How To Motivate Your Restaurant Employees

How To Motivate Your Restaurant Employees

A thriving restaurant is driven by happy, motivated employees. When your staff is motivated, it shows in their work and in your cash register. Keeping workers motivated may appear a daunting task at first, but it’s really quite simple. With a little creativity, there are countless ways to motivate your restaurant employees!

Hold Competitions

Humans are competitive creatures, no matter what job sector they’re in. Restaurant owners can tap into that drive as a way to improve sales and provide incentives for recommending specific menu items and offering top-notch customer service. It doesn’t require a lot of money, and yet it can be a very powerful tool.

Restaurant owners can tap into competition as a way to improve sales and provide incentives for recommending specific menu items.

It’s called gamification and it can help boost and even exceed goals. Try putting together menu bingo cards and hand them out to the servers. Encourage them to recommend the menu items listed on the cards. When they sell one of those items, they can mark off the spot on their card. The first one to get bingo wins a prize.

Managers should make it their duty to oversee these competitions and ensure the prizes are being fairly distributed. Also, make sure the staff isn’t being distracted from their jobs. Some games and drawings will work better for some employees than others, so feel free to experiment and figure out which ones motivate your team the best.

Ongoing Training

Some employers fail to see the value of continuing training beyond the onboarding stage. They think workers are either not interested or don’t need additional instruction.

Receiving ongoing training helps the staff to feel more valued as individuals and improves the overall morale.

On the contrary, receiving ongoing training helps the staff to feel more valued as individuals and improves the overall morale of the establishment. It also demonstrates an invested interest from management for employee success and advancement. If an ongoing training program is not in place, consider adding one.

Celebrate Your Staff

Employees like to feel like management cares about them as individuals rather than simply as workers. Anytime a staff member reaches a milestone, such as celebrating a birthday or completing a training course, make it a point to celebrate the occasion. It doesn’t have to be a big fancy party – providing drinks, a free meal, or a cake is sufficient.

It doesn’t have to be a big fancy party – providing drinks, a free meal, or a cake is sufficient.

Provide Bonuses

To encourage employees to stay with the restaurant, consider offering an annual bonus or a raise for every year a worker stays on. Regardless of hourly pay rates, employers can give regular bonuses based on how many years the employee has been working for the establishment. Even if there are few opportunities for growth, it can still serve as an incentive for your staff to stay on the team.

Close Early

Whenever holidays come around or a staff member celebrates a major life event, such as a wedding, it’s not a bad idea to close the restaurant early. This way the entire team can celebrate the occasion without some of them having to stay behind and work. Doing this will also allow for employees to better manage work with their personal lives without having to burn themselves out.

This way the entire team can celebrate the occasion.

Implementing even just one of these tactics will surely improve your team’s overall attitude towards their job. Your staff will not only become more motivated, but they will begin to enjoy their work and be much more pleasant to interact with.

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Host Hacks: Landing a Job Promotion

Host Hacks: Landing a Job Promotion

As a host or hostess, you’re the first person to greet customers when they walk through the door of the restaurant, and you’re good at it! While you love your job and the opportunity to interact with people from all different walks of life, you’re also hoping to move onto something bigger and better. Doing your job to the best of your ability will help catch the attention of managers, owners, and other staff members, but there are several things you can do to make yourself look even better.

Where Are You Going?

First thing’s first; ask yourself what goals do you have for advancement? Your future job will help determine the actions that you need to take in order to move up. Some hosts have their eyes on a job as a server. After all, the tips are better!

Your employment goal will help shape your behavior as you work your way up to the top.

More ambitious hosts, however, are eager to take it even further than that: they have their eye on a restaurant manager job, possibly even with an eye to eventually moving up to regional manager. Your employment goal will help shape your behavior as you work your way up to the top.

Make Yourself Useful

What do you do during a slow period at the restaurant, when no one is coming through the doors? If all of your work is taken care of, do you find ways to pitch in and help others?

Well, you should because this simple action can help showcase your willingness to work with the restaurant like nothing else. Don’t just seat customers and take them their silverware. Within the restrictions offered by the rules that go along with your restaurant, you can:

  • Bus tables
  • Help with cleaning tasks
  • Grab drink refills for a table whose server is busy
  • Bring out food when you can
  • Take drink orders

While you should always take care of your own tasks first, the more helpful you are, the more obvious it to your employers that you’re the ideal choice for future management or server positions. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get the promotion you’re hoping for, but it’s certainly a great way to start pushing your foot in the door.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

If you’re hoping for a promotion, you need to show it! No, every day at work isn’t going to be your best and brightest. You’re going to have rough days: days when you were in a bad mood coming into work or when your entire shift seems to be going wrong.

How you handle those days, however, will dictate your employers’ willingness to move you into a better position. If you can handle your bad days while still being friendly and helpful to customers and going out of your way to help your co-workers, your managers are going to see it.

Every day at work is a fresh opportunity to dive in and show your stuff.

