Category Archives: management training

Preventing Employee Theft At Restaurants

Photo Credit: Flickr by Deborah Fitchett

Photo Credit: Flickr by Deborah Fitchett

As simple as employees snacking during shifts or as extreme as stealing cases of food right off of the delivery truck, theft has always been an issue for restaurant owners.  No matter the severity, these costs add up and hurt your bottom line and profitability.  By implementing simple safeguards, you can protect your operation against theft and pilferage.

Read the entire article: Brilliant with the Basics – Improve your Bottom Line by Preventing Theft 

Restaurant Tip Reporting: What you Need to Know

n April, the IRS announced it’s looking at new ways to utilize technology to increase restaurant tip reporting.  This could include updating the voluntary tip-compliance agreements the agency currently offers restaurant companies, such as the TRAC (Tip Reporting Alternative Commitment) and TRDA (Tip Rate Determination Agreement).

Read on: Restaurant Tip Reporting- It’s the Law!

Choosing an executive chef for your restaurant

An essential aspect to a successful restaurant is no doubt a capable and expert staff.In the heart of the restaurant — the kitchen– the executive chef plays a key role.With multiple skills required to run a successful kitchen, the need for top-notch talent becomes ever more important. You can think of an executive chef’s role very much like that of your right-hand man
(or woman).

So how do you choose the best executive chef? Read on:
How to choose an executive chef for your restaurant

Training your restaurant employees: The Art of Effective Training

By Charlie Candelas

Training, both initial and ongoing of all personnel that impact the guest dining experience is the most measurable and telling aspect in the long term success of your business.  The discipline required to insure…

Read the rest here: training restaurant employees

Successful Restaurants Build Loyalty through Amazing Guest Service


If you can’t seem to find an angle to out maneuver your competition try this: Create an Amazing Guest Service Strategy!

If you ask 100 restaurant owners how they would rate their guest service our bet is 97-plus percent would say good. When it comes to creating Amazing Guest service, good is the enemy of great.

Amazing and “Over The Top” guest service is a direct result of thee restaurants ability to consistently deliver those “moments of magic” where the ordinary become extraordinary and amazement is achieved. “Over The Top” guest service is simply defined as an “above average or noticeably better” guest experience.

This doesn’t mean that every guest experience and touch point is going to be amazing every time but it does mean being better than good with occasional bursts of WOW and superior service. This can only be accomplished through a commitment to restaurant training and consistently executing well on the little things that can make a dining experience memorable.

To achieve those “over the top” moments of magic where you turn “Guest Service” into “Guest Amazement” it is essential that your internal customers (your team) become true believers, advocates, raving fans and evangelists of the brand.

If you want to out-maneuver your competition you must be able to deliver on “Guest Amazement.”


  • Identify Missed Opportunities





  • Provide The Tools, Systems And Standards To Create Accountability



  • Commitment to Staff Training


The goal of creating “Amazing Guest Service” is to remove all the uncertainty from the service staff, create alignment in message, develop meaningful tools and show them what “Amazing Guest Service” looks like and its benefits. The investment in your Amazing Guest Service Program will enable you to exceed the guest’s expectations, build loyalty and create raving fans. The “Just Satisfied” or “Good” is no longer good enough.

It Is All About The Guest Experience

In any new restaurant start up or restaurant opening it is imperative that the entire team focus on creating a memorable guest experience. Knowledgeable restaurateurs and the national chains understand the importance of the guest experience and commit significant resources to training and development of the service staff.

We are frequently asked how do we create “memorable guest service?” The simple answer is a commitment to training. The guest experience comes in part from service and training, but in the larger sense it is everything created by any and all contact with your operation. The moment the guest pulls into the parking lot or calls to make a reservation the ‘guest experience meter’ kicks in.

Opening a restaurant is a huge financial investment and your ability to create a memorable guest experience goes beyond the mandatory picking up of the parking lot or placing an inspirational company poster in the break area claiming ‘the customer is number one’.

It’s imperative that there is a conscious effort to create genuine relationships with your internal and external customers. In today’s competitive dining environment keeping your customers satisfied is simply not enough.

Successful restaurants build guest experiences that create not merely satisfied guests but loyal guests who become raving fans and advocates on your behalf. This is a far more cost effective approach in building a solid customer base than traditional advertising.


