Archive for July, 2015

1280px-IHOP_Restaurant_logo.svgDear IHOP:

To borrow from Taylor Swift, “Why you gotta be so mean?

Let me explain.

My family and I recently visited the newly open restaurant in Pooler. We walked in and immediately were struck by the fact that servers outnumbered diners four to one. When I asked for a booth, the hostess gave me such a dirty look that I backed down and meekly took the table.

It was our server’s second day on the job and about to be her last, she said. Why? The owners and corporate reps were in town — hence the reason there were about 24 servers on duty. She said servers weren’t making any money because they had just a couple of tables all day. (This explains why we had to sit at a certain table.)

I watched her carry our four drinks, spilling mine because she didn’t have a tray. “Why don’t you have a tray?,” I asked, remembering my days as a server at Western Sizzlin’. She said there were only a couple of trays in the whole restaurant, and they could only use them for certain purposes. Carrying drinks apparently was not one of them.

Um … what?!?

I’m a chatty sort, so chat we did. She told me all the servers had just been barked at by one of the suits because they had too many cutlery bundles on the tables. They had put four bundles out for a four-person table. That makes sense to me, but it is not OK in IHOPland. Four-tops get two bundles; six-tops get four. No wonder we always have to ask for silverware.


I happened to spot one of the suits. As I was riled up, I marched over to talk to him. Topics: excessive amount of servers, trays, silverware. This fellow, a vice president according to his business card, could not have been smarmier. He was incredibly dismissive of me and simply said that “corporate” has determined all of the policies so that all IHOPs are the same.

Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

Me: “But not allowing trays makes it harder for servers to do their jobs.”

Him: “They can use trays.”

Me: “They can’t use trays to carry drinks.”

Him: “No, they can. They just can’t put the trays on the table.”

Me: “But no one is using trays here.”

Him: “Yes, they are.”

Our server: (overhearing conversation but out of the VP’s eye line, meets my eyes and shakes her head, “No.”)

I did not see anyone use a tray the entire time I was there.

Another excerpt:

Me: “It doesn’t seem logical that tables for four people would only have two bundles of silverware.”

Him: “Yes, it does. IHOP corporate wants all IHOPs to look the same when customers walk in.”

Me: “But they could look the same if they had the right amount of silverware on the tables as well. We always have to ask for silverware.”

Him: “The hostess should count the number of people and bring the amount needed.”

Me: “Well, first of all, that makes extra work for people, which doesn’t make sense. Second, our hostess didn’t bring two extra bundles for us.”

Him: “Yes, she did.”

Me: (Looking at him with my patented “Are you effing kidding me?” glare) OK. I give up.

Good job, IHOP, for selecting a person for a vice president role who has such a handle on (inane) IHOP policies yet a complete inability to grasp why policies exist: to help customers have an enjoyable dining experience and want to return.

So we are not going to return. Sorry, IHOP. You need to rethink your rules and leadership.

Came hungry, left unhappy,


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Dear Job Seeker:

I’ve written posts about the job search in general, job fairs, Skype interviews and in-person interviews. I have not addressed email correspondence specifically, because I thought your mama taught you well.

I was wrong.

Maybe I shouldn’t blame mothers. Maybe it’s our digital culture that makes people lazy and rude.

When looking for a job, however, you should be on your best behavior.

  1. Ensure your emails are professional. Often, an email is the hiring manager’s first impression of you. Make it count. A candidate recently copied me on an email to an HR recruiter. It was the first email I received from the candidate. It began with this sentence: It does not appear that my candidacy for the [REDACTED] opening has thus far been accorded the proper level of respect and professionalism. I had been on the fence about the candidate. That certainly helped me make a decision.
  2. Watch your tone. Remember that positive emails tend to come across as neutral; neutral emails read negative. Perhaps the candidate was simply neutral. (Yeah, right.)
  3. Use proper grammar and mechanics. Do not use textspeak. SYK.
  4. Don’t write a book. People often read emails on their phones. Don’t make them scroll and scroll and scroll. Get to the point.
  5. Proofread. Then get someone else to proofread the email also.
  6. Don’t be a pest. Say everything you need to say in one short email. If the person writes you back, then you can write again. Send one email to follow up on an interview. If you haven’t heard anything in two weeks after that email, send a final email. Then let it go. If the listing says “no calls or emails” then you have to respect that or risk pissing off the hiring manager.
  7. Always send a hand-written “thank you” note after an interview. It’s just good manners. Sadly,  few people have good manners nowadays. That means you will stand out in a good way.


Happy writing!

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