Did you know there’s a secret formula for running a successful restaurant?
OK, you got us. There is no secret.
Success can be determined by so many factors. But you should consider giving your team the tools they
need to succeed. One area worth exploring is how your restaurant approaches pre-shift meetings.
Often seen as a minor or even a dispensable activity, these meetings set the goals for the day, address potential issues, and unify the team with a common purpose. Pouring the right effort into pre-shift meetings allows service to run more efficiently and smoothly with everyone on the same page.
In this article, we’ll dive into specific strategies and ideas you can use at your restaurant to set up your staff to provide world-class guest experiences.
What is a pre-shift meeting?
A pre-shift meeting, often referred to as a line-up or staff briefing, is a small meeting involving the restaurant staff, usually held before the start of service. This daily gathering could involve personnel updates, menu alterations, revisiting service expectations, or addressing concerns from previous shifts.
Pre-shift meetings are an integral part of the full-service restaurant workflow because they are designated times to realign on goals and maintain high service standards. It serves as an opportunity to get everyone on the same page and put their collective efforts into perspective.
Why restaurants need to nail pre-meal meetings
Put simply, pre-shift meetings are where restaurant leaders and managers create a clear game plan and get the staff ready for service. In the same way elite sports teams rigorously train to become champions, restaurants must also prep for a busy service.
Think of your team as a machine and your pre-shift meeting as a tool to fine-tune each cog in that machine. This gathering is essential in setting the tone for service. It’s a platform where restaurants can address issues and clarify doubts, pre-emptively solving potential troubles that could arise during the shift.
When coordinated effectively, pre-shift meetings can become the most crucial 30 minutes of the workday.
Additionally, these meetings are the perfect place to discuss “the why.” It’s the difference between a disjointed group of individuals simply doing their job and a cohesive, committed, prepared team working towards a common goal—providing excellent guest experiences.
How to create a consistent meeting structure
Like any good meeting, pre-shift demands consistency, organization, and clarity. Because pre-shift meetings occur daily, it’s important to maximize their value.
If you want to ensure you have a clear structure on what to say and how to say it, here are several considerations you can use to fine-tune craft a pre-shift meeting structure for your restaurant’s specific needs:
Consider incorporating training in your pre-shift meetings. It could be skill-building, revisiting forgotten procedures, or ensuring everyone is up-to-date with the current menu or new policies.
Bringing training into your staff meetings turns passive listeners into active participants. The idea is to solidify your team’s knowledge and confidence, directly reflecting on their interactions with guests. You can discuss challenges and learnings from the group to learn from mistakes and apply what works well.
Motivation is critical for proactive service. Include motivational talks in your pre-shift meetings to reinforce a positive work environment, encouraging the team to reach for high standards.
Take the opportunity to introduce a new contest, give staff recognition, or take a moment to appreciate everyone’s hard work. Initiating a pattern of motivation keeps your team energized, engaged, and eager to collaborate.
A crucial component of these meetings should be dedicated to updates and providing information. This could check on your staff, make important announcements, or make operational changes. For instance, if there’s a change in your seating layout or a last-minute menu change, this would be the time to address it.
Informing your team regularly shows them they are valued, and making them feel understood and recognized is a crucial part of a successful pre-meeting shift. By keeping them “in the loop,” you build trust and reinforce a sense of belonging among your team.
Finding the optimal pre-shift meeting length
While the duration of these meetings may vary depending on your operating hours, 30 minutes is suitable and can accommodate the ideas from the previous section. However, some businesses lean on shorter, more condensed 15-minute meetings.
15-minute pre-shift meetings
A 15-minute meeting often only allows for talking about the bare essentials. This can include informing the team of daily specials, delegating last-minute tasks, talking through immediate problem-solving, and a quick wrap-up. However, some restaurants may find this length to be just what they need.
30-minute pre-shift meetings
On the other hand, a 30-minute meeting covers every base. There’s plenty of room for shift-specific guidance, like asking your staff if they have any questions about new additions or explaining last-minute unforeseen events that need addressing before the shift starts.
The main upside of a 30-minute meeting is that it allows more space for motivation and mutual learning. It’s just enough time to celebrate hard work, appreciate your staff, and foster a work environment that encourages learning. This ultimately leads to a focused and enthusiastic staff.
The importance of strategic communication
Because there’s only so much time in the day, you must be strategic about what to cover in your pre-shift meetings. You may feel like these meetings are the perfect place to share things like menu changes, new wines, or logistical details like health plan enrollment periods.
While you have to talk about these topics, consider whether they are better suited in an email. Time is a precious resource for busy restaurants, and using it wisely can take a team’s productivity to a whole new level.
Strategic communication at pre-shift meetings means focusing on the critical points impacting the team’s performance during the service. Rather than getting caught up in specifics you can communicate elsewhere, this is the opportunity to cultivate a shared mindset for the upcoming service, prime the team on potential challenges, and reinforce the restaurant’s values.
Advanced strategies for productive pre-meal meetings
Having some advanced strategies up your sleeve can be beneficial to optimize the use of time and ensure that meetings are action-oriented.
Engaging your team
One way to maintain high engagement levels is to include interactive elements in the meetings. These could range from short quizzes about the menu to role-play scenarios that teams commonly encounter. Each interactive element can serve a specific purpose, like reinforcing knowledge or enhancing service skills.
In addition to the interactive elements, you can also rotate meeting presenters. Changing presenters not only encourages everyone to be prepared but also develops leadership skills among staff and introduces varied perspectives in the meetings.
Encouraging open communication and feedback
Pre-shift meetings are more than just opportunities to pass instructions. Consider that you can also use them as a place for your staff to express their opinions, insights, or concerns freely. Encourage them to share their insights from different shifts, which could lead to improved service strategies.
One monumentally important concept for retaining employees for longer is cultivating an environment where everyone’s voice counts, instilling a feeling of being valued. This open communication can significantly enhance team morale.
Fostering a team-building atmosphere
Meetings can be an opportunity to strengthen your team’s bond. Celebrate team achievements, recognize hard work, and share constructive feedback. Adopt team-building exercises or ice-breaker activities during the meetings to encourage camaraderie among staff members.
Remember, a strong, cohesive team can accelerate the restaurant’s overall performance, and these meetings can help to build such teams.
Boost staff retention with well-crafted meetings
If you genuinely want to improve the guest experience, you need to empower your staff. Pre-shift meetings can have a significant role in creating a superb work environment and giving team members what they need to be successful.
The strategic communication in these meetings equips the staff with a clear vision of their tasks and preemptively resolves potential service issues. Their service reflects this readiness—attentive and impeccable, impressing the guests and ensuring they return.
When used intelligently, pre-shift meetings become more than just a round-up of your team members. They have the potential to drive superior guest service and foster staff growth, learning, and retention. Executing productive pre-shift meetings is an investment in your team that will
increase restaurant sales. Want to learn how AI phone answering lets your staff work more efficiently? Sign up for a free 10-minute demo to see how Slang.ai can help.