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How to Hire a Great Restaurant Team

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Positions You'll Need to Fill & How to Keep Them Filled

Restaurant Staffing

For the most part, the restaurant business is hierarchical. Like the army, everyone has a title and a role to play. Busboys and dishwashers are at the bottom, while managers and Executive Chefs are at the top.

The staffing structure will depend on the concept of your restaurant. A coffee shop will not have an Executive Chef nor a Sommelier (wine manager.)

Be forewarned -- staffing your restaurant and keeping it staffed will be one of your most difficult and time consuming tasks. Unless you have a large family and they all intend to work at the restaurant, you'll have to be hiring part-time and full-time help. Turnover is notorius in the restaurant industry.

These factors make it hard to attract and retain top people

  1. Pay is relatively low in the restaurant business due to the low margins of the business.
  2. Restaurant work, especially entry positions in the kitchen and in the front of the house are usually filled with people in their late teens and 20's who usually leave for better positions or to continue their studies.
  3. Other restaurants will try to hire away good people.
  4. Areas with low unemployment and few students find it harder to fill restaurant positions.
  5. People who will work for the low wages you will most likely offer for some of the most menial positions (bussers, dishwashers, etc.) may have little education. Some have criminal records. Others have drug and alcohol problems. So, keep your eyes and ears open.

Benefits & Incentives – Key Tools for Attracting & Retaining Good People

There's a lot of turnover in the restaurant business, so to minimize it, offer employees benefits and incentives that will make them feel appreciated and much more inclined to uphold the highest standards at all times.

Give out coupons for free movies to employees who never miss their shifts. Remember staff birthdays and serve a cake before the restaurant opens. Even the smallest positive gesture will go a long way. It says that you care.

Incentives are a fun way to drum up healthy competition between employees and to get sales up. Offer a free meal to the person with the highest weekly sales. At one restaurant where each week, a different wine would be highlighted, the employee who sold the most bottles of that wine would earn a gift certificate to a favorite store.

Empowering Employees
Employees who are encouraged to make decisions by themselves when on the job and who have the authority to solve problems and keep customers happy are generally more satisfied with their job than employees who must always seek out a manager. Managers and owners who empower their employees have lower turnover and higher customer satisfaction. So, when interviewing and hiring staff, look for people who like to think on their feet, are decisive and take initiative. You'll end up with a happier, more efficient staff.

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