Hiring staff and roles in a restaurant

Hiring staff and roles in a restaurant

One of the most important things to consider when opening a restaurant is your team. A well running restaurant is not a one-man-show. It is a team effort. In this section of our „How to open a restaurant?“ series, we will walk you through the basic steps of hiring staff and inform you of the different roles you might want to fill within your team.

Understanding Staff Requirements

1. Questions to consider for determining the right size of your restaurant team

Teamwork makes the dream work! Before you open your restaurant, you need to hire the right amount of employees. A good first step is to examine how much staff you need to efficiently run your restaurant on an everyday basis.

If you are seeking to gain more clarity on how to calculate the number of people needed for your specific situation, this list of basic questions will help you.

  • How many days of the week will your restaurant be open?
  • What will be the opening hours?
  • What is your serving style? (Quick service, mid-scale or upscale?)
  • What is the size of your restaurant? (Number of tables, maximum capacity of guests at once?)
  • Will you offer a delivery service?
  • How complex is your menu?
  • What is your budget?

Once you have answered these questions for yourself, you will be able to make well-informed decisions for the specific roles that need to be filled when you open your restaurant.

Restaurant Positions and Duties

2. A List of the key roles and responsibilities in a restaurant

To help you in your staff planning process, we have created a list of basic important roles that most restaurants have. As you read this list, keep in mind that this information may vary depending on your answers to the questions above. Also consider that, especially when you open your restaurant and get things started for the first time, some of the listed responsibilities could also be combined or cross over. This will require a rather high flexibility from your staff members, but it helps you getting your business started without being overwhelmed by a huge number of needed employees.
Hiring a restaurant manager

2.1 Restaurant Manager

This is arguably the most important role in your whole team. If you are not planning on being the manager yourself, consider the following advice to choose your manager well.

A restaurant manager should best have experience in managing a similar style of restaurant to yours. If you cannot find an experienced restaurant manager, at least your candidate should have an in-depth knowledge about how to run a successful business. Your manager should also know local suppliers, buying sources and buying methods for restaurants. Leadership skills and the ability to supervise your staff are very important as well, and last but not least, an affinity with your style and mission will be of great benefit to you. In the best-case scenario, you hire your manager about a month in advance to opening your restaurant. This way, you can continue the rest of the hiring process together and set up the big opening with your manager’s support.

Hiring chefs and cooks for a restaurant

2.2 Back-of-house: Chefs and Cooks

Hiring professional cooks should be another top priority - the quality and taste of your food will play one of the biggest roles in your customer happiness and loyalty. Cooking schools are a great place to look for excellent cooks and chefs. Depending on the variety of foods and the complexity of your menu, you will need to hire people with specific experience and plan to pay them adequately high wages.

Depending on the size of your restaurant, three cooks would be a good place to start with one of them working part time to help in rushing hours. Determined by the size of your restaurant and complexity of your menu, you should also consider hiring sous-chefs, prep cooks, and line cooks.

Other back-of-house responsibilities include: Food-runners, dishwashers, and cleaning staff. While these roles may not be the first that come to mind, they are very important for the overall workflow and appearance of your restaurant.

Hiring waiters and cashiers

2.3 Front-of-house: Hosts, servers, waiters and cashiers

Your servers and front-of-house-team will be the face of your restaurant. They directly represent your core values and influence the overall atmosphere and customer experience. Therefore, each member of this team should have the capacity to make your guests feel welcomed and maintain their friendliness under pressure.

For most restaurant styles, the servers will simultaneously be the cashiers, but there are scenarios in which these roles need to be divided.

Hiring sommelier bartenders

2.4 Bartenders or sommeliers

Determined by the style and theme of your restaurant, you will want to hire bartenders or sommeliers who are professionals in their field and add to the authenticity of your business.

The same principle of combining responsibilities as with the servers or cashiers applies also in this case.

