Tag Archive | Getting the Right Balance Between TMA & TLA

Getting the Right Balance (Between TMA & TLA) Part 2



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Unfortunately, the exact opposite extreme of the above scenario (Please see Part 1 of Getting theRight Balance)  is more commonplace in restaurants today.  Once the server has taken the order they are nowhere to be found until they reappear bearing your food.  And then, once the course is served, you’re once again hard pressed to even catch a glimpse of said server.  That certainly is not Wow!/exceptional service either.  It is hardly even passable or acceptable service.  In some restaurants the server only comes to the table a total of 3 times. Once, to greet the table and take their order for beverage and food. The second time, to deliver the food and once again, to deliver the check. Oh and a fourth time to return the check. That is not even good service.  Even if the food is great and the guests are enjoying everything and you are observing this from afar, it is still vital that you re-approach the table more than once or twice.

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Of course, every diner or guest is different in what their needs and preferences are and this is why learning to read your guests is so important.  In order to provide exceptional service you must assess the level of care and attention each of your table’s needs and desires.

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Recently, my wife, Michelle and I were having dinner at an upscale restaurant in Caesar’s palace (not the real Caesar’s palace-as in Caesar didn’t actually live there-The Hangover) in Las Vegas and while the food was good, both of us were a little annoyed and curious as to why our server never once came and asked us if  we were enjoying our food. He would walk by and look but he never engaged us once our wine was served and we received our food.  At the end of our dinner as we were about to leave, I decided to ask our server why he didn’t inquire as to whether we were enjoying our dinner. His reply astounded me.  He said, “I’ve been doing this for a long time and I don’t need to ask you if you’re enjoying your food.  We don’t do that here.  I saw you eating it so I knew you liked it.  And if you didn’t like it you would tell me.”

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Now to me, that is being a bit arrogant and it goes beyond reading the guest.   In fact it is quite presumptuous.  For example, what if we were on a date, (actually we were and we weren’t yet married at the time) and one of us didn’t like what we were eating but didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves by flagging the server down. So, we were just eating our food out of politeness.  However, if the server actually had inquired we may have told him that there was something wrong with the food-too salty; too spicy; too overdone or whatever the case may be.


For him to assume that because we were eating the food that everything was perfect is just plain ignorant.  Anyone who is a fan of the cooking competition shows-Iron Chef, Top Chef etc.,  would know that even professional chefs do not execute their dishes flawlessly everytime.  Just because someone is eating it doesn’t mean it’s exactly perfect or the guest as would like it to be.

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There has to be a balance between being overly smothering a guest and being so nonchalant and aloof, arrogant  and unavailable.  In order to provide exceptional WOW! service, you must engage your guests and inquire if everything they are eating and drinking is to their liking.  Again, I’m not talking about smothering and being annoying, coming every five minutes and saying “How is everything?”  A good rule of thumb is once any item-whether food or drink has been served, ask your guests how everything looks and how it smells.  Then inform them that you will be back in a couple minutes to inquire how their first bites/tastes are.  You then return within a couple minutes (2-3) and check on them.  Do not wait until they are half way or more finished with their food.  If you can’t get back to them within a couple minutes, ask a manager or co-worker to do so for you.


If there is any problem with the food-as in something is not prepared correctly, or they just don’t like what they ordered, it is much easier to rectify the situation early into the course rather than later.  It is very frustrating for a diner, who, once they’ve been served their food and it is not to their liking (regardless of the reason) to sit and wait, and wait and wait until their server reappears.  The longer that guest has to wait, the greater chance that you will not receive a good tip, the restaurant will not get a good review and that guest will tell multiple people about the ‘less than excellent service’ at said establishment.

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The first couple minutes after serving the guests are the most crucial (aside from the first impression) in the guest formulating their opinion of your restaurant. You can greatly influence their perception of you, your restaurant and the overall service there by being aware, available and timely in your visits to their table.

