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Working with people who simply don't care

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by cuffthis, Jun 14, 2007.

  1. mano

    mano Senior member

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    The restaurant biz is very tough and tends to attract people who are not very responsible. There's plenty of turnover as people tend to be nomadic and a lot of "partying" even for people in their 40's.

    I knew of a restaurant owner who made a point of finding the most professional servers and paying them a premium so they'd stay with him. He wasn't above pinching a top server from another restaurant, especially if he knew they weren't happy there. It takes some places a few years to find a stable staff.


    Good luck, Tom!
     
  2. vaclava krishna

    vaclava krishna Senior member

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    Maybe they don't, take your links, seriously.
     
  3. persid

    persid Well-Known Member

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    "People who simply don't care" are not working with you. People who don't care are working for you. It makes all the difference. If they cared, nothing would change. Their pay and their future prospects would stay the same. Why should they care? It's your business, not theirs. If you want to see them caring about their work, check out how they interact with customers, in which case a little care can mean a big tip.

    Super K...it's a coffee shop staffed by college kids. Perhaps you should reconsider your expectations from people who get $8/hour to serve coffee at 5:30am. It's not the type of job that their lives revolve around.
     
  4. cuffthis

    cuffthis Senior member

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    "People who simply don't care" are not working with you. People who don't care are working for you. It makes all the difference. If they cared, nothing would change. Their pay and their future prospects would stay the same. Why should they care? It's your business, not theirs. If you want to see them caring about their work, check out how they interact with customers, in which case a little care can mean a big tip.

    I agree with this, somewhat. The servers, for the most part, ALWAYS get along with customers becaue 1) it directly affects their tip and 2) we have a comment card and we (my wife and I, as owners) talk to EVERY table. If you get a "fair" or "poor" comment either on the comment card or from our direct conversations with customers, we're going to have a conversation with the server, immediately.

    It does happen that server and customers don't get along. I would say it's about 1-2%. We have instructed our servers to let us know immediately if there is a problem. We have no problem changing the line up and having a pinch hitter.

    We do have a BIG problem when you ask a server to help another table or to attend a wine tasting or staff function (paid for by us) and you get silence or heavy reluctance. IMHO, that's absolute selfishness and not tolerable.

    To only care about your self is to essentially not care, meaning you do not care about your peers, co-workers or employer. And that is the essence of my original post.
     
  5. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    But this is just self-interest. (albeit not particularly enlightened). Why should an employee care about the welfare of "the team", unless there is some incentive involved. Maybe you need to implement some sort of incentive program.

    I agree with this, somewhat. The servers, for the most part, ALWAYS get along with customers becaue 1) it directly affects their tip and 2) we have a comment card and we (my wife and I, as owners) talk to EVERY table. If you get a "fair" or "poor" comment either on the comment card or from our direct conversations with customers, we're going to have a conversation with the server, immediately.

    It does happen that server and customers don't get along. I would say it's about 1-2%. We have instructed our servers to let us know immediately if there is a problem. We have no problem changing the line up and having a pinch hitter.

    We do have a BIG problem when you ask a server to help another table or to attend a wine tasting or staff function (paid for by us) and you get silence or heavy reluctance. IMHO, that's absolute selfishness and not tolerable.

    To only care about your self is to essentially not care, meaning you do not care about your peers, co-workers or employer. And that is the essence of my original post.
     
  6. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    But this is just self-interest. (albeit not particularly enlightened). Why should an employee care about the welfare of "the team", unless there is some incentive involved. Maybe you need to implement some sort of incentive program.

    Unfortunately, financial incentives don't work. Your original post regarding team-building was a bulls-eye. The only thing that works, IMO, is to build a team that cares about each other. Of course, the devil is in the details and I don't have any magic solutions regarding how to go about it.
     