Restaurant management team

2.5 Management Team

If you have the capacity to appoint a leader for each segment of your team, then your management team would comprise of the respective leaders of the mentioned categories. This would include your general manager, chef, front-of-house manager, and back-of-house manager.

An official management team is not a must-have, but most likely it will develop over time as your business grows and you give more responsibility to specific employees who can oversee the respective teams.

Once you have established a management team that is in line with your goals and your overall restaurant vision, they can then help you instill the desired vision in each employee.

How much Staff is Needed for a Restaurant

3. Calculating how many employees you need to fill the roles in your restaurant

Staff Needed for a Restaurant

Both the quality and the quantity of your employees can advance or hinder the success of your business. Therefore, it is just as important that you hire employees who believe in the mission and style of your restaurant as it is to hire the right amount of staff to generate efficiency. To calculate how many employees you need to fill the roles and responsibilities listed, consider your answers to the initial questions about the details of your restaurant. Depending on your opening hours, also consider how many shifts you want to run each day for the front-of-house and back-of-house teams. Keep in mind the ebbs and flows of customer visits and make sure that the rushing hours for mealtimes are adequately staffed.

Also ensure that your job description for each position in the restaurant is very specific so that no one has to guess their responsibilities. When you think about the different roles and calculate your need for employees, try to be as realistic as possible. Considering your list of roles will lower the risk of underestimating the number of employees you need to hire.

Restaurant Labor Costs & Rules

4. Labor Costs and legal regulations

When it comes to the legal regulations and paperwork for opening your restaurant, every country is different. Moreover, even within the same country, every state or region can differ from the next. Our appeal to you therefore is to invest in thorough research about the exact terms and conditions for the field of gastronomy in your specific time and place.

When starting the hiring process, decide on a pay scale for each position with a minimum and maximum wage depending on the experience and qualifications a potential employee has. Keep in mind that some positions are regularly tipped and could therefore be scaled on a lower wage while others are not tipped at all. Check what the minimum wage and hours are in your state or region, which can vary depending on the age of employees and other factors. The average labor costs within a restaurant, including your own, usually consist of 30% of your total gross sales.

While you are thinking about the size and detailed roles of your team, you should also decide on how you will manage your staff’s payroll. According to your personal preference, you might want to do that manually or use a payroll software. Using the right technology can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Bear in mind that the regulations for tips and payrolls also differ in every country and sometimes even in regions.

How to Retain Restaurant Employees

5. Team building and employee retention in the restaurant industry

After talking about the costs and numbers, we now want to encourage you to look beyond these factors and truly consider the people who will work for you. Think about how you can create a pleasant working environment for them. This will not only benefit your employees, but it will benefit you as well, because the happiness of your staff will have a direct effect on the success of your restaurant.

When you start the hiring process for your new restaurant, this is the best time to start building a great work culture and determine the atmosphere you want to have among your team. Treating your employees right will also level-up your customer experience since your front-of-house team will carry the overall working atmosphere with them when interacting with your guests. Sadly, the restaurant industry sees a very high turnover rate where many employees leave one restaurant for another due to high stress levels and inadequate wages.

How to retain restaurant employees

You can make a difference in the industry and focus on the following principles from the beginning:

  • Employee benefits - e.g. Health insurance, retirement plan, rewards, and discounts
  • Training programs - Give your staff the chance to grow and develop new skills
  • Transparency - Especially concerning payments and tips
  • Incentives - Commission fees can be a great motivation to benefit both you and your staff
  • Team-building activities - Team outings, birthday celebrations or anything that makes your team come together outside of the daily tasks
Building Your Dream Team

6. summary - Teamwork makes the dream work!

These are our tips for you to help you have a smooth process of putting together your team. If you apply the steps and principles outlined in this article and customize them to your unique business plan, you will be able to make your dreams of starting your own restaurant work. We are excited to help you along the way with this series on „How to open a restaurant?“ and hope you learned something new from this article on hiring staff and roles in a restaurant.
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