Every day at work is a fresh opportunity to dive in and show your stuff. Seat each server equally and as fairly as possible. Smile and help all of your coworkers, even the ones that you don’t necessarily like. Be kind and compassionate to customers who have problems, even when you’re struggling to understand their problem or you’re frustrated because of the way they’re treating you.

Speak up

Your managers are not mind readers. They can’t know that you’re hoping for a promotion until you let them know. You don’t want to be a nag or bring it up so frequently that you annoy them, but you do want to let them know that you’re very interested in taking your employment with the company to the next level.

Your managers are not mind readers. They can’t know that you’re hoping for a promotion until you let them know.

Not only will this make the higher-ups aware of your aspirations but it can also lead to them giving you advice on how to make it happen, which is by far your best chance of getting that promotion!

Working as a host in a restaurant is a great starting place for a future career. With time, you can work your way up through the ranks, enhance your skills, and ultimately have that restaurant manager position you’re dreaming of. It all starts, however, with the energy and effort that you put into your job every day.

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How to Hire Great Staff for the Summer Season

How to Hire Great Staff for the Summer Season

Summer is often a busy season for the restaurant industry, but it’s also a great time to add temporary workers like college students to your staff. However, you don’t want to hire just anybody. Your summer workers should be as talented and skilled as your full-time employees. With the right preparation, you can hire the best staff for summertime. 

What to look for in a summer employee

Because they aren’t hiring summer employees for the long-term, many restaurants make the mistake of hiring the first few people who walk in with an application. However, to have a summertime staff that boosts your business, you want to look for certain characteristics during the interview, even if it means passing over the first few candidates until you find the right match.

Here are the top qualities you should be looking for in both front and back-of-house summertime restaurant employees:

  • Sociability
  • Ability to accommodate others
  • Frustration tolerance
  • Drive and energy
  • Integrity
  • Successful multi-tasking skills
  • Persuasiveness
  • Pride in work
  • Teamwork
  • Safety

How to measure a candidate’s skills

Knowing what to look for is one thing, but being able to determine how well a candidate meets the above requirements is another. Fortunately, technology is here to help. Sirvo, for example, allows employers to include a custom question in the job listing to be answered by candidates when applying, which gets the vetting process underway immediately.

In addition to using a tech service to test candidates, your interviews should be situational and specific to the job so you can gauge how well the candidate will work in your environment. Here are a few suggestions of questions to ask during the interview:

  • What would you do if you spilled beer all over a customer?
  • What would you do if one table complained about another table being too loud?

You can also do a menu quiz: ask the candidate to memorize the list, then have them take an online quiz. Accept 80 percent or higher as a passing grade.

Where to find candidates

Seeking candidates for summertime openings can be tricky. Here are some things you can do year-round to make sure you have a pool of quality candidates to choose from when it’s time to amp up your staff:

  • Recruit year-round: Post seasonal jobs on your social media pages, website and other networking sites, like Sirvo. Reach out to seasonal employees from last year or who worked during the holiday season to see if they are available again during the summer.
  • Contact previous candidates: If you were on the fence about a candidate and ended up not hiring them, this can be a good time to check in and bring them in for another interview. They may have gained more experience and/or skills that will be useful this year.
  • Start a referral program: Chances are, your current employees have friends, neighbors, and/or family members who would make great employees. Offer some incentive, like an extra $25 if a referred candidate gets hired and then an additional $50 if they stay on for longer than three months.
  • Seek out non-traditional sources: If you’re looking for more mature employees, look in non-traditional places such as senior centers or VAs for job seekers. These employees can be great additions to your workforce and might only want to work a few months out of the year.

Streamline your summertime training

If you’re frequently hiring seasonal employees, here are some things you should do to simplify the hiring and training process:

  • Set up an orientation: Have all your summertime employees go through a new-hire orientation at the same time. This saves a ton of time since you only need to go through all the required information once instead of individually with each new hire.
  • Stay on top of paperwork: Don’t let the summertime rush get in the way of filing the proper paperwork. Make sure every employee completes their I-9 and W-4 forms before they begin working. Make it part of your orientation to make sure it doesn’t get overlooked.
  • Review the rules for hiring minors: Many high school students work in restaurants over summer break, and the laws are different for them. Make sure to review the most current laws so you know how many hours they can work, when they can work until and any other relevant information.

One final thing to remember is that you generally can’t classify summertime workers as independent contract workers, even though they are only working temporarily. Review the federal guidelines so you understand who qualifies as a contract worker and who should be classified as an employee.

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Host Hacks: How to Deal with Angry Customers

Host Hacks: How to Deal with Angry Customers

Unfortunately, there are many situations at a restaurant where a visitor may expect more than they’re given, and as a host, you’ll need to rise to the occasion and act as the face of the restaurant. Use the following tips to keep your cool and handle angry customers like the pros in the meantime!

Remain calm

The number one thing you can do is take a deep breath and bite back any indignant responses or angry feelings. Remember that you are at work, and the customer’s concerns aren’t personal to you: you’re there to keep as many people happy as possible.

