I had the chance to take my two oldest boys to eat breakfast at Waffle House while on vacation in Destin, Florida. This has become a bit of a tradition with me while on vacation–one that I look forward to continuing with all three of my boys once Ethan is old enough. Now, I have to admit that the WH in Brentwood has spoiled me a bit but I still enjoy a double waffle from time to time.
That being said, I had never thought that there was all that much to learn from a trip to WH, but today, while looking for shells on the beach, I thought a bit more about how the WH close to you and me operates (and that apply to you and me as well):
- Know what you’re good at. WH knows that it’s not the Stock-Yard,but that’s OK. Knowing who you are and being comfortable with that is one of the most important discoveries you’ll ever make. As a person or a business it’s OK to accept your limitations even if you never try to stop overcoming them. You’ll never succeed, however, by trying to be someone or something you’re not. WH is great at what it does, is comfortable with it’s personality, and goes out of its way to maintain it.
- Always acknowledge other people. When ever you walk in to a WH you’re likely to be greeted by several people wishing you a “good morning”, “good evening”, or “good, what time is it?”. You’ll be invited to sit wherever you want and will pretty quickly be greeted by a friendly waiter or waitress ready to take your order. Acknowledging others is always a good, polite, practice. It could be as simple as a nod or a smile or a more formal “good morning” or “good evening”, or whatever is considered good manners where you live.
- Communicate calmly and clearly. A nightmare that I’ve had on more than one occasion has be working as a short-order cook in a WH. This isn’t a nightmare because of the nature of the work but rather because of how complicated it is. My boys love watching the cooks work their magic without notes or other cues all while (almost) never messing up an order. Certainly this is due to a lot of practice and hard work but it’s also because of the way the waiters and waitresses communicate with the cooks. They aren’t rushed, they don’t yell (at least not out of anger), and they speak clearly using an agreed-upon jargon. Everyone can learn from this. Do you feel stressed and overwhelmed? Try speaking in a level, calm tone while trying to be as clear as possible. You’ll be amazed how quickly your heart rate will fall.
- Take responsibility but help others. You’ll have a single waiter or waitress while at a WH, but you may have someone else clean your dishes, take your money at the end, or do a host of other jobs. WH works because the individuals working there take responsibility for their own customers but are always willing to help each other out. What a great rule to live our own lives by, especially in a world where people don’t take enough responsibility for their own actions and where many are loathe to help out another person.
So, take it for what it’s worth, but I’ll certainly never look at a WH the same way again. I hope continue to enjoy my double waffle (without guilt) for a long time to come however.