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How to Get the Best from your Seasonal Staff


by Caroline Cooper
December 2010


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 profits.

Recruitment
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.

Direction
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?
  • Run through the payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed, and how to deal with any concerns or potential breaches.
Support and teamwork
  • 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.
  • Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and establish procedures for sickness reporting.
Recognition and reward
  • 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 first time visitors with a great experience, and hopefully make them into regulars or referrers. Don’t blow that one off chance.


 

Caroline Cooper is a business coach with over 25 years’ experience in business and leadership development, and founder of Zeal Coaching, specializing in working with hospitality businesses, and is author of the 'Hotel Success 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.

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Contact: 

Caroline Cooper 
Zeal Coaching 
tel:  +44 (0)7887 540914
caroline@zealcoaching.com
www.zealcoaching.com
 

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Also See: How To Maintain A Happy And Motivated Hospitality Team / Caroline Cooper / November 2010

Communicating with Your Team: Are You on the Same Page & Does Everyone Know the Score? / Caroline Cooper / November 2010

Is - No News, Good News - for Your Team? Employees Need Feedback to Become Great at their Jobs / Caroline Cooper / October 2010

Nip it in the Bud ~ Dealing with Poor Work Performance / Caroline Cooper / September 2010
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