How Your New Restaurant Training Supervisor Can Make it Happen!

Once you have more than a few staff, training needs multiply – different skills needed for different people, and various stages of development. Appointing someone as a training supervisor takes it out of the manager’s hands and ensures it will be handled, not forgotten. Training is one of those ‘important but not urgent’ projects that is easy to put off…. yet again.

Make this a part-time job for an enthusiastic employees – for you it’s just one more thing on a long list, and for them it can be an honour and a source of pride. So what will they do?

  • Organise the training calendar – one of the simplest and most effective ways to get training actually happening. You know how it’s been in the past – other priorities take precedence. Use a simple diary, or Google Calendar, and plot out the next 6 months.
  • Gather training material – copies of your menu and wine list, take photos of menu items, Profitable Hospitality articles, other relevant articles, YouTube videos – there are many options.
  • Run ’10 minute’ training sessions – focused on chunks of practical information and skills. Short menu tastings, handling a difficult customer (with a role play), review a video together, learn a selling technique, review of last week’s sales numbers, safety procedures, product knowledge quizzes etc. Keep them focused on short, single-topic sessions to start with.
  • Maximise the use of online training – services like Typsy have excellent short courses and videos for online training in a wide variety of areas. Find and review the best modules for your venue, and organise for staff to sign-up and do them. They have an excellent free membership offer available before 30 September 2020.
  • Organise induction for new staff. The training supervisor can make sure the necessary policies are explained, menu training happens and questions answered. Ticking them off a checklist so nothing is missed.
  • Organise suppliers who can offer training e.g. cleaning chemicals, the coffee roaster, fish and meat suppliers, vegetable suppliers – it’s surprising how many  offer this, but it’s often not taken up. Sales people definitely get brownie points from their bosses when this happens.
  • Organise regular performance reviews – they’re easily postponed, and then another 12 months has passed. The supervisor is the person who will make sure these appointments are in the manager’s or head chef’s diary, with plenty of reminders for all parties.

Praise their work – give regular feedback, and see what they need to develop the program. Little by little the business culture is getting stronger, and fewer people are leaving…

Once you have someone in the swing of training and enjoying the process, you can encourage them to develop their training skills, perhaps pursue some qualifications and take on more detailed tasks like a training needs analysis for the business and for individual employees. Find your enthusiast and get them started on the diary!

Another day, another story of restaurant fraud…

Trusted, helpful staff given too much responsibility by weary owners, and a lack of systems for proper checking. How many times do operators make ‘trust’ their default mode with employees, instead of ‘check and verify’. When you work with cash, food and alcohol and have haphazard security, the thieves will soon find you. It was a bit sad to go through ‘the facts of life’, again, with a couple of new cafe owners…

Your Point of Sales system can be a key element in taking back control. Watching for error corrections and inaccurate use of PLU keys will soon alert you to problems – here are a few to watch:

Open Key – the one that’s used when you can’t find the one to use. A new menu item that hasn’t been added to the system, or there’s a rush and you can’t find Prawn Salad. Disable this key or make strict rules about who can use it – it’s wide open to abuse, and spoils the accuracy of sales data for stocktaking.

Voids, cancels and errors – all slightly different, and can be used to negate an order that has already been made. The end-of-shift report will show how many of these are done – they should be rare and explained.

Over-ringsOMG I ordered 10 salads instead of just one – I’ll tell the kitchen and fix it later! Maybe it wasn’t corrected, and the end of shift sales totals won’t balance with the till. In the struggle to reconcile, it’s easy for deliberate errors to be missed.

Training key – it’s there for training staff on the POS, so their practice transactions aren’t part of the shift totals. But it can be abused – I’ve been given a bill with a tell-tale letter T beside each transaction, and there was definitely no-one being trained.

More on restaurant security in my podcast interview with the Crime Doctor on How to Reduce Employee Theft in Restaurants.
Trust..and verify.

Australian Food History – this is quite a list!

A very interesting discovery is the Australian Food History Timeline – meal by meal, cafe by cafe, pot by pot, Jan O’Connell has put together all the significant events in Australia’s culinary history going back to 1770. A few morsels from the hundreds she’s assembled:

