How can you reduce turnover in your restaurant?
Combating turnover in your restaurant
Turnover has become a burden for all businesses. As we all know, this term refers to the rotation of staff within an organization. These days, one or even several members of staff retiring, resigning or just walking out of a job is not a rarity in the restaurant sector. The days when the goal of any worker was to land a permanent job and keep it for life whatever the cost have gone. Today, staff are no longer employees but collaborators looking for better working conditions and increased benefits. As a result, to achieve these aims, they are ready to move from job to job looking for the best offer and the most pleasant working environment.
Why bother trying to combat turnover?
As we've already seen, turnover is constantly increasing, particularly in cities. And this is particularly the case in the restaurant sector, where the number of vacancies exceeds the number of applicants and where the working conditions and hours can be challenging. Well, restaurant owners, turnover is your fight and this is why:
- It represents a "brain drain" for you. A term used in economics to describe the flight of qualified resources to other, more attractive countries. In the restaurant sector, it often means a collaborator leaving to go and work for the competition. As a consequence, every collaborator who leaves represents an employee trained in the running of your organization, your tools, and who potentially knows your restaurant, your customers and their habits, as well as your menu very well. This means you are losing a valuable resource that you will have to replace.
- It also represents the loss of another precious resource, namely time, and in this case your time. You are then faced with a race against time to replace the worker by another who is equally, or even more effective. However, we can all see what we're losing, but never what we're gaining. There is therefore a risk of not finding the right person. What's more, this new staff member will have to be trained to work in your organization, with your tools, and in your customers' habits. This may take several days or even weeks.
- Which carries with it a number of risks. The risk that the new worker or workers are not good enough, make mistakes which may cost not only time but also lost customers, in turn leading to a loss in revenue to be regained, as well as reputational damage.
This is why combating turnover can actually improve the productivity of your restaurant, the ambiance within it, the skills of your staff and, over time, your customers' level of satisfaction and your profitability.
Next, we're going to explain how to combat employee churn.
What strategies can be put in place?
In recent years, you're sure to have heard of the new "Happy management" trend which started in the USA in the 2000s, and which gained traction in our companies a few years later. A management style that has clearly proved its worth. Businesses have noticed that good working conditions make employees more productive and therefore more profitable to the company, but also reduce staff turnover. What is the recipe for this success?
Refine your selection at the interview stage
Find that one in a million. Go for quality rather than quantity in your resources and take more time when selecting your future collaborators.
Offer an individual salary review
So, you've found your one in a million. Now what you need to do is have what it takes to retain them. There are several strategies that can be used here.
- Firstly, increase your employees' pay as far as is reasonably possible, to slightly above the market rate, so they won't be attracted by your competitors.
- Secondly, set up an internal promotion policy, which can be hard to implement in small structures, but is very suitable for large establishments. This involves informing your new collaborator as soon as they arrive of their chances of progressing within the restaurant or restaurant group, if their performance merits it. This is why you need to compile a real HR career development plan.
- Lastly, set up an individual bonus system. This must be clear and well-meaning and galvanize your employees' motivation by instilling a healthy and constructive spirit of competition. For example, create a podium of the 3 best servers who will receive bonuses, or set achievable goals for each collaborator with a bonus system if those goals are exceeded.
Please note, in the latter case, your behavior in relation to them will be the determining factor. The bonus system can lead to too much pressure on servers and even to burn-out. This must be avoided at any cost in our fight against turnover. As a restaurant owner, you are also a manager and it's up to you to find the right balance between motivation and pressure.
You should also favor individual recognition for the work done by your collaborators.
This begins with verbal recognition. Encouragement during service and thanks at the end. In the same way, hold a team meeting with your employees at the end of each quarter where you present them with the evolution in your key performance indicators (revenue, occupancy rate, average bill, etc.). This will give you the opportunity to thank them, but also to advise them on how they can improve and to present your goals and projects for the next quarter. By motivating them and challenging them, they will feel included, important, and be ready to do their best to achieve your goals. Above all if you are awarding titles such as “best employee of the month” to show that you value your employees' efforts, it is also an opportunity to share customers' online feedback with them to boost the morale of the troops.
Create a strong feeling of belonging
The third point leads us quite naturally to the fourth. Individual recognition of each person's work also makes the employee feel involved in the performance of the restaurant. This is why it is essential to deepen that feeling of belonging to your team. But how?
- With surveys on their well-being, brainstorming sessions on improvements the restaurant could make, on some customer requests, or projects and events that the restaurant could launch.
- With team-building sessions too. Share fun times with your team, so they get to know each other better and work together more easily as a result. Bowling, escape games, after work get-togethers or just board games. You will create a close-knit team.
- Reward the loyalty of your staff. Depending on the collaborator's seniority and performance, you can give simple things like: gift vouchers, cinema seats, tickets for an experience, for example, that can be found at low prices.
Improve working conditions
Working hours for restaurant staff can often be challenging. The day may start very early in the morning, finish very late at night, and have long breaks between services. Make these sometimes difficult working conditions more financially attractive and organize your schedules so none of your employees feel aggrieved. The best way is to discuss the matter. Don't hesitate to ask for their opinions. Obviously, you can't please everybody, but a worker will always understand and accept your decisions more easily if you take the time to talk to them. This will avoid ill-feeling and frustration. Make sure you provide breaks and days off to keep your employees healthy and maintain their work-life balance.
Find the team leader who's sleeping inside you
Never stop communicating with your teams. Take an interest in them, what are their passions? How are they feeling at the moment? It is through such informal and private conversations that you will learn more about their lives and or any difficulties that may sometimes explain some of their behavior. This will help you to deal better with their reactions, and to adapt your approach if there are any issues in the future.
Pass on your expertise
Passing on your expertise and know-how to your teams will enable them to improve their skill set and be even more efficient. This can be done in different ways:
- Give them regular feedback on their work. To be constructive, feedback needs to take a certain form. Take your employee aside, start with the positive points and then talk about areas for improvement and offer advice drawn from your own experience as a restaurateur.
- Organize group training sessions on themes of your choice (managing payments, customer service, handling a dispute with a customer)
- You can go even further by giving them feedback, and training them in accounting, marketing and other areas of restaurant management.
It's not enough to be a good restaurateur and manage your restaurant masterfully. Be a manager who makes their team want to go the extra mile. There's no shortage of training courses, books, and tutorials out there. Your can train yourself and become a better manager in a few weeks.
Now, you've got everything you need to fight against turnover in your restaurant. Make the most of this new year by making some good resolutions and building a loyalty strategy for your employees. Remember, a worker with the right working conditions will be happy to work for you and will give the best of themselves during their service. Their productivity cannot fail to improve and your customers can only benefit. In the long term, this may be translated into an increase in reservations and in your revenue. In the short term, you can also boost your reservations by becoming a TheFork customer.