This month many of you will, I’m sure, be taking on additional staff
for the Christmas season. But are they an asset or a liability? If all
you do is give them an order pad or a uniform and tell them to get on
with it, they could be doing more harm than good to your Christmas
Your selection of staff needs the same care and attention you’d give to
any member of staff. Don’t be fooled into accepting someone just
because they are available. Now more than ever you need to recruit
people who can hit the ground running. With the best will in the world
someone with the wrong attitude is never going to leave customers with
a great experience and clambering to come back. Bear in mind that for
many of your customers at this time this will be their first visit, so
ensure that first impression is a good one, so it’s not their last.
Everyone needs to know what’s expected of them from day
one. Ensure you give them a thorough induction, which is planned out in
advance. You won’t have time to revisit things that are missed, so
schedule this into their first week, so they have an opportunity to
absorb the information. This should include:
- Define your values, who your customers are, and what their expectations are.
- A clear job description
outlining their responsibilities, time scales, priorities, measurements
or KPIs, and how their role fits in with the bigger picture.
- Clarify basic standards
of dress, staff behaviour, time keeping, break allowance, staff meals,
security, food safety, health and safety.
- First impressions count.
Specify your establishment’s standards for welcoming and greeting
customers, including the booking procedures if this is part of their
role. Even back of house staff need to know the protocol for greeting
customers or dealing with their questions.
- People can’t sell something they don’t know exists. Ensure
a thorough product knowledge –
what does your establishment offer – times of service, complementary
products, etc. Let your staff taste the dishes, explain what
accompanies each dish and what it should look like, what prices include
and what’s extra (especially with fixed menus or party packages).
- Establish protocol in dealing
with difficult situations, customer complaints, and awkward
customers. Define the line between handling themselves and when
to seek intervention from a manager or more experienced staff member.
- What is their role in up-selling,
and what are the products you want them to promote, including any
future events? What are the benefits of these offers or products
from a customers’ perspective?
Support and teamwork
- Run through the payment
procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed,
and how to deal with any concerns or potential breaches.
- Don’t leave them floundering or too scared to ask for help.
Establish a clear line of reporting,
and who to go to for help and guidance when needed.
- Teamwork is key.
Introduce new staff to the whole team, defining everyone’s areas of
responsibility to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort. Avoid
the frictions that occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or
others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.
- Consider assigning each temporary staff member with a buddy, someone to look over their
shoulder, guide them and support them as necessary ensuring, of course,
that this person will be patient and supportive when asked.
Recognition and reward
- Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and
establish procedures for sickness reporting.
- If your core team are incentivised, make sure you include seasonal staff in the scheme.
- Give them something to look forward to and keep them interested for the whole
season. Involve them in any after work social activities and
maybe some incentive awarded at the end of the season.
- Recognise potential
and consider opportunities to turn part time or temporary into
permanent or regular work.
- Maintain your reputation
as a good employer. Treat seasonal staff well, and they will be
willing to come back next time you need an extra hand, and spread the
word that you are a good employer.
Remember Christmas is a time when you have a excellent opportunity to wow
time visitors with a great experience, and hopefully make them into
regulars or referrers. Don’t blow that one off chance.
Cooper is a business coach with
over 25 years’ experience in business and leadership
founder of Zeal Coaching,
specializing in working with hospitality businesses, and is author of
Handbook'. She is also creator of the Foundations
in Leadership online leadership programme for hospitality managers,
bringing a brand new approach to hospitality leadership development.