Alpino was a beautiful, Italian restaurant inside a five-star, luxury hotel in the Swiss alps, and it was underperforming when I got there.
The upper management was not aware of the real problems and wasn’t willing to take action as long as the restaurant wasn’t losing money. (restaurant mistakes: #1 – don’t wait till you start losing money to make changes)
At the same time, the waiters were quitting, and finding new staff was getting harder and harder. (restaurant mistakes: #2 – no exit interviews – this is the best way to uncover the problems in the company)
It took me a few days to realize what was the problem and that action was needed, or I too was going to leave in a hurry: Bad management and terrible leadership!
The restaurant manager was a very charismatic and skillful communicator, but also a person with a total lack of discipline and f&b knowledge! On top of that, he abused drugs and alcohol on and off the job, which made his behavior erratic and even aggressive at times.
Unfortunately, my thirty years of experience tells me that this is not a single case in our industry! It is very common! (restaurant mistakes: #3 – detrimental behavior should never be tolerated, it breaks the team)
To protect the news of his destructive behavior from reaching the upper management, this guy had come up with a very successful strategy: corrupt everyone around him!
After every shift, he will go around the hotel, steal a few bottles of wine from other departments and start a party inside the restaurant with the kitchen staff and the waiters.
If you join the party, the chances are you won’t complain to the F&B director about anything.
Well, I wasn’t about to go with the flow, nor was the other head waiter. We had to form a pack and stand up for what was right!
It took many months but the manager was fired and the F&B director offered me the job. (restaurant mistakes: #4 – take swift and timely action, do not postpone)
Here is what changed immediately: there were no more screaming fights, there were no more parties, and there was no more favoritism.
– We changed the reservation system and we served more guests with less stress.
– I delegated more responsibilities to our trainee and taught her how to do the job. Within two weeks, the young girl was running her own station.
– Pre-shift meetings were used for learning wines and food, following the steps of service, and how to handle complaints from guests on the spot.
– The waiters were allowed to communicate freely with the patrons and everyone was motivated to sell and up-sell!
In the following months, we increased the revenue by 28% and profit by almost 50%. The guest complaints rate went all the way down to zero, but the biggest change was the working environment and the staff’s attitude.
Not only people had stopped quitting but we had waiters from other departments requesting to be moved to Alpino. The restaurant slowly turned into the busiest place in the hotel and soon we were sold out every night! The F&B director agreed to let us use a station from the main restaurant as an Alpino station and soon, the ownership decided to move us to the main restaurant with four times more seats and a much bigger kitchen.
From a struggling restaurant, we created a money-making machine, where people had fun working.
Stories like this one are common in our industry! The ownership and upper management can’t relinquish their controlling duties! There is always room for improvement, especially in the way we treat our staff! (restaurant mistakes: #5 – put employees first – profit and ratings will follow)
We are living in a new reality, where job opportunities are plenty and there is a huge shortage of quality employees!
A safe and equal opportunity environment is even more important than money. Enough free time for family and friends is more important than building a career.
If you have a job opening, stop wasting time and money, use our free service WaitersNetwork.com and find your perfect fit.
Visit The Waiter’s Academy for professional F&B training courses! The more knowledge and better skills your staff has, the better results they will produce!
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