Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Captain's Report - Easter 2010

Date: April 4, 2010
Banquet Manager: Me
Time: 11am (First Seating), 3pm (Last Seating)
Covers: 614
Staffing: 16 servers, 5 food runners, 1 bartender, 2 captains, 2 hosts, 2 cashiers
Weather: Beautiful (I shoulda been home)
Food Issues: For the most part, the kitchen did a pretty good job (Horray!).  Of course, around crunch-time of 12:30-1:30pm the desserts got hammered, but the kitchen was able to keep up.  Food presentation was stepped-up since the GM broke my chef's nuts earlier in the week.
Service Issues: Really none, staff did a great job.  Each and every one of these large holiday brunch events we try something different to make improvements and again it worked.  No tables had complaints (except the one that said the band was too loud.  A few free Mimosas smoothed the way).  No "comps" and no arguments over the ages of the kids (for the reduced price).
Challenges: Should have ordered more colored linen.  Rental company shorted us on the yellow napkins.  Otherwise that's it.
Bed Time for the Banquet Manager: 8:47pm (my feet were aching)

How was your Easter?

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Mike the Waiter said...

Hey, Banquet Manager... my first thought was ..."just one bartender?" but then I realized that Easter is when everyone is on their best behavior.... not much alcohol consumption...peace to you from Indiana, USA, ole friend... to the radio said...

Our brunch setup was in two ballrooms.
One sat, jeez, I don't even remember.
If I drew up a floor plan I could number it out.
I still remember the layouts because I drew them up by hand everytime for ten years.
Let's say the bigger one sat 200 comfortably for a wedding and the other one sat 125.
On the sold out days like Easter we'd do above 500.

Staff breakdown was 6 servers in the big room and 4 servers in the small room.
One cashier for each.
Porters were assigned as 3 or 4 in the back of the big room and 2 or 3 in the back of the small room.
Bartender was the lounge called in to make any drinks if they were needed.

I'd take one room and my assistant would take the other, acting as hosts and busboys as the changeover for second seating came and then for final clear.
We didn't get any grats on those days so we were working for peanuts.
All the guts and none of the glory.
We did Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Thanksgiving.

When I first started there as a captain we would finish these days by closing up like it was any other day.
Full vacuum, cleanup and reset for the next function.
Sure, it gave us peace of mind when we left but I realized that we were paying 16 people who would rather be somewhere else overtime to do something that could usually be done the next day.

Even before I became the banquet manager I started my abbreviated closing procedure.
Basically that involved getting the dishes back to the kitchen.
Getting the linen down to the laundry.
And getting the garbage out.
Then I'd tell everyone to get the fuck out.

The old FnB gave me shit for it the first two times I did it but then I pointed out how much money we were saving by bringing in two guys the next day on regular time to get the cleanup finished.
Sixteen people at time and a half after a full days work are a lot less efficient than two hung over porters grateful for holiday slack hours at regular time the next day. to the radio said...

You know, I think back to what I had to deal with when I first got there as a captain and I am amazed that I put up with it.
On closing shifts where we had the odd meet and greet and mostly a bunch of refreshes and resets I routinely got scheduled so that I had to work overtime.
The assistant banquet manager thought this was par for the course so he padded his evening shifts with ritual coffee and supper breaks.
He had his routine.
And his routine was hard to break.

I didn't mind working overtime at first.
But after a while when you are working a night shift and you have to be back the next morning you learn to operate more efficiently.
If that means not eating that night so you can get an extra hour of sleep then that's what you do.

But assistant banquet manager almost never had to work mornings like I did.
So he never had to change.

I used to work with my staff setting up rooms and on his shifts he would just take their word for it that a room was done.
And the banquet manager would deal with his mistakes in the morning.
There were always mistakes.

He outranked me for four years so I couldn't do anything about it except complain.

Things changed when I went from captain to banquet manager.
His mistakes became my everyday problem.
And I had to fix it.

At first it was just getting his mistakes down to something manageable.
So, I started managing around him.
I told my staff that if they were on a night time setup and refresh shift that I would know who was on staff the night before and that if I found anything wrong I would blame them instead of him.
And that I would schedule according to the number of mistakes I had to fix in the morning after their shift.

I told them that they worked for me not him.
They got better.

And then I told him that when I was doing these late shifts, I could have it all done early.
He said it wasn't possible.
I hour costed it out for him how long a night should take.
And he still said it wasn't possible.

I gave him the carrot.
I said, sometimes we have to work twelve or fourteen hour days.
And sometimes we should work four or six hour days to balance them out.
These are the days you should take advantage of.
I do.

And things got a lot better after that.

I haven't been back there for a long time.
I don't know how things are there anymore.
But I believe that over the course of a year, you shouldn't work more than a forty hour week on average if that's what you are getting paid for.
Some days you work fourteen hours.
And other days you work three.
It should all add up to eight hours a day.

I'll talk about Sunday Brunch later.