Training

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Viral Post Highlights Real Leadership

What a Viral Reddit Post Reveals About Leadership in Hospitality

by David Klemt

Reddit app icon on smartphone

A text exchange between a restaurant manager and delivery driver posted to Reddit went viral last month.

Refreshingly, it didn’t make the rounds on news sites for the wrong reasons. Rather, the text conversation is a succinct example of emotional intelligence, empathy, and leadership.

Those interested in reading the text exchange in its entirety can follow this link. However, I’ll sum it up here.

Posted to the subreddit Kitchen Confidential, the conversation begins with the manager checking in on the driver, asking, “You doing OK?”

The driver says they’re “doing better but” is still dealing with a lot. After the manager asks if they should cover their shift that night, the driver reveals they may need to quit the job.

Instead of blowing up at the driver, trying to talk them out of their decision, or cutting the exchange short, they say, “It’s alright [sic].”

Going further, the manager says, “You’re [sic] happiness is more important.” They add that the business hopes the driver will return to the job when they’re ready.

Shall I Cover You Tonight?

Now, I tend to believe that most members of restaurant, bar, and hotel leadership teams are empathetic. I also lean toward believing that most are competent problem solvers.

However, we’ve all come across people who don’t belong in a leadership role. In some cases, a person’s lack of leadership qualifications doesn’t manifest until they’ve been in the role for some time.

My business partner Doug Radkey and I have had conversations about leaders who don’t seem to lead. At best, they’re examples of what not to do. At worst, they’re chasing away a business owner’s staff and guests.

Most recently, these conversations have centered around managers insisting that staff solve scheduling problems themselves.

Before I proceed, I acknowledge fully that we’re facing an unprecedented labor shortage. That’s no excuse for poor leadership.

What, exactly, is the leadership team doing that they can’t manage the schedule? Further, with today’s modern scheduling platforms, why is filling available roles difficult for leaders? Several scheduling apps make it a painless, automated process.

The manager in this Reddit text exchange doesn’t demand the driver find someone to cover their shift. Instead, they behave like a manager and handle it themselves.

Don’t Ever Discount Yourself

If you’re active on LinkedIn and have a sizeable hospitality-centric network, you’ve likely seen posts about how the industry needs to be more people-focused. Not in terms of guests—that’s obvious.

Rather, the consensus is that we’re not going to solve the labor problem if we don’t treat staff as well as we treat guests. Some of these posts may be a bit saccharine, but they’re not incorrect.

Let’s review the texts from this manager:

  • “You doing OK?”
  • Your “happiness is more important.”
  • “We love having you here.”
  • “You’re an awesome person.”
  • “Don’t ever discount yourself.”

When’s the last time you and other members of the leadership team asked a staff member if they’re okay? And if you’ve asked recently, did you get an honest answer? Did you want an honest answer?

A restaurant or bar team that doesn’t trust leadership isn’t going to bother providing an honest answer to that question—they feel like the leaders don’t care about them.

Looking at the rest of the texts above, do you and your leaders take the time to recognize and thank staff? Even the shyest team member wants recognition for a job well done.

Those in leadership roles need to develop their skills constantly. Contrary to some in those positions, leaders aren’t there simply to lord their authority over others and dish out punishments.

So, before your next team meeting, gather the leaders. Find out if every member of the team is checking on staff, valuing their health and wellness, and tackling the mundane tasks that are inherent to their roles.

The maxim is true: People don’t quit jobs, they quit people. If your leadership team isn’t leading with empathy, you can expect your labor issues to compound. No amount of excuses will turn that around.

This article by KRG Hospitality director of business development David Klemt was first published by Bar Business and can be read in its entirety by following this link.

Image: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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2022 Cocktail Apprentice Program Class

TOTC Announces 2022 Cocktail Apprentice Program Class

by David Klemt

 

Tales of the Cocktail Red Coat apprentices

The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation has announced the 32 members of this year’s Cocktail Apprentice Program, also known as CAP.

For 2022, the CAP apprentices come from seven countries, Washington, D.C., fourteen American states, and Puerto Rico. First launched in 2008, CAP has played host to over 400 apprentices.

These bar professionals are thrown into the organized chaos that is Tales of the Cocktail each year. Well, to be fair, the event likely only feels like chaos to Tales attendees. This gathering of hospitality pros is a precision machine behind the scenes.

Of course, CAP apprentices and veterans are one of the keys to Tales’ success. These bar pros work together to prepare cocktails for for Tales seminars. They also make the many tastings possible. CAP Red and Grey Coats also batch the Dame Hall of Fame and Spirited Awards drinks.

