frog huddle

You can call it a server line up, pre-shift, huddle, an alley rally, etc but please do call it. Daily pre-shift meetings with your service staff are invaluable in so many ways.

Constant communication with your staff, regarding goals, standards, achievements, etc…, helps keep everyone on the same page. Without constant, daily reminders of what you expect and are trying to achieve, the staff can drift off course from your vision. These meetings are also a great way to be constantly training and improving your servers.  Also, since the service staff have direct contact and interaction with the guests; it is wise to secretly/overtly inspect their appearance, preparedness and condition before they go on the floor. Competence and confidence breed pride!

There are endless benefits of the server shift meeting. There are only two drawbacks: Time and Effort. When time and energy are short, it is easy to skip these meetings. However, lack of consistency damages the results and momentum of the meetings tremendously. Can we agree that successful teams meet regularly and often? Do your restaurant and yourself a favor and conduct a great meeting before every shift!

These meetings should be very brief (usually no longer than 10 minutes). You and your staff will enjoy these meetings a lot more if you can find a way to make them informative, interesting and funny. Shift meetings have better results when employees participate and are engaged. Also, if you listen closely to the servers you will learn new perspectives of the operation.

One good way to create a good, fun, and informative atmosphere is to have the kitchen prepare a menu item for everyone to taste and discuss. Talking about current challenges and praising good performance is a nice way to keep everyone in sync. And, of course this is the best time to get a sales contest going! You can have a lot of fun with your crew during these meetings. The sky is the limit on what you can achieve with them!

Good luck and good pre-shifts!

Zach

 

30-Minute-no-service

 

Here’s a question: Is your floor management active? I recently ate lunch at a busy national chain and noticed there wasn’t any management actively working the dining room.  Lunch took an hour to get to our table. An Hour!! The table next to us had a different server and it took even longer to get their food. I was a little astonished.

Because our service was pretty good, I surmised that only the kitchen was having problems. Then I saw a guest get up and refill his own soda from the server station. At that point, I realized that their table and many others were being neglected.

Many restaurant chains boast a 100% guest interaction with managers. Few to none actually succeed. With smaller independent restaurants, I see even less effort towards table checks by management. Too many restaurant managers don’t want to be active in the dining room, lest they have to deal with an unhappy guest. This is a very fundamental and basic mistake. How can managers and owners feel confident in the service they provide without personal verification?

Could a floor manager have made our food come out of the kitchen faster? Maybe. But probably not. However, adding poor service to long cook times will bring disaster to your establishment. A seasoned professional needs to be out and in the mix to see that guests are happy. I have stated in prior posts (Putting the Host in Hospitality & Make Your Problem An Opportunity) there are a lot of  opportunities to make a great outcome from a poor situation. In most cases servers don’t have the authority  to change a bad experience into a positive one.  Therefore, active floor supervision is a must.

Take a good look at what is at stake when it comes to service in your restaurant. Then take stock of the experience level of many restaurant staff. Scared yet? You should be. Get out there and herd some cats!!

Good Luck and Good Hospitality

Zach

Euston Tap

 

For those who have been to a busy bar and have had to wait… (and for those bartenders, managers, & owners who want to make more money).

When it comes to going out for a night on the town, we all appreciate spending a little less time waiting in line for a drink. And when I do go out, I’m usually disappointed by the lack of efficiency displayed by most bartenders. As an operator, I am always looking for more ways to raise sales, and wow guests. There is a fundamental way most bars operate that slows the flow of alcohol, money and tips. I recognize that there are times when a bar should slow the flow of inebriates. This blog post is not relevant for those times.

In the movie Cocktail, we see Tom Cruise as a great showman flipping bottles and dazzling his massive crowds.  But, wow, they must be thirsty! Cool bar tricks are great.  What’s better is a busy bar that is operating in a profitable manner. There is a brewery in my neighborhood that I go to on occasion. They have a great line of beers and a fine atmosphere. Service? Unfortunately, their service isn’t what keeps me coming back.  It’s fine with me if a bartender wants to display a tinge of arrogance (many do). But, please, don’t make me wait in line for lack of talent at the same time.

Lets dissect the normal bar exchange. First, the bartender asks what the guest would like. Second, they go make/pour what that guest ordered. Third, they bring the libations to the guest. Fourth, they go ring the drinks up, then explain the amount due. Then the guest pulls out their wallet, and finds their money while the bartender watches them. Finally, the bartender transacts the payment. That’s a lot of steps for the next guest to watch and wait for. By this time, some other guy is already making moves on the girl I was fetching a drink for and the line isn’t getting any shorter.

A club as busy as those seen in Cocktail has to be faster. But how? The drink pricing must be set to include tax. There shouldn’t be any pennies, nickels or dimes used for alcohol. Dollars and quarters are enough. The trick to fast bar-tending is having good memory.  The bartender needs to memorize common drink prices. Again, those drink prices must be made so that they are easy to remember.

Once the bartender has a firm grip on drink prices; we can pick up the pace. Here’s how: First, when the drink order is taken, tell the price right then. This is important because many people don’t have their money out until they know what is owed. Why do people do this? They just do. Second, move to the next guest, take their order, give a price and continue taking orders and giving prices until you can’t remember any more. It is very common to be able to remember two to four people’s drink orders. Third, make and serve the drinks. Finally, process the payments and start the cycle anew.

At this point, the bartender is essentially waiting on at least twice as many people at once and combining many steps. This practice will increase bar sales significantly while expediting customer service and lining the bartender’s pockets to-boot.

Obviously, as alcohol sales are increased, some precautions must be taken to monitor the amount of drinks people have had and their inebriation levels. Please serve responsibly.

Zach

ruler

Q: Is bigger better?

A: Not when it comes to tablets and wait staff. Even in Texas.

Q: Why?

A: Imagine you are waiter or waitress using a wireless tablet to take guest orders. Your choices are a ten inch, seven inch, or four inch device. More specifically visualize your choices as an iPad, iPad mini, iTouch, if prefer Apple products, or a Nexus 10, Nexus 7, Nexus 4, if you prefer Google Android products.
Which would you rather carry around all shift? A heavier one or a lighter one? Which is easier to drop? Which is more expensive? Which fits in your apron?

Q: Sounds like smaller is better!

A: Not quite. It turns out the larger the screen real estate, the easier it is create an order since there is less scrolling and hunting.

Q: So bigger is better! I knew it.

A: Again not quite.  Smaller screens are less taxing physically over a long shift due to their smaller weight.

Q: So which is it?

A: As big as possible to make it easier to perform tasks, but not so big as to be physically taxing. The Goldilocks size for wait staff is right in the middle, a seven inch tablet. It’s about the same size as a check presenter and fits in the apron when not in use.

Q: That makes sense. I was rooting for bigger though.

A: If it makes you feel better, for host stands and other fixed locations we recommend ten inch tablets since they are not carried and it’s not physically taxing. So bigger is better there. But for table side guest ordering seven inch tablets is the way to go.

Thaddeus

 

Photo credits: Ruler by Sterlic Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License