This is the month every owner, dining room manager, and shift supervisor anticipates as the worst for service in their restaurants as waiters once again become students and depart for other worlds. August. Hell month.
Remember April? Students from universities and colleges across the country knelt before you begging for a position on your staff. Pleading for a shift, any shift, that would fill their lonely lint lined pockets with enough cash to get them through one more semester of pre-law. Ah, the great remembrance of April.
August´s heat has a definite effect on college student staff. Suddenly, they feel the cash at hand and decide that a far off shore- either coast, Costa Rica, Mexico or France may be just the ticket. And, of course these travel plans cannot wait so you are left without the needed staff to handle the rush that you may experience before summer´s end.
Now what are you going to do? As suggested earlier, it may be time for the second string to come into the game. Start to use your younger bussers to wait on a table or two a night. Promote them to waiters. If you are in an area where there are a lot of restaurants you may be in big trouble. When students decide to leave, they all exit at one time.
One remedy is to convert to a runner system. This works really well if you happen too have a lot of staff that couldn’t handle a table on their own but can deliver the food once the orders were taken. The runners are usually bussers or less experienced wait staff. this system can solve a lot of problems on busy nights when you don’t have a full staff.
Another option- bribery. Good old fashioned Moola-Coola. Entice a few of the better wait staff to stay on after the fist wave of waiters leave. Let them know that you will give them more shifts and they will make more money for the month of August than they have all summer.
In some cases, if you are really short staff you may have to implement a bonus program to keep staff from leaving early. There are always students who really do consider their jobs as a way to get through college and wouldn´t even consider leaving before hey had to.
August is often the busiest month of summer and statistics prove that it is also boasts the largest percentage of staff turn around.
Prepare immediately for a college student exodus, if you haven´t already. Talk to your managers, develop a plan, and then, speak with your staff about who is staying and who is leaving. It is better to know early than be caught with your staff down on a busy, hot August night.