Tips for Hiring and Training New Restaurant Staff After Coronavirus Closures
To say COVID-19 has rocked the restaurant industry is an understatement. Nearly two-thirds of the restaurant workforce has been lost. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re inching closer to it each day. When you’re finally able to welcome dine-in guests again, it’s likely you’ll need to replace some or all of your staff who aren’t able to return. It might feel like you’re back at square one when you were opening your restaurant for the first time, but remember, you’ve done that successfully before. And this time around, you have even more experience and Edizeven to help you.
Our motto is “86 yesterday. Start fresh today.” This is a timely reflection of the mindset restaurant owners and managers need right now to overcome these new obstacles. Edizeven can help you find the best front-of-house and back-of-house restaurant talent through search-friendly job posts and reference checks. Our blog also supports the restaurant community with a mix of fun and educational content.
To help get your training off on the right foot, we’ve put together some great techniques you may not have used before and important standbys that should not be overlooked.
TRAINING TIPS FOR FULL RESTAURANT STAFF
1. USE YOUR REPS
Contact your POS rep, alcohol vendors, and anyone else who could be useful in training your new hires. This takes some of the training pressure off you and any members of your original staff, plus your new employees get trained by an expert.
2. HAVE PRE-SHIFT MEETINGS
If you never used pre-shift meetings before, now is a good time to introduce them. Pre-shifts give you the chance to highlight any expected issues for the night, such as a cook who’s out sick, a dish that’s been 86’ed, or a large reservation coming in. Also, take this time to acknowledge the hard work of your employees. Even for experienced restaurant workers, getting up to speed at a new restaurant takes a lot of effort, and a little appreciation goes a long way. This is an ongoing training method that keeps your entire staff up to speed.
3. CREATE CHECKLISTS
If you don’t already have them, create an opening and closing checklists for FOH and BOH and a side-work checklist for servers. When you’re new to a restaurant, there is an overwhelming amount of information you need to absorb in a short amount of time. It’s inevitable that your new hires will forget some tasks. Having these checklists handy helps employees remember everything they need to do.
4. HAVE 1:1 MEETINGS
This is a common practice in corporate jobs, and it’s something the restaurant industry can benefit from copying. Yes, it is a time investment, but it’s one that pays dividends in the form of lower employee turnover and higher job satisfaction. In a 1:1 meeting, your employees can ask any questions they have and get feedback on their performance. It also gives you a chance to learn about any repeat customer complaints and get new ideas from someone who’s doing the actual day-to-day work.
1. Food safety
Even if you’ve hired experienced cooks, you should still include training on food safety. You never know what gaps in education your new hires have or who might need a refresher. Keeping your guests safe and your restaurant’s reputation pristine is well worth the brief time this training takes.
2. Recipe cards
Recipe cards help keep things consistent in the long term, and in the short term it keeps the kitchen moving even if they don’t know how to make a recipe. It will give both you and your new employees peace of mind.
If you have members of your original kitchen staff, let the new hires observe and assist them as they work. Doing the food prep is also a great way to get inexperienced kitchen staff familiar with your restaurant’s ingredients while also acclimating to the kitchen environment.
Cross training is essential for BOH. Each BOH employee should eventually be able to work every station in the kitchen, from the salad line to the grill. This is a long-term training plan that should be implemented slowly. Let your employees become comfortable with one station before moving them to another.
1. Menu knowledge
Understanding the menu inside and out is one of the best ways to ensure your guests receive great service. With full menu knowledge, servers can answer questions, make recommendations, and provide guidance on any allergens. Have servers each take home a menu to study. It’s also a great idea to have the kitchen make each menu item so FOH can taste the dishes. This allows BOH to practice and gives FOH valuable firsthand knowledge of each dish on the menu.
2. Hands-on technology training
There is a lot of technology involved in restaurants, especially for the FOH. From online reservations to Waitr orders to the POS, servers need a complete understanding of these systems in order to do their best work. Provide a demonstration for each system and allow each employee to get hands-on practice before testing their knowledge. These systems can be intricate, so a demonstration on its own is not enough training — hands-on training is key.
Group servers in pairs and have them alternate being the guest and being the server. The “guest” should be needy and place a complicated order to ensure the server understands how to answer guest questions correctly, enter extensive order modifications in the POS, and talk to a difficult guest. This is also the perfect way to introduce the steps of service you want your servers to follow such as explaining the specials and checking in on the guest.
Melissa was a server for five years and a cook for one day. Now she writes about food and restaurants. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.