General Manager’s Guide To POS: Hiring, Training, & Retaining Good Staff

Part V of the General Manager’s Guide

General Manager's Guide
General Manager's Guide to POS: Hiring, Training, & Retaining Great Staff

We’ve talked about the tools your staff needs and the functions they perform in both the front of house and back of house, but we may have put the cart before the horse. The horsepower, if you will, behind your staff’s performance is their satisfaction with the culture, resources, and compensation that your business provides. 

Simply put: Are your staff happy?

Hire The Right People: Traits To Look For & Interview Questions To Ask

Smart staffing starts before their Day 1 with effective hiring practices. 

It’s no secret that staff are in short supply, and sometimes getting a warm body seems better than no-body. The problem is, when you hire someone that’s not the right fit, it affects the rest of your staff negatively, oftentimes adding work to their plate or general stress to their day. 

Being intentional in how you filter applications and ask questions during the interview process is best for the long term success of your business. After all, you don’t want to be in a constant cycle of hiring!

First Thing’s First: What To Look For In Applicants

Before you go for the candidates with the most experience and throw the hospitality newbies away, think again. Food and beverage experience may equate to a stuck-in-their-ways approach to the job, and you want someone that’s flexible and willing to follow your lead. 

Keep an eye out for these 4 traits when you’re reviewing applications:

  1. Ambition: Instead of experience, seek out ambition in your new hires. A desire and willingness to learn means they’re eager to do their job well and commit to their career growth at your business.
  2. Personable: You’re in the business of people, and you need staff that can lead engaging conversations with your guests so they optimize experiences. Plus, you know what really drives up tab size? A server or bartender that can crack some jokes and make your guests feel comfortable.
  3. Trustworthiness: Do yourself a favor and only hire people you can trust. For the health of your business and your peace of mind, seek out staff that you feel confident will treat your business with care. 
  4. Shared values: We wouldn’t recommend asking who a potential hire voted for in the last election, but if certain values are core to your business’s ethos, that person must at least have an interest in it. 

If your winery really values sustainability, for example, you’ll want to make sure that person can speak to it genuinely when they relay your brand story, and recycle appropriately when cleaning up at the end of a shift. 

Found A Good Application? Let’s Interview ‘Em!

An interview is likely your first in-person interaction with a candidate. It’s their time to shine, and hit these suggested interview questions out of the park:

  • Talk about an uncomfortable situation you’ve been in at work and how you handled it.

As mentioned, food and beverage is a people-focused industry and that means situations can get sticky… literally. Whether they’ve accidentally spilled on a guest or had to tell an overserved guest to leave, it’s important to hear how they handle adversity on the job. You’re curious, aren’t you? 

  • How are you best managed? What role do you typically play in a team setting?

Both of these questions will not only identify how the candidate best performs, but it helps you know how to do your job better as their General Manager. If you have a bunch of strong personalities on staff already, is hiring a self-proclaimed “born leader” the right fit? You know your team and know yourself, so make the judgment call on if you can picture staff and their unique skills functioning well together. 

  • What most excites you about working here?

If they say free beer, that’s a good indicator of their intentions on the job: They may be there for a good time and not a long time. Here you can see what their ambitions are in the industry and if they share the same values as those of your business. 

Comprehensive Process & Culture Training Breeds High Performance

Effective staff training on both process and culture makes all the difference in staff satisfaction and job execution. Plus, your trusty POS is there to help!

Process Training Helps Staff Exceed Expectations

As a General Manager, you’ve got to set the bar in order to know if your staff are going above or below it. In process training, this looks like the following:

  • SOPs: Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) detail processes in a step-by-step format. You can have an Opening Shift SOP, Closing Shift SOP, and one for every task in between. That way, everything you expect to be done is laid out for both new and existing staff.
  • Employee Handbook: These aren’t just for the corporate world. Staff need something to reference when they have questions about their employment, benefits, time off, etc. It’ll also save you time from having to answer the same questions yourself!
  • Cross training: Staff get a holistic view of what everyone on the team does through shadowing, or cross training. Showing FOH everything the BOH does and vice versa helps everyone work together better. 

Culture Training Helps Staff Work In Harmony

Your business’s culture isn’t going to happen on its own. It’s on the shoulders of you as a General Manager to set the tone and ensure others follow your lead. 

Good working culture isn’t about having the most fun staff Happy Hours—though, those can indeed help. Especially these days, staff are seeking cultures that are inclusive, safe, and value their mental and physical health

Curating this environment starts at the top with Management. Are you taking sick days when you need them? Are you stepping up when staff come to you with a guest that’s making them uncomfortable? 

