Looking for the perfect employee is like searching for the Holy Grail; you will more than likely never find it. Having said that you can find very good employees and with the right training you can turn even very ordinary employees into valued members of your staff.
So where do we begin to search for the perfect employee for your restaurant?
Let’s start with front of house staff members for a typical 80 – 120 seat café / restaurant; not too up market but of high standards.
Wait people can come in various shapes and sizes, have differing amounts of experience and attitudes ranging from – happy go lucky to Attila the Hun. There is no doubt that there needs to be experience in your core staff members, but there is a lot to be said for hiring on attitude rather than on ability (depending on circumstances). You can always train people to improve skills but it’s a tough ask to train people to have a good attitude. Hospitality industry employee turnover is high, and I have come across many wait people who have lots of experience and have worked in just about every restaurant in town. The reason for them moving around so much is often that their attitude will not allow them to take direction; there is usually conflict, and then they move on.
When you employ somebody with the right attitude – and this usually comes down to a positive outlook on life, a willingness to learn and an interest in their work and in other people – they train up well and are great to work with. And most importantly, this translates into a warm and welcoming vibe for your customer. After all, competent and friendly service is at the frontline of your business.
Training may seem like an unnecessary extra on top of all your other responsibilities. But even experienced staff can benefit from the odd procedural up-date; it’s not good for anyone to be too set in their ways. Even minor training can be a team building experience and it is essential in the on-going battle with high levels of hospitality industry employee turnover. It often seems that just when you feel you are forming a good team someone always seems to move on. But with a bit of preparation there will be someone waiting to step up to new responsibilities and the impact on your business can be minimised.
I remember a few years ago when I owned a large café, there was a customer who would come in from time to time and always had a complaint. He asked me one day why I employed such young and inexperienced floor staff and insisted he would employ everybody with experience if he had this business. A few months later he bought his own restaurant and realised what it was like to be on the field playing the game rather than watching from the sidelines. Six months later he came to me and said there are times when he did not care how young or inexperienced they were as long as they walked through the door to start work. Although some might say: Welcome to the hospitality industry! employee turnover and staffing issues don’t have to be the bane of your existence.
The secret to having less stress when it comes to staff is to have good training procedures, good communication, genuine interest in them gaining experience and having them work in a team environment.