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01 JULY 2019 / INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

You’ve built the best restaurant team - here’s how to keep them

No matter which way you swing it, the stats never make nice reading.

The restaurant industry suffers from a pretty high staff turnover rate. In fact, according to research, the sector has an employee retention rate of just 70%.

This makes it incredibly hard for independent operators to build cohesive teams that develop positive working relationships. After all, if thirty-percent of the team is always likely to head out of the back door at any given time, how can you build anything resembling a camaraderie?

Woah - let’s dig ourselves out of this hospitality black hole of doom and gloom! Restaurants can be a joy to work in, and if you’ve been in the industry long enough, you’ll know that it is possible to attract and retain the best possible staff.

Here’s how.

Pay them fairly

This is the simplest task of the lot, but one which is scarily easy to get wrong.

Margins are tight in restaurants, and budgets for anything but wages and stock are in short supply. So, with that in mind, focus one of the biggest areas of your investment in staff.

Paying the minimum wage is all well and good, but if you can stretch further and offer salary and benefit packages that are attractive, you’ll bring in the best talent. What’s more, if you get off on a good start like that, they’ll probably be more willing to hang around to see what might happen if they continually raise their game.

When all is said and done, the monthly wage packet is what matters. Well-paid, respected employees are normally pretty happy, and happy people are less inclined to keep jumping on the hospitality recruitment merry-go-round.

Welcome (and encourage) feedback

Your team is the lifeblood of the business, so why not give them the opportunity to help you decide how it’s run?

Sound frightening? Not really - and that’s where you’re going wrong.

The more opportunities you give staff to offer their opinion on your restaurant’s brand, approach and service style, the more likely they are to feel valued.

Employees often leave because they feel as though their voice isn’t worthy of your attention. They may be disgruntled about the way tips are handled, or can’t understand why you don’t offer a dedicated gluten-free menu. Whatever it is that’s on their mind, ensure you run a business that has an open door policy to help them get it out into the open.

Find out why your employees stay

Ever heard of a stay interview? It’s like an exit interview but far more positive!

Just as you might have been perplexed in the past about why certain staff members left your restaurant, chances are you probably don’t know why others stay.

That’s not a bad thing, either. But, clearly, you’re doing something right, and even if you think you know why you retain certain staff, it’s often better to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

Every six month or so, hold a ‘stay interview’ with each staff member. Keep it lighthearted and fun, but remember the goal is to find out what these people like about the business, and why they have devoted their working life to it thus far.

Make notes and ensure you invest as much time and budget as possible in the stuff that they say is working.

And finally: make it fun

There’s three additional pieces of advice we could have written about in this blog:

  1. The importance of great communication.
  2. How to resolve conflicts quickly.
  3. How to spot and remove rising tensions (although, we have covered that before!)

However, you can counter all of the above with one strategy: make your business fun to work for.

We’ve all held jobs we dread heading to each day, but find one which is genuinely fun, and that stomach-churning feeling you get while heading to work each day is replaced with one of eager anticipation.

Making a restaurant fun to work for doesn’t mean impromptu dance routines, kitchen food fights or random carpark bucking bronco sessions (although if that’s your thing - why not?!), it simply means encouraging staff to be themselves while working.

If you’re running a cold, mechanical restaurant operation, how long do you think people will hang around?

You’ve spent time and effort getting the best workers in - now is the time to keep them!

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