How Often Should You Give Your Staff a Raise?

The key to answering this question properly relies on the answers to two important pre-questions:

  1. How does your staff split the tip money?
  2. How long and how well has each staff member been operating for you?

raises at work

If the answer to question one is they split tips evenly and actually make a lot of money by doing this, then it might be possible to find a way to enhance the rate and amount of tips they get by adding “please tip” jars to the counter as well as getting debit machines that ask for a tip instead of giving them a raise. If your staff is getting tipped well and so have never asked for a raise, there’s no reason to give them one unless you want them to know how grateful you are to have them. But if the answer to question one is that they don’t split tips very evenly and in fact don’t get much tip money at all, then after a while a raise might be the only motivation they have to keep satisfying customers as much has they can. Now let’s move onto the next pre-question.

If your answer to question two was “my staff works very hard and have been with me for years” and they ask for a raise, give them one! Even if it’s just a minor one. If you can afford it, this is a great way to make sure you don’t lose your team. If you’re staff are doing well and everything is gravy, why ruin this by saying no to a raise. People say don’t fix what isn’t broken, but I also like to say don’t ruin what’s working well. If you can keep the gravy train going, do it, no matter what! But if the answer to question two was they don’t work very hard and have only been with you for less than a year, it might be a lot wiser to hire new staff instead of giving these monkeys a raise. Just saying.

So now overall we can see there are factors to the ultimate question “when should you give out raises.” In the restaurant business I believe raises should be earned and used as a tool by the owners and managers to make sure everyone is satisfied, especially the customers. Don’t say “yes” too easily because if your staff doesn’t deserve the raise, there’s a good chance their quality of work won’t improve when they receive it. There is a profound psychology to the whole thing and giving a raise to one guy and not another can be dangerous, so you’re doing a smart thing by thinking this through.

My concluding advice is to do whatever it takes to keep those staff members that are crucial to the success of your business, and don’t be so nice to the ones that not only should get replaced but are lagging you behind. After all, you’re not Santa Clause. Let your staff understand you’re planning to keep this restaurant going for many years and decades and when you give them a raise it means you’re hoping they will stick around to see your future success and therefore receive many more raises down the road.

I hope that info helps, because it sure helped me when I was in the hell of things. Well, bye for now and see you soon!

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Best Tip for Maintaining Your Restaurant Appliances

appliance repair tips

Keeping all your appliances working optimally means that your food will cook better, chefs will work faster, which in turn means your customers will be happier. Trust me, you don’t want to know what it feels like to have your gas range break down when you have forty customers waiting for steaks. If this does happen to you, the tip I’m about to share now may just save your skin! So let’s begin.

What is the best tip for maintaining all the cooking appliances and machinery in your restaurant kitchen?

As you may know from reading about me on my history page, I used to operate a restaurant in Vancouver BC. This is what gives me the authority to share this vital tip with you. The tip is plain and simple: Build a long term friendly relationship with a local appliance repair mechanic and gain his or her personal phone number. Tip them well at every job and ask them if it’s okay if you can call them on weekends in cases of emergencies. Having someone you can rely on to drop what they’re doing to come and help you and your businesses is extremely helpful. This is yet another strategy I gained from watching my father. My father was even more careful, and had two appliance repair companies ready at his beck and call at all times just in case something went wrong on a busy night.

What is the easiest way to go about doing this?

There are two ways I know of to gain a trusted appliance mechanic to your side:

  1. If you know other restaurant owners or managers, ask them if they can refer an appliance repair technician to you. When this is done, the appliance repairman already has a reason to like you, as you’re friends with one of his good customers. Call the appliance mechanic over for a general maintenance check up and tip him well. Use this time to tell him what your intention is, and make sure you get his or her personal phone number for weekends.
  2. This way might be the easiest. Start cold calling local appliance companies. Prepare to have a long conversation. Try to talk with the company owner if you can and tell them straight up what you need. Doing it this way, you won’t be able to get a personal number per se, but you can become a VIP customer for an entire company, which in some ways is even better. It’s even better than a personal number because this means there is a higher chance that they’ll have someone free to help you when you need it. When you’re dealing with just one appliance repairman, this chance is lower. But make sure the company you’re setting up this relationship with is open on weekends and holidays, because these busy nights are when you’ll most likely need emergency service.

How did I build a relationship with an appliance repairman?

I did what my father did and chose option 2. I cold called four places before I found what I was looking for. The Vancouver appliance service I built a relationship with understood my needs, and had set up similar relationships in the past. Kind of like how a Taxi company builds a relationship with an airport, this appliance company treated me like a VIP. In turn they knew I’d call no one but them. So it’s a mutual set up we both benefited from.

