You know that feeling of being exhausted as well as unproductive after a very busy shift? When you can’t wait to sit down, raise your feet because it’s only Friday, you are working all weekend and don’t know how you are going to get through it?
This was how some servers that worked with me felt at the end of their shifts. One server said to me, “for the amount of steps I took today I should be walking home with way more money than I am.” We compared steps on our Fitbit devices and to our surprise she doubled my steps. The average restaurant server takes 10,087 steps per shift*.
To add some context, I am responsible for managing and supporting the entire venue (22,000+ sqft) and that night the kitchen and the security staff, which are on opposite sides of the building, kept me going back and forth all shift. No big deal, that's my job.
The next shift I scheduled myself in the area where that server had worked the night before and decided to watch what she was doing. The room filled quickly and I saw the first red flag: 3 servers fighting for 1 Point-of-Sale (POS) terminal. Watching them race from their tables to the POS to try to ring in their orders first while avoiding colliding was like watching “bumper cars” where no one wins.
Second red flag: I observed one of the servers who kept taking orders then leaving the room each time to go use the “Hidden POS” in a private room on the other side of the venue, then coming back, picking up drinks and delivering them to guests, constantly repeating this process. It was exhausting to watch.
When the rush of dinner slowed, I gathered the servers for a post-shift reflection. They all wear step tracking devices, so we went around comparing steps and sales for the shift. To no one’s surprise, their sales were closely matched but the server that kept leaving the room for the “hidden POS” almost doubled the steps of the servers that stayed in the room “bumper car’ing” for the POS.
If the equation we were solving was: Less Steps + More Guests + Easier Access to POS = MORE SALES...then BINGO! I knew what needed to be done.
With the addition of the “New” POS to the station, our servers were more motivated and determined to move faster with efficient steps, because it correlated to greeting more guests, taking more orders and making more money without the feeling of defeat at the end of the shift.
Through this exercise, I was reminded that as a hospitality manager, my job is not to go around talking to angry guests and putting out fires. My job is to support my team by observing, solving problems, removing roadblocks, being creative, and taking action that will result in a better work environment for my team which resulted in a sustained increase in sales, happier team members, guests and more money to the bottom line.
After moving the POS terminal resulted in increased sales the way it did, I became obsessed with finding these small bits of friction and solving for them. What is that one thing you walk by every day that you just accept that it is there because it's always been there? What is the one thing you can move or REmove to save steps, time and reduce friction?
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