Working in a restaurant, as they say, is a stop on the road of life. Whether its in high school, college, or in between jobs, working in a restaurant is a great way to make a good living with a flexible schedule. Here at 451 Marketing, those of us who have worked in the service industry – as a host/hostess, server, or back of house – have found that several skills that we cultivated while waiting tables serves us daily here at the agency and covers dealing with clients, the media, or colleauges. Below, we put together our top four PR lessons from the service industry.
- Anticipate: A waitress is always trying to save time and energy by making the fewest number of trips back and forth to tables. The easiest way to make the most of each table visit is to anticipate what each guest will need before he or she needs it. Proactively delivering ketchup, steak knives, and napkins turns into a huge time saver when you apply the strategy to five or 10 tables. Like wait staff, PR pros need to constantly anticipate client news, potential pitfalls and media needs. Ultimately, anticipating potential needs and problems goes a long way toward making the lives of clients and media members a little bit easier.
- Be a team player: While the wait staff is the face of restaurant service, it takes an entire team to deliver an enjoyable meal. A good waitress knows the importance of helping those around her succeed. Taking a minute to help a struggling coworker means that everyone in the restaurant will have a more pleasant experience. PR pros can also benefit from a team-centric attitude. Many times, a team member may have a great idea or relationship that could help at any time so don’t be afraid to ask around.
- Streamline multiple tasks: On a busy Saturday night at the restaurant, a waitress needs to keep many balls in the air – from remembering who ordered what to checking on tables, even picking up drinks at the bar and splitting checks – all in one walk from a table to the kitchen. With so much to remember, streamlining tasks and combining trips becomes a necessity. Waitresses create systems like assigning apron pockets or writing lists to keep it all straight. The same goes for PR pros. To do our jobs well, we must juggle several priorities for several different clients and things can easily fall off the radar. Organization and processes are key for keeping it all straight – and helps us keep a smile on our face through all of the speed bumps that can arise.
- Keep the customer #1: So much can go wrong during a shift that is out of a server’s hands – kitchens can get backed up, reservations can get lost and orders can get brought to the wrong table, just to name a few. Through it all, the difference between a 5% tip and a great night can be simply remembering what’s important – the customer. Keeping customer service as your #1 priority and communicating regularly and honestly with the customer can make a server’s life much easier. In the life of a PR pro, keeping your clients well-informed and remembering what their priorities are can make or break a client relationship. If you make a mistake, apologize. If that publication doesn’t want to publish their story, let them know honestly – and explain why. Customers and clients are human, so treat them how you’d like to be treated.
Have you worked in a restaurant? What role did you have and what lessons did it teach you about working in PR today? Let us know in the comments section below.