If you’re like most restaurant managers, turnover is a major concern in your operation. Here’s something to consider: instead of putting all your energy toward finding and hiring the right employees, focus on keeping the good employees you already have. Start with the three R’s for restaurant managers: respect, recognition and rewards.

Respect. You can demonstrate one of the highest forms of respect by expecting your employees to become better than they are. Strive to create a work environment that promotes ongoing improvements in performance from managers and employees alike. Track measurable results in sales, customer satisfaction and traffic, then set ambitious goals to surpass the marks. Don’t be disappointed if employees fail to meet expectations. Encourage them to keep trying.

Recognition. The more you expect from employees, the more you have to train them. Base your training and performance evaluations on the behavior you expect and not just attitude. Why? For one thing, you really don’t hire people, you rent behavior. When employees properly execute the training you’ve given them, recognize their efforts in private and in public. A simple pat on the back and a well-timed “thank you” will mean a lot to your hardworking staff.

Rewards. Make it a part of your operating procedure to reward employees for consistent, service-oriented behavior. Start an “Employee of the Month” program, if you don’t already have one. Or, better yet, come up with innovative rewards that bring a smile to the faces of the recipients. Some ideas:

  • Offer to wash the car of the cashier who sells the most side salads during an upcoming shift.
  • Hide a $5 bill in a hard-to-reach area that needs occasional cleaning. When an employee shows the initiative to clean that spot, he or she gets to pocket the cash.
  • Award a paid day off to any employee who goes well beyond the call of duty to please a customer, then watch what happens to the quality of your service delivery.

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