Everyone has had one of those weeks. No one is coming in the restaurant, the entire staff is hurting for cash, and the manager cannot even find a volunteer for taking a Saturday night off. This is even worse when the slow week is the last night of the month and rent is coming due. Everyone swears that if they can just make it through this month, they will finally save some money. Too often the cycle all repeats again when they fail to keep that promise.
Here are a few tips from this old as dirt server on how to avoid this situation:
Pick up high, take off low: This is a variation of the old advice on the stock market. The time to pick up shifts in a restaurant is when it is busy. The time that most people try is when it is slow. Lack of money motivates most servers far more than an abundance of it. This means that a smart server will pick up shifts when the restaurant is busy. This is an easy task to accomplish because other servers, with full wallets and tired feet, will gladly give up shifts. Keep in mind that every shift you pick up when it is busy translates into two that you can take off when the restaurant is slow.
Save, save, and then save more: This is incredibly tough as a server. We are all used to having cash after each shift. Therefore it is very easy to plan on making money in the future and spending the money you have. This is a recipe for disaster. You don’t know what you next financial crunch will be, but you should bet on the fact that it will occur. Even if the restaurant stays busy, your car will break, you will get sick, and you could even get fired. This is when savings comes in very handy.
Track your income: This is one of the wisest moves any server can make. Take the time to note how much money you make each shift, and whether there were any circumstances that lead to it being higher or lower than normal. Then hold onto this info. This information will prove incredibly valuable when trying to plan vacations or forecasting your finances. The restaurant industry is cyclical. Planning your vacation for a slow week or having the ability to predict the month ahead when making a major purchase, will do wonders for your finances.
As for me, I am wrapping up a little mini-vacation. I looked at my calendar, set due dates for some web design projects for this week, and return to the restaurant tonight. I skipped the slow days this week and will return to work for the start of the college basketball tournament just up the street from my restaurant. It is funny how these things turn out. Almost like I had a magic calendar to tell me when I should take some time off. Hopefully by this time next year, you will have one of your own.