Managing or running your own restaurant can be tough. There is a lot to think about, and a lot that can go wrong. It’s so much more than simply serving food. You must adhere to food hygiene and health and safety laws, make sure your premise and systems meet all current legislation, market effectively, stay up to date with décor and design and keep your menu fresh and exciting. However, there is one thing that stands out. That can make even the busiest of nights fun and can defuse any potential situation. That’s customer service.
Excellent customer service can help to build your restaurant a fantastic reputation and keep people coming back again and again. It’s always a high priority when it comes to best restaurant management tips. With incredible customer service, long wait times and mistakes with orders can be forgiven, and customers are sure to leave happy. Excellent service is often the first thing people comment on and remember. To provide fast and friendly service, even in the most stressful of situations, it’s imperative that you can get the most out of your waiting staff. Here’s how to do it.
Waiting tables is tough. They work long hours, on their feet, rushing around, for relatively little pay. They have to deal with grumpy chefs and irate customers while continually smiling and being pleasant. Many people make the mistake of thinking serving is easy. It isn’t. Appreciate your staff.
Walk in Their Shoes
One way to show this appreciation is to have a go at it yourself. Work a busy shift on the floor. Get stuck in and help out. You’ll show your wait staff that you understand and you’ll be better equipped to help and train them.
While some people work as waiters because they love the job and enjoy the social aspects, for a lot of people, it’s a necessity. A lot of waiting and bar staff have other commitments. Be it kids at home, a second job or time at school. If you want them to work hard and do the best job that they can, you need to be flexible with them. Understand that sometimes they need to be somewhere else and try to find ways to help them. This will mean they give you everything they can.
Failure to be flexible can lead to resentful and unmotivated staff and even a significantly higher than average staff turnover. Conversely, being known as a flexible and understanding employer will help you to attract, and keep the best and most hard-working staff.
A side effect of not appreciating how difficult a server’s job can be is neglecting briefings. If you think their job is easy, you won’t see the need to brief them. Which is a mistake. Spending 5-10 minutes at the start of every shift briefing your staff on what you need from them that day will help them to focus. They’ll get straight to work knowing exactly what they need to do.
Pass on information such as where you want them to be that day, what bookings you have in, any particular upselling you want from them and set them targets.
Another mistake many restaurant owners and managers make is piling the work on, and not giving their staff the time to do it. This means they must neglect their customers to get the extras done. If you want something done, perhaps an extra cleaning job or a stock take, you need to give your staff extra time to do it. Either outside of service hours or when there is someone else present to cover their regular duties. The same goes for making time for briefings and appraisals. Make the time to get things done correctly, instead of rushing and overloading them.
Give Them the Tools They Need
To be excellent waiters, your team need the correct tools. They need notepads or screens, they need comfortable shoes, and they need smart uniforms that make them feel comfortable and confident. They also need till systems that work quickly and efficiently. Think about what tools they need to do their jobs well and ask them if there’s anything you could get for them to improve standards or satisfaction. If their requests are reasonable, try to be accommodating.
Many employers, in all different industries, neglect staff training. They give new starters a basic walkthrough of what they need to do, then send them out to do it on their own. Then, when things change, or new menu’s come in, they just expect everyone to pick it up quickly.
Well, this isn’t fair. If you want your staff to give you their very best, you need to make sure they receive in-depth and perhaps, more importantly, continued training. You also need to remember that everyone learns differently. Some people may benefit from group training sessions in staff meetings, and others prefer a one on one approach.
A great way to get more from your staff is by offering incentives. You could do this in the form of bonuses at the end of the period, or by playing fun games which encourage your staff to upsell and improve customer service or cut wait times. Try some different things and see what works for you.
Staff hate meetings. This is almost universally true. Very few leave a staff meeting feeling inspired, motivated or knowledgeable. Instead, they feel bored and undermined.
Try to make your meetings fun. Play games, chat, find positive learning exercises and use the time to listen to their problems. Don’t hold them too often either. As long as you are communicating with staff and holding daily briefings, you only need meetings to share information and get everyone together. Only have them when you need them.
Be a Great Role Model
If you want your waiting staff to give 100%, you need to do the same. Show them that you are willing to get stuck in with the more unpleasant jobs, help them and work as hard as you can for the good of the business. Be loyal to them and trust them. They’ll respect you more and want to work harder to help you on a personal level.
Give Them Freedom
As we’ve talked about, waiting tables is often a lot harder than people realize. So, give your staff the freedom to make some on the spot decisions. If something goes wrong, it’s them who has to speak to the customers, to try and appease them, ensure they get what they need and leave happy. Yet it’s hard for them to do this if they are running backward and forward trying to reach a solution, with both customer and kitchen getting angry with them for something they perhaps had no part in to start with. Let them offer free desserts or a voucher to come back another day. They’ll feel more in control, less under pressure and be able to offer a better customer experience.
Get to Know Them
Knowing your staff is another excellent way to get the most out of them at work. Talk with them. Learn about their home life and their family. Find out where they want to be in five years and do what you can to help them. Knowing them and understanding them will help you to provide them with the shifts, hours and environment they need to succeed. It’ll also help them to love their job.
Say Thank You
After a long hard day, sometimes those two little words is all you need to bring a smile, and boost loyalty.
Great waiting staff can easily make or break your restaurant. So, look after them, treat them well and find ways to get the best out of them and you’ll go far.