Motivation 101: Keeping Your Front Line Employees Engaged & Selling


One issue many restaurants struggle with is keeping their front of house employees, such as servers and bartenders, motivated and selling up to par. Here you will find some innovative tips to keep your employees motivated and your profits soaring.

Run A Contest

Running a contest is a great way to inspire your employees and spark their competitive drive. Before diving in head first, take time to set out the parameters of your contest, including who, what, why, and when.

  • Step 1: Who - Choose one job class of employee, for example a server or bartender, to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Additionally, you might want to choose a revenue center, such as the dining room or the bar, or a meal period, like lunch or dinner, to make sure that the contest is fair. Lastly, you may want to exclude any employees that are on vacation or work part-time.
  • Step 2: What - Choose which items the contest is being run for. Whether it is your bottom-selling items or your seasonal specials, hone in on a few select items. When running your contests, item/cover % (percentage of items sold/covers seen), rather than quantity sold, is a great metric to judge the winner, as it ensures that the busiest server seeing the most covers doesn't always win and thus makes the contest fair for all participants.
  • Step 3: When - Once you have decided who and the what of your contest, choose a time period for the contest. We recommend a period between 1 week to 1 month.
  • Step 4: Reward - Choose a prize. Some of our favorites that have been successful are a gift card to the restaurant, a private wine tasting, or a weekend off request.
  • Step 5: Run your contest - Post results daily to keep employees motivated, and remind them pre-shift of the exciting competition that is under way.

Pro tip: You can do all of the above in under a minute with the Avero Contest Report.

Make Your Employees Feel Important

  • Lean on Data: If a server is performing poorly, don’t just tell them they are doing a bad job without any further information. Point out a specific area of opportunity, such as they are struggling to sell wine or are selling 20% fewer desserts compared to their peers. These pain points can be easily identified with Avero’s Server Scorecard.
  • Compliments: A smile and a compliment go a long way in making someone’s day. Take the time to point out when your employees do a good job turning around an unhappy guest or are selling a select menu item. Your employees will be motivated to represent your restaurant in a positive manner. You don’t need a contest to give out prizes - award servers for a job well done in a messy situation or a workplace anniversary.
  • Participate: Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. When the restaurant is busy, help your servers bus tables or pour glasses of wine behind the bar with your bartenders. Show your employees them that their jobs are important, and they will be better and more productive employees for it.
  • Listen: Listen to each and every one of your employees. Get to know them on a personal level so that you can ask how their kids are doing, or let them know about a new restaurant opening in their neighborhood. This will make your staff feel heard and appreciated on a genuine level.
  • Give Them A Voice: Allow your employees to input their availability or swap shifts with one another. Empower them to have a say in their weekly schedule.

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Encourage Development

Investing in your employees will decrease employee turnover and increase employee satisfaction.

  • Promotion Opportunities: Promoting from within your organization has been shown to be more beneficial to your staff, as well as to your business. Who knows the nuances of your restaurant better than your servers? Let your employees know when there is a chance to become a manager before looking elsewhere.
  • Continued Education: Hold monthly optional trainings for your servers on food and beverage such as wine and cheese pairings or seasonal vegetables trends, or common workplace skills like communication and time management. This will allow you to give them an opportunity to learn more about their line of work, and it lets you see which employees are willing to go the extra mile so you can evaluate and extend growth opportunities as they arise.
  • Technology: Train your employees to leverage the technology used in the restaurant. This includes the POS system, scheduling software, kitchen equipment, and software like Avero. Check in with your team to see that they are comfortable using these tools and ask for their feedback so you can offer training where needed.

While finding ways to keep your employees motivated and selling can be a struggle, using the above tips in conjunction with your restaurant data will keep your employees proud to represent your restaurant to guests each day. Running contests, making your employees feel important, and investing in your employees’ success and development will help you achieve your service goals.

Now let's hit the ground running!

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Marcy Stumpf