How to build and keep a great team
The restaurant/QSR business is notorious for its high rate of turnover when it comes to staff. While it is a great way to make quick money while pursuing other interests like a college degree, restaurant work is often seen as a stop-gap for young people trying to further their careers in other areas. This can be an advantage however, as more often than not your restaurant team will be populated by young, creative and smart people.
Rewarding and incentivizing your team members can really work to your advantage, so here are a few pointers on how to do that:
1. Reward your staff
Restaurant work can be tough going, particularly during high volume, busy periods. Your staff are the first point of contact
with your customers, so it is in your interest to ensure that they feel like they are an important part of a team when dealing with the public. Disgruntled staff members stick out like sore thumbs, and a listless attitude towards customers can do immeasurable damage to your brand.
If your staff are rewarded with perks like good quality staff meals, extra days off, shift choices/flexibility, then they will feel valued and will be more inclined to approach their tasks with enthusiasm. These rewards can take many forms, from a couple of drinks on the house after a busy Friday night to a fun staff day out, even the time-trusted ‘employee of the month’ scheme-it is important to give staff a feeling of recognition and value when it comes to ensuring that they stick with you for the long haul.
2. Encourage staff to be a part of your brand
Nothing breeds more confidence in a brand than a team of staff who really know what they are selling, and more importantly believe in the offering. Restaurant owners should provide staff with all the tools they need to tell the story of their brand.
A well informed staff member who can give off-menu information about certain products, or some interesting facts about how the business was started is invaluable when it comes to creating a valuable customer experience that will encourage repeat visits. This has a beneficial effect on staff-if they can see that their efforts are instrumental in building and maintaining a loyal following then they will feel a great sense of accomplishment which will foster a positive attitude within the team.
All too often, restaurant owners and senior managers become detached from their clientele. As a business grows, they become buried under a mountain of admin work that sees them spending more time in front of a screen than in front of their customers. This can have a detrimental effect on the direction of the brand.
Staff members are the link between owners and their public, and the likelihood is that they will have the most valuable information about what needs fixing within the FOH operation. If staff members see that they are being listened to and that the issues they they are passing up the chain of command are being addressed, then they will feel valued, making them more likely to adopt a positive approach to their work as well as a sense of loyalty.
4. Be as flexible as you can
The staff roster is often one of the biggest pain points for a restaurant manager. Not many people really want to work all weekend while their friends are out having fun. This is part of the job, however, and if you adopt a reasonable and strategic approach to giving your key staff time off at valuable times like weekends then they will reward you with loyalty.
It is common for restaurant managers to identify a new staff member as being a strong addition to a team, only to roster them on every single evening and weekend, thus killing their enthusiasm for the job. The staff member then inevitably will seek a position elsewhere that offers them more flexibility and a better work/life balance. Look after staff and they will look after you.
5. Set rules and be organised
Being consistent with your approach to all aspects of a staff member’s experience while working will create a stable, organised working environment. Having clear guidelines on things like uniform standards, working hours and other operational issues takes the guesswork out of the job for staff, allowing them to confidently do their jobs and focus on the tasks at hand.
A loose, disorganised approach to staff management will invariably create conflict within the ranks and will give rise to a disorganised, edgy work environment-leading to a generalised air of negativity. Staff should come to work knowing that the manager/owner is in full control, and they should be able to look forward to their shift without the added hassle of having to chase down a paycheck or wrangle over that day off they requested two weeks ago.
A final thought....
Restaurant staff members are frequently a diverse, talented group. Larger teams are likely to have several members that are studying for college degrees, people who are potential social media experts, etc. etc. Make time to learn about what each staff member can bring to the equation and utilise their skills to the advantage of the business. Everyone loves their chance to shine, and staff members will develop an enthusiasm when allowed to showcase their talents.