Managers

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leadership Facepalm: Don’t Do This

Leadership Facepalm: Don’t Do This

by David Klemt

Close-up shot of person texting on phone in a restaurant

Here’s a hot take on the employer-employee dynamic: Don’t text staff at 3:00 in the morning demanding they come in on their day off.

In fact, let’s compress this piece of advice. Don’t text staff at 3:00 in the morning.

Really, I shouldn’t have to explain the myriad reasons that doing so isn’t acceptable. However, a post on Reddit shows that this topic needs addressing.

Are You Serious?

Yes, I’m using a Reddit post as an example of what not to do. And yes, I’m going to assume the post is legitimate for the purposes of education.

Owners, operators, and members of leadership teams need to lead. Micromanaging, assuming staff is at their beck and call, and domineering behavior only lead to high turnover.

A high staff churn rate is costly, and not just financially. Yes, it costs thousands of dollars to replace a single member of staff. However, immediate financial costs shouldn’t be the only concern.

Churning through staff also damages a restaurant, bar, hotel, or owner’s reputation. Should they become known as a bad employer—word gets around quickly in this industry—and eventually an operator won’t be able to hire rock star talent.

Over time, they’ll only draw in workers that chase away their guests. After that, the operator will be closing the doors.

“You Need to Be a Team Player”

Interestingly, the Reddit post that’s inspiring this article isn’t brand new. The post in question is about six months old.

But these days, with the shift in the employee-employer dynamic that’s taking place, stories of “epic” or “savage” quitting garner attention.

Again, there are myriad reasons people are drawn to these stories. Rather than read through those, let’s take a look at this quitting story.

A bartender took to Reddit (again, I’m assuming this is a fact) to share texts from his (former) manager. The timestamp on the first text? 2:59 in the morning.

“I need you to come in from 11a-10p today,” starts the text. The reason? Only one bartender is on the schedule for an event that day.

In response, the bartender says, “No thank you,” stating it’s their day off. And then the manager makes a demand using a term that gets thrown around far too much when some people in a position of authority don’t get the response they want (in my opinion).

The bartender is told they need to be a “team player,” and that “it isn’t all about you.” On a positive note, the manager does then say “please” and asks the bartender to come in.

Putting their cards on the table, the bartender says they’ve had a few drinks and don’t want to work an eleven-hour shift with a hangover. Personally, I don’t think the manager was due that explanation but okay.

This doesn’t sit well with the manager, who now attempts to police the bartender’s personal time. According to the texts, the bartender needs “to stay ready for work.” This is apparently because “getting too drunk is not a good look if you can’t stay prepared.”

“Fed Up with You”

After a few more texts back and forth, the manager fast-tracks this situation’s escalation. The bartender is told that they’re going to talk about the bartender’s “attitude” when they “come in Sunday.”

Well, it’s highly unlikely that conversation ever took place. According to screengrabs of the texts, the bartender replies, “No we’re not.” They then proceed to remind the manager that “dozens” of places are hiring bartenders. They’re happy to go work for one of those businesses.

Unsurprisingly, the manager attempts to backpedal. They say that the bartender is making a rash decision “because you’re drunk” and will regret it the next day. That approach doesn’t work.

Now, there’s one sentence that suggests to me, if this situation is real, that the owner needs to address this manager. Or, if this manager is the owner of the business, that they need to work on developing leadership skills.

That line? “I’m fed up with you.”

Sure, they could mean they’re fed up with them in this instance. However, the line follows the bartender saying that their are several other places they can find work instead.

My interpretation is that at a minimum, these two have a problem with one another. Worst case, this manager isn’t doing the owner (or themselves) any favors with their “leadership” style.

Just…Don’t Do This

Please, please, please, don’t text or call staff at 3:00 in the morning. There are perhaps a tiny handful of reasons to ignore this advice. As I see it, those reasons all involve emergencies.

And no, being short-staffed for an event the following morning is not an emergency worthy of texting or calling an employee to cover a shift so late at night/early in the morning.

There are several leadership and scheduling solutions that can prevent this type of situation. In this particular instance, since the bartender was “fed up with” this manager, they were going to quit sooner or later.

Which brings me to my first point: Operators need to know what their leaders are doing. How are they treating staff? How does the staff perceive the leadership teams?

Secondly, how do the operator and other leaders perceive one another? Is everything running smoothly or is one “leader” not really leading?

