It’s worth investing in your relationship with your staff. And not only because it takes a long time to get a server trained in your specific business. When your servers feel respected, they’ll make your customers feel better. Plus, they’re likely to stick around longer. Once you nail down the essentials like tip distribution and how to calculate tips, you can focus on creating a great experience for your team.
So, here are some of the most difficult challenges that your servers are likely to face. Head off these challenges and you’ll improve the chances that you can retain your great servers.
Inconsistent Enforcement Around Safety
This applies to front-of-house and back-of-house staff. If there are young children running around screaming, it presents a danger to servers who are carrying heavy trays with hot food. If management doesn’t do anything to manage these situations, servers are likely to feel resentful. Not only does this endanger children but it makes the server’s job more difficult.
When back-of-house safety protocols aren’t followed, it’s a slippery slope. All it takes is one person being lax with their cleaning responsibilities and then you’ll get the first review about a hair in someone’s soup. There’s no recovering from that. But from a server perspective, safety protocols help people feel safe at work. Servers don’t get a lot of respect due to the nature of their profession. But nobody likes to work in a messy, unsafe environment. Safety procedures are important to make servers feel like they work in a respectable environment that’s looking out for their best interest. If you receive complaints from servers about safety, make sure you take them seriously. Conduct an audit of cleaning protocols, purchase additional equipment, and check in with offending parties.
Poor safety protocols lead lots of servers to quit simply because they feel they can’t complete their job safely.
You may not think there’s anything you can do, as an owner, to help servers with the physical toll that serving takes on their bodies. Many servers complain of sore feet and suffer from bad backs. 40 hours is a lot of time to spend on your feet, after all.
But there’s actually a lot that restaurant owners can do to prevent physical exhaustion in their serving staff. Implement frequent breaks and encourage your staff to get off their feet. Provide a comfy couch or chairs in the break room. Don’t make servers go to the bathroom to get a bit of peace and quiet.
If you really want to gain points with your servers, invest in high-quality footwear for your staff. But beyond good equipment, make sure that you’re allotting a proper ratio of servers to customers. When servers have to rush around, they damage their bodies more. Plus, they’re more likely to make mistakes. Take steps to prevent physical exhaustion, and your servers and customers will notice.
Customers that Harass (No Protection from Management)
This is a major problem in the restaurant industry, and we’ve all heard stories about customers that harass servers. Sometimes it’s important to protect your frontline staff from customers that don’t know when to stop. There’s no excuse for allowing customers to touch, berate, or otherwise intimidate or humiliate your employees.
Servers are one big community, and they often know one another. If word gets out that you didn’t protect a server from a handsy customer, you’ll find it difficult to replace them when they quit. You don’t have to worry about the effect of this on business. Most customers will be all too happy to give their business to a restaurant that advocates for its servers to be treated like human beings. It’s called the golden rule because it applies to everyone!
Outdated Technology and Difficult Bill-Splitting Policies
Finally, there’s nothing more annoying to a server than outdated technology or difficult bill-splitting policies. When an anxious customer needs their bill but the WiFi doesn’t reach, it makes your server look bad. It’s important to give your servers the best tools you can afford. They are the ones making the first and last impression on your customers, after all.
Start small if necessary, and implement better Internet connections and iPads. Set up a more intuitive dashboard or POS system.
Tipping is also a major factor for servers. Whether your team practices tip sharing or tip pooling, there is a technology that can help you. Tip pooling software is a great way to split tips evenly across a team. Tip sharing software can help direct those tips to back-of-house staff. Utilize Tiphaus to handle tip allocation and automatic tip sharing, and your servers will thank you. It’s not only the customer’s time you need to worry about. By making it faster for your servers to figure out how to fairly distribute tips, they’ll have more time to take care of the customers. Make the restaurant tip process automatic for transparent and equitable tip distribution. If you can shave just a few minutes off a customer’s time (by helping your servers work more efficiently with tip distribution software), it can make a big difference.
Take steps today to remedy some of these classic challenges that your servers face. Of course, owners can’t be held responsible for every terrible customer or missed spot on the bench. But by facing each issue head-on, restaurant owners can increase the chances that their best servers don’t quit. This helps your business put its best foot forward.