Culturally experienced staff
I have often found it hard to convey my expectations of service to new junior staff – how do they know what the right thing to do is when quite possibly they have had very little experience of dining and Cafe culture and all its normal expectations. Ok so they have been out with Mum and Dad and had burgers at the local cafe maybe Chinese or the local bowling club for a Schnitty but what if any interaction did they observe or take part in of the social niceties. Did they order did they look at the state of the table they were sitting at, no probably not their interest would much more lie with getting another soft drink.
Life experience – mentoring
So how can we expect the new crop of hospitality workers to operate and think as we do? We have had a whole lifetime of eating drinking in for the most part varied venues with a keen eye for the level of expectation for that the price point and style of venue should provide. We choose the venues based on reviews, word of mouth and more often than not your gut feeling for a venue but yet again this is based on your experience.
Exposing younger staff to Cafe culture and expectations can help you be more effective and to drive sales, one technique i have found really effective is matching them up with usually an older more experienced staff member as a mentor. The Mentor can spend time and use storytelling and demonstration as an effective way to get the point of what and why we carry out our duties in a certain way. The mentor has an essentially empty canvas that can be coloured in with ideas and enthusiasm and motivation. This of course can only happen if there is the right connection between Mentor and mentee which itself can sometimes be no mean feat.
Soaking in the atmosphere – what’s the buzz
Another technique i have used is a what’s the buzz tour and i use this in conjunction with staff training and or team building exercises. Pick a venue that has a great buzz or service or food and get the team to watch and soak in what’s happening ,how do the staff operate, how do they use body language to communicate, how slick and smooth are the staff. This can kill 3 birds with one stone it gives you the chance to have a team meeting give the staff an opportunity to bond and have a good time and finally it gives everyone a chance to see what and how well other venues are doing. I have to admit that seldom do i come across really slick service at Cafe’s or Restaurants too often i believe that the job is being completed to the bare minimum without the little bit of magic that makes the service stand out.
Feel touch taste
Open communication between all staff through down time in service and or at staffies at the end of the night i believe is a great way to unwind for everyone but also gives everyone a chance to hear the war stories from the “other side of the pass” and to put a different spin on what we do and the expectations from both the floor and kitchen staff as well as setting and reaching benchmarks. Informal discussions and conversations are a great way to ignite the passion of younger staff and throughout the employment process and especially through the HR process we should be looking for staff who are interested in food and drink. Simple exercises such as Menu tasting or asking the staff to taste a sauce can go along way to their developing their palettes and understanding a flavour profile. Staff need to be able to taste touch and feel your products. Too often have heard said or indeed said myself that the Fish was a very popular dish when asked what was your pick by a customer as i’d never tasted any of the dish.
Upskilling your staff in the minute details of your business is a great way to build faith and consistency with the staff and customers but i find ensuring staff have a greater understanding of the big picture of the hospitality industry also creates clarity of purpose, enthusiasm and motivation that not only helps your business but also ensures that the staff are continually improving and updating their knowledge that in turn makes them attractive to an employer.