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Ultimatums that actually worked

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 6:53 pm
by davtheram12
During highschool I worked at a restaurant as a busboy making minimum wage ($6.75) + cash tips. I never made very much since I only worked ~15-18 hours a week. Each night I would pocket an additional $15-25 dollars in cash tips.

My job duties included getting refills, pre-bussing (removing dirty and unwanted dishes when customers were still dining), sweeping, cleaning and setting tables for new customers, emptying bus tubs in the dishwashing area and occasionally seating customers. Well that first year I busted my ass. I made sure nothing was left undone or half-assed. Since the servers tipped the busboys out each night, I made sure the customers were always cared for. I figured happy customers led to larger tips for the servers. Larger tips for the servers led to, usually, larger tips for the busboys. It wouldn't always pan out that way but I felt my work ethic would also help me later as leverage.

After a year, an opening for a serving position was made available. I felt I had enough leverage to set my ultimatum. One night I spoke to my floor manager voicing my interest in the serving position stating that if I wasn't seriously considered for the position I would "leave and find a restaurant that would appreciate my work ethic more". :shock: Pretty ballsy coming from a 16 year old kid but I knew if I didn't speak up for myself, no one else would. And it worked! He agreed I was a great employee and deserved the serving position. Naturally the other busboys, who were there longer than me, stated they deserved the position out of seniority. Well that didn't fly with my manager since he didn't like their work ethic. Well damn! I'm glad I had the foresight to work hard. After a couple weeks of training, I became a server. The hourly rate was the same but I cash tips jumped to $75-150 a night. This cash flow was immensely helpful for years to come. Im glad I had the courage to take a chance.

Have any of you set an ultimatum that actually panned out? Any instances when it didn't work out? Do you feel that it may have 'poisoned the well' in some cases?

I'd like to hear your stories.

Re: Ultimatums that actually worked

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 7:17 pm
by Miss Lonelyhearts
I spent years in the restaurant biz and admire the moxie of your teenage self. I think key to your success was your stated willingness to walk -- that primo leverage in any negotiation. Restaurant jobs are a bit odd. Legends often emerge about exclusive restaurants with exacting standards, but having worked just about everywhere (exception: large chain restaurants), the standard for getting hired is almost always that you showed up on the right day. This is not to downgrade your accomplishment, as you're exactly right that few 16-year-olds would have had the fortitude to pull it off, and nor did your fellow bussers. It's the first job that's always hardest to get.

Re: Ultimatums that actually worked

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:26 pm
by davtheram12
@Miss Lonelyhearts
Thank you MLH! I agree the restaurant business is very odd. Getting the job as a busboy was a challenge in itself. I had no prior work experience (does mowing ny parents lawn and babysitting my brothers count?) but luckily the same manager took a chance with me. A few years before I left the place he admitted that he took that chance because my dad told him "I was a good kid". As a fellow father, he took my dad's word to heart. Im just glad I was able to prove my worth that first year. That willingness to walk is definitely a good tool. But I've also seen that backfire :lol: