A leap of faith: That life-altering jump into the uncomfortable zone after you’ve spent countless hours weighing risk vs. reward.
For Zach Hoffmann, that leap has really been quite rewarding.
Hoffmann and his family love food. OK, well who doesn’t? But not many can take that passion and turn it into a successful restaurant business. In 2007, Hoffmann left his corporate job to pursue his passion. His brother, Seth, stayed with his job, but ventured into the restaurant biz with Zach. After finding success in a smaller scale restaurant, they moved on to bigger and better things.
In 2009, they opened Bistro on Bridge in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
“We pride ourselves on craft beer, high-end cocktails, and fun wines as well as an eclectic, fun menu in the sense that it's a little different than normal, restaurant bar food but still comfortable for everyone,” Hoffmann described.
This funky pub with an upstairs lounge called the Analog Room just underwent a major facelift. I’m talking a complete renovation. Another risk that truly paid off.
But what really contributes to the bistro’s success: making sure their employees know they matter.
Here are some tips from Hoffmann that you can implement at your small business.
1. Trust your gut – and your people.
Hoffmann has made some gutsy moves that catapulted his success.
Have you made any big decisions for your business based on a gut feeling or instinct? Turns out, there’s a scientific reason why that’s actually a good thing. A neuroscientist explains in Newsweek that emotions and intuition are a result of a lot of processing that happens in the brain. Our brains are predictive machines that compare incoming information and current experiences against stored knowledge.
So yeah, trusting your gut is smart advice.
For Hoffmann, the idea of a complete renovation was admittedly a “fly by the seat of your pants” endeavor at first.
“We had a general concept. But we had an awesome architect, an awesome general contractor, and an awesome interior designer. We always believed in the talent getting us to the point we wanted to be,” he explained.
What began as an idea was made into reality by trusting the people they had in place for the renovation.
Instilling trust in your employees is a surefire way to let them know they matter. Because when they don’t feel trusted, it often leads to poor workplace productivity and engagement.
Handing off a significant project to an employee shows them you appreciate the work that they do and feel comfortable letting them handle it. This extra responsibility gives the employee more reason to feel invested and simply feel good about themselves. And they’ll trust you, too.
2. Treat everyone fairly.
Do you have kids? Do you show favoritism to one over the other? If so, how does that typically work out for you? Probably not very well.
The same goes for your employees. Your interns deserve the same respect as your project managers. It’s a level playing field no matter who is up to bat.
Speaking of games – the upstairs portion of Bistro on Bridge is full of them. Aptly named, The Analog Room, that moniker is the only difference between the two spaces.
“As far as staffing goes, we try to present it as one restaurant. Bartenders work upstairs, they work downstairs. Bar backs work upstairs, they work downstairs. Any ID checkers or security work upstairs and downstairs. We don’t want to create an environment where it’s floor versus floor. If they have a good night upstairs and the bar downstairs doesn’t have as great of a night, it could create some hostility or other unwanted feelings. We’re all in this together,” said Hoffmann.
Could you survive without any of your employees? The answer should be no. Because they truly are what makes your small business operate smoothly. You’re all in it together (like Hoffmann said), so treat them like integral parts of a team. Show your employees they matter by implementing transparency, fairness, and inclusion.
3. Don’t sweat (or forget) the small stuff.
Think about your absolute favorite restaurant. The place you choose to go for your birthday or even a happy hour with friends. The vibe and the cocktails play a huge part in why you love it, but what keeps you coming back? The food. Delicious, mouth-watering food that comes from an amazing kitchen staff.
As Hoffmann explains, these folks deserve more credit.
“A lot of times in restaurants, the kitchen staff is forgotten about. You see the front of the house, the bartenders and the servers. They’re kind of the ones who get the praise. Here, we have a policy in place when we do private events – since a lot of the events are food sales, we actually tip out the kitchen. A percentage of the gratuity is on the food, so we give that to the kitchen,” Hoffmann revealed.
Hoffmann went on to say that they treat their kitchen staff as fairly as possible because they really are the backbone of his operation. Two-thirds of his customers wouldn’t return if it weren’t for his kitchen staff.
Do something small to show your employees or vendors they matter. Do you have a rock star cleaning crew that comes in, diligently tidying your space every night? Leave them a little thank you note at the end of a particularly messy week.
What about your IT department that makes sure panic doesn’t ensue when you experience a slight disruption in internet service? Treat them to lunch.
Don’t sweat or forget the small stuff/employees, because they, too matter in a really BIG way.
4. Pay them on time.
No one likes an inaccurate or late paycheck. No one.
Show your employees they matter by handling payroll easily.
“There's never been a moment where we've regretted being a PrimePay client. Any piece of information that's needed is an email away. The response is great,” said Hoffmann whose been a client since the restaurant opened.
If you’re ready to outsource your payroll to keep your employees happy, check out our all-inclusive payroll bundle today.
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In what ways do you let your employees know they matter? These tips are key for employee retention in an already tight talent market! Share your ideas below.
To learn more about Bistro on Bridge, click here.