Chances are, if you’ve dined out in the Louisville area in the past ten years, Billy Rightman has been your server at least once. Rightman has worked for six area restaurants in the past decade, and currently works as a server at the St Matthews BW3.
He started his career at the Olive Garden on Hurstbourne Lane, made a “brief” stop at O’Charley’s in the DuPont area, and worked at a few more area restaurants that he’d “rather not talk about” before landing at BW3 about 10 months ago.
Despite working at several establishments over the last ten years, Rightman has been consistent in one area of his work. Since his early days at the Olive Garden, he has addressed his male customers as “Boss”.
“You know, like when I first go to the table, I’ll ask the ladies what they would like to drink, and then when I get to a guy, I’ll say ‘How about you, boss, what would you like to drink?’ And I always ask the guy if he wants to order appetizers. I’ve found that dudes are much more likely to order (appetizers) than chicks.”
Rightman said it all started during his second month at the Olive Garden, some ten years ago, with inspiration provided by one of his favorite musicians.
“I was working a lunch shift, which always sucked. I had some Springsteen song stuck in my head, so the next table I had, I called the dude ‘Boss’. He didn’t really react, but I thought it sounded cool. So, starting then, I would say stuff like ‘How about some more breadsticks, Boss?, or ‘How’s that lasagna treating you, Boss?’ Nobody complained, so I stuck with it. I think being called ‘Boss’ makes guys feel cool, you know, like more powerful or something, especially in front of chicks.”
After much consideration, however, Rightman tells this reporter that he has decided to stop referring to male customers as “Boss”, at least for two months.
“I read this article on Buzzfeed that said you shouldn’t get stuck in the same routine at work. That really got me thinking about how I could improve as a server, you know, change things up. So as hard as it’s going to be, I’m not gonna call dudes ‘Boss’ anymore. And, I’m going to start bringing napkins to every table, even if (customers) don’t ask for them.”
Rightman says that he plans on analyzing his performance and income after the two months, and at that time will determine how to address male customers going forward.
“With the whole ‘Boss’ approach, I average 19% tips. After two months of this new approach, if my tip average is higher, then I’m sticking with it. I mean, even if it goes to 21%, that’s like an extra hundred bucks every few months, which will make it much easier for me to get the new Call of Duty. But trust me, if it drops at all, I’ll be going right back (to calling male customers ‘Boss’).”
Regardless of how his new approach works out, Rightman says one change to his serving technique is going to be permanent.
“No matter what, I’m going to bring napkins to every table without (customers) asking for them. So far, everyone seems to appreciate that.”
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