And finally, scheduling technology. These days, there’s really no excuse for many kinds of scheduling problems. Several scheduling apps integrate well with popular restaurant, bar, and hotel POS systems.

For example, HotSchedules gives staff the ability to give away, swap, and pick up shifts. Another example is OpenSimSim, which provides an open shift invite feature. Staff can also set their profiles to auto-accept shifts as they become available.

7shifts and Schedulefly can also help fill shifts. And like HotSchedules and OpenSimSim, leaders can message groups and individuals, and vice versa.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is this: The maxim, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers,” is accurate. Leaders need to respect their team members and their personal time.

Image: Alex Ware on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Prepare for the New Rules of Hospitality

Prepare for the New Rules of Hospitality

by David Klemt

People toasting with a variety of cocktails

Guests are returning to bars, restaurants, and hotels, so you need to prepare now for the new rules of hospitality.

If you’re wondering what those rules are, wonder no more. We have a number of articles addressing them, some of which are here, here, and here.

Phil Wills, owner and partner of the Spirits in Motion and Bar Rescue alum, also has some thoughts. In fact, Wills shared his approach to what he identifies as the new rules of hospitality last week.

 

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A post shared by Phil Wills (@phil_i_am11)

During Bar & Restaurant Expo 2022, Wills presented “The New Rules of Hospitality: What a Post-pandemic Consumer Wants.”

Below, you’ll find what Wills has to say about hospitality in 2022 and beyond in three categories.

Hospitality

Wills kicked off his session with a simple question: How do you define “hospitality”? And yes, he put attendees on the spot, asking them for their answers.

It’s always at least a bit amusing that even the most outgoing operator gets shy in a conference setting. I’ve never seen so many people suddenly need to check their phones, shoes, or the ceiling tiles as when they’re asked to participate in a class or education session.

For Wills, the definition is “making a guest feel welcome, as though they’re in your home.”

Obviously, the answer is different for everyone. As Wills says, the key is considering how you and your brand define hospitality. If that seems easier said than done, Wills has some tips, presented in the context of a guest visit.

First, guests take in the sights, sounds, and smells of your space. They also consume your menu items, and converse with your staff, their party, and other guests.

Look at your business through the eyes of your guests. Now, this can be a difficult exercise, particularly if you spend a lot of time in your restaurant, bar or hotel.

So, ask team members to do the same and provide feedback. We take for granted what our spaces, food, and drinks look like.

To improve the guest experience, pay attention to ticket times and F&B consistency. This will reduce recovery incidents and phrases.

Finally, Wills recommends engaging with guests (if that’s what they want). However, he also suggests facilitating connections between guests.

Interestingly, Wills also says, “Regulars are old money. You want to get that new money.” Then, you want to convert that new money into old money. Rinse, repeat.

Training

As relates to training, Wills categorizes new hires in two ways: toll takers and moneymakers.

Toll takers take a toll on your business. They cost you money, and if they don’t receive the proper training they can chase guests away.

So, you’ll need to spend time and money to convert toll takers into moneymakers.

Speaking strictly in a technical sense, training needs to provide team members with the knowledge and tools to become moneymakers. To accomplish this, Wills has three keys to making training stick:

  1. Don’t make training too easy. If training is easy, team members won’t retain what they’re taught. Challenge your staff.
  2. Vary your training. There are a number of training methods at your disposal. Use multiple methods to engage your staff. Wills suggests combining shift work, book work, and tests, at a minimum.
  3. Turn training into a competition. At this point, we’re gamifying just about anything. So, Wills recommends the platform 1Huddle to gamify your training.

Labor

Simply put, Wills says we need to find new ways to make this industry exciting to new hires.

According to the National Restaurant Association, we’re still seeing significant job losses in hospitality, foodservice, and lodging and accommodation.

In fact, we’re down 14 percent when it comes to full-service restaurant jobs. For bars and taverns, the number is 25 percent.

For Wills, offering incentives, mental health breaks, and even cash bonuses for staying in role for a number of months can draw the attention of new workers.

However, he also has another interesting idea: making people smile. On average, according to Will’s research, people smile 20 times each day. He wants to find ways to make people smile 20 times during a single visit to a restaurant or bar.

Now, Wills admits he’s still working on how to accomplish this lofty goal. I believe a key component is creating a working environment that inspires team members to smile 20 times per shift.

Image: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What’s a Marketing Fund?

What’s a Marketing Fund?

by David Klemt

Vintage cash register in black and white

Do you know what a “marketing fund” is?

