Pre-Shift Meetings (Shift Meetings or Line Up) are an essential component for smooth operations and restaurant customer service. As connected as we are in our daily lives, the most effective form of communication is still a face-to-face encounter. Shift meetings are a perfect example that nothing replaces interacting in person.
Shift meetings don’t need to be tedious or long; they simply need to hit the punch list for the day. These meetings can set the tone for the entire shift and are one of the best ways to ensure consistency in your operation and brand. There are three basics for all shift meetings: inspect, inform and motivate. This is not the time to discuss everything that is wrong or what you want to do; this is the time to prepare for the guests arriving in your restaurant and ensure that they have the best experience possible. Here are a few suggestions to keep meetings efficient, informative and well-attended.
- Make meetings mandatory and allow staff to punch in for the duration. The extra 15 minutes will pay for itself with an efficiently-run shift.
- Every shift meeting should include BOH and FOH staff. It’s important that the leaders from the BOH participate in the FOH shift meeting. Ensure that the chef or sous chef and the manager are in attendance at each meeting.
Generally, the manager orchestrates the shift meeting. However, be sure to involve the head server and/or shift leader if applicable at your restaurant.
Every meeting should review the basics for the shift:
Inspection. This is the perfect time to ensure everyone is ready for the shift, properly dressed and equipped to take orders (e.g. do they have pens, check pad or iPhone, etc). You should also use this time to assign and review stations across the restaurant. Encourage everyone to help check each other!
Business expectation. What is expected for that shift? What do reservations look like – are there any large parties? Is today a special holiday (don’t forget about occasions such as bosses day, assistant day, etc). Are any equipment challenges expected that will impact the shift? Are new staff members working today – if so who is their buddy to be sure they don’t “get in the weeds”? Make sure that everyone is on the same page and ready for the shift to begin.
Menu. Review the specials, sample new items, allow the chef to explain the background on the dish (this allows for great conversation at the table) and alert staff of any last-minute changes. You can also discuss anything you need to push due to food cost challenges (e.g. if you purchased too many oranges, push fresh squeezed OJ). Ask a member of the staff share their favorite menu and have the staff use them as an example at the table. This can be a great icebreaker and conversation starter.
Sales. Solicit ideas for upsell during the shift. Try running a contest and provide pairings for the upsell. Avoid overused contest ideas like “Number of Desserts”. Instead, make it specific with something such as the number of chocolate desserts or pieces of pie. Always confirm first that your restaurant supply can accommodate the contest of choice.
Safety. Do you have a safety tip for the day? Check the OSHA site for a daily tip. When in doubt, remind your staff to prevent slips by checking for water on the floor!
Customer Service. ALWAYS cover one aspect of restaurant customer service in every shift meeting. Topics can include greeting, table welcome, smile, conversation starters and thank you salutations. Always put service first, your sales depend on it! Recognize a staff member for an outstanding job or one that received a compliment (be sure to check your CMS for compliments).
Fun. Without it, why would we work? Have fun and enjoy the shift!
Pre-Shift meetings are an important factor of success, but it’s your responsibility to set the tone. So no matter what might be on your mind, set it aside and get ready to smile with your staff; your sales and brand experience depend on it.