Training Hacks: Building Your Team

Training Hacks: Building Your Team

Having a solid training program will provide benefits every time your employees work a shift. The best training programs begin by hiring the best employees. This can be the difference between immediate success and possible failure.

Here are the first steps to take to put the right people in the right places.

1. Determining Staffing Needs

Every establishment is different but the theories behind determining staffing levels are similar all around.

Think about the flow of your business and every step a customer will take on their way to an excellent experience, from the moment they walk through the door to the moment they leave. To ensure service, you’ll need employees who’ll engage the customer at each step, and then you’ll need a support staff. The support staff are employees who the customer may not deal with directly, but still affect the final customer experience. Examples of support staff are barbacks, busboys, prep cooks, and housekeepers.

Based on the size of your establishment and the level of service you plan on providing you’ll want to have at least two (if not more) of each position during your peak hours.

Of course, you’ll want to employ more than two people for each position to account for day and night shifts, for days off, for extra coverage when needed, and as backups in case of emergencies.

2. How To Hire

Now that you’ve determined your staffing needs, it’s time to put the word out.

There are many ways to let potential employees know you’re hiring. The best way is to post your open positions to a job site specific to the hospitality industry, preferably one that partners with the big job search engines as well as with local sites and with trade associations. This ensures you’ll connect with the most enthusiastic and professional candidates.

The best way is to post your open positions to a job site specific to the hospitality industry.

Of course, there are always the traditional ways such as word of mouth, employee referrals, and the trusty old “Help Wanted” sign.

It’s a good idea to tell any and all applicants you’re always accepting applications, even when you think you may be fully staffed. By doing so you’ll always have possible employees in the pipeline ready to begin training at a moment’s notice. Don’t wait until an employee resigns or until you involuntarily lose an employee before hiring their replacement. This gives you peace of mind knowing all possibilities are covered.

3. Who To Hire

If you’re always accepting applications and interviewing potential employees, you’ll find the person you spend valuable training dollars on will be of a higher quality.

Unfortunately, it’s common in the industry to hire out of necessity. This can affect customer service and employee morale in the long run. Try to avoid backing yourself into this corner at all costs.

Before you begin interviewing potential employees, take the time to list the personality traits and skills you’d like your perfect employee to have.

Each position requires a certain type of person. Before you begin interviewing potential employees, take the time to list the personality traits and skills you’d like your perfect employee to have.

After you form a profile of your superstar employee(s), you’ll want to tailor your interview questions accordingly. Always remember to ask open-ended questions to keep the candidate talking as much as possible. This allows you to get an idea of how they’ll deal with service as well as how they’ll fit into the team. Of course, you’ll want to include a few skill questions to make sure they can meet your skill level requirements, too.

Here are a few other quick hiring hacks to keep in mind:

  • Don’t be afraid to be creative or out of the box with your questions. You want to force the candidate to think quickly, as they’ll be doing this continuously during shifts.
  • During the interview, don’t just show your amiable side. Remember, it’s their goal to impress you, not the other way around.
  • Also, keep in mind there may be some strict guidelines you’re required to follow when interviewing. Rules and regulations vary from state to state. Click here for more information on the regulations where you’re located.
  • Last, schedule a follow-up interview for a day or two later so you can think about things first. Avoid hiring a candidate “on the spot” if at all possible.

One of the best quotes we’ve heard from a small business owner when asked about their hiring practices was, “Every horse runs a good first lap.”

“Every horse runs a good first lap.”

He meant everyone puts their best foot forward during interviews so take the time to think about how the candidate will fit into the big picture. It’s tough to build a cohesive and successful team when new hires let you down or move on within a few weeks. If you find this happens frequently, you may want to revisit your hiring process.

Finding a good hire is the first step in a successful training program and should not be taken lightly. It’s rare that an employer finds the perfect employee who’s always on time, enthusiastic, and able to handle anything thrown their way…all while providing the best service possible.

Protect your business by establishing and following great hiring practices. That’s the best way to start training off of the right foot.