Surely enough several months after taking this precaution I needed their emergency service and, like we promised over the phone, they sent someone over ASAP. It was a busy Friday night and our industrial dishwasher stopped working. The company I chose sent a guy out so fast that my dishwasher was only able to clean three dozen dishes by hand before the industrial dishwasher was working again. This saved our night and the customers didn’t even notice the hiccup. If I hadn’t taken the precaution to set up this relationship, our night could have gone a lot differently.

I hope this tip helps you!

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Don’t Fall In Love with Your Menu & Learn To Change It Regularly

kitchen life is everything

One of the biggest reasons why a restaurant has a hard time growing is because the owner is so stubborn when it comes to improving his menu. This is especially true of chefs who move over from Europe and have been cooking the same dishes for years and years. They have such high egos that even when customers complain about their menu items they can’t see the truth and think all their customers don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t make this mistake if you plan to open a second restaurant in the next city over. Rarely a restaurant’s menu never needs to change, and it’s not because of luck. Usually these people did immense research before making their menu in the first place. They handed out surveys to figure out what kind of restaurant was needed in this area and what people were expecting when it came to taste and variety.

So I warn you as soon as you get more than 3 complaints about one item on your menu, remove it and replace it with 2 new items because another big mistake owners make is not having enough options to choose from. Of course some customers will order the same thing every time but all the ones who don’t will stop coming once they’ve run out of new things to order, so change your menu!

A perfect example of why this is so important is this story: My father ran his business so strictly and was so unwilling to change his menu that he openly argued with customers whenever one said his menu sucked. My father moved to Vancouver BC from Italy and he made all his sauces the same way every time. When someone said his sauce was too plain he lost his mind. His ego was so attached to his food that it was a personal insult to him whenever someone complained. Watching him fail was how I learned so much. Of course he learned to change over time. To have that attachment to your menu is dangerous and will restrict growth for your business. Learn to adapt and change, and only then can you grow. Think of McDonald’s and all the other big timers that constantly update and improve their menu.

Get into the habit of adding something new to your menu every month and you’ll find that it acts as a form of free advertisement as customers tell their friends about it. With more variety in your menu, you’ll get more variety in the kind of people who come into your restaurant. And unless your an idiotic racist, you’ll know that’s a very good thing; variety!

So take this lesson seriously, study your menu. Hand out a survey to your customers at the door. Learn how to improve that which is your service and in turn what you earn and deserve will improve. Thanks for reading and good luck with your endeavors! More coming soon!

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How to Deal with the Stress of Running a Restaurant


Dealing with anything that is stressful can be difficult, but the running of a restaurant, especially a bustling, busy one, brings a few extra nags to the table that have unique difficulties of their own. After running a successful bar and grillĀ in Vancouver BC for several decades, I can share my tips and opinions on the best ways to handle such stress. Let’s begin!

Firstly I’d like to point out a few things you SHOULD NOT do.

  1. Don’t turn to drinking and smoking on the job to cope, as this will ultimately make things worse in the long run, as you become too cloudy-minded to handle new problems.
  2. Don’t lose patience with your employees, no matter how hard you want to smack them. Instead, stay calm and in control. With that said though, don’t be too nice, as being too nice will make them think they can get away with more than they should.
  3. Never kick your broken appliance in front of customers. The reasons are obvious.
  4. Don’t hide in the bathroom for hours out of shame. Even when mistakes are your fault and you feel too embaressed to show yourself, stand up to your problems and face them like a proud feminist.
  5. Don’t get angry with customers. When they leave a bad review of your business, smart readers will be able to see the authenticity of what they’re saying. If they mention nothing about you getting angry or being rude, than the review is nothing more than an opinion rather than a hard fact that says “never eat here.”

Now that we got those “don’t does” out of the way. Here’re some tips on what you CAN do when stress comes your way.

  1. Simply step out for a walk around the block to clear your head. Remind yourself how grateful you are to have a successful business, or the chance to become successful, and assure yourself that it’s worth it to deal with your problems now. Who knows? You might be reviewed on TV one day or become a franchise, but only if you can handle your stress in the right way now.
  2. My favorite advice: Fire employees without mercy. I know this can be tough or seem harsh, but the worst mistake a restaurant owner can do is keep an employee around whom you know is the cause of your stress. Over time their mistakes will continue and it’s best to get rid of them sooner than later. Trust me!
  3. Have that one employee or business partner who you can trust to talk to about your problems. Having no one to talk to in the kitchen, ready at hand, means you have to deal with everything internally by yourself. It’s healthy to be able to reach out and talk openly ASAP, rather than let the stress build up over time. Having an employee who wishes to help, one who doesn’t just come for the money, is vitally important, but hard to find. Hold that special person dear, and don’t take them for granted.

Know that more tips and advice are coming soon, and stay strong. You have one of the most unique positions in the world, and people look up to you to have a fine evening and a meal. Keep yourself firmly grounded in the belief that things will get better if you work towards it, and never quit.

For a bonus, this might help, too.

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