How to Conduct Meetings
Meetings are a fact of life in any small business environment. They can be frustrating to conduct and may turn into bitch sessions if they aren’t run carefully. But they’re important for getting managers, front-of-the-house, and back-of-the-house employees on the same page.
There should be three regularly scheduled meetings that take place in almost any restaurant. They are:
- A weekly manager’s meeting
- A quarterly front-of-the-house meeting
- A quarterly back-of-the-house meeting
Meetings help set the organizational culture and provide a forum for hashing out the issues that can plague a business if they aren’t taken care of. In a business in which many employees can all be going separate ways – each with their own agenda at times – a good meeting has the power of getting everyone on the same page about goals and expectations. It’s sometimes not easy to get everyone together, but this is an important part of running a successful restaurant.
Managers’ meetings should take place weekly, usually at a consistent time and location. This meeting should be conducted by the General Manager or Owner and be attended by all managers. In a well-run managers’ meeting, the GM or Owner puts important items on the table for discussion, including:
- Scheduled large parties and events for the week
- Employee concerns
- Cost/ordering issues
- Revenue benchmarks and performance
- Staffing challenges
Managers are each given an opportunity to contribute to these topics. Then everyone gets an opportunity to introduce items or concerns that are important to them one at a time. This is a great way to get everything out on the table. It is also a very helpful tool for developing strategies and planning implementation.
The manager’s meeting is also the focal point for holidays and special occasions. Without the manager’s meeting to set the stage, holidays sneak up on us all pretty quickly. Days like Mother’s Day, Easter and Thanksgiving usually need to be planned a few weeks or even months in advance. The manager’s meeting provides the best forum for doing so.
There are many reasons to have meetings for the entire front-of-the-house, but the most important ones relate to staff reminders about teamwork and taking ownership of communal workspace. It is important for servers and bartenders to see themselves as part of a team rather than working independently, which this job tends to breed.
A team meeting is also helpful for discussing sales strategies and incentivizing servers. Managers can use the opportunity to light a fire under employees or praise them for their hard work. Many restaurants pair server meetings with wine tastings that help develop sales strategies that can be used on the floor.
Kitchen meetings are infrequent in this business, in part because it can be difficult to get an entire kitchen staff together at one time. This is especially true for larger, busier restaurants, where there are few gaps in the schedule.
But a good kitchen meeting is important for establishing team goals and covering past performance. An Executive Chef or Kitchen Manager has to be able to communicate the priorities of the business and discuss how everything is going now. It is also imperative that employees are on the same page about holidays, and discuss post mortem notes in order to improve for the future.
The most important part of employee meetings is the chance to address big-picture and small-picture issues. As managers, we tend to do this on our own everyday. But getting together and working as a team is essential for lasting success over time.