As you’ll see while reviewing the lists below, CAP Red Coats work at some of the world’s premier bars, restaurants, hotels, distilleries, portfolios and brands, and hospitality groups. Moreover, they gain an incredible amount of experience and mentorship from industry veteran Grey, Black, and White Coats.

Valuable Experience

This is, of course, great news for attendees. Many will recognize the names and venues below. And, hey, these apprentices keep the good times flowing at Tales.

But there’s another reason this news is important.

Operators should encourage their bar team stars to apply to be TOTC CAP apprentices each year. The program is open to bartenders, barbacks, and bar managers.

Considering who they’ll meet, work with, and learn from, operators can think of CAP as an investment in their bar team.

In addition to returning to work with a wealth of knowledge and new industry contacts, they’ll be eligible to apply for the Cocktail Apprentice Scholarship Program. Since 2022 CAP Red Coats can apply when applications open next year, it’s reasonable to assume that 2023 Red Coats will be eligible to apply in 2024 for the TOTCF Cocktail Apprentice Scholarship Program.

So, operators who are serious about furthering their bar team’s careers and helping to mentor them should help them apply for the 2023 Cocktail Apprentice Program.

2022 Red Coats

Below are this year’s 32 CAP Red Coat apprentices. You’ll also find their place of work.

  • Patience AdjeiTwist Night Club and Level Up Lounge (Accra, Ghana, West Africa)
  • Gerald AkinsHamlet and Ghost (Saratoga Springs, NY)
  • Israel Baròn, Casa Prunes (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Tammy Bouma, Bluebird Cocktail Room (Baltimore, MD)
  • Dylan BrentwoodBar Kismet (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)
  • Napier Bulanan, Viridian (Oakland, CA)
  • Yosue Cordero BadilloFairmont El San Juan Hotel (Carolina, Puerto Rico)
  • Chelsea DeMarkThompson Hotel Savannah (Savannah, GA)
  • Milton DeyaMelinda’s Alley (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Linda DouglasCurly Bartender (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Kai DuartePacifico on the Beach and Down The Hatch (Wailuku, HI)
  • Cody DunavanBreakthru Beverage Virginia (Richmond, VA)
  • Glenn EldridgeROKA (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  • Tim FrandsenJane Jane (Washington, D.C.)
  • John FryRumba / Inside Passage (Seattle, WA)
  • Delena Humble-FischerGolden Pineapple Craft Lounge (Tempe, AZ)
  • Princess JohnsonAllegory (Washington, D.C.)
  • Maria KimSouthside Parlor (Seoul, South Korea)
  • Sungjoo KooMidnight Rambler (Dallas, TX)
  • Rylen KomeijiHere Kitty Kitty / Zouk Group (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Lars LunstrumThe Black Cypress (Pullman, WA)
  • Jacob MentelPolite Provisions (San Diego, CA)
  • Brian “Vito” MoralesSaso Bistro (Pasadena, CA)
  • Julian Bella RobinsPursuing MS in Hospitality Management at FIU (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • Jomar SantosThe Peacock Lounge Savannah (Savannah, GA)
  • Jeremiah SimmonsSeven Three Distillery (New Orleans, LA)
  • Colin SimpsonThe Aviary (Chicago, IL)
  • Taylor SweeneyBar Shiru (Oakland, CA)
  • Vivi SzalavariUptown Cafe (Bloomington, IN)
  • Irlanda VargasBacal (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Noor WafaiThe Eddy & Durk’s Bar-B-Q (Providence, RI)
  • Tim WeigelVegas Vickie’s (Las Vegas, NV)

2022 Grey Coats

Identifiable by their grey chef coats, Grey Coats are CAP leaders.

  • Hagay I. AbramovitzImperial Craft Cocktail Bar (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • Justine BockGin & Juice (Bristol, UK)
  • Patrick BragaHappy Accidents (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Fifi BruceBarrel Brothers (Berlin, Germany)
  • Richie DelahoydeLyre’s Non Alcoholic Spirits (Dublin, Ireland) 
  • Amy DunkiBarr Hill and Caledonia Spirits (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Arianna Hone, High West Saloon, Post Office Place (Park City, UT)
  • Renson Malesi, House of Sage Cocktails (Nairobi, Kenya) 
  • Nicholas McCaslin, The Ritz-Carlton Nomad (New York City, NY)
  • Allie Phifer, Cayo Coco Rum Bar and Restaurante (Birmingham, AL)
  • Jessi Pollak, Spoon and Stable (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Eric Scott, Thyme X Table (Bay Village, OH) 
  • Britt Simons, The Eddy (Providence, RI)
  • Joey Smith, Chez Zou (New York City, NY)
  • Sarah Syman, The Dandy Crown (Chicago, IL)
  • Nigal Vann, The Berkshire Room (Chicago, IL)

2022 Black Coats

CAP assistant managers can be identified by their black chef coats.

