Anyone who has worked in the restaurant industry knows it is not always a picnic.
I speak from experience! At the age of 14, I had to get a job and start paying all of my bills, minus room and board (thankfully, the bills were few because $5.25 an hour only goes so far). Surprisingly enough, running up and down a food line adding more lettuce and pickles was not as fun as it sounds. To succeed in such an industry takes many things, but one you simply cannot leave behind is enthusiasm.
However, maintaining the high level of energy required can be difficult when the shift is built on long hours of cranky customers and meager pay. In order for employers to reduce the turnover caused by such factors, employees need to feel more valued and motivated in the following three categories.
According to Inc. magazine, “Three out of every four employees report that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job” and that 65 percent of workers would opt for “a new boss over a pay raise.”
Where are you in those statistics? The manager sets the tone for the workplace, encouraging those who need it; bringing attention to areas where employees need growth, and helping them achieve it. The problem is, many managers are not doing these things; as a result, their employees suffer which leads to increased turnover and the loss of many top-performing employees.
Managers can start to remedy this by listening. Although it sounds obvious, listening to suggestions and responding fairly to time-off requests goes a long way. Your staff works hard to keep your place running, so respond in kind and give them a break when they ask for one. Over time, this will increase their trust in your managerial abilities and strengthen their loyalty to your business.
Second, transparency is crucial. Managers need to develop open lines of communication between them and their staff. When employees feel their opinions are not only heard, but taken into consideration, they feel like an integral part of the company. In the words of Robert California, James Spader’s character on The Office, “Do you feel heard right now?” From day one, every manager is responsible for their employees’ quality of work, so one with a contagious excitement for the job will find the staff responding with the same attitude resulting in less turnover.
Knowing your product is always important, but in a restaurant, it also could determine whether you can make ends meet. That’s why your training techniques should be brought to the forefront. An extra emphasis on training will give your staff the comfort they need to excel, day in and day out.
When employees are familiar with the menu due to proper training, it reduces their anxiety dealing with customers, thereby opening more opportunities to upsell, resulting in higher profits. So don’t just train them on how to sell the product – encourage them to do so. Customers enjoy a knowledgeable waiter even if they sway from his or her suggestions. This helps fill the tip jar and gives employees a renewed sense of accomplishment.
An easy way to teach your employees about the product is by letting them enjoy it.Bring them together for a monthly “taste test.” Give them an opportunity to select an item off the menu and then talk about it. Although unorthodox, this approach allows them to give informed answers to customer questions and possibly spark ideas for new or improved dishes.
According to a survey by restaurant marketing service Blue Sky Local, 61 percent of restaurants notice a sales decline of up to 20 percent during a holiday. As Thanksgiving and Christmas hide just around the corner, restaurants need to find ways now to lessen that drop-off while maintaining excellent customer service and mastering scheduling conflicts frequently seen around holidays.
Restaurants can improve their numbers while making it easy on employees to enjoy being at work by setting up a friendly competition or two between staffers. For example, challenge them to see who can sell the most appetizers or desserts in a given time period; at the end of the shift, issue a prize for the winner. Even if the reward is nothing more than verbal recognition, employees want to be noticed and appreciated for their achievements.
Challenging your workers with these contests can relieve the strain of the job. Their satisfaction will spill over into positive customer service.
Scheduling is another tedious issue that can quickly cause problems in the industry. At the heart of good scheduling is the vein of excellent communication. When you need employees on certain days, be sure to let them know in advance. Employees hate having their expectations being dashed because you scheduled them when they asked for the day off. In order to do this, institute policies concerning time-off requests around holidays and then stick to them. This gives your employees guidelines and requires them to give you plenty of notice when they need off. Mastering the scheduling process is important if restaurants want to retain their top talent.
The restaurant industry is a tough business. Because of this, any effort to make improvements in these three areas cannot be overlooked. For businesses to be successful they need to take a detailed look into their management staff, the way the environment is cultivated and how employees can stay engaged.