How to Get the Most Out of Your Restaurant Team Meetings

Use the time to motivate, train and ensure all of your critical details are communicated.
restaurant team meeting
To avoid boredom and to help motivate your staff, make sure that your meetings are interactive. (Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

A pre-­shift meeting is a perfect way for a restaurant owner to build camaraderie, motivate employees and set the stage for a great shift.

How efficiently the meeting is run can be the difference between thousands of dollars made or lost during a shift.

David Hayden, hospitality consultant and author of “Tips Squared: Tips for Improving Your Tips” and the Hospitality Formula Network of Blogs, shared these suggestions to make the most of your pre­-shift meeting:

Be organized

A pre-­shift meeting should always start on time, follow a consistent structure and run no longer than 20 minutes. Also, be prepared and remember to deliver important information concisely.

“You don’t have to spend an hour planning the meeting, but you want to write down a few important points,” Hayden said. “Write down what your high point is going to be at the beginning and how you are going to end the meeting.”

Begin and end on a positive note

Positivity is contagious, which is why you want to both start and end your pre­-shift meeting with enthusiasm.

“It is too easy to say, ‘This is something that I have to do and so let’s get it over with,’” Hayden said. “You want your staff to go up to every table and act like it’s the first table they’ve ever waited on, so you want to lead by example. You have to display the energy that you want your staff to give to guests.”

If you have something negative to address, it’s important to schedule that topic in the middle of the meeting to avoid bringing down the staff’s energy level, he said.

“You can say, ‘We are going to have a great evening. We have a lot of reservations tonight. We did get some bad Yelp reviews, let’s talk about those issues real quick.’ And then end with, ‘Now that we are aware of these issues, I know we can improve upon them and get better. These numbers look great for tonight, so let’s go out and get ‘em,’” Hayden said.

Educate your staff

Competency generates success. So use the pre­-shift meeting as an opportunity to encourage upselling, a particular food or ingredient, or maybe a new wine.

“Use the meeting as an opportunity to teach [the staff] something new or reiterate skills it might be lacking on. I like to focus on one skill to reiterate for the week, so that same skill is being talked about by all the managers for that entire week,” Hayden said. “It starts out with teaching the skill and during the course of the week, you ask the staff, ‘How are you implementing this? What are you seeing by doing this?’”

Hayden said he introduces and then teaches the skill Sunday through Tuesday.

“Then on Wednesday and Thursday, I ask the leaders to demonstrate the skill,” he said. By Friday and Saturday, he said, the entire staff should be on track.

Encourage your employees to participate

To avoid boredom and to help motivate your staff, ensure your meetings are interactive.

Give your employees a chance to demonstrate the skills you are teaching them, Hayden said.

“Servers can learn from each other,” he said. “Great servers take from someone else and make it their own.”

Walk away

Once the meeting is over, Hayden said, managers should simply walk away.

“Literally, walk away,” he said. “That makes it clear that the meeting has ended.’

If a staff member raises a complaint during the meeting, Hayden recommended telling them, “‘That is a great point. Come talk to me about it after the meeting.’ Separate them from the flock and deal it with later. Don’t allow complaints to take over your meeting.”

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