Consider this all too common scenario: You’ve recently opened a unique and trendy restaurant concept in a fantastic and bustling location. With an experienced and forward-thinking chef, the food is delicious and has been receiving rave reviews.
So you’re guaranteed to be one of the lucky success stories, right? Not by a long shot, unfortunately. It takes much more than a smart concept and tasty food to make the cut. Here’s what you can do to increase your odds of success.
When a restaurant is brand new or just launching, much of the momentum that it’s able to achieve can simply be due to the curiosity of customers. When people hear about a new restaurant, many are willing to at least give it a try once to see what it’s like.
But if you want to impress those customers and keep them coming back, you’ll need to have certain systems and policies in place to keep things running smoothly and guide the handling of various situations. These systems should cover everything from finding talent to terminating team members and, at a minimum, should include:
Recruiting and talent acquisition. Even if you’re fully staffed right now, eventually you’ll need to hire more talent. Staff will leave, be fired, or the business will grow and be able to support a larger crew. Having a plan in place for how you’ll scout talent can keep your pipeline prepped and ready.
Onboarding. When new team members are hired, following a standardized process to introduce them to job training, expectations, coworkers, and company culture can ease the transition and help prevent costly turnover or disruptions in workflows.
Culture. Speaking of culture, what is yours? Make sure you define your unique vision, mission, and purpose and tie those into how both you and your team behave and interact with others. It’s best to have a plan as to how you will communicate and consistently execute your intended culture.
Workplace safety and loss prevention. Keeping your staff and customers safe is always a top priority. Concern number two if often protecting your investment. From ergonomically correct kitchen workspaces to theft deterrent practices, establishing relevant policies and systems can afford everyone greater protection.
Payroll and benefits. Will you handle payroll manually or invest in a robust automated HRIS system? What types of benefits do you plan to offer employees? These decisions should be made in advance and solutions in place early on, though at least annual reviews will be necessary.
Employee performance. It’s important to track employee performance — including positive as well as negative events — so that you have a full-view of where each employee stands at any given moment. A performance management system doesn’t have to be complex, but it does need to be easy to implement and effective.
Corrective action and termination. At some point, employee development plans, mentoring, and coaching may not be enough and corrective action may be needed. If that also fails to turn the employee around, you’ll want to have a termination procedure in place. This can be instrumental in limiting your overall liability and exposure to wrongful termination lawsuits.
Of course, having policies and systems in place will only take you so far. To really maximize your potential for success, you need to surround yourself with capable leaders and managers who you can count on to implement these systems, consistently and fairly, including:
- Leaders who are skilled at anticipating issues beforehand and are even more adept at heading them off at the pass.
- Managers who aren’t just focused on task completion, but who are ready and willing to take struggling or eager employees under their wing.
- Leaders who provide an ongoing example to the team by displaying the culture in all they do.
If you’re struggling to find quality leaders or establish streamlined systems, don’t panic and throw in the towel. This doesn’t happen in a day or even a week. It takes time to get everything in place and tweaks are almost always needed. Remember that it’s about working toward progress, not working toward perfection. Incremental changes absolutely can and do make a difference.
And if navigating this process and all of the complexities of HR has you stuck, sometimes an outside perspective, guidance, and support is the answer you need. Just be sure to aim for more than tasty food and a great location — your restaurant’s success depends on it.
Restaurant HR Group
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Legal Disclaimer: The information I publish is not legal advice but rather is intended to prompt a discussion on best practices in human resources. Further, federal and state laws are amended frequently and vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Therefore, the published information may not be current at the time that you read it or it may not be applicable to your jurisdiction. As such, you should not rely upon any of the published information without first consulting directly with Restaurant HR, legal counsel, and reviewing your local, state, and federal laws as well as any applicable industry practices and company policies.
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