4 Restaurant Staffing Tips
Posted on December 21, 2018 by Danny Leffel
A restaurant’s success depends heavily on the competence of its staff, but finding the right staff can be difficult. In fact, hiring employees is one of the most commonly-cited concerns for restaurant managers. Employees influence a customer’s experience from the time they step through the door to the time they leave, so it can be detrimental to a business if the wrong people are hired. There are several important facets to consider when hiring food service employees, but following the restaurant staffing tips below will help you find the best people.
1. Evaluate Your Needs
Not all restaurants are staffed the same way. A high-end bistro in Manhattan won’t have the same needs as a small-town pub. Know the area where your restaurant is located and how well the established businesses fare. If you’ve never staffed a restaurant before, try visiting one that is similar to yours and see how many employees they need at certain times. Talk to the staff to see what they like about their jobs and what can be improved. A lot of valuable information can be gleaned from a quick visit to the competition.
2. Make Connections
If you’re just getting started in the restaurant industry, you need to make connections with others in the business. One of the easiest ways to hire someone is through a referral, which removes a lot of the guesswork associated with bringing on someone completely new. Because the person vouching for them is risking their own reputation, the recommended new hire is much likelier to be a good fit. If you’re not sure how to go about making business connections in the real world, social media is a great tool for finding new talent.
If you already have an established team and you’re looking to add new people, try asking your current employees to refer people they know. You can even offer a monetary incentive for them if the new employee sticks around for at least six months. Alternatively, you can rely on staffing agencies to provide employees who have already been vetted, easing the burden on you and your team.
3. Ask the Right Interview Questions
You wouldn’t hire a bartender by asking them the same questions you would ask hospitality staff because the skill sets are entirely different. For example, a bartender may need to cut off a drunk customer when they’ve had enough to drink, so you’ll need to know how they’d do so. Your hospitality staff needs to be welcoming and accommodating to customers who may have special requests, so finding people with a cheerful demeanor is a must.
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When interviewing, make sure you ask a variety of questions that will let you get a feel for how an employee will react in different situations. Restaurants can be high-pressure situations, so you want people who can think rationally and diffuse situations. All positions are important in different ways, but at the same time, they need to gel with the rest of the employees. Restaurant owners can’t hire a lone wolf who doesn’t like to work with others because to run a restaurant well, you need a team that works together seamlessly.
4. Combat Turnover
The responsibility to combat turnover rests with management, and unfortunately, staffing turnover in restaurants is on the rise, so fighting it from the very beginning is your best bet. Offer perks that other restaurants may not, such as a higher wage or career development plans, which will help you recruit top performers and instill loyalty in them once they work for you. Treat your employees with respect and be understanding when mistakes happen.
Scheduling is one problem that plagues shift workers. Often, businesses don’t have the capacity to be flexible when emergencies arise, forcing employees to choose between attending to family business or their jobs. To alleviate this issue, try an online scheduling app like Crew that makes team communication and scheduling easier. With Crew, employees get notifications on their smartphones and can easily receive messages and scheduling updates from their managers, so finding someone to cover a shift is simple. Because clear communication is uncommon, businesses that can achieve it have a better shot at retaining their employees.
A customer’s interaction with restaurant employees is just as important — if not more so — than the quality of the food you serve. Remember that not just anyone will be capable of working in a restaurant. It requires a specific skill set that may take some time to find, but be persistent. If you have a great staff capable of handling all manner of requests and elevating customer experience, your restaurant will thrive.