The best restaurant marketing team might be the staff members themselves. Since there is a preference to “promote from within”, you would think this would result in more success in the restaurant.
Meet Sally. She works at a restaurant which has average sales and profits. Sally is an hourly staff person who is energetic, positive, helpful and very knowledgeable about the restaurant business. She voluntarily assists others without hesitation and seems to know the best place to be at just the right time. Sally is an ACE. Best of all, Sally has a love for hospitality and connects with each guest in a way which inspires them to leave great feedback. This feedback has improved the reputation on restaurant review sites, social media and comment cards. Guests return on a regular basis to connect with Sally and ask for her by name. “Only Sally” is their goal when visiting the restaurant. Sally has talent and her enthusiasm is contagious to everyone.
Meet Rob. Rob works with Sally at the same restaurant. He likes the management team and gives his best effort to improve sales. Rob, too, is a very energetic hourly staff person. When Rob is working his shift, there seems to be a smooth operation but the GM can’t quite put his finger on why. Rob has the ability to be in the right spot at the right time and his anticipation of problems before they happen makes him appear to have a crystal ball. Rob has the skill to work in any position. His positive approach ensures a memorable experience and he responds “Sure, no problem” to even the most difficult tasks. Rob warmly engages with guests, leading them to order more and make reservations for special upcoming events. There is no doubt that Rob’s presence adds to positive comments which builds its reputation on restaurant review sites.
Both Sally and Rob make the restaurant operation a great place to work for the other staff. Rob has a tendency to have a higher percentage of time towards the back of the house (BOH) and Sally has more tendencies to work in the front of the house (FOH).
If a restaurant owner could have 20 more on the team like Sally and Rob, business would not only thrive, it would be like “restaurant heaven”.
So a decision is made: Promote one or both of these great employees into a management position. If they are promoted and responsible for training others on the team, then business should increase, resulting in more positive feedback being left on reputation restaurant review sites. If the restaurant is held accountable with mystery shoppers, then it should be an assumption that mystery shopper scores would go up.
If only Sally and Rob could spread their “outstanding hospitality” to others.
This is where the theory of promoting someone who is a shining star on a restaurant team breaks down and falls apart.
There is no guarantee that Sally and Rob have the skill and will to lead a team to replicate their daily accomplishments. On the surface, it would appear the decision to promote Sally and Rob would be an automatic win, which would be a relief to the restaurant management team.
The skills necessary to motivate and lead a team on a daily basis to execute at the level of Sally and Rob are NOT the same that Sally and Rob possess. Their expertise in executing with “heart & soul” is certainly a plus but much more is needed to lead a team to do the same.
A new promotion with keys, uniforms, an announcement, a raise and a big pat on the back does not ensure success for these outstanding team members. Chances are that they will continue to do what they know best and when others begin to falter, they will work harder and longer to fill the gaps.
Note: This is not a story of “maybe”. This is based on past realities in restaurants and also of present scenarios. The cycle continues over and over until the restaurant management team evolves and “gets it”.
The performance of Sally and Rob quickly becomes marginal as they spread themselves too thin. It is only a matter of time before what used to be the very best restaurant marketing assets become shadows of their previous selves. The positive remarks which created a great reputation on restaurant review sites, social media and comment cards quickly disappear. The new inexperienced management team is no longer able to engage with the guests since they are working to master their new roles.
To avoid this scenario, manpower planning is a must. A thorough understanding of the skill & will of these potential management candidates is necessary if their transition to a leadership role is to be beneficial. Role playing, “fire drills”, testing and small steps with delegation might be considered as part of a plan.
This may be why a restaurant consultant is called into action. The right restaurant consultant can help a management team gain the best advantage for all concerned to maximize the opportunity that Sally and Rob might provide without sending them to their doom.
Who are your Sally and Rob? Are you about to help them achieve greatness? Or ruin their lives?