  • In 1913 the first pumpkin scone recipe was published, and 1915 saw the start of 6 o’clock closing in pubs.
  • In 1948 the Sunbeam Mixmaster was introduced, and the jaffle iron in 1949.
  • In 1967 the first Taco Bill was founded on the Gold Coast, the same year a new ‘improved’ wine cask was launched. Two years later the first microwave oven was imported – quite a revolution!
  • In 1970 the first Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook was published, and a year later the first McDonald’s opened in Sydney.
  • 1984 was nominated as the ‘Year of the Sticky Date Pudding’ by journalist David Dale, and a year later the first Flat White coffee appeared.
  • The Hard Rock Cafe opened in Sydney in 1990, and in 1996 Stephanie Alexander published her first Cook’s Companion cookbook, followed by Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef in 1997.
  • Cupcakes ‘arrived’ in Australia in 2005, and Masterchef started on TV in 2009.
  • 2010 saw the start of the macaron craze, and the launch of the Pizza Hut phone ordering app.
  • 2014 saw the growth of ‘alternative milks’ like rice milk, almond milk and soy, and in 2016 Roy Morgan research showed that 11.2% of the population (1 in 9) were ‘almost vegetarian’.
  • And 2017? Vegemite is back in Australian ownership and the beginning of the end of plastic bags in supermarkets…

There’s a huge pot of great trivia questions here – inspiration for a foodie fundraising event at your pub or restaurant?

‘Respect is the Rule’ – new anti-harassment website for hospitality workers

Respect is the Rule is a new initiative from United Voice, the union for most hospitality workers in restaurants, cafes and pubs. They don’t have much profile with our very casualised workforce, and it’s good to see they’ve jumped onto this important issue to make some impact.

The website has lots of resources for staff and venues, and businesses are asked to make a pledge of support. Here’s part of one of the posters you can download – there are versions for public and staff areas…

How I’m Making Great Business Connections Through LinkedIn

In the last couple of years, I’ve put extra effort into growing my LinkedIn following – it’s working very well. It’s not just about the numbers (followers have zoomed from 1700 to more than 12,000) but more importantly, the valuable business connections I’ve made for event speakers, podcast guests and industry expertise.

Here’s a summary of my process – you can do this too:

1. Reach out to a lot more people through Linkedin – I use the ‘People you may know’ feature under the ‘My Network’ tab and send about 10  connection requests very day. LinkedIn suggests these according to who I’m already connected with, and at other times I will do a search for something like ‘restaurant owner Australia’. About 3 out of 10 requests are accepted – not a huge number but very useful.

2. Accept (almost) all connection requests, unless clearly unrelated to hospitality. But even some of those can be valuable – if I accept a request from a person who appears to have no industry connection, I will message them saying ‘I’m curious about how you found me – do you have  plans for a hospitality business?” It’s surprising how many times people come back and say Yes! IT guy today, cafe owner tomorrow.

3. Ask people to connect – when I’m doing presentations or speaking at an event, I ask people to send me a Linkedin invitation so we can stay in touch.

4. Check new connections and if they look particularly interesting or relevant, reply with a friendly message. Here’s the one I use:

“Hi (Jan) – thanks for connecting. I hope 2020 is going well, it’s a challenging year. Let me know if there’s anything I can assist you with… cheers, Ken

I have this set up as an auto-text message on my computer and iPad, so I don’t have to retype each time. It’s relevant for 90% of people, and a majority of people reply back, with a question or a comment, or tell me how we’ve met previously. This step is very useful for creating real relationships, not just numbers.

Extra activities for even more influence:

5. Share interesting articles you find, on the Linkedin timeline – when you drop in the link, a preview of the article will appear. Add a short comment to personalise it, and why you chose it e.g. ‘I believe these 3 digital trends will be the top priority for kitchen management in the next 12 months…’. When you sound like an authority, people will treat you like one!

6. Watch and comment on the timeline. I find many interesting stories related to my interest, and like Facebook, LinkedIn attempts to show you those of most relevance. You can give a ‘thumbs up’ or post or a short comment. I’ve made some great connections this way.

See also 8 Simple LinkedIn Profile Improvements for Chefs & Restaurant Managers

Training: 5 Tough Challenges for Restaurant Managers

It’s not hard to become a supervisor or a manager – titles are often given out freely. Organising the roster, orders and bookings is straightforward, but higher level  leadership-management is not. Managers don’t just manage processes, they manage people: with their hopes, fears, and emotions. You really earn your management stripes when you handle situations where the right answer is also the hardest answer.

Training for managers is effective and interesting when it’s based on real-world scenarios –  they have to come up with the best solution when none of them are perfect.  This excellent article outlines 5 tough management challenges, each of which could have a hospitality application. Great for a management team discussion –  ask people to come up with real-world restaurant or bar examples that they’ve seen or experienced. Here are the 5:

  1. You know things you can’t share with employees.
  2. Balancing standards against financial considerations.
  3. Enforcing policies at the risk of losing a superstar
  4. The dreaded “He said, she said,” conflict.
  5. You have little that’s tangible to offer a talented employee.