Humanize yourself by being upfront about the type of culture you expect and provide the tools (like diversity, equity, and inclusion [DEI] resources) that your staff need to be successful and comfortable. 

POS Tools That Assist In Staff Training

The most helpful POS providers write their own SOPs for your team’s benefit. With highly technical software such as POS, on-demand resources like how-to videos and articles are critical to staff training. After all, they’ll use your POS during every guest interaction they have! Encourage staff to engage with this type of free training, or even provide the space and time to do it as a team during work hours. A refresher for yourself never hurts. 

In addition, your team can and should lean on the Customer Support of your POS provider. Those people are there to help, and if your POS values customer service as much as your business does, they’ll provide fast, friendly solutions via phone or email.

Best Practices For Employee Retention

Last, but certainly not least, is how to best keep good staff on your team. There are three key aspects of employee retention: creating staff buy-in, motivation, and fair compensation

Providing Education & Growth Opportunities Creates Staff Buy-In

Giving your staff the opportunity to learn and grow within the industry proves your investment in them, and therefore inspires further investment from them in your business. 

You should have an idea of their five year plan, so try to cater educational opportunities to each specific staff member. For example, if your new busser expressed an interest in beer production, have them shadow your BOH team on a slow morning. Educating staff can also look like encouraging them to attend industry events, watch webinars hosted by your POS provider, or even get Cicerone trained, if your owner approves it!

As the General Manager, you can also promote within your team to recognize high performing staff. Deserving service members becoming Leads, for instance, gives them more responsibility and therefore buy-in.

Of course, creating staff buy-in includes the human aspects of your managerial role. Reiterate your positive culture by advocating for your team when they need it and welcoming feedback. You may be missing something on the floor, and you want to be able to take care of issues early before they get worse. 

Understand What Motivates Your Staff & Act Accordingly

Another key retention method is to identify what your staff is motivated by. Here are some common motivation and execution examples: 

  • Decision-making: If your team has the appropriate buy-in, being included in important business decisions may motivate them. Tapping into their opinions and expertise on the floor makes your business better off, as well as inspires staff to see a decision through and root for its success.
  • Recognition: Being thanked or awarded for a job well done motivates many employees. Celebrate work anniversaries and let staff know how appreciated and valued they are!
  • Money: We’ll get to compensation next, but try incentivizing performance with a cut of profits. If you’re trying to push on-premise retail sales, for instance, offer staff 15% of the profits for all merchandise orders they inspire. Connecting merchandise sales to a specific employee is easy with the right POS, and it’s a surefire way to encourage staff motivated by cash.

Not only do you drive staff retention with these strategies, but you’ll encourage high performance too. 

Put Strategy Behind Your Compensation To Maximize Retention

While money is a significant factor in an employee’s decision to keep working for you, it’s not the be-all and end-all. Being thoughtful and fair in compensation goes a long way and it’s easier on your bottom line since we all know inflation makes any additional labor costs a non-starter. 

Here are some creative ways to ensure your adored staff get the money and perks they deserve:

Service fees guarantee higher wages: Surcharges such as service fees gained popularity during the pandemic to help food and beverage businesses pay for masks, hand sanitizer, and labor, among other things. Implementing service fees at your own business is one way to compensate staff more. 

This isn’t to imply that guests are being stingy, but it can help small businesses pay the back of house staff more or guarantee larger tips for service as you see fit.

Re-evaluate your tip pool: How you’re distributing your tip pool as a General Manager matters. Consider including back of house staff in the pool or sweeten the deal for Leads by implementing some sort of bonus program if certain goals are met. 

Lean on your POS system to ensure your tip pool practices are accurate. A report such as Tips by Labor Hour quantifies who gets how much of the pool based on clock ins and outs. Or, look at an Employee Performance report to identify who is bringing in the biggest tabs and tips. Perhaps you start a friendly competition among servers?! 

Any benefits are good benefits: Sure, you may not be able to offer standard health insurance to your staff, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide other meaningful perks. Look into Employee Assistance Programs—which are common in the industry—to help employees with legal fees, financial advice, therapy, and more. 

You may not have the hands to give staff copious amounts of PTO, but you may consider closing your business on slow weekdays in order to give your team some deserved R&R. More and more food and beverage spots are cutting the hours or days they’re open, some deeming it a “quality of life” decision. 

Welp, your General Manager knowledge sure is growing. Now that you know how to enhance guest engagement and build a satisfied team for the long term, let’s talk profitability!

See you there:

    Ready for a better POS?