Your best server has just unexpectedly quit and you have no idea why. The Sous Chef says he can’t take the pressure any more, or your GM is leaving to open her own place; all in a day’s work – well maybe not; or at least it does not have to be that way. Most likely it was nothing particular you, or one of your managers did; but an accumulation of one or more occurrences.

If an employee leaves fairly soon after they were employed the answers may be simple:


    • The venue was not what they expected. This may be your customer mix or how busy you are on certain days of the week. This is more a personality issue and almost impossible to control.


    • The job was not what they expected. This may happen when you hire a server without previous experience in their job or your type of service. A server coming from a full service restaurant will be surprised by the climate in your busy nightclub. Again, not something easily rectified unless the employee is able to adapt.


  • The employee felt they received too little feedback or training. An employee who does not understand what you expect from them, or how you perceive their performance, will not be a happy one. Employees need your guidance and reaction to how they are doing in their jobs. Obviously, this is entirely your obligation, if you are not educating your people and giving them your feedback they will never be content. All people need to know they can do their jobs properly and that you appreciate their worth to your venue. Your employees need to feel their value to your operation and that you realize, and appreciate it.


Next, employees must have their basic necessities supplied by working for you. You must be paying a fair, in my opinion above average, salary. How you structure this is your call; but an employee worrying about paying their rent next week won’t be giving their best effort. Trotter’s Restaurant in Chicago, recently closed by its founder so he can venture into other things, used, what I consider, the best formula. Everyone was paid a salary, the tips were put into a communal fund and each person got an equal check each week. All the employees knew what they would make that week and that gave them a comfort zone and less worry. The common retort to this type of method is some employees would then slack-off knowing they didn’t have to please the guests with great service because it would not affect their income. This thinking is foolish, as the other employees would be pushing each employee to perform realizing the more happy customers, the larger the tips and therefore the pool would get bigger and salaries would go up. Also, people are smart enough to comprehend that a well-treated guest translates into a constantly busy venue and therefore more money for all. Trotter also saw that all employees receive medical insurance, which alone may become a valid reason for good employees to remain employed. This formula helped make Trotters one of the top five restaurants in the world over the past ten years; while also making Charlie Trotter a wealthy man.

A side consequence of a busy venue is some employees Rhode Island┬ámay be bothered by the constant pressure to perform. Not all people can handle the stress of a successful restaurant or nightclub. Even though we all realize your place may only be crazy-busy four or five hours on prime nights, that pressure may be too much for certain people to handle while others thrive. Again, not much you can do; but realistically if an employee is overstressed when extremely busy you probably don’t want them on the staff, as that is when the mistakes will be made and money lost.

Finally, the item named most often by post-employment interviews by departing employees. If an employee loses confidence, or trust, in their supervisors it will be hard to keep them on staff. Recent studies less than 40% of employees trust their supervisors. I’m not talking about the normal talk that goes around because the supervisor makes more for doing less. Trust and respect displaces such loose talk. Bosses who regularly seek employee suggestions, and act on the good ones, find their respect factor rising. We must realize no one knows more about our operations then people performing them. Giving each employee responsibility for your guests’ satisfaction will inspire the employee to give their best efforts. The old phrase “that’s how we always did it”, is not only stupid but expensive to your bottom line.


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