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How To Lead Better Pre-Shift Restaurant Meetings

May 23, 2023 6 min
Senior Content Manager at Eat App
Reviewed by
Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

Running a restaurant requires being prepared for the unexpected: a server may cancel at the last minute, a VIP may receive subpar service or the ice maker may malfunction. There are a hundred different things that may go wrong, but restaurants that prepare ahead of time can prevent the type of turmoil that makes us all want to tear our hair out and makes us wonder, "What do we do now?"

One of the most crucial yet under appreciated aspects of managing a successful restaurant is the pre-shift or pre-service briefing. Consistent pre-shifts can increase operational effectiveness, reduce dangers, and increase revenue for restaurants.

Why do you need a daily pre-shift at your restaurant? 

As a restaurant manager, your responsibilities are no different from those of a coach who wouldn't send his or her team out onto the field without a pregame huddle. For your workers, every shift is like a game day. You must make sure that everyone is organized, prepared, and capable of performing.

Check out some of the advantages below if you're debating adding a daily pre-shift to your routine.

Align your staff members

Your staff will be more aligned and prepared for the shift ahead with the aid of pre-shift meetings. Meeting topics should range from housekeeping information to reservation notes to cover flows to menu changes to sales possibilities.

Focus on motivation and encouragement

Daily pre-shift meetings not only provide information but can also motivate your team to provide better service. Make enjoyable competitions, rejoice in wins, and honor top performers. Aim to recognize at least one success per shift.

These workplace gatherings can also foster open communication and teamwork. Encourage your staff to discuss ideas, offer comments, and ask questions. Mixing up the pre-shift presenters and including several voices throughout the meeting is a terrific approach to engaging your employees. Engaging your personnel can increase their sense of belonging to the group and the company.

Improves revenue

When teams are well-organized, well-informed, and well-motivated, they sell more. Pre-shift allows you to align on goals and prior performance while also identifying upsell chances to drive revenue.  

Pre-shift recipe for success

The following are the most typical and crucial aspects to consider when preparing for a successful shift.

Business announcements and updates

Sharing both internal and external news keeps your employees up to date on essential restaurant updates as well as events that may have an influence on the company.

  • Events: If your city or town is hosting conferences or parades, it's crucial to consider how this may affect the volume and the overall flow of the evening.
  • Weather: This is a factor that can have a significant impact on reservations and foot traffic, particularly for outdoor venues and locations.
  • Improved technologies or processes: If you intend to implement or change existing processes and solutions, such as introducing a new reservation system or POS software, pre-shift is an excellent time to brief your workers on the schedule and training requirements.
  • Business and personnel updates: This could be a notice about the opening or closing of a sibling restaurant, a change in ownership, or management and staff promotions. If it is critical to the restaurant, your personnel should be aware of it.

Check your floor plan and layout

Reviewing your floor plan before a shift ensures that everyone knows where they're expected to be and what they're in charge of. This is especially crucial if you're changing up your floor layout to suit larger events or occasions such as Valentine's Day, which may necessitate more 2-tops than usual.

Along with the floor plan, you should also look over:

  • Schedules that are more open and less restrictive
  • Responsibilities on the side
  • Staffing shortages or difficulties

You can use your reservation system to print an updated version of your floor plan for your staff to evaluate, or you can make one manually.

Cover flow and expected guest count

Before a shift, go over your reservations to get an idea of the entire guest count and cover flow. These include the front-of-house (FOH) and BOH should be informed of the rush, and your hosts should be prepared to manage unexpected waitlists if foot traffic increases.

This is especially crucial for the culinary crew to understand so that they can plan ahead of time.

Review guest and booking information

Paying attention to the little things is necessary to provide outstanding guest service. Review your reservation system to identify special guests, accommodations, allergies, and reservation remarks.

The customary guest information to include is listed below:

  • VIPs, attendees, and reviewers
  • Dietary restrictions and allergies
  • Birthdays, anniversaries, and surprises
  • Pre-orders
  • Freebies and gifts
  • Reviewers, both negative and positive
  • Favorites and preferences

Menu improvements and training

Pre-shift is an ideal time to communicate menu adjustments and educate your employees.

Invite your chef to provide an overview and sample new menu items. This is an excellent opportunity for workers to understand how the food is prepared or to obtain specific information that they may share with diners. Similarly, to introduce a new addition to your beverage menu, your sommelier or beverage director can do a quick wine-tasting or cocktail demo.

This enables workers to ask questions about new recipes and receive suggestions on how to explain or pronounce specific ingredients. If you've had to raise your menu prices, your employees will be better equipped to explain why. The greater the guest experience and contribution to the bottom line, the more knowledgeable your personnel is.

