It’s Time to Focus on the Good

Looking back on my last few articles, I have focused on facts, on technology and on the hard time that we are all having hiring staff. However, in the past few months, I have run across some incredible stories that are heartwarming and inspiring.  They remind us not only that there are great people out there, but also that many of them work for us! The common thread is that each story is about incredible staff and great managers and that, together, they support each other inside and outside of the restaurant. 

Caring Managers

At one of my clients’ restaurants, a young cook suffered a serious injury outside of work. She had about a dozen stiches in her leg, but didn’t know how to care for her wound. When the chef and general manager found this out, they immediately jumped into action. They purchased bandages and went to her apartment. They showed her how to clean the affected area and change her bandages, and they made sure she was taking her medication properly. They visited her every day until she was able to come back to work. 

A Sales Contest Where Everybody Wins

We all had contests for our staff where the goal is to sell the most specials/most wine/most desserts, etc. Very often the prize might be a bottle of wine, a gift certificate or cash. One of the fine dining operations that I consult with had a contest for selling the most chef specials, with the prize being that the chef would personally make the winner any item on the menu for dinner. At the end of the night, two servers tied for first place. Unbeknownst to management, the two servers decided that the prize should go to their bus person. They felt that, without the incredible support of their bus person, they never would have had the additional time to spend with each guest so that they would have the opportunity to sell more specials. 

Bartender and Chef Save the Day

Imagine you have a restaurant that seats 120 and you have only one bartender and one server to handle the front-of-the-house. Like every restaurateur you wonder, “How can this get worse?”

Here’s how: 15 minutes before service, the one and only server quits!

Hero No. 1 in our story is the bartender, who, having never served a table, jumps in and lets us know that she will take all of the tables and make the drinks as long as other people can run food, run drinks and bus tables. Hero No. 2 is the chef, who says that he will run all of the food, which left all of the bussing to the two owners and me. I was so proud of this staff. They have pride in themselves, love their jobs, enjoy the restaurant, and respect the owners enough to go above and beyond to save the day!

Best Busser Ever

How do you know when you have an exceptional employee? When the guest takes the time to write a longletter (not just an email) about the best and most caring service they have ever had!

 On a very rainy night, a couple (in their 70s) hosted 10 guests for a birthday dinner at a client’s restaurant. When the party was over, our two guests were at the table alone, and the busser overheard some of their conversation. The busser went to the table and offered to take all the gifts to their car and also bring their car to the front door so that they did not have to run through the rain. After he did all of that, he got an umbrella and walked them to their car. The husband offered a tip, which the busser politely refused.

Along with the letter came a $100 gratuity for our busser because he had made a fun evening special and memorable. 

Lesson Learned

Hiring is hard right now. People don’t show up for interviews, or we hire them and they never start work and we never hear from them. It is easy to focus on these problems because they are in the news all the time and in our face every day. However, it is time to step back and really look at the people who are working for us now. They are very special, committed, excited to work and they work harder today than they did esterday. 

Your days will get better when you take the time to focus on the great people working for you. Talk to them, thank them and, most important, ask them for their advice and recommendations. You may be surprised at the great things they will teach you.