What is going on at your restaurant when you are away? Does your team have enough valuable and necessary work? It’s inevitable that there will be slow times, and if your staff isn’t aware of what they could be doing with the extra downtime, it’s easy for them to fall into unproductive habits that take away from your business and have them counting down the minutes until they’re off.
Read on for a list of restaurant management tips that will keep your team focused and productive whether it’s the off-season or a midday lull.
Improve Restaurant Performance by Creating Lists
Something that’s sure to keep your team on track is a checklist. Aside from their primary duties of serving customers or cooking on the line, they could be doing things like cleaning out the refrigerator, dusting shelves in the dry storage area, wiping down condiment bottles in the dining room, or deep cleaning utensil drawers.
Create a checklist that includes all the irregular items an employee could be doing during their downtime. That way, when someone has completed their regular duties, they can turn to the checklist for more to-dos.
Give Leadership Roles to Empower Staff
Depending on the size of your restaurant, you may be the owner-manager or you may have front-of-house and back-of-house managers. Depending on how many management positions you already have filled, it could be very helpful to empower leaders for each department.
By having leaders in place, you ensure an additional set of eyes behind the scenes when you are away or occupied. Check your budget to see if it makes sense to bump up the hourly pay of your assigned leaders. Then, train them on practices that’ll keep everyone busy and improve restaurant performance.
Set Expectations from the Start
Expectations should be set from the start. It’s much easier to make expectations clear from the beginning than try to enforce new ones after everyone’s gotten comfortable with their workload and flow.
Let new hires know that they will be moving and busy throughout their shift and that there’s always something to be done. Make sure this doesn’t pose an issue for them; this will be an opportunity for them to let you know if they have any limitations or are unsuitable for the job.
If you find that your current team could use a productivity boost, hold a meeting with everyone to introduce your new expectations, lists, and policies, and explain the benefit this has to the restaurant and, in turn, their jobs, tips, and advancement. Having everyone sign a document that states they understand and agree to the new policies show that the change is serious and official.
Enforce a Strict No-Phone Policy
Phones are a necessary piece of technology but can be too distracting in the workplace. It doesn’t look good when your customer arrives at the host station or cashier just to find that the employee’s head is down, and they’re absorbed in a text conversation or social media meme. The first thing a guest should see is the employee’s eyes, and the employee should be ready and eager to serve them.
As adults, your employees should know when it is appropriate to check their phone. But if it becomes a problem and takes away from their productivity, ask that employees keep their phone in their locker and away from their workstation. If they are concerned about a child in school or their spouse going into labor, have a private chat about how they can remain connected without taking away from their work.
Set an Example
Nothing discourages an employee more than working hard next to their boss who has their feet kicked up on the desk while watching funny YouTube videos. As the restaurant owner, you can do whatever you’d like, but be conscious of how you appear to your employees.
If you are asking them to be productive and busy, lead by example when you are in the kitchen or dining room with them – even if it’s just examining their work, acknowledging a job well done, or doing your own work. If you’re feeling unproductive or tired, don’t spread that vibe to your employees.
Record Disciplinary Action
Once you have to-do lists, expectations, and policies in place, enforce them! Let your staff know in advance that you plan to do this. This will inspire your team to remain productive and fill their downtime with tasks that’ll keep the restaurant clean and orderly. This will also help you weed out any employees who are wasting time on the clock, thus saving you money and headaches.
Research your state’s firing laws, and abide by them when letting an employee go due to bad performance. In any case, having recorded disciplinary action and agreements signed by the employee will strengthen your case and make letting go employees much easier for both parties.
When you know your expectations, your staff will appreciate and respect your clarity.
By following these 6 restaurant management tips, you’ll find that downtime is eliminated, your employees are remaining busy, and your customers will notice better service and a cleaner restaurant.