You know you are a good boss. You’re fair, you keep your emotions in check and you care about your food truck staff. Unfortunately over time some staff members will take you for granted. This could result in feeling entitled to extra favors, and assuming you make so much money it doesn’t matter. So how does this happen and how can you make a change?
For most food truck employees, if you don’t give them rules and reasons why policies and procedures are in place, they will make up their own. If you don’t provide them, they’ll ask someone else, or base decisions on what they did in their last job and many of these assumptions will be wrong.
7 Common Areas Where Food Truck Staff Take You for Granted
Here’s a quick list of some of the most common problems I have seen over my time working in the food service industry. Do any of them ring true in your food truck and need your attention?
- Left-over food taken home. I have always found it funny how there’s always a little extra left over after a shift when truck owners allow this policy. If you notice your food costs being higher than planned a simple change in rules needs to be instituted. I’m all for offering staff meals, but not full take-out orders.
- Continual roster swaps. No one loves organizing shift schedules, and it’s very easy to let staff members make fixes and changes themselves. Unfortunately you can bet that eventually you will end up in a miscommunication and will be short staffed with nobody to cover. If you don’t have one in place already, it’s time to create a Swap & Request Book. It will still need your supervision, but this system is much easier for everyone keep informed and your truck properly staffed.
- Tardiness. I’m sorry but texting that you will be late 15 minutes before your shift just won’t cut it. If someone continually is late it’s time to give someone an official warning. Everyone knows who the offenders are, and if nothing is done will wonder why it’s tolerated.
- Phone use. We understand that almost every one of your employees will have a phone with them while on shift, the key is to regulate when they use it. Any time a problem surfaces nip it in the bud before it becomes bigger. Even though for some staff it may be like taking away one of their limbs, if you have issues where staff members are using their phones at the wrong time…have them turn them off and place them somewhere out of their reach. Share the rules and make sure there is secure storage for phones not being used.
- Poor grooming. Not to come off as stodgy old man but some of today’s common cultural grooming techniques just don’t fit inside a mobile food service business. For men, the daily shave now seems to be optional. If you’re growing a beard, let it grow (but don’t forget a beard guard if you are preparing food). But if you only bother to shave twice a week, it’s now time to make it daily. Your staff manual may need more explicit guidelines, with pictures and clear examples of what’s OK and not OK. Discreet facial studs and rings are also common, but the role of the owner and a food truck’s staff is not to alarm the customers – do you need to tighten up on multi-colored hair, big rings and studs or ear tunnels? It’s not discrimination to enforce a common set of guidelines.
- The truck is a mess, and it’s not busy. The famous saying, “if there is time to lean there is time to clean” needs to be regularly enforced – do you have a cleaning checklist posted in the truck? If you don’t, it’s time for a change so develop your own.
- Playing off owners (or managers). As kids, we all knew which parent to ask for certain things, and when. The same thing happens in the business world. You certainly don’t need a 10 page policy on every instance, but there certainly needs to be clearly written directions. If you and your partner and/or managers are getting played by your staff members, put a list together and write up the standard response. Maybe it will be just for the two of you, or you can add it to your food truck policy handbook.
I hope these tips can help food truck owners prevent themselves from being taken advantage of by their employees. If you have any additional areas that I missed, please feel free to add them to the comment section below.
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