Sharpen Your Basic Skills

Congratulations! You have decided to pursue a career in foodservice! Whether you see yourself as a pastry chef or a restaurant manager, your next step is to make your goal a reality. The skills you will need to have to find and keep a job in foodservice are the same skills that you need to find and keep a job in any other field. You may already have many of these basic skills. However, you may need to work on certain skills. This section will help you polish the abilities you have and develop the skills you need to be successful in the foodservice industry.

Imagine that you are a foodservice employer looking to fill a job. What skills would you look for in a new employee? What attitude would you look for in an employee? The skills and attitude you want would depend on the job you were trying to fill. You might look for someone with a particular type of education, training, and work experience. For example, you would want a dining room manager to have experience managing facilities and employees.

Beyond any foodservice knowledge and experience, however, every employer expects you to have certain basic skills. To work toward a successful career in foodservice, improve your basic skills. These skills include the ability to calculate, communicate, think, negotiate, and work as a member of a team. Basic skills will help you get the knowledge and experience you will need for your career. They will also help you make a good impression during a job interview. First impressions are very important because they can last for a long time.

Math Skills

The ability to calculate and perform other math skills is a basic part of every foodservice job. To calculate means to work with numbers. You will add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers in a foodservice career.

For example:

• Cooks, chefs, and bakers must use math skills to adjust recipe yields, weigh ingredients, and adjust cooking times and temperatures for different foods.

• Servers use math skills to calculate customers' bills, calculate sales tax, make change, and keep track of tips.

• Foodservice managers use math skills to order supplies, schedule deliveries, set up employee work schedules, complete payroll and tax forms, set portion sizes, and estimate profits for the business.

• All foodservice employees use basic math skills to keep track of their work hours and pay rates.

Some situations where math skills are used include weighing and measuring, working with percentages, and making change.

Weighing and Measuring

Ingredients must be accurately weighed and measured for recipes. This ensures that the food will be of a high quality. It also ensures that the recipe will turn out the same way every time it is made. You will also need to understand simple fractions to read and follow most recipes. Fractions may need to be multiplied or divided for recipes as well. They also may need to be converted to percentages like these:

1/2 = .50 = 50% 2/3 = .66 = 66% 3/4 = .75 = 75%

Working with Percentages

Foodservice workers must often work with percentages in recipes. For example, a recipe might read, "The fat should make up 40% of the dough." To make the recipe, you must know how to calculate using percentages. Percentages are also used to calculate the sales tax on the cost of a food item or a meal. A tax of 8%, for example, means adding 8 cents for every dollar to the total bill. Converting the percent to a decimal may make working with percentages easier.

Making Change

Servers, cashiers, and hosts need to know how to make change for customers. To make change means to count back the correct amount of change to a customer from the money he or she has paid for a check. This means you must be able to use math skills without using a pencil and paper. When making change at a table or cash register that does not automatically calculate the change amount for you, count up from the total of the check to the amount of money the customer gave you. Begin with the smallest coin and count up to the largest bill. For example, imagine that a customer pays for a $15.25 check with a $20 bill. You would count back the change of $4.75 as, "Seventy-five cents makes $16, and four dollar bills make $20."

When using a point-of-sale computer system that shows the amount of change that is due to the customer, count out the change from the largest bill to the smallest coin. For example, the $4.75 change from the example above would be counted back to the customer as, "Four dollars and seventy-five cents."

Listening and Speaking Skills

You will be listening and speaking almost constantly while at work. The kinds of listening and speaking skills you will need as part of a foodservice job are meant to help promote understanding. Listening does not mean that you simply appear to hear what is being said by a customer or a coworker. Listening means hearing the message and then responding to it in an appropriate way. To listen properly, you need to avoid distractions.

Active Listening

Whether you take a customer's order in a restaurant or carry out a chef's instructions, you will need to practice active listening. Active listening is the skill of paying attention and interacting with the speaker. Active listening shows that you have understood what a speaker has said.

These are the key steps in active listening. Practice them to become a good listener:

• Think about the purpose of the message. Why are you listening?

• Show your understanding of the message with eye contact and body language, such as nodding your head.

• Ask the speaker questions to help clarify points of the message that you do not understand.

• Listen for the speaker's inflections. Inflections are the rising and falling tones of the voice that communicate emotional content. For example, a speaker's tone usually rises when he or she is angry.

• Look at the speaker's body language. What is he or she saying with posture, gestures, and facial expressions?

• Select the most important points of the message as you listen.

• Take notes on the message. This is especially important if you are on the telephone.

• Listen for the end of the message.

Try to avoid distractions when you listen. A distraction is something that turns your attention away from the speaker and toward something else. Focus on what is being said. Even if you disagree with the speaker, listen carefully. Do not let your feelings about the speaker get in the way of your understanding of the message. Wait until the speaker has finished before you respond. Think carefully about how you will respond before you respond.

Speaking Skills

How well you are understood depends on how clearly you speak. These tips can help you to speak more clearly:

Pronounce Words Clearly and Correctly If you are unsure of how to pronounce a word or a name, check a dictionary or ask someone. Apologize if you are incorrect. Speak each syllable of a word. Do not slur your words together or drop the endings of words. This will make it difficult for people to understand what you are saying.