Spend 15 minutes discussing a couple of these at the next meeting, before you get into sales figures and staffing. Learning and growing…

How to Get Restaurant Wage Costs Down to 20%

There was an audible gasp and some alarmed looks when business accounts expert Trudi Yip told our Smart Operator workshop that 20% wage costs are achievable. In a restaurant or cafe. With Australian wages.

I received a couple of concerned emails the next day about this figure, and asked Trudi to explain her bold statement. It fitted in with the final part of her presentation when she reminded us of the importance of sales building to manage business costs. Fixed costs (rent, insurance, interest etc), fall as a proportion as sales rise, but wages are a variable cost – they go up and down according to how busy you are. Do you want to stick with the ‘typical’ restaurant wage figure of 43-45%, or go for the 20% challenge – the difference goes straight to your pocket.

Right now, you could:

  • Start using real-time cloud based rostering, so you know to the minute what your wages are during the week. No more rear-vision-mirror management – when you find out your costs after it’s too late. Tools like Deputy, Tanda, ZenShifts or Hot Schedules are worth exploring, and cost surprisingly little.
  • Take a hard look at the days or day-parts when your sales are low and wage costs high – do you really need to be open?
  • Get the manager and chef doing their own costed roster – give them management access to the rostering system, and set a budget they can’t exceed – ‘chef, you have $4000 for the week to cover all your staff costs – how will you organise it?’. You’ll be surprised what they can do.
  • Rethink the food you make from scratch compared to what you can buy in – lots of quality options available.
  • Update to labour-saving equipment – eliminate more of the tedious hand work.
  • Cross-train staff between kitchen, bar and front-of-house. You’ll save wages if the bar guy can help out with dishes, or a waiter can restock the bar… instead of calling in an extra person. It requires skills training plus a shift in attitude.
  • Say goodbye to your least productive staff member – the one you’ve held onto for too long. Everyone else carries them – do they need to be replaced?

We’ll leave sales growth for another time – plenty of information at Profitable Hospitality on that.

photo courtesy of brandeemeier

Podcast: How Pablo & Rusty’s Coffee Became a B Corp Business

I recently met coffee roaster Saxon Wright, to hear about Pablo & Rusty’s recent certification as a B Corp. Specialty coffee seems to lead the way in the beverage industry with its focus on sustainability from grower through to consumer. B Corps ‘aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems’, and the Silver Chef group is a proud member of the worldwide B Corp community.

We discussed the growth of the business, their commitment to sustainably sourced produce, and the additional B Corp priorities of environmental action, improved employee conditions, customer and community support, accountability and transparency. Even coffee waste is being imaginatively re-used with their Huskee Cup project. The company is growing fast, and Saxon sees the focus provided by B Corp standards as an important part of their success.

>> listen to the Podcast online, or look for Profitable Hospitality on iTunes or Soundcloud – there are more than 240 podcasts to choose from!

Great Win by Club Toukley for the NSW Chef’s Table Award

We’re still grinning with satisfaction for the winners of the ClubsNSW Chef’s Table Award – Club Toukley RSL. Chefs Kurt Sonneman and Alex Patterson, with GM Trevor Haynes and all their team are over the moon. It’s the culmination of more than 12 months developing and launching their Ziva eats and pizza concept… and yes, they are Profitable Hospitality members.

Great to have the Chief Judge Julio Azzarello’s input into our article on How to Win the Chef’s Table Award – just sayin’….

Here’s a souvenir video from the event:

Is Facebook Workplace the Employee Intranet That Restaurants Need?

Facebook Workplace looks like a simple, inexpensive way to improve internal communication in your cafe, bar or restaurant. It has that very familiar interface – who doesn’t understand likes, photo posting, events and the newsfeed, and it runs out of a separate app. You don’t use your personal Facebook profile to sign-in, that’s done with a new company-based identity.

Here’s the official Facebook explainer and of course there’s a ton of helpful information on the Facebook Workplace site.

I recently heard a very enthusiastic endorsement of the product by the General Manager of Club Med ANZ – you can hear her talk about it on the Tourism Upgrade podcast, and also in this video.

Update: another interesting article on a company’s experience with Workplace over 6 months.

Issues to consider, for and against:

  • Familiar look & feel means posting is more likely – one of the biggest drawbacks with non-standard intranet sites is that they are ignored.
  • Low cost – USD $3 p.p. per month, with a free version that’s ad-supported. That’s a lot or a little according to the value you place on this type of communication.
  • Does not have the other features needed in a full-featured employee site eg document storage, policy explanations, communication options. That would still be needed.
  • You’re using ‘rented land’ instead of your own site – Facebook has a habit of making changes to all it’s properties, and you get no say in it.
  • Private discussion groups can be set up for selected members , if needed.

Definitely worth exploring – maybe with a small group of employees who would give honest feedback and champion it if you went ahead…