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So The Holidays Are Over, Now What? Tips to Keep The Money Flowing

So The Holidays Are Over, Now What? Tips to Keep The Money Flowing

The holidays are great for the hospitality and service industry. Sure, you’ll hear the occasional grinch toned story of bad luck or holiday heartache. But for the most part, business will be booming no matter what aspect of the industry you work in. The increased business can be a boon for your income with customers willing to be more relaxed in their spending habits. So how can you prepare yourself for the slow season? Here’s what to do when business dies down.

“When you have money, think of the time when you had none.” – Japanese Proverb

Even though everyone knows they should put money aside for a rainy day, it’s not always done. When business slows down, it’s a good idea to slow down on the spending in your personal life, too. You may be tempted to let loose now that your schedule has relaxed, but resist the urge.

Setting money away is the hardest thing on this list to do so here’s a good rule of thumb: Put your paychecks aside and live off your tips. You’ll want to have three to six months of living expenses saved up for emergencies. The worst thing you can do is to put yourself in the position of living shift to shift.

Use the time to relax and reset

The essence of hospitality is staying one step ahead, anticipating needs, and getting things done as quickly as possible. Many employees find themselves working full time or even overtime during the busy season to ensure such great service.

Even though everyone knows they should put money aside for a rainy day, it’s not always done.

While this may be great for your bank account, it’s hard for your body and mind and this can quickly lead to burnout. Take the time to catch your breath. Also, the downtime after the holidays is ideal for returning to any healthy habits you’ve put aside.

Perfect your craft

Hospitality and service industry employees increasingly have their sights set on becoming authorities (even celebrities) for what they do. If you plan on progressing past casually working weekend shifts, it’s a good idea to use the slower pace to perfect your technique.

Use the tranquility after the holidays to learn about and experiment with new products and innovations. Who knows? You may come up with a new recipe that turns into the next big thing.

…after the holidays is ideal for returning to any healthy habits you’ve put aside.

It’s a good time to bond with co-workers

Chances are the busy season brought a lot of new faces into the building. But with guests coming and going constantly, it’s hard to find a moment to talk about anything besides work.

Now you can take the time to connect (or reconnect) with your coworkers. In turn, this makes your work environment less stressful and fosters organic teamwork. Better teamwork equals better service which equals better tips, reviews, and ultimately increased business.

Pick up shifts at another location

There will be times when one employer can’t offer you enough hours. Luckily, it’s common practice for employees to work part-time at more than one location. And after the holidays or busy season, some staff members are likely to ask for time off. This opens up possibilities around town for you to earn extra income. Check out Sirvo for all the best job opportunities.

Even though it may be a slower time, these opportunities are always available and managers may be looking for reliable help to fill open shifts. This could be your chance to finally get your foot in the door at your dream job. Use these tips to help you weather the post-holiday season. One great thing about the hospitality industry is its seasonality. Take advantage of that benefit.

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Why Mixology is a Real Trade and How it Enhances the Dining Experience

Why Mixology is a Real Trade and How it Enhances the Dining Experience

What’s the difference between a bartender and a mixologist? Well for one there is a difference between pouring a beer and enhancing the overall dining experience with precision and craft. While bartenders are certainly beneficial for restaurants, mixologists shouldn’t be ignored. Particularly in restaurants that want to be recognized for their unique drinks and/or their impeccable drink and dining pairings.

Here are some key reasons why mixology is a legitimate trade, one that restaurants should support if they want to give their guests a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Science is involved

Mixology isn’t exactly like biology, physiology or any of the other science-ologies out there. But it does require some science to be a great mixologist. That’s because mixology involves a certain understanding and knowledge of the chemistry of drinks.A great mixologist studies the chemistry and history of cocktails to create new flavors. They also need to understand how particular flavors in a cocktail will enhance flavors of food to add depth to diners’ entire experience.

Mixologists adapt to your menu

A great mixologist can create new work when they are presented with a new menu. If your menu changes seasonally, a mixologist can prepare new cocktails that match the seasons and also compliment the menu. They can have different specials for brunch, lunch, dinner and even special events.

A great mixologist studies the chemistry and history of cocktails to create new flavors.

Mixologists can also be hired on a consulting basis. If you only need a mixologist once a quarter to craft a new drink menu, you can hire one on the side instead of keeping one in-house throughout the year.Many mixologists make a great living this way. In fact, they might have a greater range of knowledge and experience than mixologists who work for one location. Considering they have had to craft new and unique drinks for a wider variety of establishments.