Do Not Use Slang Slang is not appropriate for use in the workplace.

Speak at a Medium Pace Your message will be missed by your listener if you speak too quickly. Your listener may also become distracted if you speak too slowly. You must speak at a medium pace for most people to understand you. If you are not sure, ask your listener if he or she understands what you are saying. If not, repeat yourself.

Regulate Your Volume If you speak too softly, people will not hear you. If you speak too loudly, you will annoy your listeners and distract others.

Telephone Skills

When you use the telephone, speak calmly, clearly, and at a medium volume. Even though you cannot be seen, smile while you speak. The person on the other end of the phone can sense your mood and attitude.

^^ Phone Communication Using the telephone correctly is an important communication skill. Why is it important to have good manners when you speak over the phone?

^^ Phone Communication Using the telephone correctly is an important communication skill. Why is it important to have good manners when you speak over the phone?

Your voice on the telephone may be a customer's first or only impression of your business. You should be polite and helpful at all times.

Follow these steps to properly answer a telephone in a foodservice business:

• Thank the caller for calling. Say "Good morning," "Good afternoon," or "Good evening," depending on the time of day. Identify the name of the business, and give your name.

• Ask the caller, "How may I help you?"

• If the call is for another employee, take a message or route the call to the correct person, depending on the restaurant's policy.

• If the call is for another customer, place the caller on hold and find the customer.

• If the call is for a request for a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary, write down the information and give it to the appropriate person.

• If the call is from someone wanting to make a reservation to eat, check to make sure the date is available. Then, enter the date into the reservations book. Write down other information, such as the customer's name, the number of people who will eat, any special requests, such as seating or dietary needs, and whether they prefer a smoking or non-smoking section. Offer any special information to the caller, such as the restaurant's dress code. Confirm the reservation information with the customer. Ask the customer to check in when he or she arrives at the restaurant, and thank the caller for calling.

Body Language

You can also speak without saying a word. Body language, or how you physically respond, also speaks for you. The way you sit, stand, move your hands, look, and smile or frown sends a clear message to the listener. Be aware of the body language you use as you speak to customers, coworkers, and supervisors. For example, if you stand with your arms folded across your chest, you may signal that you are not listening to the speaker.

.TFIGURE 4.1 Business Letters

Letter-Writing Skills Follow grammar and punctuation rules when you write business letters. To whom might you write letters as a foodservice worker?


Internal Address Salutation -

Body of Letter


Signature — Typed Name and Title

1214 Mossville Rd. Dallas, Texas 00000

june is, 200 Gatehouse

1214 Mossville Rd. Dallas, Texas 00000

Mr. James Wagner Banner Linen Supply 12 East Vidalia Avenue Dallas, TX 00000

Dear Mr. Wagner:

I have reviewed your company's bid for providing linen service for our restaurant. Your prices are reasonable, and your company has received strong recommendations from several other area foodservice providers.

Would you consider giving us a discount of 20% if we include uniform laundering along with the linen service? We employ more than 50 uniformed servers, buspersons and cooks, and I can guarantee a high volume of work.

Thank you for submitting your bid. 1 look forward to putting together a strong working relationship.


Carole Anderson Assistant Manager

Writing Skills

Your ability to communicate in writing will help you find a job and perform well on the job. You will need to use writing skills every day on the job for business letters, work orders, menus, and more. Your writing skills will improve if you pay attention to your writing and reading skills. When you must write on the job, think about: • Your Audience Before you write, picture the person or group who will be reading it. Tailor your writing to the reader's needs.

Your Purpose Choose language that matches the purpose of your writing. Read what you have written and decide if your writing fulfills its purpose. Most business communications give information or instructions, ask for information or a decision, persuade a reader to agree with or act upon something, or to complain. Style The style of your communication includes your choice of language and tone. Business communications are written in a direct style with a professional tone.

Form The two most common forms of business writing are memos and business letters. (See Figure 4.1 on page 87 for an example of a well-written business letter.) Follow basic grammar and punctuation rules when you write. Be sure to use the spell check and grammar check features on the computer to check your writing. It is also a good idea to have someone else proofread your letters before you send them. Your writing style forms a first impression of you and your business for the person reading it.

Reading Skills

Reading is an important skill both on and off the job. Much of the information you receive from the world around you comes through reading. In foodservice, you will use reading skills every day to:

• Prepare food by reading ingredient labels and recipes or formulas.

• Operate foodservice equipment by reading instruction manuals and safety precautions.

• Serve customers by reading menus and specials lists.

• Carry out general job responsibilities by reading workplace policies and communications.

To read well, you will need to develop good reading skills. You will use these basic reading skills on the job:

• Preview Before you read anything, read any headlines and subheads to get an overview. This will give you an idea of the topics that are to come.

• Skim Always look for key points when you read. This is called skimming.

• Focus After you have previewed or skimmed material, give your full attention to what you read. Think about what you are reading. See if you can answer questions that you have as you read.

Continue reading here: Small Bites

Was this article helpful?

0 0