Your FOH gets a lot of attention. After all, it’s the face of your restaurant, the first thing your guests see when they walk in, and the responsible party for the lines of communication from the guest to the BOH. Or, at least, it should be.
Go on a social media platform with restaurant employees pitching in, and there’s one thing you’ll notice almost immediately—the BOH complaining about the FOH and vice versa. Do you ever wonder why the adversarial tone? Is it the FOH receiving tips and not sharing? Is it the BOH playing favorites? Perhaps it’s a demarcation that’s hard, if not impossible, to reconcile.
And yet, we’ve all been in those restaurants where the staff seemed genuinely happy. Servers entered the dining room laughing after getting items from the kitchen. When waiting at the bar for drinks, there are smiles instead of impatient stares. There’s a team spirit that pervades the establishment.
Impossible, you say? Understandable. These restaurants fall in the rare breed category. Some would even suggest unicorn status. And yet, it’s possible. And, as long as it exists for some, it’s worth a try for all.
Creating a Cohesive Community
A cohesive community ensures optimal operational efficiency and the best guest experience. So, what makes up this type of community? It requires a common vision, a sense of belonging, supportive relations, and a feeling that everyone is in it together.
Consider implementing the following strategies to start bringing your team together.
Seeing Through Each Other’s Eyes
There’s only one way to truly appreciate another’s unique perspective, and that’s to walk a mile in their shoes. It’s easy to watch from an observer’s point of view and wonder why things don’t run more smoothly or efficiently. I remember the first time on the plate as an expeditor. It was on St. Patrick’s Day at an Irish Pub. No, not my best move.
But I left that night with a whole new appreciation of the BOH. I spent many a night after that watching and learning.
And, while you can’t throw your wait staff into the BOH or the BOH into server positions, you can give them a taste of the responsibilities each other’s roles carry. Plan your strategy, maybe taking one person at a time and having them work in a job outside their comfort zone during a quiet shift. Once everybody has switched roles at least once, you’ll notice a difference—a sense of camaraderie you didn’t know was possible.
A Night Out or a Shared Meal
Social media and smartphones have transformed the dining experience. It’s not uncommon to see a group sitting at a table with phones in their hands and little to no conversation shared. You’ll notice the same silent behavior in the employee break room.
Every quarter, consider taking your crew out for a shared meal. Breaking bread and raising your glass to a toast has long been the first step in mending fences and crossing bridges. Or, you can create a special night at your restaurant by offering a meal outside the regular menu or a tasting course. The idea is to have everyone set aside their smartphones and connect. As Anthony Bourdain said, “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”
You’ll notice some of your staff a little more distant or timid. Help them break the ice by starting conversations between them and others in the group. These social encounters foster positive connections, increase engagement, and promote bonding. You’ll notice less barking and more understanding.
Servers start to grasp that curt answers in the kitchen aren’t personal affronts, but the effect of a busy shift and a busier BOH. The BOH begins to see the servers’ questions not as irritating, disruptive noise, but as needed information that can help enhance the guest experience.
During these shared moments, sneak in a reminder of the company’s values and moral compass and create a sense of everyone working toward a common goal together.
Encourage Shared Tips
This hot topic has transformed in recent years, with concerns about fair wages calling for changes to this longstanding system. Some restaurants have eliminated tipping and provided higher wages, making up for the rising costs by increasing menu prices or instituting service charges.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Daisies, a restaurant in Chicago, added a 25% service charge. A Chicago ordinance in the proposal stages would end the tip credits by 2025. Currently, at least eight states are considering eliminating these credits as well.
And while many restaurants have tried converting to no-tip policies and higher wages, just as many switched back due to workers’ and guests’ oppositions. For now, and for those restaurants still implementing tips in their establishment, tipping out or sharing gratuities through a tip distribution system is considered the fair approach.
Keep in mind that if you take a tip credit for wait staff and bartenders, you cannot mandate those employees share tips with non-tipped coworkers. You can, however, recommend a percentage go to the BOH.
Of course, if you don’t have enough staff to prep, prepare, and serve guests, the strain experienced by overworked employees can disrupt the best intentions.
At EMERGING, we partner with leading restaurant and entertainment concepts, helping them reach their short-term and long-term goals. As the labor shortages continued to affect the bottom line and guest satisfaction, we looked to technology to help our clients retain the support needed to ensure the best guest experience.
That’s when Target Workforce was born. This proprietary technology uses advanced geolocation, mobile tracking, and IP address verification to help find the highest quality trained staff at the lowest recruiting cost. To learn more about Target Workforce or to schedule a demo, contact EMERGING today.