Previously, we discussed how to build a staff of servers, cooks and drivers with a winning mindset. The unspoken question is this: how do you retain them? You’re not alone if you can’t find anyone to hire right now, making it so important to keep your team together.
Two concepts come to mind when talking about retention: communication and appreciation.
A staff likes to feel like they know what’s going on and they have all the pertinent information to do their job. No one enjoys chaotic, confusing workplaces, and most of those are characterized by a lack of communication. Regularly updating employees on the latest pizzeria news keeps them in the know and maintains a team-focused environment.
At Caliente, we use the GroupMe messaging app to communicate with all employees at once. We post updates, new menu procedures and important changes. We also host monthly meetings for staff, as well as biweekly meetings for the managers. These meetings are written in stone on the schedule and occur no matter what — they are the lifeblood of our internal communication strategy. Lastly, never underestimate a phone call or talking to a staff member in person during a trying and difficult moment.
A well-trained and informed staff learns to appreciate the workplace — but that relationship should be reciprocal.
Once the staff is in the know, they should feel more entrenched in the job. But how do you get them to care even more and stick around awhile? By showing how much you care about them, too.
We put significant effort into employee appreciation, beginning with two big, all-staff events each year. One is our annual holiday party, as we close all stores early and gather at a nice venue for a catered event with all expenses paid, including alcohol. At the event, we give away random door prizes and then we hand out our “Caliente Awards” that, of course, include giant trophies. The other big annual event is our Summer Picnic, as we invite employees and their families to an outdoor party. We host it at a local park with giant bouncy houses and live entertainment. These types of events build camaraderie in a stress-free situation.
Throughout the year, we implement smaller-scale appreciation efforts, such as our Employee of the Month program, in which a valued and talented employee is awarded a gift card and has their photo placed on the wall. We also have a Manager of the Month program, which includes a gift card, paid vacation day and t-shirt celebrating the achievement. In addition, we give out years-of-service shirts, in which employees receive a special t-shirt noting their years of employment on the sleeve.
Sometimes, nothing is better than an honest “thank you.” As an owner or manager, your words carry weight, and specifically telling employees what they did well goes a long way. Of course, one of the most powerful ways that you can thank an employee is through their pay and pay increases — and that balancing act is what we’ll tackle next month.
NICK BOGACZ is the founder and president of Caliente Pizza & Draft House in Pittsburgh. Instagram: @caliente_pizza