F&B is a very tricky business. Though it can look like fun, crazy and very organized chaos at times, it does have many factors and variables to calibrate before an establishment can be successful and prosperous. What most establishments don’t usually understand is that there are many minor details that may snowball into a bigger problem that may take time to unfurl and remedy.
I am not schooled in a fine institution that educates problem solving and troubleshooting in a service situation but I am a good observer and a thinker and I like to find ways to better certain situations and adapt accordingly. This is what I can offer after much careful observation in my career in F&B.
1. Most Establishments Hire Managers For Their Trustworthiness
What are the jobscopes of managers in an F&B establishment? We know a lot more about other managerial jobscopes in the office than we actually know the ones in the service industry. Why? Because every establishment has different assignments and responsibilities for their managers.
Some places assign managers to handle operations, some put them in a suit and just make them walk around, some just give them fancy positions with crappy salary just to make them feel like they have climbed the ladder and reached the position of leaders. This leads to varying degrees of responsibilities as we bounce from bars,clubs and restaurants and even to hotels. So what do we look for in a manager in an F&B establishment nowadays other than loyalty and trustworthiness?
2. It Is Management And Not Control
We think that managing people is simply delegating and telling people what to do but in essence, that is simply called, ‘controlling’. As management or employers, you need to be able to know how to motivate your staff or your employees.
STOP THINKING THAT EVERYONE IS TAKING A PISS AT YOU OR TAKING ADVANTAGE OF YOU.
You need to be two steps ahead of everyone and you need to know everything and everyone inside and out. If you think that everyone below you is bullying you and not taking you seriously, it is because you have no clue in whatever you are doing. So how do you know everything and everyone? Simple. ASK!
Yes, ask….everyone is always eager to teach but only if you are eager to learn. Ask how the Point Of Sales back-office work. Ask how the salad is prepared. Ask how their health is doing? Ask how many kids they have. Be part of their lives from work to home. Who said managing was going to be easy but guess what, if knowledge is power, then every bit of information counts.
Example question: “Why is the sales figure so bad on weekends?” That might be the stupidest question with limitless stupid answers that can be given. Instead, ask how one can improve the numbers for the weekend and if anyone have any ideas on its improvisation.
Maybe the staff are having problems with the lag on the POS machine, maybe there are not enough credit card machines for transactions, maybe there is not enough people, maybe some people are tired because they are overwhelmed or have other responsibilities back home that might drain themselves out
3. Don’t Just Listen. Take Note And Take Action.
Some staff/employee might complain of the bust bins at the side station getting too full too fast and they cannot be running back and forth to the dishwasher 30 times a shift just to clear it. What do you do? You don’t just say, “I’ll see to it…” Then, 2 weeks later the poor fellow, still doing unnecessary extra work while you sit down with your friends and have a beer and not rectify it.
YOU ARE A LEADER. LEAD BY EXAMPLE.
Get the problem fixed as soon as possible. Get a bigger bin and don’t expect anyone to say thanks. You are supposed to make the work in your establishment much more conducive, efficient and healthy. It might be harder to keep up with the demands but you need to learn to filter those that have possible immediate remedies and those that need to be noted down as those might need a little bit more time and financing.
4. Don’t Be Selfish. Teach and Learn.
Take time in between quiet nights or before the start of a shift to learn something new. It can be something as simple as greeting a guest. or opening a bottle of beer. Yes, everything requires a certain amount of technique and finesse. If you are not an expert on a certain subject, maybe you can hire a person that is and get him/her to inspire and motivate the rest.
Read a book and take pointers to be discussed the next day with your staff. Watch an educational video together. We did that when we were in high school and then have debates and discussions and then have theory and practical exams after. Everyone loves learning new tricks to the trade and be sure to inject fun into the sessions as well. Passing around notes and asking people to memorize them can be the most useless thing to do so please have a bit of creativity when conducting lessons.
5. Stop Being Cocky
Your establishment can be doing very well but after working for many establishments, I can see that most places will share the same factor for their demise. Cockiness creates many problems, one of them is the lack maintenance and follow-up. As a place gets busy, every guest gets a generic service and people are just numbers. This won’t happen in a smaller crowd situation.
Everybody wants to feel special and wants a certain attention. That simple gesture of stretching out your hand first for a handshake can mean a lot to people. Some people are afraid that they might be left hanging and begging for a handshake if the gesture is not responded to but seriously, who cares?
Stretch that arm out and greet your guest with the biggest smile and the most enthusiastic welcome. Grab that wet umbrella and hand them a towel or a napkin way before they ask for it, they will be so shocked with how welcoming you are and that explains a lot about your establishment.that you represent.
Don’t be afraid of making someone else smile other than yourselves. To be honest, there is always better food and drinks and accommodations everywhere else but they actually came here to see you. As management, you need to entertain and by that I don’t mean buying them 3 rounds of drinks and giving them free meals and wish them a goodnight.
That greeting discussion we had above, make them feel that way throughout the night. Don’t be cocky, be receptive and that applies to your staff as well. How well you treat your guests should come full circle on how you treat your staff. The same level courtesy and attention should be given to both guests and employees/colleagues.
6. Be Honest
I am not talking about being honest with money and not steal from the company cos that goes without saying right? Being honest is to stand for what is right. If you think selling expired food is wrong, just say it. If you think someone is being bullied at work, stand up for that person. If you think your bosses are making a mistake, point that out to them. Of course every disagreement has its own reasons of argument.
Collect enough data and arguable facts before you leap into a war of words. If you are standing up for someone being bullied for being late, you better have a good reason to back him/her up. Maybe his parents are sick at home and you know and so you can ask the guys at work to take it easy on the ‘late-comer’.
If it makes you feel uncomfortable doing it, voice it out. Don’t just do it and then complain that your boss forces you to. You can say no if you are not bound by contract to accomplish it. Of course be reasonable. But as a working, professional adult, you should be able to be straightforward and honest to your bosses as well as your staff.
Be as transparent as you can, but of course don’t discuss confidential subjects like other people’s pay and personal problems. Honesty is definitely easier said than done cos some people cannot bear to hear/tell the truth but sometimes it is the only way forward and to improve productivity and efficiency.
I guess there are a lot more to cover when it comes to running an F&B establishment. I hope we all can share, exchange and discuss our point of views more openly. I would rather cooperate than to compete cos I personally believe in sharing every bit of knowledge that we have and help make this industry a much more pleasant and respectable career of nobles and dignified intellects. Much love…..
Naz Arjuna is a professional mixologist and can be found whipping up magnificent cocktails at Bitters and Love.