Moreover, if you know what I’m talking about, do your managers and staff have access to it?

A marketing fund—not your marketing budget—is a useful tool that can solve guest experience issues quickly.

What it Is

Both Doug Radkey and I mentioned marketing funds last week.

First, I brought it up in my article about communication and staff empowerment. Next, Doug included the marketing fund on last week’s Bar Hacks bonus episode, titled “Empowerment.” There, he shared the story that inspired my article.

Simply put, a marketing fund is a bit of cash kept on hand for use in a variety of situations.

Some people call it petty cash. Others refer to it as an “emergency” fund. We call it a marketing fund.

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s a small amount of cash most accessible by a manager or, often times, a bartender.

How to Use It

Operators will have to decide on the amount set aside; how often to replenish it; and who has access to the marketing fund.

For some, $40 may be feasible. Others may find that setting aside $200 for the week may work best.

In most cases, a register behind the bar serves as the marketing fund’s home. A manager or bartender knows where it is and can find it quickly.

Now, you’re likely noticing the word “quickly” is coming up a lot in reference to the marketing fund. That’s the point—quick, smooth problem solving.

So, come up with your rules and expectations regarding the marketing fund. Communicate those expectations. Then empower specific team members each shift to access it.

Of course, this requires trust in the team, their integrity, and their sense of what is and isn’t reasonable.

When to Use It

Again, this is about what’s reasonable and acceptable to an individual operation.

Will buying a round ease tensions and put a guest’s experience back on a positive track? Use the marketing fund.

Is there a promo that’s going wrong for a guest that a manager can solve with cash (a gift card problem, for example)? Access the marketing fund.

Will running across the street to grab an item solve a guest problem? The marketing fund can help.

This works for several reasons:

  • Staff can solve a guest’s issue quickly. This eases tensions and improves the guest experience.
  • Guest-facing or other issues can be solved smoothly. In some instances, the guest won’t even catch on that there’s really a problem.
  • Marketing fund transactions are traceable.
  • The marketing fund holds the operator and staff accountable. Are issues consistently arising during certain shifts or with specific team members? Something needs addressing.

The marketing fund is a practical, useful tool. Its use is trackable and ensures accountability. Consider implementing this fund today.

Image: Evergreens and Dandelions on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

One Fair Wage Survey Results: Foodservice Professionals on Front Lines of Infection Risk and Hostility

One Fair Wage Survey Results: Foodservice Professionals on Front Lines of Infection Risk and Hostility

by David Klemt

Over a three-week period, One Fair Wage (OFW) surveyed 1,675 foodservice workers in five states and Washington, D.C.

The survey was initially sent to more than 61,000 applicants to the One Fair Wage Emergency Fund in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and D.C. By November 9, 2,621 respondents had completed the OFW survey online. A total of 1,575 indicated they were currently employed and an additional 100 surveys were completed by phone.

One of the key takeaways of the survey is at once disturbing and unacceptable but not, infuriatingly, shocking. Not only did significant percentages of respondents report lax Covid-19 protocol training and enforcement along with increasingly hostile guests, close to half revealed “a dramatic increase in sexual harassment” since the pandemic struck.

Increased Sexual Harassment

Forty-one percent of survey respondents noted a marked shift in the frequency that guests are subjecting foodservice workers to unwanted sexualized comments. A quarter said they had personally experienced or witnessed “a significant” change in this manifestation of sexual harassment.

An analysis by OFW of the comments shared by respondents reveals the impact that this increase in sexual harassment has on the recipients. The comments have a negative effect on workers’ sense of safety in the workplace, financial security, physical health, and emotional and psychological health.

Of the 25 percent of the female respondents who had personally experienced or witnessed sexual harassment, 43 percent reported that comments were directly tied to social distancing and wearing masks, two pillars of Covid-19 health and safety protocols.

Identified by OFW as a “mild example” of the unwanted comments being made, “Take your mask off I want to see what’s underneath,” provides insight into the overall “theme” of the harassment being made. Many guests engaging in harassment appear to be sexualizing covered noses and mouths. Indeed, other comments support this analysis:

  • “Come on, sweetie. Lemme see that pretty face under there. Take it off for me, will you? Just a quick flash.”
  • “Please take the mask off, I want to see your lips.”
  • “Take off your mask so I know how much to tip you.”