  7. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    I don't know how applicable this is, but anything that you can do to help the team bond will be a worth while investment. do you have nice team meals? I understand that that is somewhat common in the food industry - having special meals before or after the shift where everyone sits down together. another thing may be to encourage people to recruit their existing friends - offer a $500 bonus for anyone who brings you a new recruit that stays with you for 60 days. that way, both have an incentive for the new guy to stay, and it encourages people to be friends at work.

    good luck
     
  8. cuffthis

    cuffthis Senior member

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    But this is just self-interest. (albeit not particularly enlightened). Why should an employee care about the welfare of "the team", unless there is some incentive involved. Maybe you need to implement some sort of incentive program.

    We already do. The servers with the highest tips as a % of sales get the most # of tables/covers. That's part of the reward. In addition, we have incentives that servers can get marked discounts on their favorite wines for meeting certain goals.

    All we ask is that you participate in the part of the business that may not directly benefit you, such as helping to train other staff and participating in offsite, employer sponsored events, and to follow the policies and procedures clearly spelled our in our employee manual.

    I simply call that teamwork. You got a problem wit dat?
     
  9. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    We already do. The servers with the highest tips as a % of sales get the most # of tables/covers. That's part of the reward. In addition, we have incentives that servers can get marked discounts on their favorite wines for meeting certain goals.

    All we ask is that you participate in the part of the business that may not directly benefit you, such as helping to train other staff and participating in offsite, employer sponsored events, and to follow the policies and procedures clearly spelled our in our employee manual.

    I simply call that teamwork. You got a problem wit dat?


    Tom,

    I think that that is perfectly reasonable to ask - but it seems that your people don't. do you make that clear that it is part of the price they pay for the high tips, when they are recruited?
     
  10. jett

    jett Senior member

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    Is there a clear break down between the employees who don't care and those who do? I.e. are the ones who don't care a clique, are they all Gen Yers, etc. If they are a group somehow, is one of them clearly the leader? Also, is there one of them who is the worst?
     
  11. Milhouse

    Milhouse Senior member

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    We already do. The servers with the highest tips as a % of sales get the most # of tables/covers. That's part of the reward. In addition, we have incentives that servers can get marked discounts on their favorite wines for meeting certain goals.

    I'm guessing for most people, waiting tables is much like a job which pays commission. I've found that often times, people working on commission will only focus on that which immediately and directly benefits them. So, the reward for working hard at pleasing customers is immediate, and thus, they likely care a lot about that aspect.

    All we ask is that you participate in the part of the business that may not directly benefit you, such as helping to train other staff and participating in offsite, employer sponsored events, and to follow the policies and procedures clearly spelled our in our employee manual.

    Helping to train other staff and participating in other events probably doesn't seem to provide such immediate and direct benefits, and thus is worthless to most of the staff. If your staff are really earning 200+ for 5 hours of work, then they are not going to be motivated to do anything else unless it too comes with 40 bucks an hour of pay.
     
  12. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    This may not be directly relevant, but in classes I teach, I encourage students to be on time by intentionally making announcements and giving quizzes at the start of my 8:30am class. If a student is late, too bad. They can get homework assignments, administrative details, etc. from a friend (if they have a generous friend), but the quiz opportunity is gone. Can you do something analogous?
     
  13. Faded501s

    Faded501s Senior member

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    Someone mentioned that "money does not motivate" and this is far from the truth. The best motivation is an "atta boy pat on the back" but money is definitely a motivator. Maybe I missed something in this thread but it seems like the main problem is getting workers to show up on time?

    If this is the case, I would reduce the pay by $50 and add a $50 bonus for all workers who show up on time and complete their shift. The caveat is that once a worker is late they might just blow off the whole shift.
     
  14. cuffthis

    cuffthis Senior member

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    =I would reduce the pay by $50 and add a $50 bonus for all workers who show up on time and complete their shift. The caveat is that once a worker is late they might just blow off the whole shift.

    The Dept of Labor would come after me (as well as the servers) if I started withholding tips for being late.

    I do offer incentives for the most # covers, highest $/cover, etc. This is usually a gift certificate to another place or a bottle of wine from my personal cellar.

    But again, this is just the staff acting for themselves, not the house.
     
