Tags Posts tagged with "Staffing"

Staffing

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now-hiring-highway sign

If you haven’t noticed, over the past five years there has been consistent growth within the mobile food industry. Food truck owners across the country are succeeding to the point in which they are able to bring on more staff to expand their businesses.

If you happen to be in this situation, you may want to consider these traits as those to look for in your next hire, no matter what position they hold. Hiring can be difficult, especially in the food service industry. Candidates may have great cooking or customer service skills…but they just don’t work out. Why?

You’ll find that some individuals try to get by doing as little as possible, while others seem to possess a drive that leads them to give their all each and every shift. It those with that drive that you need to look for, and this article will provide an inside look into specific traits they’ll possess that tend to guide their work behavior, leading them to produce high-quality work consistently and without the need to prod them to stay on task.

Dedication

Those with a good work ethic are dedicated to their jobs and will do anything they can to always perform at the highest level. One sign of this will be seen in their resume, it will show that they change jobs less frequently than industry standards. They also often work as long as it takes to get a job done, showing that they are someone truly dedicate to their job.

Reliability

Reliability goes hand in hand with a good work ethic. If individuals with a good work ethic say they are going to show up or start at a certain time, they do. Individuals with a strong work ethic often want to appear dependable, showing the boss that they can be relied on.

Character

Those with a good work ethic often also possess generally strong character. This means they are self-disciplined, push themselves to complete tasks instead of requiring others to complete them. They are also often very honest and trustworthy, as they view these traits as part of who they are.

Productivity

This trait is key due to the speed in which a food truck is run. These individuals work at a consistently fast pace, with high productivity. They will typically get huge amounts of work done faster than others and don’t quit until they’ve completed the tasks they are given. They want to appear to be strong workers so they feel that the more productive they are, the more beneficial to your business they are.

Cooperation

Coming from a military veteran, I can tell you that a cooperative work environment can be highly beneficial for your food truck business. Being cooperative leads to stronger teamwork throughout the truck due to the fact that they often put a lot of effort into working well with others. They will respect you enough to work with anyone they are teamed with, even if they do not enjoy working with specific coworkers.

While it may be difficult to find someone who holds these traits and are capable of completing the tasks you give them. It’s important for food truck owners to do the best they can in building teams with these types of individuals. It has been shown time and again that the most successful trucks always seem to be staffed with this type of crew.

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Think about how much you rely on your employees to operate your food truck. In many cases, they are responsible for preparing your delicious food, ensuring your customers are happy and bringing revenue into your mobile food business. What if they felt mistreated? How do you think they would react?

food truck employee-theft

A single disgruntled employee can do a lot of harm to your food truck operation. A window server, a line cook or even your truck manager, who is not happy with their job can create poor morale with other employees, be rude to a customer, prepare poor meals and even steal from your business.

No amount of operational controls, auditing or inventory will matter is an employee feels alienated or disgruntled. It is not always possible to prevent a situation like this, however the better the relationship you have with your food truck employees, the better chance you will hear about any issues before they become too great. If your staff respects their owner and managers, they also respect your business and realize their jobs are part of its success.

Here are some tips for food truck owners to remember when building relationships with their staff members:

Know your people.

  • If you don’t know your staff, then they don’t know you. It’s far easier to steal from a faceless entity than a person.

Don’t create an atmosphere of distrust.

  • Treat your employees with respect. Don’t talk down to them regardless of their position within your truck. Being friendly will go a long way in building good staff relationships.

Reward employees as your food truck empire grows.

  • Small raises or bonuses as a reward for your rolling bistro’s growth will make your employees feel like they are part of the reason why it has grown.

Don’t nag them about costly mistakes.

  • Constantly harassing staff about the costs behind mistakes creates stress, and more mistakes are likely to be made. Even worse, your truck’s employees might start hiding mistakes if constantly worried about the consequences.
  • If you have an employee that is consistently making expensive mistakes, try taking them aside after their shift or during a down period. If it continues to be a problem, let them know that the loss of their job could result.
  • Use mistakes as a learning tool and an opportunity to inject additional training and re-assurance with policies and procedures.

Every food truck owner, who has been in business long enough, will have to deal with employee theft at one time or another. How you handle the topic of employee theft with your staff does in fact make a difference.

How do you talk about employee theft with your employees? 

Talk with your employees openly about theft and its consequences to your mobile food business, to their job and to the livelihood of those who decide to steal. We are often asked; does talking about employee theft actually increase employee theft. The short answer is no.

Not everyone will be a positive and motivated staff member. However, most employees want to earn an honest day’s pay, be respected and treated fairly. For those people, getting to know them is a way to get them more involved in your food truck’s well-being.