Remember when you were little, when it was pouring outside you would hear “put on your galoshes!”

Increasingly, that term is now found in restaurant industry kitchens. Yes, rubber mats everywhere are great, but it still rains and pours every kind of liquid onto the floor. And it all gets slippery.

The latest solution found in several east coast kitchens is a cut down pair of rubber galoshes that slip right over your regular shoes. They provide an extra grip sole, they are washable, they protect your shoes, and they help prevent slips and slides. And falls. And worker’s comp. You get the picture.

Want more kitchen safety and restaurant operation tips? Visit us at Synergy Restaurant Consultants, the leader in restaurant industry safety, efficiency and security for 20 years.

Employee Theft at Restaurants

Part one of Three.
A commentary by Dean Small, Managing Partner of Synergy Restaurant Consultants.
One recent study puts the financial loss to retail companies in stolen merchandise at $52 billion. National Cash Systems completed research last year showing that the average restaurant employee steals $220 per year in cash and products.
During the last few years, there have been growing concerns about the need for continued careful screening of prospective employees to ensure a safe work environment with honest, responsible and trustworthy employees. Many clients are dissatisfied with current assessment tools that purport to assess counter-productive behaviors. Clearly, this is a time when employees and customers need and want to feel safe and secure in the workplace. Bottom line: it falls to you to make sure of your business safety and honesty in the marketplace.
In this first of a series, let’s focus on daily activities. There is a pattern, a rhythm in your operations. When you detect changes in that tempo, start looking for unusual changes in your employee behaviors.
Signals From Employee Activities:
1. Are there secretive conversations among employees or phone conversations that stop abruptly when you approach?. Is there any one engaged in sending or receiving cryptic messages?
2. Is there excessive loitering of around your business of off duty employees, ex-employees or their friends.?
3. Do you find frequent “shortcuts” in procedures to expedite deliveries? Is there rapid checking in of some deliveries while others take much longer for no legitimate reason?
4. Do employees bring in large shopping bags or wearing unusually loose clothing to work regularly?
5. Do certain employees attempt to distract or hold the attention of a supervisor for no good reason while another employee is in the work area or signaling by hand gestures, whistling, etc. when a supervisor approaches?
6. Are there repeated violations of such security regulations as use of unauthorized exits or keeping personal packages in the work area? Do you keep finding an employee in an area he/she has no legitimate business in?
7. Do you discover the signing of another employee’s name or signing illegibly on invoices or packing sheets?
8. Are there employees habitually returning to the work area after others have left to retrieve something left behind?
9. Do you receive complaints by employees or customers that personal effects are being lost or stolen?
10. Are there frequent cash shortages on the same employee’s shift? Is there an unusual eagerness to “make up” the shortages rather than relinquish cash handling responsibilities?
11. Do you discover frequent cash overages on the same employee’s shift? This may indicate that an employee is stealing cash at the register but not “light ringing” sales enough to totally cover it.
12. Do you find an unusually high number of “no sale” transactions registered on any one shift?
13. Are there excessive undocumented voids on any one shift or voids left unrecorded until the end of an employee’s shift?
14. Do you see numerous receipt slips held by an employee until the end of a shift or notes found in the trash indicating that the employee was keeping a secret count of transactions?
15. Is there an employee who insists on ringing up his/her own employee meal after turning over cash handling responsibilities to another employee?
16. Do employees make excuses for theft? Employees who steal, rather than believing theft is wrong, may condone the acts of dishonest employees as, “It’s no big deal. It was only a few bucks.”
17. Employees who violate restaurant policies and procedures should be watched. 18. Are there overzealous work habits? Employees who work through their lunch breaks, seldom take a breather and never ask for time off may be running a game with the cash register. Also, employees who refuse to go on vacation may be afraid that their substitute will discover their dishonesty.
Yes, this all takes extra time and effort on your part. Granted, you trust your people. However, with a high cash and credit card number transaction business, the temptation may just be too great for many. Remember, it is estimated that 95% of all businesses experience some employee theft. Halting that drain will help your bottom line. Ignoring it will only cause it to expand and hurt you and your clients.
In our next edition, we will share additional signals regarding employee theft.
Dean Small

Everything old is new again.

I pride myself in obtaining the very latest in up to date information on foodservice trends and innovations. Today there was an article about a London restaurant that came up with a revolutionary idea for these hard economic times.

