From one restaurant owner to another, let’s talk staff … specifically, your front of house.
Great team members are really brand ambassadors for your restaurant. Their personalities combined with effective training can actually build your business. But not all employees are created equal. If your restaurant is anything like most, at any given moment you have some great team players, some average and at least one or more you’d like to replace.
We all know turnover is a fact of life in this frenetic put-out-the-fires and get-the-doors-open business. Before you can get serious about training, you need to assemble your dream team to cover all front-of-house positions: a core staff of “A” players rounded out with some solid up and comers. This is vital, since your host, bussers and waitstaff all interact with your customer and communicate with and support each other, so cross-training is essential. After all, a great restaurant relies on great staff, but how can you find consistency? Maybe it’s time for a new approach.
I have always believed in hiring for personality, attitude and the desire to serve the customer over prior experience—in other words, I look for those who really enjoy meeting people and making new friends every night for your restaurant. These people bring a desire to learn and eagerness to succeed. Why not ask your great staff to recommend people they know who would be a good fit for your restaurant?
Next, consider your training. Do you teach both service and salesmanship? The two are equally important, but in my experience few restaurants achieve this magic combination. Visit most any restaurant and you will likely find a personable and perhaps attentive staff, but few who really recognize that providing menu and restaurant knowledge to the guest in an engaging way actually delivers a better experience.
Think of it this way: Your front-of-house staffers are the experts on your menu and restaurant, and as brand ambassadors they are in a perfect position to create lasting guest relationships, marketing “buzz” and positive word of mouth. In many cases your customer is a first-time visitor who knows almost nothing about what makes your restaurant great or what they will enjoy. If your servers are educating, informing and entertaining your guests at every table, every time, your restaurant will capture lots of sales and marketing opportunities, while providing unforgettable dining experiences.