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Performance-StandardsPerformance standards developed by food truck owners form the heart of the job description and they describe the whats, how-tos, and how-wells of a job for employees in a food truck business. Each performance standard states three things about the job:

  • What the employee is to do
  • How it is to be done
  • To what extent it is to be done (how much, how well, how soon)

Traditionally, job descriptions have simply listed the duties and responsibilities of what the employee is to do for each job. Although this approach is better than no approach, a job description using performance standards is much more useful.

Anatomy of a Performance Standard

Job classification: Window server

Type of work: Take food and beverage orders

Performance Standard: The window server will take food and beverage orders for food truck with 100% accuracy using standard business procedures.

Breakdown: The window server will…

What: take food and beverage orders

How: using standard business procedures

To what standards: all food truck customer orders with 100% accuracy

Supporting materials explaining or illustrating the specifics of the how ( in this case, “standard business procedures”) are necessary to complete each performance standard. They explain the action to be taken in order to reach the goal or standard.

Uses of the Job Description

Job descriptions are used often in recruiting, evaluating applicants, and training. They are also useful in assigning work, evaluating performance, and deciding on disciplinary action.

What a Good Performance Standard System Can Do

If you develop a full set of performance standards for each job classification in your food truck, you have the basis for a management system for your staff and the work they do. You can use them to describe the jobs, to define the day’s work for each job, to train employees to meet standards, to evaluate employees’ performance, and to give them feedback on how they are doing. You can use performance standards as a basis for rewarding achievement and selecting people for promotion. You can use them as diagnostic tools to pinpoint ineffective performance and as a basis for corrective action. You can also use them in disciplining workers as a means of demonstrating incompetence. They provide the framework for a complete system of employee management.

Consistent use of a performance standard system can reduce or eliminate low productivity and high turnover. Your food truck employees are told clearly what to do. They are taught how to do it. They know how well they are doing because there is an objective standard of measurement. You can also help and support them with additional training or coaching when standards are not being met. All this makes for much better relationships between you and your workers.

Performance standards improve individual performance. When people are not given explicit instructions but are left to work out their own ways of getting their work done, they usually choose the easiest methods they can find. People also begin to find certain parts of their job more to their liking than other parts and will slack off on the parts they like least. The procedures and standards put all these things into the right perspective.

Once workers know what to do and how to do it, they can concentrate on improving their skills. Improved skills and knowledge, coupled with goals to be met, encourage people to work more independently. If a reward system is related to achievement staff will respond with better work. Better work means better productivity, better customer service, more sales, and higher profits.

Morale in your food truck will benefit greatly. People feel secure when they know what to do and how to do it, and when their work is judged on the basis of job content and job performance. If they have participated in developing the objectives, they have a sense of pride and a commitment to seeing that the objectives work. Participation also contributes to their sense of belonging and their loyalty to the company.

A performance standard system can reduce conflict and misunderstanding in your mobile food business. Everybody knows who is responsible for what. They know what parts of the job are most important. They know the level of performance you expect in each job.

We hope this article helps shed some light on performance standards and how they can help any food truck business.

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Unlike restaurants, food trucks are often operated by a small staff comprised of individuals working a variety of roles. The size of your truck will help you determine the number of staff members that can efficiently and comfortably work inside of it.

In some cases, food truck owners have two or three sets of employees: those who work on the truck and others who work at the commercial kitchen or in the office.

You base the number of employees you hire on the amount of people your truck can handle (most food trucks can hold two to six workers) as well as how many workers you need in the commercial kitchen to prepare the food before it makes its way onto the truck. As you can see from the chart below the majority of food truck organizations have between 2 and 7 employees (numbers generated from a staffing poll we conducted in May of 2012).

Food Truck Staffing Numbers

Even if you plan to handle many of the operational duties inside your truck, you’ll need to fill several positions to ensure smooth operation of your food truck so it can be successful in this fast-paced industry. These positions fall into two categories:

  • Front of house: In the food service industry, the term front of house (FoH) refers to the customer service that involves interacting with, serving, and cashing out your customers from the moment they approach your service window until they leave. Your FoH employees are the public face of your food truck because they’re the representatives your customers interact with in most cases.
  • Back of house: The back of house (BoH) staff performs all the other operational tasks of your food truck, such as cooking, cleaning, and even the bookkeeping. Because most trucks can house only between two and six employees comfortably, many of the BoH staff are responsible for multiple tasks.

Food truck service window attendants

Service window attendants, who are in the front of house, take customers’ orders, serve food and beverages, prepare itemized checks, and accept payments. They must be professional, polite, and reliable. These staff members need to be familiar with the menu, including how food items are prepared, what they taste like, and whether special orders are permitted.

Service window attendants should also know the daily specials, if you have any, so they can inform the customers.

