Beyond turnover, restaurant operators face a number of staff issues every day, ranging from struggles with internal communication to recruitment. We asked veteran operators how they tackle some everyday challenges.
Issue: Communication and organization
“Communication is the primary key to any relationship, and when dealing with uncontrollable personalities. The need to keep a positive environment for everyone to be productive allows the employees to speak up for themselves and be heard, giving them a sense of independence and respect. This is not only needed in the workplace, but also within the relationship between coworkers. Any conflicts dealing with a ‘he said, she said’ situation can be handled through communicating,” advises Luis Perez, g.m. at 1111 Peruvian Bistro in Miami.
“Organization is another need as well, especially when building a great relationship with your staff,” Perez adds. “Having an organized and smooth transition to any changes throughout the day helps keep the customers our number one priority. When coming across an issue with a staff member, organization helps with maintaining and being able to rotate the responsibilities and duties that each staff member is required to complete.”
Issue: Last-minute appointments/auditions
“Los Angeles is a city full of aspiring actors, singers, writers, producers, dancers and more, which can make it very challenging to staff a restaurant and count on them daily,” says Gregory Sage, operating partner at Ocean Prime in Los Angeles. “Cameron Mitchell restaurants has a ‘yes is the answer’ philosophy, both towards our guests and our associates, so we make sure to accommodate requests as much as we can in order for our team members to continue to reach for their dreams.
“Everyone pitches in to make this happen from covering shifts to making sure tasks are accomplished to allow others to leave early. I’m proud of this culture and the ability to say yes to everyone, and in return, I receive that and more.”
“One of our biggest staff issues is keeping our staff motivated over time so that they stay with us for a long time. It’s always hard to bring new people in when the train (restaurant) is going 100 miles per hour,” observes Stephane Bombet, president of Bombet Hospitality Group. “One of our solutions has been to promote from within. We try to create new positions for people to grow within our company so not only can they make more money, but they can also spread their knowledge to newcomers and be the messengers of our vision in the long run. We are very proud to say that some of our employees have been with us for over six years now.”
Jacob Cross, v.p. of marketing and public relations for Back of the House Restaurant Group, shares a strategy that spurred recruiting efforts. “In January we started offering a $2,000 referral bonus to employees who recruit staff within the first 90 days of their employment; after 90 days, we offer a $1,000 referral bonus. We have seen that people who start a new job are excited and eager to involve their connections; they also know the culture and are likely to bring on people who are strong fits. With the extra incentive for new employees, we have recruited some of our best talent and are able to reward our staff while avoid costly third-party recruiters. We’ve hired 20 new managers since the beginning of the year and 13 of those came from our referral program.”