One place that seems to really understand this balance of the right amount of attention is Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.  Not only do they understand it, they are pros at the execution of it.  We have dined at the Fleming’s  where we live in Summerlin and recently, (because our manager friend, Joaquin,  was transferred to another Fleming’s in Vegas) we decided to go to the other Fleming’s.

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From the way we were greeted and seated by the host team, to the introduction of our server, Brian-guiding us through the wine list and the menu, to the entire dinner-we had a wonderful dining experience. There was no one particular thing that made it special.  Rather, it was the entirety of everyone on the team working together in unison that made our dining experience so enjoyable.   Melissa, my wife- Michelle’s daughter, was with us and we were the guests of our friends- Wolfgang and Maria.

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None of us had been to this particular Fleming’s before.  And although, Joaquin, our manager friend, certainly welcomed us and even visited our table a few times, it was the efforts and the hospitality of every team member that really made our evening.  The other managers, Leroy and Jay each came to our table as well to check on us.  That may seem like a lot but it never felt like we were being bothered or being overly attended to.  We enjoyed great conversation, laughed together, ate some wonderful food and partook of some great wines.  Our experience at this new Fleming’s was just as remarkable as when we dined at the one in Summerlin.  Consistency is  something that is highly valued at Fleming’s.  As is food quality, attention to detail, team mentality, and creating an exceptional dining experience for the guest.  They really do all the above very well.

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Providing excellent service is more of an art than a science.  Some restaurant managers may be very specific and particular about how many minutes after each course or item is served that you must return to the table.  I don’t believe it’s that cut and dry and it’s not an exact science.  Every server is different, and every guest and situation is different.  You have to find the balance somewhere between the two extremes we’ve discussed here-of being a gawking, overbearing, annoying, smothering server and being a nonchalant, aloof, disappearing, inattentive,never-inquiring-because-I’ve-been-doing-this-for-a-long-time kind of server. Striking the right balance may take time but with conscious effort and continual practice it will become  second nature to you.  You’ll get to the point where you find the right rhythm of when to return to your tables.  It should always be with and for a specific purpose. You’ll eventually develop a feel for it.

This is just another example proving that there really is so much involved in being a Service and Hospitality Professional.  And those who do it well, though they may make it look easy-it really isn’t.  I applaud you have learned the importance of this balancing act.  And I encourage those who may be new to the industry to ask yourself-where on the scale do you fall and what can you do to get to more  of a balance between TMA-Too Much Attention and TLA-Too Little Attention?

If you are looking for a great example of how to strike this balance, I suggest a night out for dinner at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar.  They are in about 30 different states.  You may be able to find one near you.


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Thank you for reading!!!  I am so grateful for your support.  

I want to extend a big WELCOME!  to readers from the following new countries in the past week:

Pakistan, Bulgaria & Kuwait!!!

I appreciate each and everyone of my readers.  You are helping take Soupfly global!!

I invite you to share on Social Media-Like on Facebook, Share on Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest.  I welcome and enjoy your comments.

Thank you and God Bless you all!


Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV



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p.s. I will be finishing the manuscript to my book, GETTING TO WOW! First Class Restaurant Service by the end of October. It will then be ready to edit and be published.  I will be taking Pre-Orders for GETTING TO WOW! very soon.  If you are interested in being one of the first 100 to get a signed copy of GETTING TO WOW! please indicate that in the comment box.  Also, next post, I’ll be asking you, my readers to help me choose the cover design for the book!! I’m very excited!




Getting the Right Balance-(Between TMA & TLA) Part 1



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Have you ever heard of or experienced TOO MUCH CUSTOMER CARE?!  Surely this cannot be possible.  “That’s absurd!” I hear you say.   Well, before you begin your side of the debate, please read on.


Scene:  You walk into a beautiful, upscale restaurant.  You are greeted cheerfully by the host, who then escorts you and your party to a beautiful table in the corner of the dining room.

Before you’re even settled in your seats, here comes the waiter asking if you are ready to order drinks.  Wow! Now that’s prompt service.  You order a bottle of Bordeaux.  Wine service is performed flawlessly.  As the wine is being presented and poured by the Sommelier,  the server enthusiastically describes the specials of the evening.  He even offers  his own recommendations.  He rather  quickly, yet efficiently takes everyone’s order.

