June 1, 2018 |

Mike’s Monthly Tip: Tribe Mentality

By Pizza Today

Boombozz Pizza, Louisville, ky, Tony Palombino, staff, kitchen, meeting

Don’t let common restaurant divisions destroy morale

I was at a Raiders game as a kid, and no matter what call the referees made — even when the call was as plain as day that our team was in the wrong — the crowd went ballistic. If it wasn’t in favor of the Silver & Black, the Oakland crowd wasn’t having it. This emotional response is 100 percent natural and human nature. We all want to belong, and sometimes belonging means deriding those not in our tribe. While it’s harmless fun when it comes to sports teams, this mentality can destroy a healthy restaurant.

It’s natural to unify against a common enemy. As a country, we’re better than that country; as a college, we’re better than that college. It often goes all the way down to town, team, race, gender, generation, etc. This can’t be us inside our business. Competition is great; civil war is peril.

So here’s a breakdown of the most common tribe mentalities to avoid and fight against inside your pizzeria:

Round 1: Servers (Front of House) vs. Cooks (Back of House)

Both sections are equally important. It’s the chicken and the egg. Great food gets customers; great service keeps customers and creates new customers. The customer is gold, so the front lines are incredibly important during the rush, but dedicated BOH makes it all possible.

Servers need to be aware they can make more than a BOH employee for using their brain and not always their sweat equity. Helping out at the dish phase, making all ticket instructions clear and concise, along with being polite and courteous to BOH is a great way to keep good morale and motivation high.

BOH needs to understand the mental agility it takes to anticipate the needs of several tables while not appearing flustered (and at the same time being charming and knowledgeable). Their job is not to deliver food, but rather to enhance the customer’s experience. If service is being done right it will appear easier than it actually is.

Round 2: Day Crew vs. Night Crew

For FOH you have two completely separate customer groups. A quick-service, lower tipping group vs. longer tables and more demands — all are hard, and all deserve respect. BOH morning crews need to set the night up for success since they have more time on their hands. BOH night crew needs to ensure a great experience and close strong to set up for a good morning.

Communication, understanding, standard setting and empathy for the other shift — along with total refusal to let your kitchen be divided — are the only ways that the shifts won’t have antipathy toward each other.

Round 3: Employee vs. Manager

Employees will view managers as weak and having the easy life. The reality is that all responsibility falls on management, especially GMs. It might sound weird, but a successful GM is the one not doing anything other than observing because that means all systems are a go and functioning properly. However, if anything goes wrong (a customer is too drunk, AC goes down, an accident occurs outside — and everything else that could possibly go wrong), it falls at their feet to resolve as the leader of the site.

Round 4: Our Restaurant vs. The Customer

CUSTOMERS PAY THE BILLS — SHUT IT DOWN. “But they don’t know, they don’t understand.” They’re not paid to … WE ARE … so SHUT IT DOWN. If someone stupidly and naively has antipathy towards the customer, SHUT IT DOWN. That means being angry at the customer who shows up five minutes before close is a fireable offense.

Round 5: Our Restaurant vs. Every Other Restaurant

It’s our job to be the best. It’s not our job to say anything negative about others to prove we’re the best. Leave that to customers and the Internet.

MIKE BAUSCH is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a frequent speaker at the International Pizza Expo family of tradeshows.