The Secret to Better Communication in Your Restaurant

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Communication, Employees, Training

Daily pre-shift meetings are one of the most basic ways to ensure positive communication is happening in your restaurant on a daily basis, to keep everyone informed, to reduce the rumor mill and to make sure everyone knows what you expect regarding performance.

So, what should you cover in a daily pre-shift meeting?

  • Features of the day, including additional notes regarding the features
  • Any promotions you have running
  • Any contests or incentives you are running
  • Policy changes or planned enforcement
  • What the daily side work or sanitation duties are and who they will be assigned to
  • Tips of the day, from up-selling and menu knowledge, service tips to cooking skills and people skills to self-help

There are many benefits to having regular pre-shift meetings:

  • Creating a positive work environment
  • Happy customers
  • Make more money

Tips for creating and using shift meeting notes:

Spice it up – no matter what you plan on communicating, you should make it fun and interesting.
Remember it’s a legal document – you should keep all pre-shift meeting notes in a binder so that if you are ever in a labor board hearing, you have proof that you had a policy in place.
Represent you – make sure your managers know that this is not a place to doodle or place personal commentary. Rather this is a training document and must be treated as such.
15 minutes – conduct the pre-shift meeting 15 minutes before the shift starts. Require your staff to come dressed and ready. That does not mean wet hair, brush in hand and uniform slung over the arm.
Treat the team as equals – all too often, management only runs a pre-shift meeting for the front-of-house employees. No matter your reasoning for not including those in the back of the house, you are setting yourself up for creating the “us-versus-them” mentality. You are basically telling your back-of-house employees they are not important. If you have to, run a second pre-shift in the kitchen. They need to be communicated with, too, you know.
Post it – some restaurants have staggered starts for each department to save on labor costs. That means that there might not be a time for all the staff to huddle up for a meeting. The answer is to write up your notes and post them. Then require each employee to read the notes and initial that they have done so.
Keep ‘em – keep your notes, especially after they have been posted and initialed. Remember, this could be used in a labor hearing or to dispel the old, “I didn’t know” excuse.
Repetition is a good thing – whenever you are introducing a new menu item, a new policy, etc., you will want to make sure it is covered every shift every day for at least a week. This will ensure that every employee has heard the message at least once if they are part-time and that you have been crystal clear with everyone else.

To read more about the importance of communication, training and the pre-shift daily meeting, read our free special report, Breaking Away from the Insanity: How to easily take control of your restaurant and make more money. Download it here

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