Do Your Servers Listen?

When I was in my mid 20s I was working in the wilds of Alaska at an isolated camp where 100 young adults, ages 16-23 from multiple states came together for conservation work. This was bare bones living and working! There were no luxuries or electricity! Gracious, we did have running water. Cold, only!

I was in charge of the menus, budget, and making sure their nutritional needs were met. Resources were limited. There was no convenience store down the street where I could pick up a few things that weren’t delivered. There was no store at all! I worked with confidence because I knew my job. What I didn’t know was people gathered from across the country had radically different ideas on what food was good. Southern California wanted expensive granola; northern California wanted whole wheat bread with sprouts in it! Wisconsin wanted lots of real butter. Easterners were serious vegetarians that stood on principal and even refused fresh caught salmon!

It took 3 weeks for the residents to rebel. That’s when I learned a valuable lesson that I have always remembered. I learned while listening to these young adults, that, it is the birth of hospitality. I learned that food means so much more than eating, it means home. It means community. It wasn’t easy but we worked things out so everyone got some of what they wanted and needed. It seems that experience revealed that I care deeply about people, food, home, community and hospitality. I still remember to listen.

It is vital that your servers learn to listen. Your residents also come from many different backgrounds with desires that need to be heard. Serving staff are the bridge between your residents and everyone else.  It is necessary for them to know how to create the hospitality that your residents deserve. Conversation that may seem casual is key to providing that connection. Listening and conversing is a skill that can easily be learned with practice.

Your servers can also be the bridge in bringing residents together, especially newcomers who may be shy about sitting at someone’s table who they have never met. Kind Dining can teach your servers how to listen and the skills of conversation and hospitality that are vital and valuable to your community.

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy is the founder and owner of Kind Dining®, which she began in 2006. She’s traveled across the country and Canada working with and training senior living communities that want to create an exceptional dining experience for their residents and staff. In addition, she certifies select professionals in her Kind Dining® philosophy and provides tools, now in an eLearning format, that make learning stick and help people put insights into action. As a result of her work, clients often share their staff has a new sense of purpose, get along better and keep their focus and energy on what matters most. In fact, she wrote a book, Hospitality for Boomers on how to attract residents and keep good team members. In her free time, she enjoys walking Oregon trails and cheering on her favorite soccer teams, the Portland Thorns and Timbers.

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