In addition, your anger will likely make the situation worse, by fueling your customer’s negative feelings even further, rather than bringing them down to a manageable level.

Show them you care

Go a step beyond nodding and calmly responding to your customers. Truly reach out to them by finding their real concerns from what they say. When you can respond by letting the angry customer know that you hear and understand exactly what upsets them, they’ll feel much more taken care of, acknowledged, and thus, helped in their situation.

You may not be able to solve every issue, but do answer all complaints by saying, “I understand, Mr. Smith.”

You may not be able to solve every issue, but do answer all complaints by saying, “I understand, Mr. Smith. You had hoped to be seated sooner and want to know what we can do about it. I will speak to a manager/see what I can do/follow up with you in a moment.”

What you do here is twofold: you both make the angry customer feel heard, and you help stem further explanation of the issue from them by making it clear it’s been taken seriously.

Show empathy and apologize if appropriate

The next step is to show that you, as a representative of the restaurant, care for the customer’s concerns. Whether or not you personally feel for that person, you need to be professional in your ability to take care of the situation, and part of that is to show empathy for frustrations.

This can vary depending on the situation. For a customer intent on causing a scene, no matter what the case, you may decide to apologize for the difficulty they’re having and suggest they return when the restaurant is less busy and their needs can be tended to more thoroughly.

For a customer with valid frustrations that you can’t personally fix, apologize for their situation and show your sympathy. Then, move on to the following step.

Resolve the issue, as best as you can

Show that you’re working to fix the problem, and take what steps you can to address any customer issues, within reason. When you’re faced with a conflict that can’t fully be resolved, but requires action, offer what you can: a free meal, a drink, etc.

Be sure to check with management to know ahead of time exactly how you are authorized to assist in these types of situations.

Be sure to check with management to know ahead of time exactly how you are authorized to assist in these types of situations. If you do find yourself in a conflict that you can’t resolve alone, too, do be sure to bring in a manager, server, or some type of assistance–both to show you’re doing what you can to resolve the problem and to have a support system yourself.

From time to time, customers will show their frustration with you, as the face of the restaurant. By remaining calm, empathetic, and reactive, you can keep the situation light and diffuse tension, often ending the issue. Use your support system when you need it, and remember to remain unflustered and authoritative; you’ll control the situation like a professional every time.

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Host Hacks: How to Seat Restaurant Sections

Host Hacks: How to Seat Restaurant Sections

Hosts are responsible for providing customers with a great first impression of the restaurant but also have to organize the seating flow. This can be challenging because seating restaurant sections means not only satisfying customer requests but also servers. The pressure-filled job takes skill and adaptability, but these hacks can help!

Talk to your servers

This may sound lame, but trust me when I tell you that communication solves many problems. Talking with your servers helps gauge how they’re feeling that night—are they interested in a section full of 2-tops with high turnover?

Same goes for seating; if you know you’ll have to seat guests in an already busy section, give the server a heads up. Let him or her know what the situation is, and if they need a hand, they can ask another server to cover the table.

Whatever the case may be, you’ll find a happier team overall when you’re able to accommodate as many preferences as possible.

Rotate sections

As much as possible, rotate the sections in which you seat customers. For example, in a restaurant that has four servers, this ensures that each server gets one of every four tables.

This technique also guarantees the best possible service for each and every table, as no one server is overloaded with new tables at the same time. In an ideal situation, no two tables in any one server section should be at the same place in the “meal cycle” (e.g. no two tables are putting in their drink or appetizer order or need clearing at exactly the same time).

Keep track of tables

As a host or hostess, it’s crucial that you keep track of which tables are occupied and where each one is in the meal cycle so you know how long they will continue to be occupied. This is important for seating new customers and walk-ins.

It can be tricky though especially if you don’t have a good view of the section. If this is the case, be sure to do a lap every once and awhile (after asking someone to look over the host stand while you’re away).

Pro-tip: When you notice guests leaving, find out what section they were seated in so you know the flow.

Be fair and flexible

Just because you know one of the servers can handle three ten-tops doesn’t mean you should load them up at the expense of the other servers. Same goes for the servers you dislike; even though they may not be your best friends, you should still treat them fairly.

Nothing breeds internal discontent faster than the appearance of favoritism, or revenge.

If a particular section has been rough to seat (maybe it’s a slow lunch hour and all of your guests want to sit in booths), then ask your servers if someone else wants to cover a table in that section. Your server with the empty section won’t be bored (or angry) anymore, and the server assigned to the busy section would probably appreciate the help.

Make cuts

Few things are more frustrating to an owner than seeing a lot of staff standing around joking in the service areas or on the patio–or worse, at the host stand. If you clearly have more help than necessary, it’s time to make a cut.

And don’t forget your closing server. If one server’s section is starting to wrap up but they have an empty table you need to seat, find out if your closing server is able to take that table prior to seating your guests. It’ll help prevent any confusion among the staff as to whose table that actually is.

Pro-tip: When it comes to making cuts, I always recommend taking volunteers first (if you’re able to).

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