How to improve staff retention and reduce staff costs at your restaurant

How to implement a win-win culture in your restaurant

If the restaurant makes more profit, employees make more money

Improve staff retention and reduce staff costs at the same time

Everyone keeps talking about the lack of staff everywhere. Complaints are always the same: that there are not enough hospitality workers, that the staff is not qualified enough, that workers ask for very high salaries, even that they don’t show up for interviews. Recruiting is getting harder and harder, and the turnover of staff is high, so managers end up stressed all the time as it’s hard to operate with unstable teams.

Many managers and restaurant owners keep complaining about this, but complaining alone won’t make the issue go away. How can we take action and change our mindset to improve the situation for the staff, the business and our own peace of mind? We need to work together with hospitality workers to improve their conditions so that everyone is  happy. So how do we do that?

I leave you a few tips here:


1)Calculate the size of the team you really need. See if it is worth closing certain shifts/days in which you are not really making a profit, and think about using agency workers for peak times. You may pay a bit more per hour, but overall much less. And it is always easier to manage a smaller team.

2) Review BOH and FOH operations. At this point it would be good to ask a consultant or a friend to identify what you could improve, so it is seen with new eyes.

The point of this is to check all the tasks that your team is currently doing and see if there are any that are better if you outsource those through suppliers or technology. Some examples of outsourcing tasks to suppliers would be: agreeing desserts with a supplier, tasks such as filleting, making juices, preparing sauces and basic stocks. Technology can offer key opportunities, such as in restaurants that still do not have a reservation system, when these can save you time and improve the management of your tables. Another example would be investing in a glass-washing machine with a built-in polisher.

Removing these repetitive and boring tasks makes restaurant operations more efficient and employees happier.

3) Focus on staff retention and creating a good work environment. Employees don’t just work for money. It is estimated that we spend an average of £2k every time we hire someone if we include recruiting, admin, training, managers time for the interview, etc. So it is worth trying to keep the team happy. If you don’t know what makes them happy, run a free survey with SurveyMonkey and ask them directly. Are they happy? What would make them happier? Is the atmosphere in the team good? What would they change? What would they not change, etc. Know your team as you know your customer. Understand their needs. If you take care of your team, they will take care of your customer and your business.

4) Offer transparent wages and pay overtime. And that is starting from the job advert. Advertising “competitive salary” is like saying nothing about the salary, so be clear and honest from the beginning. It will save you and employees time.

5) And why not have an incentive system? I work with many restaurants where we have decided to incorporate an incentive system where the workers take a percentage of the profits. That is, if the owner earns more, the workers do too. And you know what? It works really well. The workers feel that their work and their remuneration is proportional. And yes, sometimes they work hard, but it is easier to do so knowing they will get their share. This is also better for teamwork, because colleagues are accountable to each other, for the team earning the profit share or not.

I leave you an example below, but there are many ways to create incentives so that everyone wins: the team and the restaurant owner.


You may think that this is crazy, however, in France they are preparing a law so that companies that distribute dividends to their shareholders also have to distribute them to their employees.

6) Try to avoid double shifts. Many of you tell me that it is impossible, but you could make changes to your opening times and by doing so you could increase sales and contribute to the happiness and motivation of your employees. And happiness at work leads to higher staff retention.

7) Minimize staff costs by using part-time workers, or an agency at peak times. Instead of having a very tight or oversized team, look at the usual capacity of the restaurant and try to have agency workers that cover peak hours and more tedious tasks, so your employees are less burnt out. It is cheaper to have someone at peak times than full-time. And using agencies can reduce the stress of  recruiting staff.

8) Finally, know your numbers. Whether you use a cost management system like Pendulo or simple spreadsheets, knowing your numbers is very important. What is your staff cost, your staff turnover, how much do you invest in training and staff benefits, what is your break-even per shift, per day and per week, etc. Once you know this, it will help you to design the size of your team and your operations accordingly.

We are sure these tips will help you to reduce staff costs and increase staff retention, give it a go!

If you need some help, do not hesitate to contact us here.

Pilar Garcia. Pendulo founder, restaurant consultant and trainer.

No Comments

Post A Comment