Competitions and upsell possibilities

Every shift should have a sales goal, whether that goal is to sell gift cards, upsell appetizers and desserts, or promote a wine and meal combo. Educate and motivate your sales crew. After all, if your employees rely on tips, a higher check average benefits them equally.  

A contest can be an enjoyable approach to gamify and reward upselling. Reward your employees with appealing incentives such as a free bottle of wine, free lunches, or no side work for a week.

Tips on how to prepare for your pre-shift meeting

A successful pre-shift involves planning. It not only helps you organize, but it also demonstrates professionalism and respect for your team. Their time before a shift is as valuable as yours; don't waste it by being late.  

Identify and structure your key points

Most restaurants offer a pre-shift template that managers can print and fill out. This frequently necessitates gathering information from many sources in order to organize talking points.

The minutes that sum up a shift can be stressful for everyone, especially if the team is transitioning between lunch and dinner. Manually collecting information takes time, and mistakes can happen, especially if you're low on people.  

Pre-shift preparation can be made more effective by utilizing technology. An integrated reservation solution, such as Eat App, saves managers time. Eat App effortlessly collects, stores, and delivers all of the insights you need in one location by linking your reservation software, POS system, and reviews.

Pre-Shift is accessible via mobile phone or iPad and provides a single view of your floor plan, reservations, guest comments, server overview, cover flow, and other information.  

Optimizing pre-shift meetings with Eat App shift reports: enhancing the guest experience and team coordination

Here’s how to leverage guest tags, cover flow, table size, and more from your Shift Reports for smoother pre-shift meetings and personalized guest experiences:Pre-shift meetings

*By printing your shift reports, you will have access to the following information that will help you make data-driven decisions during your pre-shift meetings.

  • Guest Tags: Pre-shift meetings can be used to discuss the specific tags assigned to guests, such as VIP, regular, or special occasions. This helps the staff understand the guest preferences and requirements, enabling them to provide personalized service.
  • Cover Flow: The cover flow feature allows the team to view the number of reservations and expected covers for the shift. This information can help in planning and allocating resources effectively, ensuring that the restaurant is adequately staffed to accommodate the expected guests.
  • Table Size: Knowing the table sizes for reservations in advance can assist in organizing the seating arrangements and optimizing table turnover. The pre-shift meeting can focus on strategies to manage different table sizes efficiently, such as assigning appropriate sections or prioritizing larger groups.
  • Status: Understanding the current status of reservations, including arrivals, no-shows, or cancellations, can guide the pre-shift meeting discussions. The staff can devise strategies to handle unexpected changes, such as reassigning tables or accommodating walk-ins based on the available capacity.
  • Reservation Tags: Reservation tags provide additional context about specific reservations, such as special requests or dietary restrictions. Discussing these tags during pre-shift meetings allows the staff to prepare accordingly, ensuring a smooth dining experience for the guests.
  • Reservation Notes: Pre-shift meetings can cover reservation notes to communicate any important information or preferences provided by the guests. Sharing these notes with the entire team helps ensure everyone is aware of specific requirements, such as preferred seating or allergies, and can provide appropriate service.
  • Shifts: The Shifts feature in Eat App allows the team to review the assigned shifts, enabling effective planning and communication. Pre-shift meetings can focus on clarifying roles and responsibilities for each shift, ensuring all necessary tasks are assigned and understood by the staff.

Overall, utilizing the various features provided by Eat App Shift Reports during pre-shift meetings enhances communication, coordination, and preparation within the restaurant team, leading to a more efficient and personalized dining experience for guests.

FAQs for Pre-Shift Meetings

What Is the Meaning of Post-Shift?

Post-shift is the inverse of pre-shift and is performed at the end of a shift. To help prepare for the next shift, post-shift meetings contain obligations such as cleaning up workstations, turning off or disassembling equipment, writing up shift reports, and closing out opened checks.

What are the topics covered in a pre-shift meeting?

Pre-shift discussions should strive to educate, inform, and motivate your team. These issues may include everything from reservation data and cover procedures to assessing new menu items and praising strong performance.

What are the main goals of a pre-shift meeting?

Pre-shift meetings should be held before each shift to enlighten, educate, and motivate your personnel so that they are ready to serve your clients.

How long should pre-shifting last?

Pre-shift meetings might last anything from five to thirty minutes. The amount of time required is determined by the goals of your pre-shift and the size of your team.



Senior Content Manager at Eat App

Elana Kroon used to work in restaurants before becoming a journalist and expert restaurant industry content creator at Eat App.

Reviewed by

Nezar Kadhem

Nezar Kadhem

Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

He is a regular speaker and panelist at industry events, contributing on topics such as digital transformation in the hospitality industry, revenue channel optimization and dine-in experience.

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