Watch the video version of these 5 restaurant communication tips
Communication is key in virtually every workplace, but this rings especially true in the restaurant industry. With the industry facing a 73% annual turnover rate and poor communication being the number one reason staff quit, there is a lot that effective team communication could do to improve the hospitality industry.
In order to build an effective work culture and a productive team, restaurant leaders need to communicate successfully and at scale with their teams at all times. We’re sharing tactics that will show your team that improving restaurant communication is a priority. You can use these strategies to bolster team-building communication and forego poor communication habits that make it difficult for your team to work together. When restaurant staff work well together, they are able to create a better customer experience, which is better for your bottom line.
1. Keep Restaurant Communication Channels Open
When staff can easily access to managers, they will be more likely to bring up problems so that they can be resolved before it’s too late.
A simple way to make yourself more accessible to employees is to have an open door policy. Keeping your office door open is the fastest way to get information about what’s going on at your restaurant.
Similar to how leaving a door open breaks down barriers, using a mobile scheduling and communication app lets staff get in touch with management without obstacles. If employees are intimidated to bring up sensitive issues in person, they may feel more comfortable doing so in writing through a private message to their supervisor. Your employee scheduling platform may already have this capability built-in so you don’t have to look for a separate tool.
Whether through an online tool or an open door policy, making yourself accessible to your team will make effective team communication easier.
2. Facilitate Team Building Communication
Implement communication techniques and tools to simplify team communication at your restaurant. When your team doesn’t have to think about how to communicate, they can more easily share and receive information.
For example, you can facilitate communication between your front-of-house and back-of-house teams through your restaurant’s POS. With tableside ordering for your front-of-house staff and a kitchen display system for your back-of-house team, communication between FOH and BOH can be automatic and instantaneous.
Another case for which your restaurant should have a communication framework would be when employees need to ask for time off. Having an employee time off request policy will help your staff make time off requests as efficiently as possible, so that they can be processed in a timely, undisruptive manner.
When a restaurant has communication processes in place - that are communicated well - its employees can spend less time worrying about how to get the right message to the right person, and more time doing what they were hired to do.
3. Classic Communication: Rinse and Repeat
Growing up, how many times did your mom have to tell you to clean your room before you actually heard her, and then did what you were told to do? Maybe she’d tell you to do a chore several times, but you wouldn’t remember to do it until she left you a sticky note on your door. As a restaurant manager, you may understand your mom’s struggle in a new light.
Reinforcement of communication is important because it may take a few repetitions for a message to “stick.” Furthermore, everyone learns in different ways. Some people need to hear things a few times, some people need to write things down, and others need to read things. Reinforce messages by sharing them through several media, and by standardizing communication rhythms so that everyone knows when to expect updates.
Here are a few scenarios in which you can put this tactic into practice at your restaurant:
When you need to make an announcement that is relevant to your entire team, first communicate it through an pre-shift meeting. Second, follow up by sharing the announcement through your restaurant’s digital communication tool. Reinforce the message again by posting a notice in an area where all of your staff will see it in the restaurant.
When new employees get trained during the onboarding process, they do it by shadowing and practicing with a more experienced member of the team. A new cook’s knowledge of your restaurant’s recipes is reinforced when he references the recipe book. Concepts can be further reinforced through online learning. When a new employee’s training consists of multi-sensory steps, he’ll learn new concepts more easily. Bonus: it’s been proven that mobile-friendly training engages younger staff.
While staff are more likely to truly listen to what you say in a one-on-one setting, it’s best to follow up by sending a brief written summary of what was discussed via email or your team communication tool.
Reinforcement makes communication crystal clear and makes it easy for everyone to access pertinent information.
4. Communicate Scheduling Protocols
When you know something well, it’s easy to think that it’s second nature to everyone, but having this assumption can lead to a lot of confusion and miscommunication, especially when it comes to employee scheduling.
After you’ve taken employee time off requests into consideration and have built the perfect rotating employee schedule, make sure to explain to employees how to read the schedule. This extra step will help reduce confusion and therefore missed shifts.
Scheduling flexibility reduces turnover, so have a protocol in place for switching shifts, and don’t forget to communicate it to your staff!
5. Have a Process for Change Management
Restaurants are dynamic businesses. Menus and operating hours can change often. In order to avoid widespread confusion when you add a new item to the menu or extend your holiday hours, have a framework for communicating and managing changes at your restaurant.
Whether you communicate changes at all-staff meetings or through your restaurant’s team messaging tool, make sure that your team knows where they can expect to learn about updates like these so that everyone can be on the same page from the start.
Effective Restaurant Communication Makes a Difference
The effects of poor communication in restaurants are disastrous: weak team communication leads to bad customer service and employee turnover. With even simple adjustments, improving communication in the workplace can lead to tremendous results in the hospitality industry.
When your restaurant’s management is accessible, sets frameworks for team building communication, reinforces communication through repetition, explains scheduling, and has a process for sharing changes, your team can work together towards success.
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Ana Cvetkovic is a freelance writer. She is also the CEO of BLOOM Digital Marketing, a creative marketing agency that helps the hospitality and tourism industries reach millennials online.