Psychology 101: Keeping Morale High in the Food Truck
As every day passes, food trucks and mobile vending services are rapidly growing across the country. There are more companies and jobs being created within the industry, and with this fact comes a certain level of professional treatment that needs to be followed by the vehicle owners in regards to their staff and customers.
Many food truck owners have worked in a commercial kitchen before, and because of that, they know that there can be frequent disputes between the service and kitchen staff. This issue does not change once the kitchen has become mobile. In many cases a food truck will have staff members that do both service and kitchen work, however there are still instances where those tasks are split up.
In a restaurant scenario, the kitchen barker plays a key role in handling food flow. Some cooks will put extra stress on the barker when something bad happens: Incorrect meat selection or preparation, inappropriate garnish, or inadequate seasoning. This position is usually filled by the Sous Chef however, in a mobile situation; this job is left up to the service counter employee.
If you look back to your days in a brick and mortar restaurant, you’ll remember the service staff seems to always complain about the quality of food or the time taken to have the food ready for the customers. The kitchen staff will be swinging their mighty ladle or fillet knife around saying, “Get the hell out and come back when we RING THE BELL.” These are just a sample of disputes between the kitchen and service staff that can happen even in the small confines of a food truck. Unlike most restaurants, where these issues can be handled back of house, food trucks do not have this advantage and these arguments can show your customers how disorganized your business is.
Good relationships are not hard to build. You should look at factors such as psychological, culture, lifestyle, and experience differences. Not everyone can be bullied to perform, and some require a subtle approach. This can and should be everyone’s job, however, the food truck owner or manager is ultimately the person responsible for it.
Do your research
Analyze your cooking or service staff for problems, and look into each situation. Give opinions, ideas and advice. Your staff needs attention, think of the best way to solve their problems and come up with a win-win solution.
Attend personally to problematic customers
Attending personally to problematic customers will give your staff a place to send them, and allow them to help the next customer in line. Those with authority should always be around to prevent unruly customers from verbally or in some cases physically attack your staff.
Reward your staff after a hard day’s work
A busy food truck isn’t just about being a money maker for the owner. You should also care for your staff. After a hard day’s work, when appropriate, give them a piece of your appreciation. Handling an employee a cash bonus of $50-$100, or even a paid day off will give them even more reason to bust their hump for you every day. Think of this cost as a marketing tool. As project management methodologies teach us to do ‘Internal Marketing’, research shows that this is one of the best ways you can achieve it.
Keep your morale high
Nobody will daunt your morale if you do it appropriately. Make sure to do your job well even if conditions are not right, make the right decisions, and always think positively. A positive leader will always keep themselves in a positive mindset. In the long run, this will help to generate more creative ideas, a happier working environment, and even in some cases an increase in food quality.
There are many more ways to help your truck’s staff keep its morale up but these are a few tips you can use to start with. As the owner of a business you need to be the player, be the manager, and be the boss. Invest extra time in playing those roles. Eventually, if it isn’t already, you can make your business staff-friendly and keep the morale of your team high.