Staffing for Success

In every city, there are “good” clubs and bars and “bad” clubs and bars. There are those you hear about, and those you will never know. If you own the only club in your area, you may think it doesn’t need to improve, right? Why should you? You are the only game in town.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly the attitude that gives any future competitor the edge to topple your organization. Additionally, that same attitude carries on to your team/staff as well as your customers. So, why are some of the so-called “best clubs” not also the nicest ones? Although there are other factors — such as location — clubs and bars are only as good as their teams — the “human factor”! Here’s the bottom line: Business profits and business teams go hand-in-hand. Weak teams generate weak profits, and winning teams generate winning profits.

Staffing Shot

1. Hire for the “Human Factor.”
Let’s start at the beginning of building a winning team: hiring right. Your team creates your venue’s vibe. Remember the origin of the word “club”: It refers to the way in which like-minded people gather together. Think about the idiom, “Birds of a feather flock together.” All that begins with your staff.

Can you imagine hiring hip-hop demographic bartenders at a country/western bar simply because they have nice applications and some experience? Hire and staff your business with employees who fit the demographic your bar or club wants to attract! Like Nightclub & Bar Media Group President Jon Taffer teaches, hire an employee for his or her personality, related/common interests and off-duty activities. Don’t base a hire on a “nice” résumé: Recruit employees for who they are — loosen them up and ask questions!

2. Define the Roles.
Once you hire your employees, what’s next? Which positions did you fill? What are your new employees’ titles? Possible positions or roles include: partner, operations manager, bar manager, general/assistant manager, entertainment director, promotions/marketing/public-relations director, security manager, VIP host/hostess, bartender and server. Make sure the title reflects the role and responsibilities of the individual; each person needs to understand what’s expected of him or herself as well as others on the team.

Next, what does your team structure look like? Depending on the size and structure of your business, team members may need to multitask. You may need to adapt by assigning or delegating multiple tasks, roles and responsibilities to a few individuals if you don’t have the budget or manpower available to fill all of the positions. Make sure you assign the required roles and responsibilities to the employees best suited to assume them or cross-train accordingly.

3. Build the Team.
To assemble the best team possible, you next need to ask yourself these crucial questions:

What are your and your employees’ roles and responsibilities?

Are you and your teammates learning and excelling, or are you remaining stagnant and trapped in your cocoons?

  • Can you find a better teammate for a particular position?
  • Can you and your team members rely on one another?
  • Are you and your teammates communicating? How?
  • Are you getting ideas and feedback from within your organization?
  • What are your competitors doing that is working?
  • Ask your team, “Who would be best for ‘position X’?”
  • Can you recognize breakdowns in the team and repair them immediately?
  • Are you having regular team meetings? If so, when?

4. Create and Maintain Staff Atmosphere.
Staff atmosphere refers to your choice of staff, what they wear and how they act. These elements go a long way toward making sure your business is clean and the service is good. Although your customers love your place and may not seem to care about the “little stuff,” they are not going to tell you if or, more importantly, why they migrate elsewhere.

Why leave it to chance? Knowing what hospitality “is not” is just as important as knowing what hospitality “is”! Hospitality does not include simply serving a soda with a smile or saying, “Come back and see us again!” That’s called being courteous!

Hospitality consists of building relationships and knowing your clientele and customers. Start relating names to faces and get your customers’ stories: Where do they live, what do they do for a living, where are they from, etc.? When you make friends, you create family, and family always helps out during rough times.

5. Upgrade the Team.
Just because an employee has been working at your establishment for 10 years doesn’t mean he or she is entitled to have a job. Are your long-term employees performing like hungry new employees? Are they excited to come into work? Always accept applications for all positions.

A good manager or assistant manger should bring a good following. Are your managers babysitters? Do they simply open and close the doors every day? Or are they ambassadors for your business?

Reevaluate all of your employee choices. Clean out DJs that no longer bring a crowd, and hire well-rounded cooks/chefs. Are you over-staffed? Do you have too many cocktail servers? Use your best staff for your busiest shifts: This is no time to be diplomatic. Guests come to your bar or club — and return again and again — for myriad important reasons. However, the most important factor is your staff; every employee — from your parking-lot or bathroom attendants to your general manager (and ultimately yourself) — is accountable. Reevaluate everyone on a regular basis.

I recently asked a client, “If you owned a burger stand with a drive-through and depended on your lunch rush, and employed one person who can make and wrap 40 burgers in an hour and another who can do 65, which do you keep?”

At every business I evaluate, I see employees who are subpar. They typically are kept on because they are punctual, have been there for “X” years, are good people, etc. That’s not good business! Hire the absolute best person for the job, and only retain those who consistently deliver. You owe it to the team!

This last step is difficult, especially if you have built that “family” atmosphere. However, it is perhaps the most important step. Everyone must deliver on hospitality and accountability and produce sales at all times. Keep your standards high for all employees, and you will wind up with a team in which all employees deliver. The end result is a winning team and a winning business. NCB

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