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What to include in your pre-shift briefings?

Posted by Mike Walmsley on Sep 20, 2019 11:04:05 AM

Having a meeting for the sake of a meeting is a huge waste of time and zaps energy from your staff. That's why creating a pre-shift briefing that helps to set the tone for the shift, gets your employees into the “game”, and encourages them to be focused on the same goals is the best way to get your staff ready for when the guests start arriving. 

But, why are pre-shift meetings important and what can they do for you and your staff? Let's have a look.

Motivate and communicate

Pre-shift meetings can help motivate and open communication channels with your staff members. It’s not the time for discipline or negativity, instead, you want to leave your staff members amped as they go into their shift.

Feedback and tips

You may have been fielding questions directly from your customers, or through your staff members, this is a chance to address them and add any quick supportive tips before staff head out to face the customers. Keep it limited to one, maybe two tips only, staff have enough going on you don’t need to treat it like a full-blown training session (which it is NOT).

Things can change in the restaurant business on a pretty regular basis, this should truly underscore the importance of a daily pre-shift meeting. Different meal periods and different staff members mean you should have a pre-shift meeting for each shift! Here are a few things to help you get started:

The pre-briefing set up:

  1. Make some notes and stick to them, stay on topic, don’t waver from the focus
  2. Plan ahead - a briefing should… well, be brief!
  3. Have a location set up – limit distractions
  4. Keep it short! Aim for 5 minutes max!
  5. Be focused, a briefing should be the basis for a great shift and helping your staff get energized before a busy shift.New call-to-action
  6. Be on time! Sounds silly, but this is absolutely your best opportunity to lead by example

Things to include

  1. Current, ongoing and any new promotions
  2. Don’t tell, show! If you have daily food specials, have the chef prepare them so all can see, smell and have the opportunity to taste after the briefing
  3. Any menu items that may be in short supply 
  4. Employee appearance – Do they look the part to look after your/their customers? 
  5. Any items that are in abundance that should be encouraged for sale today
  6. Now would be a great opportunity to show praise, “Sasha, I loved how you increased your sales yesterday with that creative up-selling technique you used.” Much better than, “you guys did a great job last shift.” Be specific, be direct. A compliment highlights a staff members success, it also provides a meaningful example and learning point for the rest of the staff. Restaurant work is fun and rewarding, it can also be challenging and stressful, taking a positive, direct approach demonstrates that as the manager, you are paying attention to their successes and challenges. 
  7. Focus on the positive, don’t focus on what was wrong in the last shift
  8. Ask better questions to your staff members. Asking, “any questions” is not helpful, frame your questions around the goals for the shift. i.e. “Any suggestions on how we can reach our sales goal tonight to selling 500 shrimp salads tonight?”

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Things not to include

  1. Structural or complicated “admin” related things like policies
  2. Anything disciplinary in nature
  3. Anything that would be perceived as a negative issue 
  4. Financial results 
  5. HR Payroll stuff

Results from a pre-shift meeting

  1. Better communication all the way ‘round
  2. Staff feel like a part of the plan
  3. Well planned and articulated promotions and specials can help increase average covers
  4. Sales increase
  5. Staff members are happier, more engaged
  6. Here’s a big one, it may help decrease employee turnover rates as employees feel more connected and valued for their efforts and contributions

Different establishments have different realities, strengths, and weaknesses. Daily pre-shift meetings can be very helpful, especially in a busy environment. If a pre-shift meeting isn’t possible for some reason on a daily pre-shift schedule, make sure it happens at least a couple of times a week to ensure your staff are all on the same page and feeling motivated.

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Mike Walmssley_blog.png Mike Walmsley, is the author of '69 Tips For Better Food & Beverage Profit'Stay tuned for the next book in the series, '101 More Tips For Better Food & Beverage Profit', coming out soon on Amazon!


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Topics: Hospitality career tips, Hospitality managers, Hospitality staff