Their approach was simple: Suggest prices, but let the customer pay what they want for the meal. This establishes trust in the customer, provides feedback on the quality of food and service, builds reputation and customer base…and the list goes on. According to the restaurant, very few people actually try to ‘take advantage’ of the eatery and claim a free meal.

What a great, new, cutting edge idea…except for the fact that it was already a hugely popular concept here in Southern California…over 75 years ago.

Yes, back during the REAL Great Depression of the 1930s, a fellow named Clifford Clinton started a diner called Cliftons in Los Angeles. He was a third generation foodservice man, having grown up in his father’s cafeteria in San Francisco. His grandfather began the family tradition at a train station in San Bernardino, California in 1888.

Let me mention one prominent factor here: The family were devout Christians who created their diners and then went off as missionaries for the Salvation Army in China. Their successful restaurants kept them in enough money to continue their charity work.

Knowing few people could afford to eat out in the depths of the Great Depression in 1931, he made a pledge to the public that they could pay whatever they wanted or could afford. He vowed that none would go away hungry. Suggested prices were on the menu, but people could pay little or even nothing if they were not completely satisfied with the quality of the food. In our jaded day one would think the conniving public would rob him blind. However, people are generally good and honest. And they appreciate someone whose heart is truly set for the good of all. For every 3,000 customers served, only about 12 would scofflaw and demand a free meal.

Customers became “guests” and none were ever turned away hungry, even though they had no money. During one 90-day period, 10,000 ate free before Clifford could open an emergency “Penny Cafeteria” a few blocks away to feed, for pennies, the two million “guests” who came during the next two years. They survived and thrived via creative means. But that is another story for another time.
Cliftons in downtown Los Angeles is still operating…and thriving massively — using all floors of the three story building for the crowds of people who come to eat there. After 113 years and four generations. You may scoff at the approach, but the success is undeniable! And no, very few are down and out types.

Innovative approaches and solutions are the hallmark of successful businesses. Synergy Restaurant Consultants provides those long term and creative ideas.

Guest Feedback – Who Cares?

If you are like me, then you are constantly watching the dining room of any establishment where you are dining. It’s almost unavoidable for me to do this, and I am not advocating anyone attempt this highly addictive practice. What I see is a collection of images, a blur of black aproned waitron units circulating around a cleverly decorated environment. If this is what you see when you look, then you are in good company. What I would like to pose as a question to the reading public is very simple in nature, yet difficult to answer.

The question is this, despite the flurry of visuals and aromas in a restaurant; is anyone listening? I know that the background noise is sometimes overwhelming, but I mean as operators, is anyone listening? Does your staff have an opportunity and a method to communicate up the ladder? Do your greeters have any idea what to do with the comments they hopefully obtain to the most overly asked question of “How was everything?”. Surely everyone doesn’t just reply with “fine”, or “goodnight” …do they?

I would suggest that there may be some benefit to placing value back into the table visit. I know that when I am involved in training managers that I challenge them to visit every table. I know that every table is a huge expectation, so I secretly anticipate a smaller number of visits. The point being that if a manager can visit a table without an obvious reason such as overcooked food, then he or she is making that highly lip-serviced connection with the customer.

I can list a number of restaurants I frequent in my area, and although I watch the floor like a hawk, I have never seen a manger make a table visit. I silently assure myself that the manger is simply in the kitchen making sure the food is prepared correctly, but I know that’s not always the case. I’ve watched dining rooms for two or three hours during a meal and seen what can best be described as watching the Hindenburg go down, but in a restaurant. We have all seen some version of this scene. As we are walked to our table, the stares of desperately hungry diners due to long ticket times are clearly evident; the large group in the back is the cause of the cocktail staff running around like chickens. You are sat at your table, and the waiter buzzes by saying something like “I’ll be right back”, while the rest of your group sits unaware of the approaching storm.

In the days of table captains or the seemingly extinct Matre’D, this situation would have been addressed immediately or prevented altogether. Those days being behind us now, we have to evaluate the best place for the manager to be during a shift. When a well trained “expo” can coordinate the food exiting the kitchen, where should the manager be? I have seen them sitting at the bar, sitting at a table of friends, or even watching TV, but I don’t see enough of them visiting tables, and that could be where we begin.

Mark Ladisky
Restaurant Consultant