Mobile food business managers

The manager or shift manager position runs the show in the back of house. Ultimately, the manager or shift manger’s responsibilities include all the functions in your food truck business, from overseeing the commercial kitchen and truck operation to filling in for last-minute absences of regular employees.

Unless you plan to hand over these responsibilities to someone else because you’re unable to cover all the shifts the truck operates or because you own more than one food truck, you (the owner) will act as the manager of your food truck.

The manager opens and closes the truck, purchases food and beverage inventory, opens the register, tracks inventory, trains and manages employees, works with suppliers, and manages your truck’s advertising. Depending on the size of your organization, a manager takes on all the administrative and managerial duties of the kitchen while maintaining a dual role as a chef or cook.

Chef and cooks for your food truck

The chef (part of the back of house) is responsible for all that goes on in your kitchens (both the truck’s kitchen and the commercial kitchen). The chef should be involved in the hiring and training process of cooks and other BoH staff, if possible.

The chef is responsible for the daily menu as well as buying supplies and equipment. One of the main differences between a chef and a cook is a culinary certification. Most food truck operations have one chef on the truck, and the remaining kitchen staff are cooks.

Cooks (also part of the back of house) are one of the most integral parts of a food truck dining experience, because, no matter how well your service is, your customers judge by the taste of their meal. A cook’s responsibility may encompass more than just cooking; a cook may also be responsible for supervising and training other kitchen staff members.

The most important factor to consider when hiring a chef or cook is his experience. The best-case scenario is to hire someone who has experience as well as an eagerness and strong knowledge of the food style your truck serves.

If a cook or chef is professionally trained, be sure he can handle the speed of a busy kitchen because food truck kitchens can run a lot faster than some styles of restaurants. Having a food safety certification, such as a ServSafe Certification, is also a plus and is normally required training for all food truck employees.

Food truck kitchen workers

Kitchen workers in the back of house weigh and measure ingredients and stir and strain soups and sauces. They also clean, peel, and slice vegetables and fruits and make salads. They may cut and grind meats, poultry, and seafood in preparation for cooking.

You may also require them to move the prepped food from the commercial kitchen to the truck, unload the truck at the end of each day, and wash the truck at the end of the day when you bring it back to the commercial kitchen for the night.

Determining how many separate kitchen workers you need depends on the amount of work you need done to prepare the food before it gets onto the truck. Although many truck owners have separate staff to take care of these tasks, it’s not uncommon for the kitchen workers to work as cooks on the truck as well.

Entry-level kitchen workers may also have the job of washing pots, pans, and utensils, keeping the kitchen equipment clean, taking out trash, cleaning the kitchen floors, and so on.

The food truck’s driver

Depending on the size of your food truck and the vehicle driving requirements in your area, you may have to hire a driver for your truck who has a commercial driver’s license. Verify these requirements before you purchase a truck so you know ahead of time whether you’ll have to hire a driver separately or whether you’ll need to require a staff member to also hold a commercial driver’s license.

To prevent the need to hire a separate driver for your truck, look into the process of attaining a license in your region and, if at all possible, get licensed yourself.

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Ever since you opened up your food truck you’ve have an open door policy, so of course your employees come to you and tell you everything that bothers them, and you work together to fix it. All in all, it’s a great place to work.

food truck kitchen staff

So why is the turnover of your food truck employees through the roof? Because open door policy or not, it’s highly unlikely that your employees are telling you everything you need to know. Here are a few things that your staff members may be thinking, and what you should do about it.

You’re underpaying them

Are you sure this statement isn’t true? When you hired each of your employees, you negotiated their pay based on their skills, your needs, and the market demands. It was fair then, so isn’t it fair now?

Pay attention to the market. If they could make more money elsewhere, you’re underpaying. If it would cost you $5,000 more to replace someone, you’re underpaying that person.

You never listen to their ideas

You’re the idea person. Your idea to start the food truck business. Your idea to hire. It’s your ideas that made their jobs possible. All that is true. But, you hired them because you needed them and their ideas. Are you listening? And by listening do you actually considering their ideas?

Show you are listening by actually working out the costs (or asking them to do the homework and present to you) what the ROI would be on that particular idea. Maybe you’ll find some good ones.

You need to fire someone

Employees hate it when bosses ignore bad (or incompetent) behavior exhibited by their coworkers. It causes a tremendous strain on the truck, lowers productivity and makes for generally unpleasant workplace.

Fire those who deserve firing.

You are a micro-manager

Do you know every aspect of everything that goes on in your mobile food business? Sounds like you’re an awesome owner, right? Wrong. Let your employees handle what they need to handle. You should be the big picture person.

Hire the right people and let them do their jobs. This may require sitting on your hands for a few weeks until you get the hang of this.

You are too hands off

You may well be the opposite of the micro-manager, but that doesn’t mean that you’re perfect either. If you don’t have any clue what is going on, can’t give direction and suggestions, and can’t see the big picture because you don’t know where any of the puzzle pieces are, you’re too hands off.