  • Cam BrownSelf-employed (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
  • Kaleena Goldsworthy-WarnockThe Bitter Bottle and Proof Bar and Incubator (Chattanooga, TN)
  • Alex LermanPearl Street Hospitality (Denver, CO)
  • Samm McCullochRed Wall Distillery (Sedona, AZ)

2022 White Coats

The industry veterans are CAP managers and wear white chef coats.
  • Alexis Belton-TinocoJohnnie Walker/Proof Media Mix (Chicago, IL)
  • Cris DehlaviDiageo Hospitality Partnership (Columbus, OH)
  • John DeragonResy (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Trevor KalliesFreehouse Collective (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
  • Juyoung KangZouk Group at Resorts World Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)

Whenever you come across a Red, Grey, Black or White Coat at Tales, be sure to thank them for all their work. Well, if they don’t have their hands incredibly full. In that case, please get out of their way—they’ve got our drinks!

Image: M.S. Meeuwesen on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Chain Restaurants: Present & Future

Chain Restaurants: Present & Future

Woman dining with friends in restaurant

Technomic presented the state of chain restaurants, now and next, during Restaurant Leadership Conference 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Obviously, the entire hospitality industry is facing significant struggles. Rising costs, supply chain chaos, labor shortages and challenges, inflation… The past two-years-plus haven’t been easy.

However, there’s reason for operators and their leadership teams and staff to be optimistic. Additionally, independent and small-chain operators can learn from Technomic’s findings.

Challenges & Threats

Well, let’s take our medicine first, starting with the supply chain. In short, it’s bedlam.

Joe Pawlak (standing in for David Henkes) and Richard Shank of Technomic said as much during RLC 2022. Per their data, 35 percent of operators dropped at least one manufacturer between 2020 and 2021.

Whether because of rising costs, an inability to consistently deliver product, or other factors, operators had to adapt. Clearly, there’s a nasty trickle-down effect when an operator drops a supplier.

And then there’s inflation. Interestingly, Shank calls what we’re seeing currently as “existential inflation.” Relating to consumers, this means their confidence is shaken in terms of spending.

Of course, this type of consumer perception manifests in several ways. For example, some guests cut down on visits. Others will cut down on ordering, skipping appetizers and desserts. Perhaps they have one less beer, glass of wine, or cocktail.

Also, some guests “trade down.” Meaning, there are consumers who opt for casual restaurants rather than fine dining. Or, they’ll move from fast-casual to QSR.

Looking at the numbers, however, nearly 40 percent respondents to a Technomic survey say they’re visiting restaurants less. This makes sense, as 81 percent are concerned about how inflation will impact them personally.

On the operator side of inflation comes pricing. During Pawlak and Shank’s presentation, they used QSR dinner pricing as a real-world example.

According to Technomic, the tipping point for guest perception of good value is just $7. At only $10, consumers feel things are getting expensive.

As Pawlak and Shank pointed out, this is a problem. After all, the average price for dinner at a QSR is $10.08. That number may already be higher today.

Opportunities

Medicine taken, we can move to the good news.

First, Technomic predicts a strong Q3 this year. Additionally, they don’t expect double-digit year-over-year inflation.

In terms of labor, Technomic doesn’t expect costs to go down. However, they do anticipate that they’ll level off rather than rise.

Then there are the numbers. For the top 500 chains in the US in particular, 2021 was a “banner year,” according to Pawlak. On an aggregate basis, sales for the top 500 (McDonald’s is number one, for those wondering) are up 17.9 percent.

Also, every category of restaurant is performing better. The top 500 chains, for instance, are up 18 percent year-over-year. Midscale restaurants are up 38.5 percent. Casual is up 30.2 percent while fast is up 22.2 percent, QSRs are up 13.2 percent. As far as the biggest bump, fine dining is up 56.9 percent.

Looking at 2019 for obvious reasons, the industry was down 49.1 percent in sales in April 2020. However, the industry was down just about a single percentage point in February of this year compared to the same time in 2019.

So, how do we keep sales trending upward when facing inflation and other threats? Pawlak, Shank, and Technomic have some advice.

Operators, for instance, can implement the “balanced barbell” pricing strategy. In this model, high-value items drive business alongside premium offerings. In other words, don’t discount the entire menu just to entice guests to keep visiting.

Once guests get a taste for falling prices, they’ll consider the lower prices the standard. After that, any increase can be perceived as “too expensive.” Of course, discounting the whole menu also impacts guest perception of the brand negatively.

