6 easy ways to speed up service when you’re short-staffed.

Labour shortage? You got this. Though it can be a bit challenging to run a restaurant with minimal staff, there are some great low-cost or free ways to make sure everything goes smoothly. Here are our best strategies to help you offer a great guest experience, even when your staff count is running a little low. 

Cross-train your people. 

When you’re running with a lean staff, training them on different jobs within the restaurant allows them to pitch in and help each other when the going gets tough. Teach servers how to mix standard drinks so they can cover for the bartender in a pinch. Train hosts and bartenders on how to serve tables and get bussers to greet guests. Bussers can also help in the back of the house with food prep when the cooks need a hand. Cross-training not only increases efficiency, it also boosts morale and confidence amongst the staff knowing that they’ve always got backup. 

Pick up the tech. 

The biggest part of a servers’ job? Taking orders and payments. Using contactless solutions, like QR codes, for example, can totally help take the load off serving staff as it lets the customer do the ordering and pay for themselves. They get to pay and leave as soon as they’re ready, tables become freed up quicker (so you can seat more guests), and serving staff can take a couple of tasks off their plate. Win-win-win. 

Know your limit, play within it. 

The more menu items you have, the more prep and cooking it takes to make them. If you’re rolling with a smaller staff, especially in the back of the house, you might want to temporarily create a smaller menu to take a load off until you can staff up. A good way to start is to keep the most frequently ordered items in and remove the items that only get ordered once in a while. 

Take care of your own. 

Remember, your current staff has been there with you through thick and thin, working extra hours and picking up the slack when you’ve needed it most. Make sure your team knows how much you appreciate all of their hard work. You can do that by complimenting them regularly on what a great job they’re doing and giving them incentives, like free staff meals. 

Hold the time-wasting extra steps.

Now is the time to take away any of those little jobs that might be unnecessary. One of the best ways to streamline your processes? Ask your staff. They’re the ones that perform the same duties day in and day out and they likely already have great ideas to make life more efficient, like leaving a pitcher of water on the table for guests as opposed to having servers refill glasses.  

Be as honest as the day is long.  

Our parents were right: honesty really is the best policy. Let your guests know that you’re running a little low on staff so it won’t come as a surprise if things take a little longer than usual. Most guests will appreciate you being upfront with them at the beginning, as opposed to feeling irritated because they don’t know what’s going on in the middle of the meal. 

Regardless of the amount of staff you have, don’t forget that the restaurant business is still a customer service-based business. So, the more you can do to make sure your customers are well taken care of within your means, the better it’ll be all around.

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