When foodservice pros rebuff these unwanted advances, the responses tend toward hostility and smaller—or no—tips. In short order, these types of aggressors have found a way to weaponize the guest-server power dynamic and seemingly fetishize required Covid-19 protocols.

Increased Hostility

Whereas close to half of OFW survey respondents reported increased sexual harassment, more than three-quarters reported increased hostility from guests.

A staggering 78 percent of respondents said they had experienced or witnessed increased hostility as a response to following and enforcing Covid-19 protocols. Almost 60 percent said these incidents were occurring on a weekly basis.

Again, the power dynamic comes into play. Nearly 60 percent of respondents reported hesitation in enforcing Covid-19 protocols for fear doing so would affect their tips negatively. That concern is rooted in reality: 65 percent of respondents said they were tipped less on a weekly basis after enforcing health and safety protocols.

More than 80 percent said tips have decreased since the pandemic took hold, with 65 percent reporting that decrease to be 50 percent or more.

Impact of Subminimum Wage

One Fair Wage, as their name suggests and their mission clearly states, advocates and campaigns for all employers in America to pay full minimum wage. The organization also calls for tipped workers to receive full minimum wage plus their tips.

Per OFW, service workers—including people who work in salons and airports—are twice as likely to require food stamps to get by when compared to the rest of the workforce in the United States. Foodservice workers, however, are subjected to more sexual harassment than those workers in any other industry. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency, has identified the restaurant industry as the sector with the most sexual harassment charges filed by women.

This isn’t a digression. The OFW’s mission for a full minimum plus tips for tipped workers would have a direct impact on community health and safety. Infectious disease experts have warned that Covid-19 will not be the last pandemic with which we’ll have to contend. According to a report released by the CDC in September, the risk of contracting Covid-19 doubles for adults after dining inside a restaurant.

Were all service workers working for a full, living minimum wage, they’d likely be less concerned with incurring a guest’s wrath in the form of a reduced tip or no tip at all. The OFW survey findings that foodservice pros are being harassed to remove their masks or not socially distance—risking the health and safety of themselves and guests, then of family and friends, and therefore the community—and that 58 percent are reluctant to enforce Covid-19 protocols out of concern for their tips illustrates, in part, how subminimum wage for tipped workers can impact the health and safety of communities overall.

The pandemic has made foodservice workers and others who work with the public, by default, Covid-19 protocol enforcers. Clearly, significant swaths of the public feel zero compunction when it comes to responding with hostility, threats, harassment, and refusal to comply.

It’s also clear that guests who react with hostility and intimidation when employees are enforcing officially mandated health and safety requirements lest their employer face fines, the suspension of their business and/or liquor license, or any other form of punishment that puts their employment at risk won’t hesitate to wield the guest-server power dynamic as a weapon. That weapon can ultimately endanger an entire community.

The Good News

A mere ten percent of survey respondents reported their employers instruct employees to follow all Covid-19 health and safety protocols on a consistent basis, and just 31 percent of respondents said their employer follows all such protocols.

Those are startling numbers since ten percent of respondents said they had contracted Covid-19, 88 percent said they knew someone had contracted the infection, 44 percent reported that at least one coworker had contracted Covid-19, and a depressing 42 percent of those who reported knowing someone who had contracted the illness had died from it.

However, there were some positive pieces of data shared by survey respondents:

  • 92 percent reported their employers require all workers to wear masks.
  • 86 percent reported their employers require all workers to wash hands frequently.
  • 86 percent reported their employers require tables and chairs be wiped down and sanitized between uses.
  • 78 percent reported their employers provide employees with personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • 75 percent reported that a supervisor has told them they will have their back if they tell a guest or coworker to put on their mask whenever they’re within six feet of them.

In a perfect world, those percentages would all be one hundred. This isn’t a perfect world and there’s obviously major room for improvement. Management must step up in this time of crisis and uncertainty and embrace true leadership:

  • Respect the fact that employees are putting themselves at risk every shift. Put people first.
  • Avoid putting the bottom line ahead of health and safety.
  • Create and enforce a zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy—for employees and guests. Support employees when they report sexual harassment.
  • Communicate clearly and consistently. Transparency and targeted training must be priorities.
  • Display integrity when making decisions and enforcing rules.

Foodservice and hospitality industry professionals are on the front lines, sacrificing their own health and safety—and that of the people inside their bubble—to keep the industry afloat. Ownership and management need to protect them.

Read the entire OFW report here.

Image: engin akyurt on Unsplash

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