The WRONG Approach:
Notice the help-wanted ads in your local area and you’ll likely find restaurants seeking “experienced” cooks, servers or other staff. I’ve always believed this was the wrong approach. Don’t get caught up in the trap of “My dishwasher just quit and I need someone NOW”. This approach leads to average staff, delivering average results and more often than not, you’ll find a person that comes with bad habits or the wrong attitude towards your business.
The RIGHT Approach:
Seek out those with pleasing personalities, eager to work hard and serve the public. Your goal is to develop what I call you’re “A-TEAM”. These are great staff that are reliable, quality and detail oriented, hospitality-focused and eager to please the customer. They communicate well with their team-mates, jump in to help when needed, know how to SELL if they interact with guests and make new friends for your restaurant each night. Once you have some solid “A’s”, give them the responsibility to train and polish your “B-players… those with the right approach that just need a little more practice and hands-on experience. Also use you’re A’s to cross-train staff in other positions as a “Plan B”, so anyone is ready to jump in and cover someone who can’t make a shift. Ask you’re A’s & B’s to recommend others they know that will fit your company culture and team. As for “C-Team Players” – GET RID of THEM IMMEDIATELY. C players complain, show up just for the paycheck and bring down the team spirit of the rest of your staff.
Recognition & Rewards:
Everyone works for money, but recognition and praise go much farther. Lead by example, walk around, get to know staff personally and make it routine to catch your team performing and going the extra mile.
Know that your suppliers work for your business and they usually have tremendous resources at their disposal. Ask them each year for items of value that may be sitting around the warehouse gathering dust that you can use to motivate and reward your staff. These could be promotional items such as hats, t-shirts and other wearables, electronics like iPads, music players or tv sets, neon signs, sporting goods, etc… Assemble a war-chest of prizes and then randomly award these to top-performers on the spot. My restaurant used to have a prize closet filled with valuable merchandise spilling off the shelves. When I caught someone going the extra mile, I would recognize and thank the person for their contribution to our team and then say “Let’s take a walk to the closet, why don’t you pick out something special” as a thank you for working with us”!
On a weekly basis, my managers and I would recognize two people who really made a difference that week. Maybe they helped a guest with a problem or jumped in to save the dishwasher overwhelmed with a mountain of dishes. Whatever it was, I would assemble the entire team before we opened for business that day, call those people up front, describe their “contribution or Difference Made” and then award each with a $20 Bill and a can of RedBull.
As you can imagine, these were special occasions and real team-builders. For a small cash investment each week, these ideas created our culture of hospitality, teamwork and fun, but more important reduced our restaurant’s turnover in a high-turnover business. There is no more important priority than building your own restaurant “Dream Team”. Pretty soon, you’ll see that you’re A-players elevate everyone’s performance, approach and high customer service standards.
Want to take these ideas even further? Check out a company called MyEmployees. They offer a staff “Recognition & Rewards” program that increases productivity, teamwork and respect in restaurants.