Your staff can make or break you. Amazing customer service happens as a tango between the front of house(FOH) staff and the back of house (BOH) staff.
This means that not only do you need friendly people to greet your customers and take care of their needs, you also need a collection of kitchen staff that is also dedicated to great customer service. So how does this get created?
By you and your management team.
Looking for, finding and hiring the right staff is only a part of the effort. While this is very important, keeping them is just as important. The average cost of hiring and training a new employee is over $4,000. The restaurant business is notorious for having high turnover since most positions are considered temporary and not a career goal. You can lessen this turnover by keeping your staff happy. This doesn’t mean they run the restaurant. It means they like where they work, what they do and most of all working for you.
Let’s talk about how you create this environment and keep your customers as well as your staff happy.
- Get to know your staff
Know something about them; not just their name and the area they live in, but other personal things. You don’t have to be their counselor, but get to know what's happening in their life outside of work and what their goals are. Talk about kids, hobbies, school, interests. Check in with them periodically and ask about how they're doing. This will make you approachable and make them feel included.
- Show respect to all staff members
There is a hierarchy in every restaurant, but no matter the position, it is vital to the success of the business. Treat everyone with respect. Set the expectation that they treat each other with respect as well. From the dishwasher to the host, they all have value and should be treated that way.
- Don’t let problems grow
Conflicts between staff are inevitable. How the team grows from them sets your restaurant apart. Address things quickly so the issue doesn’t become bigger than it needs to be.
- Set the example
As an owner/manager, you are responsible for how the shift/day plays out. If you come into work in a bad mood and show that, you give your staff permission to be that way; not just to each other but to customers as well. If you come into work in a good mood, well the same rule applies. You give everyone permission to be friendly, nice, upbeat and in a good mood. Now, since this spreads to your customers, it makes your restaurant a pleasant place to be.
- Hold fun meetings and have fun at work
Staff meetings seem to be something that everyone dreads. They are very useful, but they seem to create apprehension. Make your meeting fun and eliminate this. You can create interactive, team building games to explain key points in your meetings. Toys like silly putty or Koosh balls are easy to find and fun for everyone. There are hundreds of teams building games and meeting icebreaker exercises on the web. It shouldn’t be too hard to find one appropriate for your group.
Also, think of ways to make the day-to-day fun for your staff and yourself. Running a business is very serious stuff, but having fun at work and/or a fun workplace is GOLDEN! Don’t be afraid to laugh and joke around with your staff and your customers. Encourage this in your team because laughter IS contagious.
- Rewards and Competitions
Healthy competition keeps things fun. You can hold contests for most appetizers sold or bottles of wine. If you collect feedback surveys or comment cards, maybe a reward for the highest number of positive feedbacks. The reward doesn’t have to be money, gift cards, movie tickets or if your restaurant does discount employee meals, then free employee meals for a month is a great one.
- Trust your staff’s judgment
Your FOH staff deals with unhappy and impatient customers on a regular basis. They can be a good gage for turning that customer into a happy one and help create loyal customers. Give them the green light to offer complimentary desserts or appetizers periodically. Teach them to keep an eye on the timing of their tables so if orders are taking longer than usual, they can help by bringing this to your attention and you both can be proactive about taking care of the guest instead of reactive.
- Ask you staff’s opinion
Your FOH and BOH staff work in your restaurant every day. They know what is seamless and what is not. They also see things from a different view than you do so they can offer great suggestions about things that may not ever occur to you. Improving what you do on a regular basis keeps everyone happy, including the guests.
- Say Thank You
Your staff works hard. Compliment them for this hard work. Tell them thank you often and regularly. They deserve the praise and saying thank you for things they do daily and it shows that you appreciate their efforts. Kindness goes a long way and it doesn’t cost you anything.
- Teamwork makes the dream work
Nurture a culture in your restaurant that promotes teamwork. Every task, whether it is an easy one or a hard one is much more enjoyable if it’s accomplished together. As we said earlier, there is a hierarchy, but that doesn’t mean people need to behave entitled. Promoting and encouraging teamwork will lead to a much more enjoyable work environment for everyone.