Without question, smartphones have changed our society. We’re instantly connected to one another in ways we’ve never known before. We can chat with someone around the world, or watch eyewitness video from a developing civil war, right there on a device we carry around in our pockets. That’s pretty amazing stuff! While cell phones can be a boon for society, there are also places they just don’t belong. The service industry is one of them.
Consider this example. A few evenings ago, I walked into a local bar at shift change time. It wasn’t very busy, there were probably only four customers in the whole building. Three bartenders were on duty at three separate stations. I was shocked to find two of them staring down into their phones, their faces illuminated by blue light. Neither of them looked up or even acknowledged me. They were so wrapped up in their own worlds they weren’t even aware of their own surroundings. Thank goodness at least one bartender had a clue. He greeted me instantly and offered a smile. Guess which bartender I went to?
What I’d just experienced was a new low in professionalism. Would you enjoy going to a restaurant and having to wait to get your waitress’s attention because she’s on her cell phone? Bartending is no different. Sure, it’s a fun occupation. You get to be the center of attention, the person everybody visits to have a good time. Don’t let it go to your head. You’re in the service industry, same as any waiter or hotel receptionist. You’re expected to be on-point. You should be dying for the next person to walk in that door so you can put him or her on a pedestal.
“But I was changing my status update to let people know I was working,” some bartenders are sure to argue. Wrong answer. Yes, I get it: bartenders have to market themselves sometimes to get customers in the door. I do it myself, and social media is a wonderful tool for doing this. But do it on your own time, before you get to work. Once you clock in, you belong to the bar. And don’t use slow periods as a time to catch up your texting. If the bar isn’t busy, clean or stock something. You’re at work, for pete’s sake.
If it were my place, I’d make it mandatory that employees surrender their phones during their shifts. Why? Hospitality is all about putting on a show. It’s about personalized service and wowing your guests every time they come to see you. And you can’t do that if you’re watching cat videos on YouTube.
Get over yourself, kiddos. This job isn’t about you; it’s about your customers. Put the cell phones down and start making them feel special. It’s not a suggestion. It’s your job and responsibility as a bartender.
For more info: The author of this article dispenses drinks and wisdom at TMC, 3903 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas, 75219; (214) 521-5405.
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