So you think you have got your act together and everything is running along nicely, then all of a sudden you take your hands off the wheel and you are heading for a crash.

Let me explain: Your business (restaurant, café etc) has been busy and your staff has handled things well other than a few minor incidents that were not enough to rock the boat. The feeling around the place is of confidence; they are like a good football team that is sitting on the top of the comp.

There is an air of cockiness amongst the players; “bring it on we can deal with it.”

Confidence is a good thing. Over confidence is extremely dangerous. And in this scenario the football player has much in common with your waiter or waitress. Training is everything.

Let us use a scenario of the top football team playing the bottom of the ladder team. The top team is super confident, this game is going to be a walk in the park. In their minds the game is won before it even starts. But, when it comes to the crunch, the top team cannot get its act together during the game and takes a heavy loss.

Relating this back to our restaurant scene where it had been busy and the team had been doing very well: One night the restaurant was booked out for a small function of just 50 people. As the restaurant seats 100 when full the staff felt that they were in for an easy night.

There was a definite sense of over confidence coming from the team. I even overheard a comment from one of the chefs: “This is going to be an easy night, maybe I should tie one hand behind my back to make things more interesting“. Now while this was just a humorous comment it revealed an attitude that could send any restaurant team into a tailspin. The night was rocky to say the least and there was definitely no sign of the well oiled machine which had been running so smoothly over the last few months. Luckily it did not carry through to the customers as the staff managed to cover up the problems well. But covering up problems is not the role of a waitress. Training for the whole team is essential if you want everyone to do their job effectively. Remember the old saying: A chain (your wait staff) is only as strong as its weakest link.

At the end of the night the team knew they had lost the game that they should have won easily.

Complacency and over confidence had been their downfall. They felt they just had to turn up for the night to be a success. This is a common problem in many restaurants and in most cases will have drastic effects on the customer.

There is no doubt that the solution to this problem comes from the top. Management must have the answers here as they are responsible for waiter and waitress training, which ultimatley determines the results on the night. The secret is to treat every game as important as the next using the same high level of intensity. A team meeting before service is a must so that every team member knows the game plan and the communication lines are fully operational.

So let’s keep the team in the winners circle and remember:

“LOSING IS NOT AN OPTION”

I would love to hear from you. Send me an email if you would like to ask a question or just talk about your experiences in The Hospitality Industry.