Regular (weekly) one on one meetings with your food truck staff members. You don’t need to worry much about how things are done, but you do need to know what is being done.

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Understanding the proper way to scheduling your employees is essential to your mobile food operation. Not only does your schedule separate which employees will work the daily shifts, this schedule is a crucial way to anticipate the daily sales, control labor costs and ensure that all parts of your food truck business are staffed to the levels needed to run smoothly. The most important goals of your food truck schedule include guest satisfaction and controlled labor costs.

create-staff-schedule

Staffing your food truck requires balance. A food truck owner or the scheduling manager has to keep in mind that the schedule needs to reflect the business needs first. This includes the quality of service your mobile bistro provides its customers, as well as keeping labor costs under control. A big part of this balance is achieved by appropriately scheduling staff members.

Some food truck owners find it difficult to avoid the temptation to overstaff. Overstaffing can help provide improved attention and service to the customers who visit the truck, but can cause your labor costs to diminish any profits you receive. On the other hand, understaffing can appear to be a viable way to save money. However, this quickly leads to employee burnout and diminished service standards, which ultimately harms your mobile food business more than the money that is saved. Finding this balance takes practice and depends on the people you have hired, your budget allowances and other variables.

When making the schedule for your food truck, remember that there are numerous ways to do it. Make sure to keep in mind that the simpler the better, since this can be a time-consuming process. Project sales and labor data as best as possible to keep within your budget, and plan for the unexpected when it comes to your employees.

As you work to create the schedule for each week, try to predict customer counts and sales. Predicting the amount of business you will do in a given week is one of the keys to preparing an accurate schedule. After all, your goal is to schedule for a well-functioning food truck. Be sure to match these predictions with the percentage of your annual budget and sales to ensure that you are hitting your labor cost target.

Creating a schedule can be time-consuming and even tedious. You must keep in mind the availability of each employee, as well as their skills and talents to make sure your truck has the people it needs to run successfully. Scheduling a mix of strong team members and those who need extra help can be a good strategy.

Finally, be sure to collect information from employees beforehand, as far as their availability, vacation plans and other needs. Of course, your main priority is to run the business, but try to be prepared with this information so that you are not left with the task of covering shifts at the last minute.

Frequency: Some food truck owners will create a new schedule for each week, which can be a good way to stay abreast of sales projections as well as staff needs or other variables.

Access: Once you have created the schedule, hang it where your employees can see it and make copies of their upcoming shifts for the week.

Changes: No matter how much time and effort you put into creating the perfect schedule, no schedule is going to remain the same once it is tacked onto the staff bulletin board. Communicate to your food truck employees that you or your manager(s) are the only ones allowed to make changes to the schedule, and must notify a manager at any time they need to change anything.

We hope this article is helpful to food truck owners when it comes to the all-important function of scheduling your staff members. If you have any tips or suggestions you have found useful in your business, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

 

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tip of the day

Few mobile food business owners succeed without great talent supporting them. So retaining your food truck’s star employees is not only good for the company, but for you as leader. Here are three ways to keep your best people around:

  • Trust the team. Give your staff the opportunity to use their unique strengths every day. Allow them to do what they are best at.
  • Make connections. Spend time every day checking in with individuals to see how they’re doing — personally and professionally. Avoid private or sensitive topics unless your employee brings them up.
  • Respect individuality. Recognize your people’s individual needs, and customize assignments, perks, and recognition accordingly.

 

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tip of the day

Dismissing an employee from your mobile business is a stressful and challenging task. Unfortunately, the difficulties don’t always end when they’re out the door. Employees, even those you let go, may ask you for references. Here is what to do in those situations:

  • Verify information. Check the former employee’s file before giving a reference to ensure that you state just  the facts.
  • Keep it short. Whether you’re writing a reference letter or providing a phone reference, limit the amount of information you offer. This will reduce your chances of saying anything that could be perceived as defamatory.
  • Keep it factual. Limit your responses to factual information: dates of employment, title, salary/hourly wage, and other objective data.

 

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With the mobile food industry continuing to grow we are constantly on the look out to assist both the owner operators as well as the customers of these rolling bistros. From time to time we run polls to gain industry information that truck owners can use to help better their customer service and the options that they provide to the communities that they serve. Other times our polls are set to find out general information “we” want to know.

Full kitchen

This week’s poll centers around food truck staffing. We want to know how many employees you have on your staff, this would include those who work on your truck as well as those who may work behind the scenes in your kitchen or in your office. If you have multiple trucks, provide us with an average number for each truck in your fleet. Let us know, so we can share our findings with our readers.

How Many Employees are on Your Food Truck Staff?

View Results

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