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On your mark, re-set, go

You've heard the expression "You're only as strong as your weakest link." In foodservice that translates into "You're only as good as your lowest paid employee." Typically that's the busser. With that in mind, how do you rate?

I've talked about the labor shortage before. I've talked about training. I've talked about the importance of promoting from within. And I've talked about unacceptable sound levels. All these factors come together right here, at the bottom of the organizational chart.

Regardless of how good your food, waiters and ambiance are, your bus staff can ruin a meal. I've been in operations where the employee sets the bus tub on a chair and practically sweeps the china, glass and silver into it with one fell swoop. In most instances, even if the busser has managed to more delicately place items into the tub or onto a tray, they proceed to the closest station and dump the contents, producing a crescendo of noise and sound waves that makes everyone cringe.

Resetting tables isn't much quieter. You've seen it. Bussers dealing bread plates across a tabletop like cards. Tossing extra silver back into bins without a thought to the disruption their actions have on nearby diners. Clinking glasses. Shoving chairs into place.

I suggest you concentrate on bringing up the performance level of your bussing staff, if for no other reason than to improve the overall experience for your guests. But you'll also experience a myriad of other benefits.

In addition to avoiding the obvious mistakes above, well-trained bussers are less likely to contaminate utensils, flatware and glassware. They'll know what can be recycled and what must be thrown out. The noise level in your operations will decrease, and generally, you'll make a better impression.

Well-trained employees experience higher job satisfaction. Have more self-esteem and have lower turnover rates. Well-trained bussers are naturals to move up the line into other positions.

Sometimes a name or title can make a difference. You might find that hiring "back waiters" instead of "bussers" elevates the caliber of applicant and increases the level of service, and fosters a sense of teamwork in completing responsibilities. We've provided two excerpts from our Busser Training Manual: "Prioritizing Busser/Back Waiter Responsibilities" and "Clearing and Re-setting Tables" . For the complete, customizable Busser Training Manual, visit the Trade Secrets Product Catalog.

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