Mixologists are your “behind the scenes” bartender

Think of bartenders as your customer-facing alcohol experts and your mixologist as your “behind the scenes” expert. Mixologists focus on the quality of the drink rather than the speed at which it is poured. Use your mixologist to craft seasonal and otherwise unique drinks that match your restaurant’s atmosphere and theme.

Your bartenders will be the ones mingling with the guests, pouring drinks and making recommendations based on the carefully crafted drink menu your mixologist has prepared in advance.

Advanced training really does help

Bartending isn’t exactly the easiest job out there. People who are naturally social and have the ability to multi-task can make a decent living without getting any type of additional certification or degree.

A certified mixologist has gone through extensive training to learn the ins and outs of crafting exquisite drinks. Their training has taught them the science and background they need to know to work with your dining menu and create new concoctions. Don’t underestimate the knowledge gained through mixology certification or degree programs.

Contrary to popular belief, mixology isn’t a term that was coined by hipsters. Its root dates back to the 1850s, and it has been used in cultures worldwide, from Hong Kong to England.

It has historical roots

Contrary to popular belief, mixology isn’t a term that was coined by hipsters. Its root dates back to the 1850s, and it has been used in cultures worldwide, from Hong Kong to England. The fact that it has historical roots doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a more legitimate term than bartender. It does point to the fact that we are not the first generation to have identified a difference between a mixologist and a bartender though.

Think of a mixologist as the person who makes your drinks beautiful, the person who knows how a drink can compliment every dish on your menu. Whereas a bartender is a person who charms your guests and simply pours their drinks. There is a distinct difference between the two, which is why restaurants should have both on hand to create the ultimate dining experience for their guests. Check out Sirvo for all open bar positions and become Denver’s next great mixologist! 

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Implementing Responsible Alcohol Service in Your Establishment

Implementing Responsible Alcohol Service in Your Establishment

Each state regulates alcohol — from its manufacturing, to selling, and the actions resulting from its use. This includes assessing the liability of any violations. If you serve alcohol in your restaurant, it is important that you and each staff member are aware of the laws, rules, and best practices in your state. Serving alcohol involves many risks. 

The failure to act responsibly may result in fines, loss of your liquor license, increased costs of insurance, or even imprisonment. Ultimately, it could result in losing your business.

Consequences of Serving an Intoxicated Guest

In almost every state, it is illegal to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person. There are numerous types of liabilities associated including criminal, administrative (liquor control commission), and broad civil liabilities via the Dram Shop Law. Therefore, it is imperative that you develop specific policies that ensure the responsible serving of alcohol in your establishment. This includes having a clear concise process for the difficult situation of denying service to an intoxicated guest.

Alcohol Awareness Training

Most liability insurances now require that all members of a restaurant, bar, or tavern staff undergo this type of training. Additionally, it is important because it helps underscore the importance of responsible service as well as the consequences of failing to do so. It also provides bartenders and servers with a factual base that enables them to make informed and often difficult, service related decisions with confidence. In addition to outside training, it is important that you have internal policies that define what to do when faced with these judgment calls.

The failure to act responsibly may result in fines, loss of your liquor license, increased costs of insurance, or even imprisonment.

Situational Awareness Training and Empowerment

Each member of your staff, no matter if they serve alcohol are important in the success of these policies, as often situations like these can be prevented. Train your staff to be observant. They should be listening and watching what is going on in your restaurant. Encouraging them to use their best judgment, empower each staff member to report any person or group they believe may present a problem. This is the best opportunity you have to prevent an incident from occurring. Once a report has been made, that is the time to have a manager or the owner drop by the table, speak to the patron, further assess the situation, and perhaps intervene.

Other Preventative Measures

  • Servers and bartenders keep track of how many drinks have been served.
  • Don’t serve drinks ordered for someone who is not yet present. As this person could already be intoxicated or perhaps even underage.
  • Have a visible authority presence in the bar area. This could be security or management.
  • Have signage posted with your policy

…it is important that they have the trust and support of management.