In addition, Technomic suggests offering higher net profit discount bundles, and implementing off-premise, large-party strategies.

Should Technomic’s predictions prove true, the industry may see an even stronger Q4 and start to 2023.

Image: Alex Haney on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

by David Klemt

Server helping guest in restaurant

There’s an easy way to identify whether there are changes that need to be made to processes and practices that only requires observation and time.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much time, either. In less than a week, an operator can determine if there are issues relating to onboarding new hires.

This simple test was shared during the 2022 Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale.

Interviews are Just the Start

It should go without saying but here we go: The hiring process doesn’t end with the interview.

An operator or their leadership team found an amazing job candidate? Awesome! That’s no small feat these days.

However, that’s just the first step in hiring and building a rock star restaurant, bar or hotel team.

Step two is onboarding, step three is training, and step four is advancement.

For KRG Hospitality, onboarding goes far beyond filling out federal and state paperwork. There’s more to it than setting up direct deposit and getting a new hire on the schedule.

Rather, operators need to implement a fully developed onboarding process. The key word there is “process.”

True onboarding includes the review of an employee handbook and an introduction to the business. During this process new hires should become familiar with the brand’s history, vision, culture, mission, and core values.

By the end of this process, a new team member should understand what’s expected of them, both in their individual role and behaviorally. Additionally, they should be introduced to the entire team.

In reality, the onboarding process is the development of a professional relationship.

The Test

Technically, the actual test for operators is for them to have in-depth hiring, onboarding and training processes in place.

So, operators should take a moment to review whether they have those processes.

However, the test I’m talking about here relates to onboarding directly. It’s simple and it was shared during RLC 2022 by Jim Thompson, COO of Chicken Salad Chick.

The only requirement is a few days’ time and an observant operator and/or leadership team.

Let’s say a candidate nails the interview. In particular, their personality is perfect for the available role. As the the hospitality industry maxim goes, hire for personality, train for skills.

The new hire works their first shift but their personality doesn’t shine through. However, that could be first-day jitters. Unfortunately, that personality the leadership team hired for is nowhere to be seen during their next few shifts.

According to Thompson, if a new hire’s personality doesn’t shine through within four shifts, there’s likely a process and practices issue. The lack of personality is an indicator that the new team member doesn’t feel confident in their role.

The onboarding process—either too shallow or nonexistent—is a likely culprit. Operators can use this test, a simple four-shift observation of a new hire, to determine if there’s a problem.

Once identified, the operator and their leaders can put their heads together, review the issue, and implement effective, positive change.

Image: Caroline Attwood 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

Creating a Strengths Profile

Creating a Strengths Profile

by Jennifer Radkey

Unsolved Rubik's Cube against black background

When looking to improve the performance of your hospitality business it is natural to seek out weaknesses and attempt to “fix” them.

What if you were to take an entirely different approach?

Instead of focusing on weaknesses to improve upon, we should seek to identify and build upon our strengths.

Why Strengths?

Using our strengths is like writing with a dominant hand. It comes naturally and easily.

Strengths can be cultivated and used to assist in overcoming challenges and in improving upon weaknesses. If we were to focus only on improving our weaknesses it would be tiring, and the probability of giving up could increase.

However, if we focus on building upon our strengths, it would be motivating and energizing, therefore making us stronger and then more likely to overcome our weaknesses.

Lost and Found

Do you ever visit a restaurant, bar, or hotel and get no clear sense of their identity?

Maybe their menu is confusing, their social media presence is either nonexistent or only shares their daily specials, there is no consistency in service. They just seem…lost.

Now seriously take a minute and walk through your establishment with fresh eyes as if it were your first time there. Is your brand’s identity clear or lost? As we get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations and stressors, becoming lost can easily happen.

Identifying your brand’s strength profile can help you find your distinct identity again. Even if you aren’t lost there is always room to strengthen your brand.

The Background

In the field of positive psychology, psychologists Chris Peterson and Marty Seligman headed a project to seek out what characteristics describe humans at their very best.

After scouring literature, media, music, etc., spanning countries and history, they compiled a list of 24 character strengths that appear to be valued over time and culture.

This list was referred to as the Values in Action Classification of Character Strengths and Virtues (VIA). The VIA is meant to classify individual strengths but can also be applied to organizations and businesses.

The 24 Character Strengths

The list of strengths is as follows:

  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Open-mindedness
  • Love of Learning
  • Perspective and Wisdom
  • Bravery
  • Persistence
  • Integrity
  • Vitality
  • Capacity to Love and be Loved
  • Kindness
  • Social Intelligence
  • Citizenship
  • Fairness
  • Leadership
  • Forgiveness
  • Humility/Modesty
  • Self-Regulation
  • Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence
  • Gratitude
  • Hope/Optimism
  • Humour
  • Spirituality

If you want to dive deeper into the VIA character strengths or would like to take the free survey yourself to find out what your top character strengths are, please visit www.authentichappiness.org through Penn State University and take the VIA Survey.

