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Retaining a great staff is not all about the money

I was always taught that a happy staff is a hard working staff. At Trio, not a night goes by without at least one of our guests telling us about how great our staff is and how they notice that everyone works together with smiles on their faces.

On one recent evening, a guest remarked “Just watch the guys in the white shirts! They are truly amazing.” Well yes, they are.

I quickly discovered that once we started referring to “the guys in the white shirts” as assistants, they became more responsible. It was clear they started working more closely with other staff members in order to better manage their tables. Even though it’s a small thing, one word can really make a difference in helping someone to feel important.

I had some great coaching growing up, and I decided when we opened our restaurant that I was going to offer it as part of our training. Once a year, I sit down for a meeting with my staff members, everyone from dishwashers to those at the front of the house. I ask them what their goals are for the next year, what things they would like to improve upon or change, are they happy with their job, and if there is anything I can do to help them improve their life at work and outside of the restaurant.

I understand that some people would consider this approach as getting too personal. I like to think that this is a way for me to be real with my staff. Of course, coaching has some ups and downs, and some people respond better to it than others.

If my staff members are up for it then we make a plan of action. I prefer to meet with them weekly for about 10 minutes, just to see if they are keeping their word to themselves. Make no mistake this is not about me. It is about their goals and what they have committed to on a personal level.

The truth is that we honor our staff, we respect them, and we believe in them. In turn, they believe in us and we all work together. I would never ask someone to do something that I wasn’t willing or able to do myself. From the dish room to the front of the house, each job in a restaurant setting is important. Never disregard your dish people! They have a hard job and it is important that they are happy and enjoy what they do. Everyone I hire is a key player in the effort to make the night run smooth.

I believe our servers are sales people, not order takers, as they are required to sell a certain amount of wine per month. I offer sales incentives every month for the most wine sold and for the highest number of fish specials that are sold. These incentives are great because the specials allow us to increase our per check average. Of course, the servers feel good about making more money, which makes them better at their jobs.

The art of upselling is truly the key to success when it comes to your staff members. I have had some great results and a few upsets, which I will share with you in my next blog.

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