of the beast. Because customers run the business, they run all of it. Sometimes that means staying flexible, even when the timing is the absolute worst, in order to keep everyone happy and orders running smoothly.

1. Things Move Quickly

Really quickly. When at a restaurant’s busiest, workers might be doing 10 different things and filling multiple orders. All with specialties and custom orders. And it’s their job to keep things under control and prepare them as quickly as possible.

For some, this requires a serious learning curve, but for the seasoned restaurant pro, it’s just another day on the job. (Taking a break from the restaurant biz can also slow down one’s pace, requiring them to get back into the swing of things.) But by knowing what to expect and how quickly to expect it, everyone can help create an environment where they’re at their best.

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By Bethaney Wallace | July 27, 2017 | Food Franchise Blog