Part two of our series in which Fred Sirieix, general manager at Galvin at Windows and star of TV's Michel Roux's Service reveals the art of delivering consistently outstanding service. This time, Fred talks about the importance of finding staff with the right attitude and describes his techniques for training, motivating and retaining them
Good service starts and ends with your staff. But your team must fit your business like a glove if they are to deliver the service your guests expect. Recruiting, retaining and motivating the right kind of employees is, therefore, crucial to business success.
For a small number of restaurants, reputation is all that's needed to recruit staff. However, for most businesses, advertising is a necessity. A well-written ad will grab jobseekers' attention and ensure the right candidate contacts you for an interview. When writing an ad, always look at what others have done; keep it simple and straight to the point; and do not forget to include salary and package as well as the positions you are looking to fill.
Selecting and recruiting the right team
Beyond a candidate's CV, technical knowledge and experience lies a fundamental aspect of the recruitment process: identifying the candidate's personal vision, value system, confidence and attitude. It's easy to teach skills, but hard to teach attitude. When interviewing, always ask candidates about their aspirations. Also, tell them about the business and how it is run. It is important to inspire and motivate people to join your team, but equally important to be honest.
Welcoming new staff and induction
The very first thing to do with new recruits is to welcome them to the team, and a manager should always be present to meet them on their first day. Introduce the new recruit to the whole team and their buddy - the colleague who will look after them during their induction.
It is the buddy's responsibility to coach the new recruit, while the manager in charge of training monitors progress and assesses performance. At Galvin at Windows new recruits take an exam after six weeks and need to attain a minimum of 85% to pass their induction. If they don't pass, the induction is extended.
They say practice makes perfect, but I believe only perfect practice makes perfect. I always tell my staff about the famous free-kick when David Beckham scored against Greece. What people sometimes forget is that Beckham had practised his free-kick technique thousands of times before scoring the one that really mattered. This is what training is about.
Communication and briefing
Regular, well-pitched and consistent communication is crucial to conveying your message to your team and ensures everyone understands how to deliver the level of quality required. The way to communicate your service standards is at the daily briefing. An effective briefing process will include these five elements:
â- Review of past service or current issues.
â- Menu knowledge.
â- Role playing (for example, how to ask for a drink or give a bill).
â- The day's guests and service visualisation.
The role playing and visualisation are what most people have difficulty with. Role playing is important because it allows staff - and management - to practise situations they will find themselves in during service. It is the only way to get things right before service, when it really matters.
Visualisation is about explaining to the team what will happen during service. It allows staff to have a clear picture in mind of the service ahead and to understand the guests and give them what they want before they even ask. Visualisation is vital because every service is different - for example, one service may be full of corporate clients, fast and all about timing, while the next might be about romance and leisure.
The best piece of advice I can ever give anyone on performance management is: "Know what you want. Be firm and fair." Indeed, if the HR and communication process I describe is followed, then it is more than likely that the desired culture and work ethic will prevail in your restaurant. Still, it is important not let complacency set in and to always follow one's values and principles as well as leading by example.
One mistake that is too often made by most of us is to forget to praise and reward our high performers. At times a simple "Thank you and well done" is enough. Big rewards equal big results, and in times of financial and economical difficulties it is even more important to be creative to drive results and retain talent.
The other part of performance management is to ensure low performers are brought in line with the standards of the restaurant. With the right training and support most people can improve if they want to and have the right attitude.
However, as the old saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink." Many managers avoid conflict and would rather ignore potentially difficult situations rather than face up to them and solve problems. Unfortunately for restaurants, this can have a disastrous effect on their reputation.
The Art of Service board game
Fred Sirieix has created a board game to help restaurant and hotel owners, F&B directors and hospitality lecturers teach high-quality service delivery. Called The Art of Service, the game challenges players to discuss concepts such as business vision, objectives and values. Participants follow the guest experience from booking a table to leaving a restaurant and explore and discuss best practice at all points of the journey. The game provides a creative and participative forum for learning the essence of good service.
The Academy of Food and Wine service
The Academy of Food and Wine Service can offer more guidance on how to inspire your team to offer high-class hospitality. The professional body for front-of-house service, it is dedicated to promoting food and beverage service as a viable career choice and offers advice and training to raise standard s across the industry.