Perfection And Performance Brings Big Rewards

Posted on August 2, 2011

As a pilot who flies a turbine engine airplane, I am required to attend annual recurrent flight training at an approved flight training center. This year I received my updates at the SimCom Training Center in Orlando, Florida. This is a three day session in which the airplane’s normal and emergency systems are reviewed in a classroom. Then piloting skills are put to the test in a simulator where in addition to testing normal instrument flying skills, the instructor throws every type of emergency imaginable at you to see if you can handle it. (I passed!)

Most of the pilots attending SimCom stay at a hotel that provides a nice hot breakfast each morning and boxed lunches to take to the training center, but we usually go out for dinner on our own in the evenings. On one of these outings, we went to a fantastic Italian restaurant called Buca di Beppo where I had a memorable experience I think would be of interest to readers.

A very unusual part of this visit occurred on our way to be seated. We were taken on a tour through the kitchen so we could see how our food would be prepared. Then we were led to a dining room section that contained seating for about 40 people where we were directed to a large booth that could easily seat six people. As you can imagine, after a hard day of training, we were ready for little refreshment and a good meal. When I turned to look for a server, Pat suddenly appeared from just behind my left shoulder.

Before I continue with this story, let me say that Pat, although attractive, was not a youngster working her way through school. She very efficiently took our drink orders, told us about a couple of specials and invited us to look over the menus while she got our drinks. Before she left, she made it a point to let us know that after bringing our drinks, she would leave us for another couple of minutes while she checked on her other tables, but would be ready to take our orders when she returned. I was amazed at the way she assured us of good service while tactfully letting us know she had other customers to serve as well.

I watched as she turned in our drink orders, and then methodically moved through the dining room checking to see if anyone at the other tables needed anything. Without back tracking or wasting a single step worked her way back to server’s station just in time to pick up our beverages. She arrived at our table with our drinks on her tray and a smile on her face. As she was placing the drinks on our table, she asked if we had dined at Buca di Beppo before. We told her we had not, so she proceeded to give us a brief but informative history of the place along with her assurance that it would be an experience to remember. Then she was off to make rounds to the other tables as she had told us she would do.

We looked at each other and I said, “Wow, that woman is good!” A conversation ensued about what it takes to be a great server and even though the evening was just beginning, we knew we had one. In the ten minutes or so that we had been seated, we hadn’t seen another server come in or out of the room. When she returned to take our order, I asked Pat how many other servers were helping her in the room. I told her that I hadn’t seen anyone but her since we sat down.

“Honey, I’m it,” she said. “This is my section and I take care of everyone.”
“How do you do it,” I asked, because in most restaurants there would be three to five servers handling that many tables.

“I’ve been doing this for years,” she replied. “I don’t need help from a bunch of these youngsters who make three trips to do what can easily be accomplished with one. They just get in my way. Please let me know if you find anything lacking in my service.” I knew immediately there wouldn’t be.

We watched Pat work the entire section without anyone, including us, having to flag her down or wait for service. She was like a finely tuned and well oiled machine as she anticipated every need and responded without having to be asked. There was no comparison between Pat’s service and the service I had received the evening before at another restaurant. When I left a tip that was about 50 percent of the price of the meal, Pat thanked me profusely and said, “I’ll bet you understand what T.I.P.S stands for, don’t you?” I said, “To Insure Proper Service,” and she just smiled and thanked us again for allowing her to serve us.

Here’s a tip! It doesn’t matter whether you’re building houses, working in a factory or waiting tables in a restaurant, if you strive for excellence and your performance delivers it, you will be rewarded. After watching her work the room, seeing her interact with customers and observing the pleasure they were receiving from her service, it wouldn’t surprise me if Pat makes more in T.I.P.S. than the restaurant manager makes in salary. She was a marvel to behold.

Here’s another tip! If you want a fine meal, the most awesome service you will ever get, and an opportunity to see what perfection and performance is all about, visit Buca di Beppo in Orlando, Florida and be sure to ask to be seated Pat’s section.

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