Creating a Strengths Profile for Your Hospitality Business

Now that you have the list of 24 character strengths, think about the top three strengths that you believe capture your brand at its very best. Think both about your venue’s operations and its messaging when deciding upon the top three.

Then ask your team to do the same. Hold a team meeting in which everyone shares which three character strengths they chose and why.

I recently did this with our team here at KRG Hospitality and found the process enlightening. It was fascinating to see which character strengths were repeated, providing clarity into our brand’s strengths profile.

Establishing Your Top Three

As you review everyone’s answers as to the character strengths they feel best capture your brand at its very best, take note of strengths that repeat themselves.

For us at KRG Hospitality, creativity, perspective and wisdom, and love of learning were the most common replies. We then had our strengths profile.

Discuss what you feel the strengths profile for your brand is with your team and solidify a top three.

What Next?

Once you have a strengths profile built, it’s time to dissect it.

How are you already using these strengths in both your day-to-day operations and in how you are representing yourself to the outside world? How can you use them in new and unique ways?

For example: If one of your strengths is creativity, are you using it to your advantage in many aspects of your business? Maybe your menu is super creative, but your social media posts are dull. Maybe your interior design is creative and fresh, but your training lacks creativity.

Is one of your top strengths kindness? What are you doing to emphasize that strength and is your community aware and benefiting from it?

Think about your strengths in new and exciting ways to energize your team and build an overall stronger business.

Shout it Out!

Take pride in your brand’s strengths. Make it known to your team, potential new hires, guests and potential guests what your strengths are by living them and growing them each and every day.

The stronger your team and your brand is, the more confidence you will have. With strong confidence you can approach weaknesses and obstacles with a healthy mindset and higher chance of success.

Take the time to really know your brand and understand how you are representing yourself and you won’t be disappointed. Cheers to personal and professional well-being!

Image: Pixabay on Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Resources for Keeping Guests Safe

Resources for Keeping Guests and Staff Safe

by David Klemt

Everyone is Welcome sign painted on wall

One of the non-negotiable responsibilities of operators and their team members is ensuring the safety of every guest they serve.

Respecting others, instilling trust in guests and the community, and awareness are core tenets of hospitality.

Further, those three tenets are also crucial for the safety of guests, team members, and the community.

We in the hospitality industry like to think we deliver selfless service, putting guest needs above our own. The phrase “all are welcome” is supposedly a hospitality mantra.

But if operators aren’t providing the tools and empowerment staff need to ensure every guest is safe, is everyone really welcome?

Safety as a Core Value

Look, I know it can be uncomfortable to address the uglier elements of this industry. However, we can’t effect change to severely reduce the impact or outright eliminate those elements if we don’t face them.

On today’s Bar Hacks podcast, episode 54 with Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero, our guests address keeping women safe in bars and restaurants. That goes for guests and staff.

When we’re honest with ourselves, we know that our industry, operating at its best, is welcoming, accepting, supportive of the communities they serve, and a pillar of society. But we also know we have widespread issues concerning the harassment, violence, and inequality affecting women and other minorities.

Two things can be true at the same time. However, we can work toward wiping out that second truth.

During today’s podcast, Ivy Mix shares two key resources for building safer hospitality venues and work environments: Safe Bars and Green Dot.

Safe Bars

This organization seeks to improve the safety and culture of any venue that serves alcohol. Restaurant, bar, nightclub, brewery, hotel… If alcohol is a major component of service, Safe Bars wants to help.

Through three Safe Bars programs, operators can make their businesses safer:

  • Active Bystander Skills. Teachers operators, leadership team, and staff how to recognize unwanted sexual aggression and opting for the best intervention solution. (Learn more here.)
  • Self-defense and Empowerment. Strategies an owner, operator, member of the leadership team, or a staff member can implement should they be the one targeted for aggression or other unwanted attention. (Click here to learn more.)
  • De-escalation for Hospitality Professionals. The tactics necessary to keep one’s self and others safe should they encounter an aggressive, angry or threatening guest. (More information here.)

Unfortunately, most hospitality professionals have at least one story involving unwanted aggressive or threatening behavior from a guest. Programs like those on offer by Safe Bars can help bystanders intervene to protect others and themselves.

Green Dot

I’ve written about Green Dot Bystander Intervention education before.

