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How to set your restaurant up for success

Is your restaurant on fire?

All puns aside, I mean is your restaurant really rocking? Your place is on fire when you have lines out the door every night of the week, your competitors are scrambling, the media are singing your praises and your customers are your best marketers.

We’ve all experienced restaurants like this and the magic doesn't happen by chance. It takes creativity, resourcefulness and a bit of luck. But most of all it takes consistent hiring and training.

Every restaurant has at least a few A-players, staff who light up the room with their personality, truly care about the guest experience and are asked for by name. Unfortunately, too many average players are simply going through the motions to earn a paycheck, and they will not lead your restaurant to great heights.

But it’s not always a staffing issue.

In many restaurants, with so many details to stay on top of, owners and managers neglect to lead by example and training is inconsistent, if it exists at all. This results in many staff taking the path of least resistance, delivering average food and service with the guest experience as an afterthought. Don’t let this be your restaurant.

Before any serious training can begin, I strongly suggest that restaurants “weed the garden” and consider a new approach to hiring. In the thick of battle in this high-turnover business, it’s human nature to try to replace someone quickly just to get the show back on the road. Instead, ask your best people for their recommendations on friends or acquaintances who they think might fit your organization and bring the same qualities. It’s all about chemistry. With new potential hires, ask sincere meaningful questions that require well-thought-out, honest answers. The goal is to find staff with integrity, discipline and self-direction. These people are the gems who are highly trainable and will pay your restaurant great dividends quickly.

Next, consistent training is all-important. Service and hospitality training is key, but don’t forget salesmanship. Sales are the lifeblood of your business and your entire front-of-house team are really salespeople. Effective selling occurs when education, information and flair come together and your people are entertaining and making suggestions they know the customer will enjoy. In my book, this is superior service. When the staff is having fun, working well together and making money, your customers are having more fun and spending more money. This is when the magic starts to happen and you’re lighting that fire.

To keep it burning, incentives, recognition and rewards are the necessary fuel for success. Creating and sustaining staff chemistry comes from noticing and praising accomplishments, fostering healthy competition and building a culture of hospitality in which customers and team are equally important.

Next thing you know turnover will decline, your “dream team” staff will become a family of brand ambassadors and customer buzz will fill your seats.

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