Tips to Refusing Service to an Intoxicated Patron

Because this is a judgment call that servers and bartenders are in the best position to make, it is important that they have the trust and support of management. Having a written policy that outlines the process is also helpful. These factors make it easier for them to exercise good judgment of how and when to refuse service. Robert Plotkin, founder of Bar Media offers the following advice on how to cut off an intoxicated guest.

  • When in doubt – don’t serve- Make this your policy. Because of the potential liability, isn’t it better to err on the side of caution?
  • Keep it simple- In the fewest words possible, explain that as a matter of policy, you will not be serving any more alcohol.
  • If possible, be discreet- There is no need to cause a scene that may embarrass the patron and potentially provoke an incident.
  • Utilize tact and diplomacy- Avoid using inflammatory language, disapproval, or criticism.
  • Remain firm- Once you have committed to this decision there is no turning back. To do so would undermine your credibility and authority.
  • Keep everyone in the loop- Notify the other staff and servers so that they do not mistakenly serve the guest additional alcohol.

For general precaution, management on-duty should be notified to take any further action needed, allowing the bartender or server to resume their regular roles. Management should determine whether to offer and arrange alternate transportation for the patron.

Keeping the patrons safe from harm and your establishment safe from liability is a job that falls to every employee. Knowing when and how to cut off an intoxicated guest is a judgment call often left to the bartender and servers. It is sometimes awkward and difficult, however, with proper training, guidelines, and internal support it can be accomplished with dignity and tact. 

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How to Work Your Way Up and Climb the Restaurant Ladder

How to Work Your Way Up and Climb the Restaurant Ladder

Many of us have been presented the opportunity to move up to management in a restaurant. Some seek it out, while others seem to kinda just stumble into it. Regardless, the reality is that the opportunity does exist for those who wish to pursue it further. Every restaurant has their own process, some being more formal/professional than others. Here are a few pointers for anyone who is working in a restaurant and has entertained the idea of becoming a manager.

Use your voice

Restaurant management is constantly looking at their staff to identify who should be approached about a leadership role. If you are wanting to move up the ladder, then that should be communicated at the very beginning. Have a conversation, be it in the interview process or at some point during training. It also helps if you communicate it to the right person, i.e. the GM, Chef or Owner. Don’t worry if you seek a management role later in your tenure, just don’t expect anyone to be able to read your mind.

Take every opportunity to refine your talents and expand on your skill-set.

Become a trainer

Trainers are the staff leaders of the restaurant and are usually the people that are the most knowledgeable about product and service. They are also who the management team goes to for feedback and suggestions. If you are wanting to be taken seriously as a true leader within the restaurant, this is a role you must obtain and perform well in. Being able to work with new staff not only helps them learn, but it also allows you to develop your skills as a teacher. Think of trainers as the “elders” of the tribe, they are the ones that pass on the traditions and culture of the company. 

Lead by example

Nobody likes someone who is a know-it-all or is bossy, so don’t be that person. A true leader leads by example and sets a positive tone for others to follow. Whether you notice it or not, people are looking at you to see how you react in different situations. Keep a calm and cool demeanor during high-stress moments and lend a helping hand when needed. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend, but they have to know they can count on you when the going gets tough. If you cannot be recognized as a leader amongst your peers, don’t expect it later when and if you enter a management role.

Think of trainers as the “elders” of the tribe, they are the ones that pass on the traditions and culture of the company.

Develop professionally

Take every opportunity to refine your talents and expand on your skill-set. Being a leader is difficult, even for those who have “natural” ability. A lot of companies will offer training throughout the year or will even pay for classes or certifications that help you grow professionally. Often being the boss just means you have been deemed the one responsible for everything, which is a heavy burden to bare. In order to make a real impact, you must bring more to the table. How’s your wine knowledge?  What areas of the restaurant are you most unfamiliar with? Identify where you can improve and seek out ways to do so.

Obviously, there are multiple ways to move up the ladder and many different routes can be taken. These are just a few methods we suggest utilizing to move up the ranks. It is a totally different scenario for one to be hired into a management role as opposed to someone working their way up. For people without management experience, working your way up is the best option. Head to our job board to see what entry-level opportunities await you or if you already have a management background click here

 

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