Specifically, I shared Green Dot’s Five Ds of Bystander Intervention:

  • Distract
  • Delegate
  • Document
  • Delay
  • Direct

Programs like those from Green Dot and Safe Bars can help operators and leadership assess their bystander intervention capabilities.

The time is now to have an open and frank discussion to assess each team member’s comfort level regarding intervention. That can provide a baseline and guide operators towards which programs they should pursue. From there, operators and leadership can create policies and procedures for intervening, and keep guests and staff safe.

Addressing safety rather than hoping nothing will happen and these issues will somehow solve themselves pays immense dividends. Here are just a few examples:

  • Greater staff confidence.
  • A better relationship with the community, along with increased traffic.
  • A reduction in staff turnover.

Service is about more than food, beverage, and entertainment—it’s also about safety.

Image: Katie Moum on Unsplash

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

Hiring and Training Staff for Consistency

Hiring and Training Staff for Consistency

by Nathen Dube

Happy and well-trained In N Out kitchen staff

Every restaurant needs to hire staff. This is probably the second most important pre-opening task after deciding on a concept.

Hiring can be an arduous process and hiring the wrong person is often detrimental to success. It costs time, money, and effort to replace and repair the damages.

Putting a fully developed onboarding plan in place—compelling job ads, effective interview and selection processes, in-depth training manuals, and training schedules—can help streamline hiring and retention, and make new hires feel welcome and confident in their roles.

Hiring and Onboarding

Creating a strategy to onboard all staff, adjusting for differing positions (cooks, servers, managers, etc.), will help to identify potential employees that fit your needs skill- and attitude-wise.

A strategic plan will streamline the entire process, start to finish. Think of it as your recruiting and hiring “recipe.”

Answering phone calls, scribbling notes, writing emails, losing phone numbers… Operating without a plan can be very frustrating and time consuming for everyone. After all, running your restaurant is far more important than being your own HR department.

The problem is that many organizations see training as an expense and not as an investment. Untrained employees will, inevitably, lack the motivation and knowledge to use company resources properly.

A lack of training in the hospitality industry leads to:

  • costly waste;
  • employees who feel unappreciated in their job;
  • employees with a general sense that their job doesn’t matter; and
  • unsatisfactory guest interactions that impact guest retention negatively.

At this point, employees either leave or get fired for poor performance.

While it may seem simple just to replace one worker with another, consider this: Hiring someone can cost up to 30 percent of the job’s salary. For an employee that makes $40,000 a year, that could equal around $12,000 to hire someone new.

However, training an existing employee correctly might only cost a few hundred dollars, reducing invested time. Even if replacing one employee doesn’t sound that bad, consider that for every three employees who need to be replaced, that will equal an entire salary with no real gains.

Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities

From the outset, outlining job roles and daily responsibilities properly is extremely important to ensure that all staff are on the same page.

Building and maintaining a well-oiled machine takes time and planning. However, identifying and distributing responsibilities as equitably as possible will help things flow smoothly.

Differing service times can lead to staff friction when tasks are not being completed effectively for the next shift. The lack of a clear plan regarding responsibilities such as prep, stocking fridges, putting away orders, cleaning, and maintenance will inevitably cause confusion.

Yes, writing out a daily walkthrough and task list from shift start shift end time for each role in your organization will take some time and effort. No, it isn’t the most fun job you’ll do.

But doing so will make onboarding and training a seamless and less time-consuming transition overall.

How to Train New Restaurant Employees

When you’ve completed the interviews, made your hire, and are now bringing in your new staff, where do you start? Who is responsible for training? (Yes, this should be delegated in your plan!) What station do they start on and what is the timeline for moving them along?

Having a plan for onboarding that is mapped out in an employee manual will help to clearly explain your company’s policies and expectations; training modules; and all other helpful information to a new hire.

Expecting a line cook, who may even be green themselves, to convey this to a new employee is like playing the telephone game in grade one: it doesn’t work and is irresponsible.

Setting up detailed, specific workstation plans is the first step. The second step is to plan training shifts and specify who is going to be training new hires.

Batch training can make this process easier. Have your head chef or front-of-house manager spend time to train all the new hires, not just the one or two who happen to be working that day. Be sure to include other positions like sous chefs and floor staff.

This last step, along with a solid training manual, helps eliminate starting the whole process over again every time a position turns over. It also completely mitigates the disaster of staff members being trained differently. Consistency will be solid across the board.

Different Strategies for Part-time Staff

A great part-time employee program can elevate your full-time staff.

With the peaks and valleys of busy restaurant periods fluctuating around lunch and dinner, for example, full-time staff can be overworked and then swiftly underutilized. Part-time employees on the other hand, when scheduled correctly don’t experience the swing in workload.

