Last week a family member and I were talking. She was telling me about a meal she had out with another family member. She was giving me the details of the conversation and casually mentioned that there was a hair and a fly in her salad. So I get side tracked with the story, I am The Food Safety Guy and asked her about it. She said it grossed her out so much she couldn’t eat it. I asked her what she said to the server. She said that because of the nature of her meeting that she didn’t want to make a fuss. So then I asked what the server said when they picked up the uneaten food. She said nothing, the server seemed like they didn’t notice. I asked her when her meal was complete if anybody at any point said anything tho her about the inedible salad. She said no. I was appalled when I found out that she paid her check and left. She did however say one thing that struck me, “I just won’t go back”.
Now this is a busy corporate casual restaurant that we all know. I won’t mention the name because I am more professional than that. But, wow! How often is this happening in that restaurant. And how much is it costing them daily, weekly or monthly in lost visits from disenfranchised clientele? What about the damage it might do to their reputation through word of mouth… I won’t pick them first. And don’t forget Yelp and other social media. How many other people feel the same way? We all know of a restaurant or store we feel this way about and avoid even if we want to like it. It is just managed so poorly we feel as if we were taken advantage of every time we pay.
Lets look at how this could be prevented. First, train the server and empower them to do the right thing. If they see a plate of food that wasn’t eaten they should know that means something was wrong. they should be trained to ask the guest if their was a problem. Next, give them the authority to have some control of their own guests experiences by offering a free replacement. I mean c’mon, whats the food cost on a salad. And even if your server offers to buy the whole tables food and you don’t agree support them anyway it is good leadership. Then take the opportunity later to teach the server how you would like it handled the next time.
My next question is, where was the manager? Someone should be walking around the dining room looking at guests plates and faces. Not only will problems like this be found but some guests will be more likely to stop a manager and let them know if there are any issues than they would a server. And even if the floor manager missed it, how about someone in the back of the house paying attention. If I saw a server bring back a full plate of uneaten food I’d immediately ask questions. Also, don’t be afraid to use disciplinary action if a server is not paying attention to that sort of thing. It would affect business more to ignore this problem than to fix it by offering another salad or buying the dish.
In the end when a guest leaves your restaurant with the idea in their head that they “just won’t come back”, it costs a restaurant in many other ways than that one experience. If the restaurant paid attention to their guests and were more available during service they may have kept this customer. And who knows, maybe this guest runs a soccer team that would come in every Wednesday or does a lot of business meetings and you lost them because, you just weren’t paying attention.
How much do you hate getting points knocked off of your health inspections for the same silly violations every single time? Did you know that for most restaurants that these reports are posted online and even on social media sites like Yelp? You should also know that something like not labeling a spray bottle shows up as “Standard Not Met: Toxic substances properly identified, stored, used”. Or for trash cans being to close to a food prep counters you’ll get “Standard Not Met: Garbage and refuse properly disposed; facilities maintained” These things do not look good to the public and could be affecting your business.
Well when I managed restaurants I never batted an eye when the health inspector showed up because I had just been doing a self inspection 2 days prior. I never had a fear of what might be found because I had already found it and fixed it. This is why a self inspection is so important. Why would a business operator allow a single arbitrary visit from the health dept. to have such a potentially negative impact on their business and not do anything about it? These violations could appear on your reports for years for the public to see.
The beauty of a self inspection is that you not only protect your customers but you protect your business. It also shows your staff members how important food safety is to you. It also is not as hard as many people might think and the piece of mind is priceless.
For more information on how to do a self inspection visit http://www.westernfoodsafety.com
A food managers day is filled with all kinds of activities, big and small. We have to get food counts so we can get the food order in, we have to make sure the bartenders aren’t over serving customers alcohol and we have to make sure we get the shift covered for our chef whose wife just went into labor. All this while we have a full dinner shift running in the dining room. So how do we make sure we’re not missing anything? Notes!
Notes are a busy managers best friend. You can carry a pocket note pad or a big giant folder, you can use an electronic device or you can fold a piece of printer paper into quarters so it fits in your back pocket. Regardless of your method you need to be writing things down all day or you will forget stuff. First, you should write down all of the tasks you intend to complete that day ( i.e. orders or special cleaning duties). Also, you should be writing down observations throughout the shift. For example, you notice a server is late while you are in the kitchen taking temps on your service line. Or it seems like some meat has gone missing. If you don’t write it down immediately you will forget it happened. So, take a second to pull out your note pad and write it down. If you do this for everything that happens throughout your day you will have a pretty good record of all the happenings during your shift.
Now what good does this do if your not going to do something with the information or put it somewhere permanent. At the end of each day take ten minutes to go over this indecipherable set of scribble that only you can read so you can leave any relevant information to the next manager or even your self for the next shift in a shared daily manager book. I also would put performance information into a file for my staff members, this could be either on a computer or in filing cabinet. If you do this you’ll start create a record on your team members and find out if there are any positive or negative trends.
By taking notes and saving information you will be able to communicate with your team better and forget less often the things that are important to you and you operation. – thefoodsafetyguy
One of the toughest things to do as a manager is to have to discipline/motivate your staff. I remember being taught how to manage costs and run the day to day operations of restaurant but I don’t remember anybody ever sitting me down and teaching me how to manage employees effectively so I had to come up with my own system. Continue reading Dealing With A Difficult Employee
Often times a manager will come to our food safety seminar and ask a very simple but important question, “How do I tell my employees to do that?” I find employees sometimes get promoted into a supervisory position because they are great at their job and have the qualities of a good manager but then fail miserably at their new managerial responsibilities. Continue reading Getting The Most From Your Managers