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Just Started a Career in Hospitality? You Need to Read This

It’s past midnight. You’ve just finished your first shift at the restaurant, and you’re sitting there at home with a ton of thoughts buzzing round your head. Well, one thing’s for sure: it’s a lot different to what you expected!

Don’t worry! Let’s take a look at some of the things that probably weren’t so clear in the job description, and see what we can do about finding the positives. Because there are plenty.

Hospitality is a rewarding industry, with lots of benefits and opportunities to progress further down the line.

Hours Aplenty

To serve lunch, dinner, and maybe even breakfast, you’ll need to work long hours across the whole day to cover the three services. We’re talking 15 hour shifts here. While this may seem like a gargantuan task for some, others find that with lots of breaks the day goes quickly, and you’ll then (probably) have some extra days off to make up for it.

In almost any case, though, you’ll be working late nights. Getting home when everyone else is tucked up in bed can be hard to get used to at first. It is just about getting used to it, though. Within a few weeks you’ll be a proper little night owl.

At the end of the day, a lot of people prefer working nights to having to hear that dreaded alarm at crazy-o’clock in the morning.

Pull Up Those Sleeves

Labour. Sometimes backbreaking, sometimes niggly – labour is part of the job. Whether you’re on the bar, in the kitchen, or part of the wait staff, you’ll be lifting heavy objects, scrubbing floors and walking for miles.
Nobody particularly likes the thought of labour, but try looking at it in a different way.
It’s exercise. A 155-pound person can burn 185 calories waiting tables for an hour, according to Harvard Health Publications. This is quite a workout considering you could be working for over 12 hours. If you don’t believe it, get a pedometer and see for yourself.

It makes getting home and putting your feet up just that little bit better. Whether you’re moving around the kitchen all day or serving tables, the soles of your feet do some serious work.
Dedicated hospitality footwear such as Slipbuster offers great support and will certainly make your day much easier – but nothing will beat that feeling of slinging off your shoes and relaxing after a gruelling slog.

Much to Learn

Did you realise you would be learning so many different skills?
Setting tables, carrying plates, counting money, changing barrels, mixing cocktails, using knives, cooking the perfect steak – these tasks are all in day’s work for some hospitality staff.

While all this might seem daunting at first, you’ll soon find yourself with a whole new set of skills that will last a lifetime.

Helpful Pieces of Kit for New Starters

A waiter’s friend – It’s something no server should ever be without. This handy utensil features a blade for safely cutting wine seals, a corkscrew for pulling corks without breaking them, and a bottle opener for opening crown bottle caps quickly and effortlessly. It ruins the ambience of your service, if you bring your beverages to your table and then you need to go running off to find multiple pieces of kit to open them.
Cleaning cloths – Decorum and dignity are a very important part of hospitality, and you should eliminate anything that threatens this. At the lowest level, we’re talking spillages. If anyone spills anything over a table, there is an immediate shift in the ambience that could be the difference between a positive experience and a negative one. Simply keeping cleaning cloths handy is the best way to make sure these sorts of accidents are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Too many times, when there’s something to clean, staff are left running around like headless chickens looking for cleaning equipment. In the meantime, your guests are getting unhappy.

Knife sharpeners – Knives are dangerous things. And if you’re new to using them, cuts are inevitable. Keep nicks down to a minimum, by keeping your knife sharp. It’s actually the best way of staying safe when cutting and slicing, because blunt knives lose their hold and become prone to slipping. Storing your knives away safely with a knife block or magnetic holder can also be a big help in reducing accidents, by keeping your prep areas clear of sharp objects.

Are you a people person?

Interacting with guests is the bread and butter for front of house staff. Without some interpersonal skills, you’ll find yourself in plenty of difficult dilemmas. And even the best still come up against impossible situations.
Fancy taking an order, that you know deep down in your heart is right, only to be told by your guests that it’s wrong.
Or how about this. Another long day done. Itching to get home. Two minutes until close. Nearly there. But then wait! The couple who have just left the cinema decide to pop in for a three-course meal, and you have to strive to be your usual pleasant self. Oh, well! Who likes to be home before 3am, anyway?

Even if you’re a chef, working with other kitchen staff requires a great deal of teamwork and perseverance. If someone else isn’t pulling their weight, there’s going to be trouble. There’s going to be some raised voices.

Satisfaction and Camaraderie

You’ll have your fair share of great guests, though. The type you’d do anything for to put a smile on their face. And when you do see that smile, it really makes you feel satisfied – like you’re actually doing something worthwhile. Because you are. You’re providing a service that people really want and need.

And while staff members may get angry with each other, when all’s said and done, you’ll be laughing and joking afterwards at the bar. When you’re working together for up to 15 hours a day, you develop a real sense of camaraderie with your colleagues. A small team feels stress, relief, despair and joy together as one. You become a close-knit family – and you wouldn’t change it for anything!

Tips and freebies

The one you’ve been waiting for. Tips and freebies doesn’t have any drawbacks. Free money. Free food.

It’s not really free money, though. Anyone who works hard for their tips will know it’s just that – you have to work for them. But if you’re up for it, it’s a great opportunity to earn some serious extra cash.

As for the freebies, the vast majority of establishments will offer you at least one free meal straight off the menu for you to enjoy. You’re likely to get some free drinks at the end of your shift, too.

It’s a Career

Hospitality isn’t just a stop gap - you really can have a very rewarding career. This is an industry that is well-known for promoting from within and which offers excellent progression opportunities. It’s very possible to go from washing dishes at 16, to being a head chef and executive owner only a little bit further down the line.

You'll Love It

If it doesn’t seem like it right now, give it some time and you’ll love it. The love of food, making customers happy, the kitchen camaraderie and seeing your ideas come to fruition – it all makes life in the industry a challenging but satisfying addiction!

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