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Restaurant Service: The Do's and Don'ts of Running an Effective Pre-Shift

By Jeff Hookham

Running a pre-shift meeting is like flossing your teeth. Everyone knows you need to floss at least once a day but for whatever reason some people just don't do it. And just as there are consequences for not flossing, skipping pre-shifts can impact your bottom line.

If you are not interested in building service consistencies, or teamwork, or even educated and motivated team members then maybe pre-shifts aren't for you. But for the rest of you they should be an integral part of your daily operations and part of your communication strategy.




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Communication is very important to any business and pre-shifts are a great communication tool. A tool that creates a structure to assure the whole team is aware of what is going on in the business, market and community.

Here are some guidelines for running a successful Pre-Shift. By following these simple Do's and Don'ts you will achieve success in this important training function.

Do Plan - I'm sure you have heard the saying "managers don't plan to fail, they just fail to plan". Our clients utilize a pre-shift template that helps them plan the meetings. Having a template tends to help ensure a very smooth & consistent running pre-shift.

Specific things to talk about include the daily specials, soups of the day and any 86x items. Talk about restaurant goals, team goals and any goals or objectives you have for different areas of your team, like Servers, Cooks, Bussers, Hosts and such.

Do KISS - Not figuratively of course because kissing all of your team members could lead to some legal issues. KISS stands for Keep it Short and Sweet. And by short I mean really short. Two minutes, three tops. These meetings should be quick hits that inform, instruct and motivate right before the revenue period starts.

When your staff hits the floor you want lots of positive energy so keep the meeting sweet & positive. No sour grapes during these gatherings. There is a time and place for reprimand and negative issues and this isn't it.

Do Focus - Focus on one primary area to talk about. Whether it's maximizing sales, providing remarkable service or menu knowledge, pick one topic and focus on that area during your meeting.

Don't do all the Talking - You want to keep your teams attention so make the meetings interactive. For example when you mention the daily specials have someone give a sales presentation around one of those specials or ask servers what their check average goal for the day is. Try and come up with questions you can bounce off your team where they have to respond.

Don't Forget to Recognize Team Members - Everyone likes to be hear that they are doing a great job. When that recognition is done in front of their peers that makes it even better. Look not only for individuals to recognize but teams as well.

There are no more excuses about not knowing how to run or what to talk about during a pre-shift. Follow these guidelines and you will soon be reaping the benefits of a well coached wait staff team. And don't forget to floss!



Jeff Hookham is the CEO of 4 Remarkable Service. Visit http://www.4remarkable.com for additional articles and resources on wait staff training.


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