Why Restaurants Get Employee Recognition Right

Two key ingredients impacting a restaurant’s profitability are great food and great service. Let’s talk about factors affecting the service you receive when visiting a restaurant for the first time. The company culture within the restaurant greatly impacts the level of service you receive. If the employees in the kitchen are battling with the wait staff, you’ll know it. They’ll show it on their face, and many times… they’ll verbalize it, purely out of frustration.

So how do we create and sustain a world-class, friendly culture within your restaurant? By recognizing and celebrating outstanding service from your finest team members.

Start with the basics

Deciding how to create and run an effective recognition platform requires some planning and strategy.

There are, in most cases, two departments: Front of the House & Back of the House. Each has its own set of duties so there is no way to equally or fairly judge employees from each department against the other.

Let’s start with the Front of the House.

Some examples of their top profit drivers include appetizer, dessert, and drink sales. By using these metrics, as part of your decision making for recognition, your staff knows what’s expected of them, and there is little debate over who the clear winners should be. You’ll also see soaring profitability as servers start to push these items on a more regular basis in order to stay ahead of other co-workers.

In the Back of the House you’ll want to build your criteria around the behaviors you want to continue or improve.

Common metrics include punctuality, attendance, ticket times, food cost, uniform inspection, and work station cleanliness. All of these can be objectively measured as well to prevent any debate of who is being chosen as the top performer. For more on how recognition works in the restaurant industry, check out this video…

Want to talk to someone about what a program would look like in your business? Click HERE.

Why getting it right is SO important

When employee recognition is done right you wind up with an atmosphere that inspires your employees, skyrockets results and turns guests into raving fans.

Appreciating your employees for their hard work leads them to do more of it, and that leads to greater success for your restaurant. If both sides of the team are working at high levels of performance, your Front of the House team will provide stellar guest experiences as the Back of the House team create culinary masterpieces.

High-quality guest experiences and delicious meals produce happy guests. Happy guests dine with you more often and spend more money each time they do. Those increases lead to higher revenues and profits.

It’s really a simple equation when you sit down and think about it.

How it works in the real world

Panera Bread

For a great example of the power of recognition presentations, check out this testimonial from Christian at Panera Bread in Suffolk, VA

Chart House

“Your people are everything, and you have to make recognition a point,” says Hans Nielsen, General Manager of the Chart House Restaurant in Weehawken, NJ. “You want to recognize people who are going above and beyond every month. Whether it be your catering, your a la carte… It just goes a long way.”

“We get guest feedback, through Yelp and our own ‘Customer Voice’ via the Landry’s Select Club frequent dining program. Every guest that comes in gives a quick review on their dining experience.”

Hans takes that feedback and uses it as an opportunity to recognize every member of the team that had a part in that experience, “not only to the front of the house team, like the waiters and bartenders, but to the back of the house team, the kitchen people, as well.”

According to Hans, appreciation and recognition are integral parts of a successful restaurant.

“It’s all about selecting people, appreciating them, and then keeping them. If you select right (you don’t ‘hire,’ you select), you appreciate your people, they feel that recognition, and you keep them. You build a pretty strong team.”

It’s all about creating a culture that drives each team member to perform at their highest level and rewards them for that behavior.

Newks Eatery

Dean Hancock is General Manager for Newks in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, and his restaurant is a management training location.

“Our culture strives to ‘Work well together to make each other look good.’ By recognizing who these key players are that keep winning these awards, they’re helping out and continuing to excel and it brings people up. So we’re seeing better teamwork.”

And when talking about other changes he noticed in his restaurant, Dean said, “I’m also seeing a change in my managers’ thinking. The managers are now having to constantly recognize those people that are doing well, so it’s brought a lot of cohesiveness between the management team and the staff.”

Dean also discovered that it was an effective way to spot the employees who were not cut out for his team.

When an employee recognition program runs correctly, top performers shine and separate themselves.

The poor performers, those who tend to be “clueless,” also start to stand out. In some cases, you can address any issues and coach those employees up to standards.

But if you can’t, you’ll easily identify them and help them upgrade to guest.

Logan’s Roadhouse

For another great example of how a solid employee recognition program can help you keep more of your top employees, check out Ben’s experience at Logan’s Roadhouse in Fort Oglethorpe, GA