Business and Operations
The Pizza Chef: November 2016
By Diana Cline
A common discussion among pizzeria owners is how to get their staff to do a better job. To put it another way, how do you get them to care about the job they’re doing?
It begins with your training program. As part of it, staff should see themselves as ambassadors of your brand. Maybe you’re not thinking about your pizzeria as a brand so much as the neighbourhood pizza place. But it is a brand and your staff represent that brand, in store, on the road and at the customer’s door. As the owner you need to give your staff every reason and opportunity to see themselves as ambassadors of your pizzeria. These days it’s not enough to tell them they are, although I’m a big believer in the importance of repetition. You need to convince them that even though it may be only a part-time job for them, it’s much more than that.
Tell, don’t sell. Tell the story of how you opened the business: What made you decide to open a pizzeria instead of a clothing shop? Or a burger place? What drives your passion for your pizzeria? What makes your pizzeria unique over the other pizza places in the neighbourhood? That is, what is your pizzeria’s reason to exist? Until you can define what makes you stand apart from other pizza places it will be difficult to convince your staff that they are important in your operation.
What skills can your staff learn while they work with you that will carry them everywhere later in life? These could include sales, communication, dealing with the public, handling complaints, dealing with co-workers, handling money, training other staff members, delegating. These skills are too often overlooked but they are essential to every successful human being at every stage of life.
Here are some tips I share with my staff:
- Lead by example. If it’s important to your brand that your staff look their best, wear a clean uniform and show up on time, then you should do so as well.
- Smile and be friendly.
- Treat everyone with the utmost respect and courtesy.
- Leave your personal problems and baggage at the door. Everyone has challenges, but your pizzeria shouldn’t be a place to vent. When you identify a staff member who always has a negative story to tell, pull them aside and ask them to save that story for a coffee date with a friend.
- Engage the customer in polite conversation (for example: “What a nice house you have,” “What a cute dog,” “Are you enjoying the sunny weather?”) This promotes relationship building.
- Delivery specialists need to drive safely and courteously.
- Delivery specialists should always have a map or GPS in their car and know their route before leaving the store.
- Ensure the order is complete, whether in store or for a delivery. All ambassadors should repeat the order back to the customer before completing it. In-store should remind customers to take their drinks before they leave the store. It is your responsibility to ensure the customer gets everything they asked for all at once, whether at the door or before they leave.
- Watch your language, no locker-room chatter. A good rule of thumb: “If you wouldn’t say it standing next to your grandmother, you shouldn’t say it here.”
Sharing these pointers with your team and communicating the story behind your business should encourage them to care about the work they’re doing and represent your pizzeria as proud brand ambassadors.
Diana Cline is a two-time Canadian Pizza magazine Chef of the Year champion, internationally recognized gourmet pizzaiolo, partner with Diana’s Cucina & Lounge in Winnipeg and a director for the CRFA [now Restaurants Canada] from 2009-2013. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is also a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating systems to run a pizzeria on autopilot, along with marketing and positioning to help operators grow their businesses effectively and strategically. She is available for consulting on a limited basis. For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.