Sunday, April 28, 2013

Restaurant Consulting NYC | Bench Strength = Success | 4Q Consulting, LLC

Bench Strength = Success 

All companies, large and small, must develop the next generation of leaders in order to thrive, let alone survive.  Using a sports analogy, the best teams have incredible talent, but they also have depth of talent, so they can readily adapt to change and adversity; this is called “bench strength.” The teams with the deepest bench strength often win championships because they can overcome injury, fatigue and unknowns where other teams fold under these types of challenges.
Successful restaurants build depth in their teams, at all levels, to help them through unexpected challenges such as market shifts, turnover in key positions and/or employees falling ill. It is essential that restaurants have people who can take the reins in any situation to ensure continuity and effectiveness. Additionally, having bench strength keeps you ready and poised for growth and expansion.

Here are 4 ways to help develop your bench strength in your restaurant:

Find Great Employees – Invest first in people, not ideas.  People are the most important asset to the success of any business, and hiring the right team makes everything else much easier.  Finding great employees can be challenging and takes time.  Make sure to give yourself enough time to find the right people so you don’t end up hiring someone just because you need a body.  Hiring the wrong employees is very expensive because it creates disruptive turnover and impacts the morale of the remaining employees.   There are only so many seats on your bench, don’t fill it with sub-par players!

Ensure A Cultural Fit – As we touched upon in, How to Hire for Attitude as Well as Skill, “great employees are those who have both the technical skills required for the job as well as personal attributes that gel with your company culture and core values”.  You can always train, and even re-train, for skills depending on needs, but it is impossible to train someone to be hard-working, thoughtful, and honest.  Restaurants that are successful have a continual focus on their company culture at all levels and in all areas of the business.  They are quick to recognize when they made a wrong hire and remove poor cultural fits early on.

Share Knowledge – Cross functional training pays off when a key employee, manager or chef is out unexpectedly, and offers flexibility during periods of high volume.  It allows individuals an opportunity to develop and expand their skill sets, showing that you value their career development.  Sharing knowledge openly with your staff also pays off when a position opens up or your restaurant is ready to expand - you then have employees on your bench ready to go into these new roles.  Spending the time to cross-train can also provide employees with fresh perspectives, encourage service improvements and effective problem solving.

Empower Decision Making – Unfortunately, many managers feel that by empowering employees to make decisions, they lose the ability to lead and control their team.  This is a management myth.  When employees are part of the decision making process, they are highly motivated because they feel that they have control over their job roles.  The only way empowerment works is if there is effective two-way communication and trust between management and staff.  The more information employees have, the better they are going to be at making smart decisions for your business.

Furthermore, if employees are used to making their own decisions, they will be more prepared to make difficult ones as they move up the ladder. They will also have more ownership over a task because they made the decision instead of having it forced upon them. 

Putting the right people in the right seats on your bench is crucial to your survival.   A fully trained, empowered and invested team will allow you to be successful in your current business and future growth.

Don’t know where to begin?  Ask yourself, do you have the proper procedures and operational guidelines in place to help you be as profitable as possible?  4Q Consulting can develop customized operational guidelines and training programs to meet your needs.  Email us today for a free business consultation at

All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2012-2013.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Restaurant Consulting NYC | Keeping Employees Happy at Work – Happy Employees Part 2 | 4Q Consulting, LLC

Keeping Employees Happy at Work 
 Happy Employees Part 2

As we explored in Employees are Your First Customers - Happy Employees Part 1, we know that happy, engaged employees are good for your restaurant’s business. However, what makes people happy in their jobs is subjective, can be elusive and varies by employee.  

Here are 4 basic things that you can do to increase employee satisfaction:

Supply Basic Tools for the Job – It’s simple: if your employees do not have the proper tools to do their jobs, they will not perform well.  Management must provide these tools whether they are tangible or not, such as working POS computer terminals or proper employee training.  It is frustrating for employees to have to work with broken equipment or poorly trained team members, which creates a negative environment.  

Train, Empower and Hold Accountable – Employee empowerment generally means the process of allowing employees to have input and control over their work and work environment.  Empowering employees begins with clear direction and thorough training.  Once you have spent the time to properly train all of your staff, you can trust that they have the knowledge to make decisions on their own.  However, empowerment is not a free pass for your employees; you must have clear and fair accountability for this to work.  Empowered employees have proper knowledge, are left to do their jobs and are held accountable for their work – both good and bad. This makes: committed, loyal and conscientious employees.

