How do I cut back on staff but still offer great customer service in my restaurant?

It's no secret that wages are the biggest cost for any restaurant or cafe, particularly those of us that provide table service. Its a constant battle of ‘how do I reduce my wage cost but still provide the same level of customer service with fewer people?’

While there is no magical formula, as each venue is unique and has different requirements, there are steps you can take to ensure you get the best balance for your business.

As a Restaurateur I face this challenge every day. There is a sequence of service in my restaurants that must be followed to ensure customers have the best experience, but there are also bills that need to be paid therefore I have to budget my wages carefully. As a customer there is nothing worse than bad service and this is the primary reason people won’t return to a restaurant, in my view.

A visit to a restaurant over the weekend further highlighted this to me. I saw the lost opportunity of revenue and repeat custom, for a Restaurateur because the venue was understaffed. As a Restaurant Owner I could see this was the problem immediately, however the people I was with just saw poor customer service and vowed to never return. The problem was not the staff themselves but just that there was not enough of them. When you go to a restaurant and have to ask for everything from the menu at the beginning, to the bill at the end and everything in between, it leaves a really bad taste regardless of the efforts made on the night.

Here are my top tips to getting the right balance between wage costs and having enough staff:

  1. Hire the right people. Too often we hire out of desperation because we can’t keep people or we just need bodies on the night. A quick hire with no process, no training and without the right experience