Composure, a word seldom heard in the same sentence as ‘restaurant’, is a quality that shines through in many food service concepts today.
As the industry continues to suffer from the economic downturn, the disappearance of disposable income and the changing dining habits of neighbors and once regular customers, restaurant managers search for cost cutting measures to keep the doors open.
CEO’s of major chains, owners of small concept groups and single unit operators are trimming staff in order to keep payroll costs in line. It’s noticeable in every restaurant in the country. And although the formula should work, the problem arises when a fast flow of customers arrive at one time, slamming the staff and throwing the entire operation into a frenzy.
It’s noticeable everywhere. The lines are longer now at McDonald’s, Taco Bell and In and Out Burgers. Bakeries have less counter attendants. Grocery stores, in many parts of the country have cut back on checkers and where the cost cutting measure is most noticeable is Starbucks.
The chain has made some very obvious cost cutting measures over the past nine months. Staff appears to be down in many of their stores. The plus side of this is the lines, waiting for drinks are longer, giving the impression that Starbucks has not suffered customer loss during the past months. The bad news is that the lines are long and waiting for a drink can be annoying to those who do not stand in line and watch the Starbucks’ from an operational view point.
Last Sunday, and again on Monday, the Sonoma Starbucks was virtually slammed and short staffed. On Sunday, the demons of Daylight Savings did its thing. One Barista down. On Monday, something else happened and the cups ready o be filled with Frappuwhatevers, and Cappagrandes, were lined up it seemed from
I told Kranston, after watching frustration mount with some impatient customers with no where to go, I probably would have taken my green apron off and walked out of the store once the cup line hit 22. However, the staff wasn’t fazed by what stood in front of them.
On Monday, a completely different staff remained as cool as Sunday’s under a similar flood of Frappuccinoists. Composure was in the air on both days. Considering Starbucks’ Baristas produce a drink – many at the top of the complex recipe list- every 10 – 15 seconds, their ability to stay calm under pressure is an incredible quality for any restaurant professional.
We have all experienced it. The crying waitress or the waiter who completely falls apart because three tables are all asking for water and they have entrees to deliver.
“I’m in the weeds. Can I have some hands? I need help, now,” is the usually scream coming from the plate rail.
Or, how about, “Pick this F——-food up now, G—D—-, before I start kicking some…” We’ve experienced it. And, somehow we have gotten through it. However, watching the team at Starbucks earlier this week walk through the weeds without the need for screaming, cracking, flinging, yelling, or crying enlightened me.
Composure training. I don’t know if
Cutbacks are a necessity in any business during slower seasons. It is completely understandable to schedule less staff- many of us should have been doing it for the past years. However, we need to remember to explain the importance professionalism and composure plays in the grand picture. It not only contributes to the rhythm of the entire team, it also offers the customer a feeling everything is under control. And when the customer has that perception, they will gladly return, no matter how long the wait was.