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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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)
Finally, when you cross train your staff, your restaurant is:
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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