Although part-time staff offer flexibility in scheduling, it can be difficult to find time to train them. However, part-time workers should not be excluded from training just because their hours are limited.

Organizing training specifically for your part-time employees is crucial to the success of your team. Scheduling a part-timer to come in on a busy Saturday lunch shift and flounder around strains and stresses out the rest of the staff. That’s the last thing you want or need.

Part-time staff benefit from shorter periods of training engagement than your full-time staff. You do want to include them in your large training sessions but will certainly have some who can’t make it.

Since their schedules are limited, you can train part-time staff via 15-minute lessons during pre-shift meetings. These talks can cover can anything from kitchen hygiene reminders, menu walkthroughs, customer service, and proper table setting.

Using your best staff for on-the-job training can also be beneficial to your part-timers. Shadowing during shifts provides a visual, real-world representation of everything written out in your employee manual. Following in the footsteps of someone in the role a part-timer has been hired for is an excellent way for them to understand their responsibilities and tasks in real-time.

Not only is it an opportunity to understand how the whole team functions, it’s a chance to meet colleagues and bond with the team.

Streamline Your Menu

As mentioned in a previous post, the streamlining of your menu benefits everyone from the top down.

Trying to train a new employee on how to cook (or serve) every single item on a large menu can be daunting. Keeping your menu narrow and focused will make an employee’s transition into their new position.

This is where your employee manual will come into play again. Recipes and pictures, along with training and tastings, will give new staff the confidence to cook and serve the dishes skillfully. Shadow shifts will complete the picture for them with hands-on training.

Conversely, having a large menu creates unnecessary confusion and takes a longer time for staff to feel comfortable.

Everything on your menu needs to be something that your kitchen and serving staff can handle efficiently without putting undue burden on your staff. Choose recipes that include ingredients that you know fit within your budget and concentrate on making them the best they can be. Good food is more about taste than presentation.

Seasonal menu changes should be addressed via staff meetings, updated recipe cards, tastings, and even testing for all staff. Consider using these events to train and onboard your new staff to start them on the right foot and avoid them having to play catch-up.

Don’t Discount Human Communication

Everyone wants to implement the latest technology to save money, resources, labour costs, and to deliver superior product.

One thing that needs to be remembered when training staff is this: even with all these new processes, human interaction is still necessary for a functioning business.

That is, human skill is still required to cook and plate delicious, Instagram-worthy food, and to deliver that food to the guests at the table. For the time being, human interaction is what creates memorable dining experiences and keeps guests coming back!

The opposite end of that spectrum happens when technology fails or crashes. Troubleshooting and problem-solving skills are required by your staff every day.

Train staff how to utilize your technology stack but also understand the “old-fashioned” ways.

Effective Troubleshooting Ability: Importance of Teamwork, Repetition, Consistency

 A solid training strategy produces a staff that values teamwork, a team with effective troubleshooting skills, and consistent results.

When you identify the roles you are looking and the responsibilities that come along with them, plus delegate and train properly, you are essentially giving your staff the ability to individually and collectively trouble shoot any issues that arise.

These problems can relate to customer service, broken equipment, inventory problems, and other issues that might come up when you or your leadership team aren’t there to fix things.

Everything talked about here is the foundation you should be building on to create an environment that thrives on teamwork. From the minute you onboard new staff they are comfortable in what is being asked of them and are given plenty of opportunity to work alongside colleagues.

Excellent teamwork leads to consistency and repetition of food, drinks, and service regardless of who is working the front or back of house. There is nothing more disappointing than returning to a restaurant only to have a substandard experience.

Implementing these programs even before opening day will help to keep you and, more importantly, your staff happy, thriving, and creating an amazing experience for your guests time and again!

Image: nick jenkins on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Remote Restaurant Workers are Here

Remote Restaurant Workers are Here

by David Klemt

Remote, work-from-home setup

When people think of working from home, rarely do they picture restaurant professionals working remotely.

Normally, people associate working from home with desk and cubicle jobs across an array of industries.

A newer technology company is trying to change that perception.

New Restaurant Tech

Bite Ninja seeks to match restaurants with remote workers to online ordering and drive-thru operations more efficient.

Let’s say your business has a drive-thru window. Obviously, someone has to work that window, meaning there are labor costs that accompany it.

As operators know, it’s difficult to recruit, hire and train right now. Some states point to the $300 federal boost to unemployment as a main culprit for the labor shortage restaurants are facing currently, announcing exits to the program.

According to Bite Ninja, remote workers are a feasible solution to labor and cost challenges (at least for some operations).

The tech company trains “Virtual Cashiers” and provides on-demand access to these remote workers.

