You can have an award-winning menu, the best chef, and the freshest locally sourced food; however, if you don’t manage your employees effectively, your restaurant cannot succeed. Improving your management skills can lead to excellent customer service, increased sales and better employee productivity. Let’s discuss four main topics in restaurant employee management.
Communication is essential in to build positive relationships with your staff. Although it may seem to be a hassle, having regularly scheduled meetings is a great way to communicate with your staff to address nightly changes, dinner specials or any questions or concerns. Be sure to ask specific staff to speak up so that everyone is actively involved and providing input. Making sure that employees and management are on the same page will help keep productivity high, so employees can better serve customers.
At least every other meeting, take a few moments for a team building or getting-to-know-you activity. It can be es simple question like “Everyone share their favorite sports team” or “What’s your favorite dish at our restaurant?” Then occasionally fit in longer team activities like a paper napkin airplane contest, new dish contest, or search online for a great number of free or low-cost activities.
Beyond basic communication, it is critical to make sure employees know what you expect of them. When managers lay out the expected business culture, including amount of vacation days, expected hours of work, appropriate dress code, and treatment of customers (and coworkers) the culture can change with amazing results. This takes time, consistency, and persistence. Failing to do so can cause your restaurant to suffer and cause the employee/manager relationship to be strained.
For example, all managers have (or will) experience issues with staff timeliness. If an employee shows up late on a regular basis, but a manager says nothing, the employee will believe it is acceptable to come in late. On the flipside, when a manager orients a new employee with the expectation of being to work on time, and then holds employees accountable, the new employee is more likely to feel compelled to be on time.
2. Employee Performance
Analyzing employee activity and performance might not be your favorite task, but spending a little time with your numbers today can help you save from hardship in the future. Luckily, with high-tech POS systems, collecting employee data is a snap. When going through employee sales data, be sure to focus on ticket size, tip size, number of discounts and cancelled orders. This will help you see which employees are giving the best service, which are up selling the most, and which are making the most errors. You can use this data to assist in creating individual plans for improvement, growth, and readiness for promotion.
When discussing individual performance, approach it consistently with coaching, mentoring, and appropriate immediate action. When something great happens, like a difficult customer being handled with excellent customer service, be sure to thank the employee personally. Likewise, if something is done wrong, address it personally and try to find a place away from the busy crowd and other staff members. This will help build employee/manager relationships in the areas of trust and accountability.
Let’s face it, in the restaurant business your staff’s performance can either make or break your business. To keep your best and brightest performing at their best, and to get your other employees to follow suit, goals and incentives are important. Incentive plans do not have to be monetary to be effective, though bonus opportunities and potential raises can be very effective. If money is tight, consider an employee of the month award, assigned parking space, or an office party for all staff meeting a collective goal.
3. Be a Model
People will naturally follow a strong leader, even if they don’t realize it. Managers who lead by example in the way they do their work, step in to help during chaotic service times, treat staff kindly, and provide excellent customer service will have staff striving to do the same. The staff who do not follow the leader will either leave on their own accord, or eventually must be let go.
Another aspect of leading by example is to take responsibility. If your overall restaurant customer service is failing, then don’t simply blame all employees. Bring the staff together and admit that you have failed as a team. Granted, there will be some employees who are worse than others; however, bringing it to the team level allows everyone to step up their game. In the same ways, celebrate success – even the small things. Employees really do appreciate kudos and it can bump a good day up into a great day.
A slightly unrelated aspect of leading by example is to create a business relationship with each employee. We all spend a lot of time with our coworkers. As a manager gets to know their staff members, communication becomes easier, and having difficult discussions about performance can become opportunities rather than feeling like harsh disciplinary action. The simple act of getting to know your employees as an individual also allows for them to see their manager as a human being.
5. A Robust POS
Anyone who has managed a restaurant knows that employee scheduling is a tedious, error prone process. It can make the calmest managers harried quickly when there isn’t someone to cover a lunch break, or worse, part of a shift missing altogether. Many newer POS systems help ease this pain by allowing quick scheduling online. POS schedules will not only alert you of impending overtime hours, vacation days and double scheduling, but also allow you to share the schedules online so all employees are notified. Employees can also login through their mobile or computer devices to ask for vacation days and notify you of sick days. This way you can spend more time focused on customer service and increasing profit – not schedules.
As you are aware, a high-tech POS can do an endless number of business-related tasks. One feature often overlooked that can increase productivity and better customer service is the kitchen display system. This automatically ques orders for the kitchen when it is input by wait staff. Additionally, time can be tracked and pulled in reports, which can help identify dishes, number of customers, and orders with special instructions. A simple example would be realizing that cheese is always added to a dish – to speed things up, change the item to include cheese (and increase the price). Staff and customers appreciate these changes because it saves time in ordering and inputting it into the POS.
Restaurant employee management that focuses on communication, employee performance, being a model, and using a robust POS can produce great results and increase profits. While frustrations can rise with poor performance, remember that most employees just need guidance, support, and leadership to help them become a great employee. For those employees who don’t improve, a much more difficult discussion will be necessary.
So, what are you waiting for? Take the first step and try one thing above to improve your restaurant’s employees. Let us know how it goes!