Praise, Recognize and Reward – Managers who only try to catch their staff “doing it wrong” create a negative culture of fear and manipulation, which has a direct correlation to negative business results. Instead, managers should actively seek to catch people “doing something right” or “better than before”, then they should praise that behavior specifically and immediately.  Employees who feel appreciated for their hard work will work harder; by creating an environment where employees feel valued, you create a safe place for work to thrive.

As discussed in our Blog: Are your Pre Service meetings a Waste of Time? the pre service meeting is also a great time to publicly praise, recognize and reward your team members’ achievements.  Giving even a small token as a reward for a job well done goes a long way in motivating staff at all levels.

Clear Career Growth Opportunities – One key reason that employees leave jobs is the lack of a clear career path within their current organization. We have previously discussed the cost of employee turnover in terms of having to constantly recruit, hire and train new employees. However, there is also a cost in not having any “bench strength” in your “bullpen”.  If you do not have employees who are trained and ready to move up into the next position, you cannot effectively grow your business.  Make sure everyone, including your managers, knows the career paths available within your organization.  If employees do not know their own career paths, they might intentionally stifle the growth and training of subordinates, which in turn impacts your business growth.

If owners and management do not have open, two-way communication with their staff, and employees feel that management doesn't care - you have a recipe for disaster. Employees must comfortably be able to make management aware of issues such as broken or lacking tools, or a need/desire for more or better training; management should address these concerns directly, letting staff know how and when items will be handled. In this environment, everyone knows what is wanted, needed, expected or promised – the team is “on the same page” and can work more effectively.

Don’t know where to begin?  Ask yourself, do you have the proper written procedures and operational guidelines in place to be as successful as possible?  4Q Consulting can develop customized operational guidelines and training programs to meet your needs.  Email us today for a free business consultation!

All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2012-2013.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Restaurant Consulting NYC | Employees are Your First Customers | 4Q Consulting, LLC

Employees are Your First Customers 
Happy Employees Part 1

All too often, restaurant owners take their employees’ job satisfaction for granted. They focus all their energy on achieving financial results, acquiring new customers, launching new marketing ideas, and driving guest satisfaction, but they forget about the people who actually turn all those HR action verbs into real-life actions.  Treating employees as internal customers is the first step in providing a productive, positive environment, which reinforces your company’s hospitality and service culture.

Here are 4 reasons you should consider employees your customers:

Happy Employees = Happy Guests – Front-line employees are the key connection between your restaurant and your guests. As a result, if your employees aren't happy, your guests won’t be happy with their experience in your restaurant and your restaurant won’t be happy with the business results.  A rude, surly or unhappy server does not provide the best possible experience for your guests and can often turn guests off.  In today’s economic environment, poor service will not be tolerated and can drive you out of business.

Happy Employees Are Engaged - Engaged employees care about the end results and the quality of work that they do.  They want to perform their job well and provide great service to their customers. They enjoy coming to work, interacting with their co-workers and making their customers happy.  They tend not to cut corners; approach jobs with energy—which enhances productivity—and come up with creative service improvements, which enhance the customer experience.  Unengaged employees do not care about co-workers or customers, need constant supervision and lose interest in what is best for the team, which increases operating costs. 

Happy Employees Exceed Expectations - Happy employees are more likely to help out without being asked, are willing to pitch in when needed, and will not say the dreaded “that’s not my job”. When employees come in on short notice to cover a shift, stay late for the good of the team, and/or clean without being asked, it makes it easier to manage and run the business.

Also, by going above and beyond for your guests, happy employees deliver an enormous payoff: creating passionate, loyal patrons who spend more money, stay longer, return often, and tell their friends; all of which generates sustainable growth.

Happy Employees Become Brand Ambassadors – Happy employees will speak positively of your restaurant and unhappy employees will speak negatively of your restaurant.  In social situations, often the first question asked is “What do you do?” or “Where do you work?”   Such moments can add or take away value to current and future customer experiences; increase or decrease loyalty; and leave positive or negative impressions.   All employees, not just management, can build or detract from your restaurant’s brand.

Employers need to take care of their employees first, in order for their employees to provide the best experience for guests.  Employees with high job satisfaction remain with their employers longer, reducing turnover.  This in turn, lowers the cost of constantly having to recruit, hire and train new staff and provides stability to grow your business.  

Stay tuned to next week’s Blog, Happy Employees Part 2…..

Don’t know where to begin?  Ask yourself, do you have the proper written procedures and operational guidelines in place to be as successful as possible?  4Q Consulting can develop customized operational guidelines and training programs to meet your needs.  Email us today for a free business consultation!

All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2012-2013.