By: Jordan Lopez

In the hospitality industry there is a primary factor that determines the success or failure of a business; service. In the restaurant industry, service is too often summarized simply by welcoming guests, taking orders and providing an experience with a smile on your face.

Despite the notion, satisfying guests does not equate to a great customer experience. Checking the “service boxes” and acting on routine has become standard when visiting a restaurant, bar or hotel. Creating the unexpected and exceeding the norm is what leads guests to talk about your business and tell their friends…the most powerful & effective form of marketing!

So how does a business create an atmosphere where the staff reciprocate the same passion for the guest’s experience as management?


It may seem like an easy enough venture when thinking about the general idea, but it’s more intricate then it seems. Workplaces can be stressful environments and it’s important that managers and partners are listening to the people that work with them. Here’s a few tips that top hospitality managers use to invest in their staff and listen to their team members.

Evaluate Personality During The Hiring Process

Skill sets are important, but if that’s the sole basis of creating a team then you’re doing it wrong. If you’ve brought someone in for an interview than they already have the skills set, so why are you wasting time asking questions like “what are your strengths and weaknesses”, when you could be asking questions that evaluate whether or not this candidate’s personality will fit in with the culture you’re trying to build? Skills can be taught, personality can’t.

Testing someone’s reactive skills are very important in the hospitality industry. If the nature of your workplace requires your team members to handle tasks while ignoring constant distractions, have someone call into the interview a few times to break up the flow of the conversation. Something as simple as this will help you identify whether the candidate can thrive in the environment of your business.

Training & On-Boarding

The type of service your staff will display to guests is a direct representation of the training efforts that management puts in to each and every member of the business. Focus areas such as food training, cocktail knowledge and service standards are all important steps of the training process…but it doesn’t stop there.

Staff need to also be trained on how to deal with the needs of different clientele; whether that’s large groups, intimate dates, or families celebrating a special occasion, each group has different needs that are unique and adjustments need to be made to make sure that EVERY guest feels like a VIP.

Perhaps the most difficult part for any employee in the service industry is handling complaints from guests and identifying a chain of command to rectify a situation. Every restaurant is different depending on the size and culture, but training staff on how to handle themselves in reactive situations is crucial to the success of staff retention and customer referrals. All team members should know who to turn to when things go wrong; having something that simple in place gives the staff confidence when faced with a less than desirable situation.


Host Representative Meetings

One of the biggest issues that employees face within ANY company is that their opinions are not adequately being heard.


If you want to retain the team that you tirelessly put together, you have to invest your time and listen to them; this goes for any business within any sector! As a manager, there may be things that you’re unaware of despite your experience in similar positions. The workplace is a constantly evolving realm and who better to consult than the people who are there everyday?

Listening to your team can be as simple as setting aside an hour every month to hear what is going well and what can be done to continuously improve your workplace. If you’re a small business you can invite everyone to the meeting; if you’re a large company you can have representatives elected to speak on behalf of each department.

Hosting these meetings will help identify ways to create better, more efficient systems within your business and show your staff that you care about them and their well-being.

Spend Time In Their Shoes

You’ve probably heard of, or watched a show called “Undercover Boss” where the leader of a  company puts on a disguise and takes on a role within their business to better understand the employees and the company systems.

Baro partners Michel Falcon, Matty Tsoumaris & Steve Gonzalez each took on a support role in the restaurant to better understand their staff.

Whether you own a multi-national corporation or you’re starting a small business with a few employees, the implementation of this learning experience is a brilliant way to understand how to make your business better! Whether you’re a GM of a restaurant who takes on a dishwashing shift or you own a hotel and work at the front desk for a night, understanding first-hand the barriers your staff face will allow you to create a better culture for your team!


If you have team members who are proud to come into work, that energy will be transferred into the service they provide to their guests. Investing in the happiness of your staff is the best investment you can make for your business.