  15. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    But again, this is just the staff acting for themselves, not the house.


    there is an old salesmans saying "the commision rate on this is exactly zero" - it basically means "whny should I do this, it puts no money in my pocket". the anser to that is "your being allowed to make commisions/tips is dependant on your first fufilling team obligations, if you don't fufull your obligations to the team first, you can't earn anything".

    but that needs to be raised early and often.
     
  16. mano

    mano Senior member

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    Tom, interesting thread. At least two things appear to be at play here.

    One is that you are trying to utilize a corporate model at a single privately owned restaurant. When the young, food-ignorant kids apply for jobs and are trained at TGI Fridays, they know from the get-go that if they're going to work there, they're expected to attend certain meetings, etc. for no pay.

    Similarly the more food-savvy staff at Steven Starr restaurants know that if they want to make bigger bucks, they have to fit the corporate profile and attend meetings etc. for free. At either TGI's or Barclay Prime, if they don't follow the corporate rules, they're out of a job and will be replaced by someone else.

    My guess is that you're one of the few small restaurateurs who has an employee manual and a training program. Some servers avoid corporate places in favor of restaurants where there's limited responsibility and accountability and you may be attracting a few of those types.

    But the bigger issue is that because your place requires such specialized knowledge of wines, you need the servers more than they need you. In the better restaurants servers may have a good working knowledge of food and wine, but your place features off-the-beaten-track wines that require a month of training just to get up to speed. Your staff must have more than just a little bit of sommelier ability, which makes them a rarer commodity in the restaurant biz.


    EDIT: I just re-read one of your earlier posts that some of your servers are college students. Tom, it seems that the adolescent lack of responsibility extends well into people's 20's and often into their 30's. You're expecting people with grown up bodies to act like grown-ups. Quit doing that, it'll only give you a headache.
     
  17. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Senior member Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    Perhaps you can try to hire wine hobbyists from internet wine forums.
     
  18. cuffthis

    cuffthis Senior member

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    These are all excellent answers and I'll try and adopt what I can.

    I like to hang around with people who know more than I do and are even more passionate than myself. That's one of the things that draws me to SF.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that finding servers who are passionate about what they do are rare, and I need to do EVERYTHING I can to keep them. Financial rewards are not often enough to motivate people.
     
  19. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    ....I'm coming to the conclusion that finding servers who are passionate about what they do are rare, and I need to do EVERYTHING I can to keep them. Financial rewards are not often enough to motivate people.
    Finding *anyone* who's passionate about what they do for a living is rare. Perhaps you should hire or promote the best of your staff to a sommelier and require less of your wait staff. This will at least make you less dependent on the staff, make them easier to train, and also make them easier to replace. It's surely easier to find one person who's passionate about wines than an entire wait staff. Edit: Best of luck with the business. I'll make a point of stopping by if (when) I'm in the area.
     
  20. rdawson808

    rdawson808 Senior member

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    This may not be directly relevant, but in classes I teach, I encourage students to be on time by intentionally making announcements and giving quizzes at the start of my 8:30am class. If a student is late, too bad. They can get homework assignments, administrative details, etc. from a friend (if they have a generous friend), but the quiz opportunity is gone. Can you do something analogous?

    I was even more draconian. I always had that sort of quiz policy but I got so fed up with students showing up late that I just instituted a simple policy regarding being tardy or absent. If you miss or are late for X classes over the semester you fail. Simple as that. And I failed three people over two semesters for it. Virtually no one else came close.

    But you are in a different situation Tom. You do have a HUGE investment in their training. It might be quite costly to fire people too often.

    But I have to agree with LAGuy (I think it was) who pointed out that since the pay really comes from being good to customers, that's where they will be. The contract is set up to do that--it's why you pay them that way. You may be forced to compensate them for their time at off-site events, etc. I.e. you pay $X/hour for prep and clean up and the hours when customers are in you pay them a lower hourly rate and they get tips on top.

    Have you considered poaching good waitstaff from other restaurants in town? That may be bad form, I don't know.

    Oh, quick edit now that I just saw your last post: it's not all about financial reward, no. One of the best things about this job that I have now is that my bosses compliment and thank me for my work. At my last job it was pulling teeth to get a compliment from anyone.



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