Benefits

Per Bite Ninja, the company provides operators with several benefits. First and foremost, it would seem, is an answer to staffing challenges.

Obviously, if utilizing virtual cashiers costs less than recruiting, hiring, training and employing their counterpart, that’s a benefit. Another benefit? More staff is available to engage with and serve dining room and patio guests.

On the subject of no-call no-shows, the platform claims that simply doesn’t happen with their remote workers.

While not a solution for every operation, Bite Ninja also claims upsell averages of between $40 and $60 per shift. More importantly, the company says order accuracy through their virtual cashiers is nearly 100 percent. According to Bite Ninja, the average upsell per shift pays for a venue’s hired ninja. If that’s the case and virtual cashiers pay for themselves while making an operator more money, perhaps employees can see a pay bump.

Additionally, the company tracks some key metrics for their clients, including customer volume, order accuracy, and upsells.

KRG Hospitality Takeaway

We appreciate restaurant and bar tech that helps operators lower costs, increase profits, solve problems, improve the guest experience, and increase guest visit frequency.

However, we’re not fans of tech that eliminates a position from the industry and takes someone out of the workforce.

Bite Ninja isn’t a labor solution for every hospitality operation. For those who see the value in remote restaurant workers, at least the company isn’t building robots that eliminate one or more human jobs outright.

Image: Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Is Gen Z the Workforce Solution?

Is Gen Z the Workforce Solution?

by David Klemt

Momofuku Las Vegas interior

Is Gen Z the solution to the industry’s workforce problem?

That’s one big question posed during the 2021 Restaurants Canada Show.

A panel consisting of Philip Mondor, president and CEO of Tourism HR Canada; Adam Morrison, president and CEO of Ontario Tourism Education Corporation; Jody Palubiski, CEO of the Charcoal Group; and Lori Wilson, manager of people and change at BDO Consulting have answers.

The Problem

Canada’s hospitality industry is facing a labour shortage. In fact, that has been the case since before the pandemic.

According to several sources, the hospitality industry is Canada’s fourth-largest private-sector employer. And yet, there’s a labour crisis.

This is partially due to Baby Boomers retiring. As they leave the workforce, there’s a disparity in the number of people in Canada working or seeking work.

According to a January 2020 report from The Globe and Mail, there were at least 60,000 empty positions in foodservice before Covid-19 lockdowns.

Mondor concurs with that article’s sentiment. He expects “a very large shortfall” over the next year that could force the industry into a four-year recovery.

The Solution?

Neither Wilson, Mondor, Morrison or Palubiski see Gen Z as the solution to Canada’s labour shortage problem.

Now, that isn’t to suggest that operators and managers should dismiss Gen Z. Rather, Mondor suggests including this generation as they enter the workforce without viewing them as the only solution.

“Relying on youth alone is not going to meet the demand,” says Mondor.

Instead, Mondor posits that new Canadians—immigrants—will play a significant role in the hospitality industry moving forward. In fact, Mondor expects immigrants to make up 50 percent of Canada’s workforce.

Recruitment and Training

Palubiski says that what separates Gen Z from other generations is how connected and informed they are. Screen time provides Gen Zers plenty of information about social, regional and global issues.

To recruit Gen Z, Palubiski suggests brands and businesses be transparent about their stances on issues such as sustainability and the climate.

However, that approach to recruiting isn’t just effective when it comes to Gen Z—employees and guests alike want to know where a brand stands.

Morrison says that it’s important to be cognizant of the employment market. Knowing what people are being paid, even if an operator can’t match or beat that rate, is helpful. It’s also part of an effective strategy, says Morrison, to understand the ambitions of candidates to see if available roles will match their motivations.

Retention

Once an operator has built a team, the next step—training—is key to staff retention. And not just training for the specifics of one particular role in a restaurant or bar.

Rather, the panel agrees that this industry does a poor job of documenting transferrable skills. For example, operators can help develop employees’ leadership and conflict resolution skills (among many others) that they can take into other careers. Operators must explain that benefit to employees and help nurture it.

Additionally, the panel suggests looking at training and retention in the following ways to adapt and make businesses in this industry stronger:

  • Invest in people, don’t just hire them. That means training and developing their skills and careers.
  • View hiring and training as investments, not costs.
  • Everyone makes mistakes. True leaders admit their mistakes, fix them, and move forward.
  • Ask this question: Do your employees feel a greater affinity for this industry and your business after they’ve started working with you?

In parting, operators and managers should consider this: Palubiski had to furlough 950 employees due to the pandemic. A staggering 95 percent returned when they were called back. That is effective hiring, training, development and retention to emulate.

Image: Jason Leung on Unsplash

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