Monday, 8 April 2013

Interview: Steve DiGioia

What have you had published?
Just this, my first book: Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift...Even If You’re a Bad Waiter
What genre(s) of book do you write?
This should fall into the “Self Help” or “Business/Careers” categories I believe. 
What inspired you to write your first book?
This book came very unexpected.  As part of my usual duties as a Director of Banquets for 4-season resort property , I am also responsible for developing all resort-wide standards and practices for the Banquet Departments of our other 5 resorts. Back in December 2012, I was asked to train a group of newly hired waiters for one of our sister properties. 

This training was to be different since it was geared toward the restaurant a la cart servers & bartenders as opposed to my usual banquet servers.  I wanted them to understand what it takes to provide a lasting memory of service for all the guests that enter the building.  They needed to see what makes a guest really enjoy their stay with us, what makes them want to come back again and again.  Good food and atmosphere can only go so far if the service is terrible and your needs are not taken care of.

The training was so well received that I expanded on these tactics and started to retrain my own staff of over 50 employees, based on them.  I then put these tips into a monthly newsletter that I issued in January of this year.  I had so much information that I wrote the next 5 issues as well, right away.  Then at least 3-4 days each week we discussed these service tips prior to the start of their shifts.

I was so happy to hear that on the very first day of this “pre-shift training”, one of my waiters got one of the largest tips he ever received.  And this was just because he properly introduced himself to his guests at the start of the evening & let them know that it was his job to take care of them.  He got such a kick out of his guests as they continually called him by name and joked with him all night.  It made for an enjoyable evening for all.

Well that was the spark that started my idea for this book.  The only difference is that I decided to take the route of “WIIFM”, “what’s in it for me”. 

You see, if the waiters see that they can benefit from my training tips by making bigger tips, then they are more likely to follow them and actually put them to work.  Ultimately the guest will benefit as well.  They must realize that only by making your guests feel special, feel as if THEIR enjoyment is YOUR primary concern, will they make the big tips.   All else is not important.
How long did it take you to write “Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift...Even If You're a Bad Waiter”?
Three (3) weeks, starting the second week of January 2013.
What is the working title of your next book(s)?
Well, I wrote a blog for three (3) years called “So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager”.  It was about telling the world what it was really like to be a banquet manager.  Many times when a guest goes to a wedding or a private event at a hotel or conference center, they may think that the person responsible for the event has a glamorous job...but that’s far from the truth.

I’m thinking of taking the almost 400 posts from that blog and turning it into a book.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started five (5) years ago with So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager.
Do you self publish your books or go through an agency?
I didn’t have any start-up capital so I decided to self publish my book, and will do so in the future.  I spent the next 3 weeks on the computer learning all I can about self publishing and print of demand companies. 
What part of writing books do you find the hardest?
I’m not sure since this book came so easy for me. I guess when you write about something you know about and love the ideas come easy.
What do you do in your spare time?
I work long hours so my spare time is limited.  I try to spend all my time with my wife and 2 teenage daughters.  They are my world and this is where I want to be.
Who is your favourite author?
I read many books from Dean Koontz years ago and loved them.  Recently I’ve read a few by Malcolm Gladwell and the customer service books by Jeffrey Gitomer are the best.
What’s your favourite genre to read?
Business & customer service books where I can get ideas and anything that I can learn from.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I would say just do it, why not?  I did, so can you.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to leave with my favourite quote:

The excellence reflex is a natural reaction to fix something that isn’t right, or to improve something that could be better.  The excellence reflex is rooted in instinct and upbringing, and then constantly honed through awareness, caring, and practice.

The overarching concern to do the right thing well is something we can’t train for.  Either it’s there or it isn’t.

From: Setting the Table, written by award winning NY restaurateur Danny Meyer.

WOW, it doesn’t get any better than that!  I try living based on that quote.
Thank you Katie for this opportunity, I wish you and your readers all the best.

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