Cross Training for Staffing Balance

Cross Training for Staffing Balance

Redundancy in your restaurant staff is good for business.

What would happen to your restaurant if Friday afternoon rolled around and four members of your six-member wait staff called in sick, and your head chef quit?

Would you be inclined to throw in the towel and close your doors for the evening?

Many restaurant owners are hard pressed to manage a busy weekend evening with unexpected problems.

While you may be shaking your head, and saying to yourself, “This can’t happen to me,” we bet there are quite a few of you out there who can identify.

It may sound like a catastrophe, but it doesn’t have to be. You can avoid it by cross training for staffing balance.

In this article, we look at cross training so one messy shift doesn’t have to cause you massive problems.

Consider what would happen if you cross trained your front of house and back of house staff? What if your team was just as comfortable in the kitchen as with the customers? 

You Have a Contingency

Let’s imagine it’s a busy lunch hour, and your kitchen falls behind.

You have more orders than you can fill, and you have customers lined up waiting to order.

Because your tables are covered, and you can’t seat any more, your cross trained wait staff can jump to the kitchen to help out and relieve the bottleneck.

You might even have a few extra hands as greeters who can fill in as wait staff.

Your once insurmountable bottleneck is quickly relieved. 

You Have Adaptable Staff

If you cross train your staff, you are well on your way to creating an adaptable, team-oriented staff. (tweet this)

Because they are equipped to handle multiple jobs at your restaurant, they are quite able to handle anything you ask them to do.

You’ve empowered them to be flexible and work together as a team to get the work done.

Your Staff Appreciates Their Co-Workers

You’ve probably heard from your kitchen staff that the wait staff has it easy and vice versa.

Yet, by cross training your staff, your team begins to understand that each area has its pros and cons and that they are both indeed tough but fulfilling jobs.

You find that both front and back of house begin to appreciate one another more and to understand both are necessary to get your diners fed in a timely manner.

How to Utilize Cross Training

Another way you can use cross training for staff balance lies in how you schedule your shifts.

For example, you have a respected employee who is adept at customer service and skilled in the kitchen.

You might schedule this worker in a swing shift. Why? You might find you need this team member to work in the kitchen in the afternoon to give your chef a break, but you appreciate their expertise in the front of the house during the evening rush.

It might also be beneficial to have a hostess who can also wait tables and a chef who knows how to order your week’s supplies.

There are many ways you can actively use each team member’s skills on an ongoing basis, so they stay up-to-date on their cross trained duties.

Staffing Balance

Creating a culture of team work.

Tips for Cross Training Success

Create a culture at your restaurant of shared success. Let everyone know that while they have their main duties, you expect them to take on one or two cross trained duties, so they can step in when needed or on an ongoing basis.

Here are a few tips:

  • Let your employees know that you value team work. It’s important to you that your staff supports one another.
  • Make sure each employee has at least one person who can step into their role. This should be a mandatory expectation. But, you’ll have to be responsible for following through and providing the time and pay for your staff to cross train effectively.
  • Do run throughs. This is the only way you’ll know if your employees are cross trained well enough to take on the job.
  • Choose the right people to do the cross training. This might be the natural leaders in your restaurant, but you also want them to be able to teach with patience and answer questions without being condescending. They should be well-respected employees with good listening skills and a thorough knowledge of the processes at your restaurant.
  • Have an open-door policy. Let your employees know that you welcome and encourage their feedback. This lets them know you are committed to their success because it contributes to the success of your restaurant.

Cross training leaves you with a well-prepared team that’s willing to step into another team member’s shoes and be happy to do it. 

Redundancy is Good

Why? It means when your manager calls in sick, you have someone else who can close for the evening. It means when your head waiter is on vacation, you have someone who can step in and take over.

The restaurant business is a team sport, and while everyone has their position and is trained to perform it, they know they are part of an overall team. And, because you cross trained them, they are equally qualified to fit into someone else’s jersey.

When you have redundancy, you are prepared for emergencies and can more ably run your restaurant. (tweet this)

To Conclude

Finally, when you cross train your staff, your restaurant is:

  • Durable – you can withstand sickness, vacations and unexpected issues.
  • Agile – by duplicating your employee’s skill-sets, you have a chance to uncover hidden talent and find just the right fit for your staff.
  • Flexible – you can recover from problems and handle transitions. Your customer service is seamless because you are prepared for any eventuality.
  • Efficient – cross training forces you to fine tune your processes because it’s the only way your staff can learn about all the positions.
  • Team-oriented – cross training helps your employees build strong relationships that encourage a team atmosphere. They’ll work more efficiently, and your profits will grow.

Whether you have five employees or 25, things happen. Create redundancy by cross training for staffing balance, and you will be prepared for sickness, vacation, unplanned problems and staff vacancies.

Ultimately, your restaurant will shine, and your bottom line looks great.

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Image: Joshua Rodriguez and Lefteris kallergis on Unsplash

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