“What part of your job is the most unnecessary, dissatisfying, unproductive, or just plain dumb?” Ask this question of your employees and get ready for some fantastic feedback.

If you don’t ask, you may never know why good employees walk leave or why good customers don’t come back to your truck.

Will this turn into a gripe session? Is this a lesson in futility? Yes and no. Hopefully your employees will give some thought to their responses. And I know they will appreciate being asked. Your job is to turn the gripe session into a positive brainstorming session. Here’s how it works:

  • Get a pack of index cards and print your question on each one. Distribute the cards to all employees at pre-shift briefings or put it in their pay envelope.
  • Put a box in the truck or in your office (if you have one at the commercial kitchen) to collect the completed cards.
  • Compile the responses into a top ten list — or twenty or thirty. You can combine similar answers, but don’t edit too much.
  • Hold a team meeting to address the list. Distribute the copies to everyone, and have flip charts handy for note taking.
  • Read the list at a pre-shift briefing or the next employee meeting. Allow team members to make comments and amendments to refine the problem. Remember, this is their exercise.
  • Get a flip chart and start at the top of the list. Brainstorm ways that the problem can be fixed or eliminated. Take notes on the flip chart and encourage employees to think outside the box a little. They have valuable insights, and their suggestions will make their jobs easier and more productive. The end result will be happier employees and happier customers.

Your part of the exercise:

As a food truck owner, you can’t let yourself get defensive, dismiss suggestions or minimize complaints as irrelevant. Every idea is a good idea. Every complaint is a valid complaint. This will be harder than it sounds, but it will be worth the effort. You’ll start seeing results immediately.