Cutting Payroll in Your Hotel Restaurants – Busser Edition

If you are like many hotels, you are looking for ways to reduce your costs in your restaurants to compensate for the lower revenues.  In this first cutting payroll edition, we are going to discuss how to cut the busser (bussperson, busboy) position.  Many restaurant chains across the country have now eliminated the busser position.  Take a look at this article describing how chains such as T.G.I. Friday’s have eliminated the position.

busboxFirst, a brief overview of how we see the bussperson position. Bussers are the key to a restaurant’s cleanliness.  They are relatively inexpensive to have on the floor during busy times.  However, they can really hamper good guest service.  Restaurants tend to use bussers to help the servers serve guests by doing things such as offering beverages and pre-bussing.  The problem is that guests cannot tell the difference between a server and a busser.  It does not matter if their uniforms are different.  When an employee approaches a guest’s table and offers a beverage, the guest expects that person is going to serve them.  Unfortunately, they do not always speak English and are not trained to properly serve the guest.  Many guest’s questions are answered with a blank stare or with, “I’ll get the server”.  Servers should serve.  They should be the first to greet the guest when they are seated.  They should take the drink orders and deliver them.  They should pre-buss and should deliver the checks.  A busser should never go to a guest’s table while there is a guest present.  If a busser is doing any of these tasks out of necessity, your server probably is unable to handle the number of tables he/she has been assigned.  You should reduce his/her table count until his/her service improves.

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Better Buffet Service

buffetThere are many times when I am eating breakfast in a hotel when I wonder why hotels even offer buffets for breakfast in their restaurants.  I can see the answers from the executives now;  “It is a faster breakfast for our busy guests!”  Or, “The costs will be lower due to the high volume and less staffing!”  Or, “Our guests prefer to have a buffet!”  What I usually see when hotels offer buffets though, is terrible service.  I am sure the guests do not prefer bad service!  It is not that buffets and bad service go hand in hand, but it really gives servers a reason to become lazy.  The fact is that almost everyone will tip, whether or not they received good service, when they eat at a breakfast buffet.  The line between the self-service aspect of a buffet and the service side from the server often becomes blurred and a guest will just tip the customary ten to fifteen percent of the check no matter what type of service they receive, just to be courteous.

Nowadays, there are not many service oriented managers that do not know that the last impression a hotel makes on a guest, usually at breakfast, can heavily affect guest service scores.  Most people also probably know that customers would prefer no service to bad service (thus the invention of ATM machines).  Why then, would a hotel allow this type of service to go out to their guests in hopes of saving some money?  If you have a subpar breakfast buffet service, make sure that you have the following items in place to change that service for the better.

Standards – Ensure that your staff is familiar with the standards of your hotel brand and follows them.  If you do not have a brand, make some standards and follow them.

Host – Have a host.  This may seem like a useless cost, but having a host seat guests will make the restaurant seem more like a restaurant and not like a cafeteria.

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