Ever wonder how pre-shift meetings can help you grow your restaurant profits? Well look no further, this article answers that pressing question.
Pre-shift or pep-talks are industry agnostic. Flight crews, health practitioners, game teams – they all do it.
If everyone is doing it, it must have some benefits, right? In this case, absolutely! Now that you know the right thing to do, it must also be done correctly. If not done correctly, it could be a big waste of your time and your teams (who wouldn’t be rather checking the Mets score anyway?).
In this piece, we learn all about pre-shift meetings. If you are not already doing it, this read will give you the reasons to start today. Then we will move on to understanding how we can make the best of those few but crucial minutes before the show begins. So, let’s get started!
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Table of Contents
Why Should You Do These Meetings?
When done efficiently, restaurant pre-shift meetings can have a positive impact on the team, their mood, and the way they work.
Sets a Tone for the Shift
If you use your pre-shift meeting to complain about other team members, then you will end up with the rest of the shift having a negative tone. If you use this time to inform and boost staff morale, it can set up a positive tone for the shift.
The pre-shift communication can set the team mood, and you want your guest-facing staff to be in a delightful mood.
Serves as a Communication Tool
Knowledgeable staff is less likely to misrepresent dishes or specials, miscommunicate with other team members, or be unclear of the expectations. It is no secret that communication is critical, and this meeting can bring everyone on the same page.
When the shift begins, you do not get a stress-free open floor (no customers) to speak with the staff, pre-shift gives an opportunity to do so.
Ensures Fewer Mistakes
There can be many last-minute changes or unforeseen adjustments when you plan your shift. The meeting is like a golden opportunity to inform everyone about any changes and ensure there is no confusion.
Also, if the staff has any questions or misunderstandings – they get a chance to ask and clarify.
Motivates the Team
Like a good coach, this is the time to have teachable moments and give out those inspiring speeches (keep them short and sweet, though).
Yes, it is a business, and they are your employees, but remember great leaders push from behind, and don’t pull from the front.
This point might sound trivial, but you want to make sure that your staff are healthy and dressed as per your established standards. Remember, your team is a representation of you and your restaurant establishment, ensuring they are appropriately presented is vital.
The pre-shift meeting lets you check on your staff before they represent you and the restaurant to the customers. Unkept hair, dirty uniforms, running nose – these can be rectified and discouraged in your customer-facing staff.
Now that you have enough reasons to conduct pre-shift meetings, we cover some points and ideas to get the best out of these pre-shift meetings.
How to Run a Pre-Shift Meeting
Structure the Meeting
You will be conducting these pre-shift meetings regularly, so having a structure will only help them run smoother and allow you to plan seamlessly.
A structure will also help the staff understand what to expect and how to prepare for these meetings. Having this structure would also ensure that the meetings are conducted efficiently, even in your absence.
An example of a structure could look like this:
10 mins: Total time
2-3 mins: Communicate
3-4 mins: Specials Review
1-2 mins: Coach
1-2 mins: Q&A
This time is your slot to cover business updates about the day. Think on the lines of informing team roles (most restaurants have changing and flexible roles or sections), weather/event forecast and its effect on the business that day, special reservations or guests, amount of business expected that day (based on reservations or your experience) and so on.
Specials Review (Housekeeping)
As a restaurant owner or manager, what is your job? Yes, you wear many hats from human resources to vendor negotiations, but what is the overarching theme that drives your business forward? It is facilitating everyone else’s success. If your team members flourish, then the restaurant succeeds, and you succeed.
It is vital during the pre-shift meeting to review all specials and menu changes. This approach ensures that the team is up to speed and has all the necessary tools they need to accomplish their jobs. With the tools they need to succeed, chances are your restaurant will succeed too.
This time is your cue to teach. Think on the lines of how to handle a special menu for the day (specials, soup, featured dish), any kind of menu adjustments (something 86ed, something missing), and how to deal with it, any time adjustments or payment method changes.
One way to go about this is to think of common customer inquiries you have been receiving and train your staff to deal with it. For instance, people are switching to vegan diets – educate your staff about which menu items don’t have dairy products and what alternatives you provide.
This period can also be a chance to work on the soft-skills of your staff. Just small tips and instructions every day on improving customer service, dealing with difficult situations, and so on can help your team learn new tactics. Sometimes examples from earlier in the day or a previous shift hit home, as it allows the other staff members to relate.
Let this not be a monologue. Let the staff speak up about any complaints, doubts, misunderstanding, issues, or questions that they may have.
This question and answer portion also ensure that the team has understood what you covered in the last 7-8 minutes and can serve as meeting feedback if you play it right. Remember, your goal here is to get better after every meeting, so listen keenly to your staff’s feedback.
Winning the Pre-Shift Meeting
Don’t Forget Your Audience
Keep your target audience in mind. Your pre-shift meeting ideally will include both your front and back of the house staff along with any managers. The meeting content should be crafted for all and should be easy for them to comprehend.
Remember, to keep everyone adequately engaged, avoid any department-specific lingo or topics. This content should be understandable by all.
Further, while talking about targets and sales could make sense, talking about profitability and margins to the staff every day might not be the best use of time, as these items are a bit more complicated. Use numbers but simple metrics for everyone to process in the short meetings.
Have a Template
We already spoke about having a structure, but having a template could further define your meeting.
Additionally, you can fill in the template each day and email it to your staff or stick it on the board. This way, if someone misses or forgets a point, written confirmation is there to help. The template will also help someone in your absence to conduct the meeting with the same flow.
Your staff are humans and might not remember every little detail. For instance, if the menu changes continuously according to seasonal products, then having notes around for the staff could be an excellent way to reinforce changes and make sure that it is easy for the team to remember the differences or nuances.
Be More Specific
Short and sweet is the universal rule for success. To give an example, when you open the floor for questions for the staff, having more specific questions will help you get more out of your time.
So instead of saying, “are there any questions,” go for “were there any challenges with the new dishes this week,” “does anyone have concerns with the new policy.” Having these more narrowed down questions will help the staff be more precise and will help you get more command over the meeting.
Open and Close Well
Well begun is half done. Both the start and the end of meetings are crucial. Good beginnings allow the meeting to open on a more positive note. A good ending gives the staff the push to go and accomplish a great shift.
Start well: So instead of saying “let’s start the meeting,” go more for things like “This has been a great week, let’s give ourselves a pat,” or “this has been a challenging week, but I know that we are doing the best – let’s discuss how we can make it even better.”
Ready, Get-Set, Go!
Theoretically speaking, you just have to make sure that the team leaves the pre-shift meetings fired up and ready to take the restaurant to the next level. To have real results takes a lot of planning, even for those 10 minutes.
The good thing is the structure, and the tips we included in this article makes it one time the only hurdle for you. Once you have the set-up and the flow, this becomes an easy task and a good time investment that keeps on giving.