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Each course is served in a timely manner.  Everything seems to be going great except for one small aspect; all throughout the course of the evening, your server (and his assistant) never-I mean, never, ever leave your presence with the exception of when they go to bring something- food from the kitchen, wine from the bar etc., or to remove plates from the table.  Then, immediately after each task is performed they return to stand guard, ever vigilant, eyes like a hawk, ready to pounce at the slightest possibility that you may need something.  You and your guests are mid-conversation when, for a slight second, you look up and you make eye contact with the server.  In a flash he zips to your side, “Yes, sir?”

You’re not quite sure what he means.

“Pardon, me?” you say.

He says, “Oh, excuse me sir, you looked at me, I thought you needed something.”



At the beginning you thought,  “This is great.” As soon as you take two sips of water someone is there to refill it.  No need to ask.  When the last drop of wine is poured from the bottle, your server is promptly standing beside you with a fresh, clean glass and a new bottle ready to pour if so directed.

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So, it sounds like a dream, right?  Being treated like a king.  So, what is the problem with this kind of focused, attentive service?  Well, some people may actually feel uneasy or uncomfortable if a server is constantly standing guard like a gargoyle perched atop an old building gawking at them, following their every move and gesture with his piercing eyes.

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I realize that this style and level of service is rare and there are indeed some people- who enjoy, appreciate and seek out restaurants that provide hand and foot catering such as this. But I ask you this:

When is the line of attentiveness crossed over into the realm of annoyance?  Certainly there is a delineation, albeit, a fine line between TMA-that’s Too Much Attention and TLA-Too Little Attention.  All servers must find the Balance between Ignoring and Smothering.  And it varies from table to table; from guest to guest.  This is why Learning to read your guests is so crucial to effective service.    And by reading I don’t mean just making your initial assumption at the beginning.  One must be always aware of and processing the feedback that a guests gives you-both verbal and non-verbal throughout the course of service.   But that’s a topic for another time.

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A hovering server can really be quite irritating.  Once a course is served and wine has been poured and drinks refilled and the initial checking as in “How’s your dish,” or “Is everything meeting your approval?” or whatever phrase(s) you say- I say it’s time to disappear briefly-VERY BRIEFLY.  Allow  your guests  to enjoy their dinner in peace.  You don’t have to stand there and stare at them, watching them take every single bite.  You don’t necessarily have to leave the room but if you did for a few moments at a time that would be just fine.

I don’t believe anybody truly wants to be watched while dining in a restaurant-like they’re an animal on display at the zoo.  However, if you happen to be in a food eating contest-then of course, you should expect to be watched and gawked at.  But this is not that.


Your job is to provide exceptional service. Even though each time you approach their table you may be providing some aspect of service, clearing their plates, pouring wine etc,  gawking at them, however, all the while that they are dining is not great service.


Yes, my friend, do be attentive and be available but be inconspicuous and unobtrusive.  Make an effort to post yourself in a prime location which allows you full view of your tables and yet your guest’s view of you is at least partly obscured.  That is the ideal to strive for, in my opinion.  If you are unable to find a place hidden from view, you might consider not being only 6 feet away from them.  Go away.  Go fold some napkins for 10 minutes.  I’m sure you can find some kind of side work to do.  Give your guests some room to breathe and eat.  I guarantee you that they will think their food taste better.

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Below is an article by someone else who writes about their own personal experience similar to what I described above.  And that was at a restaurant in France.



to be continued…


Thank you so much for reading!!!

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And once again, Soupfly welcomes new readers from the following countries this past week:

Viet Nam, Panama, Nigeria, Malaysia, Kenya, Croatia, Czech Republic, Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda!!

That now brings Soupfly’s Readership to a total of 44 countries!!! I am so blessed and humbled and excited!

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Cheers and God Bless you all!!!

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Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV