Storytelling in a Restaurant
Storytelling in a restaurant is a skill that can be developed and make a person valuable outside of the restaurant. This is also a great skill to have and master when planning an exit from the business and starting a business or side hustle. We might add that the side hustle is a great way to start an exit from the business due to the hours (benefit to working nights).
Working on tips can be tough. It is stressful while being both physically and mentally exhausting. Waiting tables or bartending, can be lucrative and is a great way to learn life skills in sales, relationship building or (fill in your own learned skill). These skills can help prepare you for a different career or at least an opportunity outside of the business. After all, most of the you (the audience) do not want to spend the next 10+ years working in a restaurant.
We have said before, the industry can be good, however long-term it is not sustainable for the reasons along with a grocery list longer than the equator. Eventually you have to take your life back from the smell of a fryer and a rancid dish pit.
It takes skills to do so.
What skills are they?
But the restaurant industry doesn’t teach skills?
The restaurant industry teaches many great skills from dealing with people in different moods to saying “No” to storytelling. Storytelling is a serious skill that all FOH workers should master as it refines and develops another skill: sales. Believe it or not, sales and the ability to sell involves more than products and services.
One is always selling something: whether it is an idea, product, service, food, wine, a child getting dressed or in the case of the restaurant business…going to work! For many that a task that requires an internal selling process, that goes on everyday they are on the schedule. To work up the motivation or nerve to show up they have to sell themselves the idea of going to work.
They also have to tell a story.
The story of what happens when they work as opposed to not working.
Storytelling is a skill taught/learned in the restaurant industry that is invaluable across the spectrum of a job, career or entrepreneurship. A good story sells a product, service, idea or individual to others. Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication dating back thousands, if not millions of years. More importantly anyone worth their sidework in the restaurant business is a good storyteller. Being a good storyteller is prerequisite for achieving success in this business, working on tips. Being able to regurgitate stories coming from a corporate training book do not count, this is about legit stories about what the restaurant industry sells: food, drinks and an experience.
Why is Storytelling in a Restaurant Important?
Storytelling is important because it is a vital skill in selling. Think about the last time you bought a car, TV, electronic gadget, vacuum or any similar “major” purchase. Did the salesperson use a story to sell it?
More than likely that answer is yes!
The salesperson more than likely told a story about the product. They talk about how it is made or the reason someone else bought it. This story might have been made up or it may have been the truth. This is the essence of storytelling and fairy tales. Fairy tales originated as oral stories and evolved into picture stories (see how they did in Ancient Egypt here) to written stories and finally digital stories. Fairy tales and the kind we most associate with storytelling had their time in the Middle Ages.
Fairy tales in the Middle Ages were told to both adults and children, each taking a different meaning from the story. Imagine the “Shrek” series told in the 1300’s! The content in this time period was also political in nature or a way of sharing views and gossip, particularly amongst women. Now in today’s world, the story telling is different.
Storytelling in a restaurant?
- What is it about?
- The food?
- The restaurant?
- The wine?
- The experience?
We like to say dining is about the experience and developing guests into regulars. Really it is about selling. Selling and more selling. The selling environment is different than the traditional idea of selling (cars, real estate, appliances), being there is a captive audience (guests at a table). The stories that sell have to be compelling.
These compelling stories are the true skill of storytelling. Being compelling. A great story that sells a product or service is a story that gets one out of the restaurant industry. Use your current time in the business to practice storytelling and find out how to sell to different groups, you see them everyday! If you live in an area that holds a lot of conventions, go find a job by the convention center. What you will learn about people from around the world will be eye opening!
Now that they hype of telling a story is there, go learn a little bit more about it. Develop this skill and learn how to use it to sell. Starting thinking about what you can sell, either a product or service based on a passion or hobby when not in the restaurant.
As our conversation evolves, we are going to focus on skills, strategies and concepts to help you get out of the industry. Starting with telling a story is in our opinion the most important. Selling yourself is best done with a good, compelling story. If you can do it to guests and get them to leave a 25% tip, then consider it a brick in the path out of the kitchen for good.
Want a different path in the restaurant industry? Join our Facebook group!Spread the word with the whole staff!