I received a comment yesterday on one of the postings about hiring problems. The post was too long to re-post here, it is in the archives, but basically it touched on so many of the points that conflict owners and employees. Here’s the first sentence of the post. It will give you a basic idea of the employee’s rant.
“Interesting topic. It would be too simple of an answer to say that if food service employers provided their workers with the same living wage, basic benefits and the qualities of life work schedules provided by so many other industries, this may not be an issue at all – but that is too simple.”
We have heard this, I am sure, thousands of times from hundreds of employees. And, it is a very touchy subject. Frequently, however, it comes from a disgruntled staff member who is unhappy for one reason or another. This may stem from personal problems at home, at another job, or, they just might hate the profession. Nothing is more aggravating, however, to an owner, than to have hired someone completely informing them of their responsibilities, and then hearing only weeks later, that the job sucks.
But, this is a continual problem with some owners and employees.
Making sure your wait staff knows their job description, and what is expected of them, right from the beginning of their employment, is a major function of management that will make life together easier.
I always stressed that my wait staff were sales people. Basically, they worked on commission. Of course they did a get a small hourly wage every week, but their commission- the tips that they made- was really where their income came from. The more they sold, and the better their attitude when they were in the process of the sale, the more they made. And, for many, they accepted that position and eventually honed their craft and skills and became sales people in other professions because of it.
If more owners would highlight the fact that the dining room is staffed with sales people who not only sell the goods, but must make sure they are delivered in a professional manner, waiters and waitresses would have a better idea of their jobs and possibly a better understanding of what they do.
The rub occurs when a really strong wait person is promoted to a management position. Being a firm believer of promoting from within the ranks of an organization rather than hiring outside has helped and hurt many an operation. Often, management positions do not pay nearly as well as the tips a great wait person makes.
In some instances, promoting someone from within because they deserve it only creates problems. Especially if the person promoted has the tenure, but not the talent. On top of this, they may not have the drive to take over a position with more responsibility.
While in a meeting of my restaurant’s management staff some years ago I express a slight displeasure with the group of 15 chefs, managers, and floor supervisors. I questioned why I didn’t see the spirit from some in the group to take over my job.
I come from the school that you are constantly training to fill your bosses position because he/she may someday get promoted or fired.
When I asked the question why nobody wanted my job- I was the owner and would have gladly handed that responsibility on to anyone who showed the least inkling of desire- the answer I got was enlightening.
From the far end of the captain’s table, centered in the middle of my mammoth dining room, my young, blazer and tie clad manager simply said, ” Why would we want your job. You come in every morning at seven o’clock and clean the bathrooms.”
I never brought the subject up again. But, I knew when I began my restaurant career what the parameters of the job were. Nobody changed the rules of the game. And, throughout that career I never once brought up the quality of life factor, of course it could have been better-but it also could have been worse.
As for the wages, I was not only a restaurant owner, but a sales force manager. I was in charge of manufacturing the product, and delivering it.
If I would have had a fondness for brushes, rather than food, who knows where I would be today. I may have had a fuller career.
So although the poster brings up some very good points, the public decides how much a wait person makes and that is based on the service and the attitude and the professionalism they bring to the table.
By the way, that blazer and tie clad manager isn’t as young as he once was, and this morning, at seven o’clock, I am sure he was cleaning the bathroom – of the restaurant he bought.