Restaurant staff: your brand ambassadors

  • Posted on October 24, 2021 by John Jones

Without a strong brand, your restaurant is just a place where people come to eat and drink. Doesn't sound very exciting, does it? 

What sets your restaurant apart is your brand: it's what makes your restaurant unique and the vision customers desire. Every restaurant, pub, bar or cafe wants its customers to become advocates, but there is a whole group of individuals in prime position to evangelise your brand: staff. 

In this short blog, we look at ways to create brand ambassadors among your staff base.

Explain the mission

For staff to be really bought-in, they have to understand what it is you’re trying to do and what your business is all about. That means you explaining the whole DNA of the restaurant when recruiting staff, on day one and throughout their tenure. Team members are more likely to be advocates if they have a firm grasp of the basics: why you started the business; what it means to you; the customer experience you strive to achieve.

Illustrate why your restaurant is fantastic and how your pride in the business makes you feel. Then paint a picture of how they can feel that good, too.  

Be transparent

It is all well and good painting a rosy picture of your restaurant, bar, pub or cafe, but it is sometimes easy to forget that some staff have an inaccurate picture of your personal circumstances. It is important to give them just enough information about you, without crossing the line into the inappropriate. 

If the staff have convinced themselves that outside of work hours you live in a mansion with a Ferrari in the garage, genty put them right without dipping into the erroneous “I am actually just like you” talk (because you’re not: you’re the boss).

When it comes to the business, be transparent. Unless they have previously run a restaurant, staff probably won’t fully appreciate the behind the scenes challenges you and business face, so describe the realities in a diluted form. 

Further, to avoid team members taking the view that those challenges only affect you, tell them how decisions made in those areas do have a knock-on effect throughout the business. This need not be negative: indeed, this is a great time to describe how getting it right as a whole will have very positive benefits to their work life.

Business is never a rose-tinted, cutesy love-fest and it is important you don’t give that impression. Be clear that the standards you expect apply to everyone but highlight why consistent adherence to them is vital. 

A regular or occasional town hall style meeting is the ideal opportunity to provide a transparent overview of the business and generate some excitement in the ranks. If fortune is on your side you’ll even spot up and coming stars listening intently and asking logical questions. Make a mental note of those staff as potential specialists or team leaders of the future.

Explaining the part staff must play in maintaining the brand is all about balance: we don’t want to scare them, use big sticks, threaten sanctions or expose them unnecessarily to the inner workings of the business. A realistic approach to transparency, however, coupled with a genuinely energetic statement of why they should be bought-in and how good that feels will work wonders. 

Get staff involved

It is likely that most readers have been employees themselves and endured the first day speech from the boss, then been sent to their work only never to hear it again. Staff will become brand ambassadors if the key messages from owners and management are consistently reinforced by actions, rather than words. 

Put simply, if your restaurant is genuinely a great place to work (in the eyes of the staff, not just yours) they are far more likely to evangelise your brand and spread the word among colleagues, friends and family.

Getting staff all behind your brand requires deeds as much as it does words, so engage them in a meaningful way. Solid staff training based on learning new skills and ongoing development will usually have a very positive effect and is a great opportunity to work through some training needs analyses and unearth future stars. 

Find out what motivates individuals, what they want to do and achieve, and where they want to be. For example, a staff member with a leaning towards technology or IT could be your go-to person to help you evaluate a new restaurant management system, POS software or reservations provider.

Staff given key responsibilities, however minor, will often feel greatly valued and the opportunity to contribute ideas is great for engagement. Let people have their say (but don’t let the exercise become a moaning mechanism) and always take the time to give feedback.

Allow staff the opportunity to focus on what energises them, such as working in a specific part of the business from time to time, or scheduling them to spend time with key individuals. Likewise, inviting staff to get involved with a charity event and all the fun they entail will pay dividends.

Share the rewards

A very simple way to create engaged and ambassadorial staff is to offer high value but low cost rewards. Gift vouchers, cinema tickets and entry to experiences need not negatively impact the restaurant’s finances but will be greatly prized by their recipients. Similarly, simple staff recognition schemes which reward for performance or going the extra mile will make most winners feel good in front of their peers.

The key thing here is to keep reward programs true to their purpose and not a forum for regularity or recognising mundane performance (or even meeting the standards for which you are known). When you’re struggling to identify a recipient, or rewards become an expectation, it is probably time to shake up the program.

Wrapping up

Having productive staff is one thing, and essential. However productive and ambassadorial staff will pay back your efforts to engage them tenfold with the direct or indirect creation of new diners to the restaurant. 

By taking a transparent approach to the business’ mission and vision, firm but fair management and rewarding staff by recognising their achievements, the team will not only become more cohesive with lower staff churn, customer numbers will grow as individuals spread the word.


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For a demonstration, call us today on 033 0124 4785 or email us at info@favouritetable.com and see why favouritetable is the best value full-feature restaurant management system on the market. 

 

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels
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