Writing a handbook is a bummer. This is the service industry. We’re literally designed for fun and games. We’re the people who encourage good times and sometimes (allegedly) risky behavior. So when it’s time to pull out the ole suit and tie and go into Boss Mode, it sucks.
But because we all know “that guy,” these things have to be made. And you know exactly who we’re talking about.
What the hell needs to be in a handbook, anyhow?
Well, for starters, it’s a game plan for new people. The thing that sucks about the service industry is that there’s high turnover. It’s just life. Certain crews gel while other people can’t stop making out with their fellow servers in dark corners. Whatever the reason, this is the bible of what’s cool and what isn’t. Plus, what manager wants to give the same speech over and over again? No one.
We took the liberty of creating a basic outline for you because we know how tedious this can get.
Just a quick welcome to the team, we’re happy to have you, etc. Get them excited that they’re here. Try not to sound like a corporate robot. This is a place that sells itself on either killer food or one of the best bars in town and it all starts with the team that’s running the joint.
Sell positivity immediately. This is the service industry, we’re here to make sure people have a great meal, forget about their bad day, or have a few beers after work. Whatever that looks like, it’s critical to lay it out, so people understand the vibe immediately.
Bios of people a new hire should know in case you have a work-related question or in case a guest wants to know something (chef, owners, middle management, office/admin staff).
How We Work
A basic breakdown of intention and expectation. Find examples of the company’s core beliefs and values and address them here. This section is to show what’s expected, no matter what the position:
- Cleaning and breaking down for bartenders
- What’s expected of servers doing sidework
- If you see something that needs to be done, do it. Don’t wait to be told.
This section should also highlight how to speak to guests, that the core of this business is keeping positive interactions upbeat, intending to always build relationships. We want people to feel like they’re somewhere friendly, but also gives a shit about them. No one likes to be ignored, especially not in a bar or restaurant.
Don’t add a bunch of fluffy language. Make the document utilitarian so people get the gist: stay loyal. We’re steadfast to our principles, our place, and our people.
How to Present Yourself
- What tools they need for the job
- Dress code
- Secondary call to action about guest interactions
- What’s allowed on social media
A list of cooking or beverage terms that may not be obvious to newbies. This is more important in fine dining or high-end mixology places. Think: “The Holy Trinity,” which unless you went to culinary school, you might not know a seasoning mix of onions, bell peppers, and celery. The same goes for “tins” or “jigger” for someone’s first bartending gig.
The Fine Print
- Maternal leave
- Time off
- Employee infractions
Just remember, this is the service industry. You’re not saving kittens from trees or selling stocks and bonds. Keep your guidebooks light, but make sure the stuff they need to know is there. It’s not rocket science. We’re here to make sure people are having a good time.