CULTURE IS ELEMENTAL, TRAINING IS ESSENTIAL
Our guests these days have a more sophisticated palate than ever! Thank better choices and some cable TV shows for that. Guests are savvy, they notice more than the good food. They notice staff attitudes, ability to explain a food item, and the cadence of their meal. Together those make up the experience of your cafe or restaurant. This is culture. Do you pay attention to what customers notice, and the inner workings of your cafe or restaurant?
You, as an owner, are eager to fix your culture inside your business. It's another thing to figure out how to do it. And there is just no getting around it: the devil's in the detail. If you have neglected to set up systems and processes, then your people are unable to succeed. Here is are two case studies, showing how culture had to changes, and did succeed.
1. Give your staff the "WHY". Here is an example of a fast casual restaurant through away the top-down management, and allowed the staff to figure out how to solve their day to day operations by asking "why do I need to slice 4 pounds of turkey before 10am?" The answer was clear--they needed it to put in the sandwiches for catering. If it wasn't sliced by 10am the catering trays would be incomplete, and not ready for delivery, and if they didn't slice that much, they would definitely run out of turkey.
2. Finding a language, with the ideas of Great Place to Work. Here is an example in video for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. Don't brush this idea off just because you are not at Kimpton's scale. Remember, you want good culture with good core values.
Invest in your people. If this sounds like a broken record, so be it. Wegman's is known for having a deep company culture, where people stay because they are consistently and regularly given training. Consider finding a method to train your staff. Mary Romeo, of Bee Business Smart, consistently reminds owners, "Train your staff". She tells a story of an owner who brushed off her suggestion, "What, John? Train him? What if I train him and he doesn't stay?" Her response was, "What if you don't train then and he does stay?" A powerful statement, in so many ways. If you don't train him, he won't feel you care, and that might mean he will leave for a business who values their people. And the other obvious reality, if you don't train your staff, they can't be the voice of your business.
Need to know the signs that culture is improving?
- Your reviews will be positively describe a guest experience, and this breeds a better culture from the outside to the inside.
- Quality of your staff. It starts with new-hire training, and continues with regular education and training sessions. Training, literally, is the owners investment in staff. Not only are you doing them a service, as they work with you, but you are making them more marketable when the time comes for another job. Training your staff shows them you actually value their input and contribution. The side effect? Their desire to look for another job disappears.
- You and your staff don't dread the thought of going to work. You are working together. The heavy load of work is lifted!
Mind you, improving culture, as so many of my clients have come to understand, is no small task... in fact it is tons of work. You will find yourself enumerating tasks lists, planning, creating systems and working on processes. The investment into an improved culture will never fail a business, because it creates the web of strength. Once it starts, guests feel secure. Staff feel trusted and valued. Good food is wonderful. It's good culture married with good food that retains staff and keeps guests coming back.