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How to Juggle Managing Customers and Staff During a Busy Restaurant Shift

Multitasking is the art of handling several tasks at once. Some of us are usually better at it than others. In the hospitality industry, it’s almost imperative to handle lots of tasks at the same time. For restaurant workers and especially managers, handling customers and staff at the same time can be very difficult. It makes it harder because managing people can seem like a full-time job. But restaurant work also requires handling food, prep, money and many more aspects of this complicated industry. To make things harder, there are days when it seems like the needs of your customers are in direct opposition to the needs of the restaurant staff.

This article will look at some of the unique challenges faced when managing both customers and staff while also trying to serve food during a busy restaurant shift.

Juggling Chainsaws

On the worst of days, managing customers and staff in the food service industry can feel like you’re juggling chainsaws. We know managing people is a delicate and sometimes stressful process. We also know that handling the wants and needs of restaurant customers is an ongoing and intense undertaking.

While many of us take this kind of multitasking for granted in today’s fast-paced work world, studies show it is actually not very effective for getting things done. Very Well Mind says, “Multitaskers have more trouble tuning out distractions than people who focus on one task at a time.” In fact, switching between so many simultaneous tasks, which is what happens during multitasking, actually slows you down and makes you less effective.

For the restaurant worker, who has very little time to spare during a busy food service shift, this can be bad news. Here are some ways you can have a better balance between the customer and your staff:

  • Reduce your stress by slowing down just a little and taking each task one by one. Concentrating on the top priority in the moment and following the task through to the end can help you avoid some of the frustrations that come from handling multiple tasks but not finishing any one of them.
  • Take the time to fully train your staff before the customer comes in the door. This is a kind of delegation technique; if you fully train your restaurant wait staff to properly handle customers, they can take some of the heat off of management during food service.
  • Also, take time to think through what happened after the shift is over. Talking with your staff about what could be improved upon even for 10 minutes after the customers are gone will help the entire team continuously improve.
  • Finally, try walking away for a moment. If you’re in the thick of service and an employee is having a crisis at the same time a customer is complaining, take a deep breath and clear your mind. Try stepping into the kitchen for a moment and stretching or simply counting to five before speaking. Don’t check your email or look at your phone or do anything else until you spend a moment getting centered before tackling the next problem at hand.

Restaurant food service is a challenging role. Cutting down on multitasking will help you get a handle on some of the stressors in your day. If you need more management tips, connect with our restaurant industry experts to help you supplement your existing staff so some of the workload is redistributed.



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