It’s that time again! The results are in for May’s Insider Survey Series, where we poll OpenTable restaurants on the hottest topics in the industry to learn more about their business challenges and priorities.
Last month’s questions were all about company culture — what matters most, benefits you offer staff, and how you communicate your culture to the team. Read on to hear what other operators had to say.
The bulk of respondents were from fine-dining restaurants with a casual atmosphere (63%) and full-service casual restaurants (31%). Only one came from a limited–service casual restaurant.
Restaurants overwhelmingly agreed that company culture among staff is paramount in their restaurants, with 84% deeming it “very important.” Again, only a single respondent answered that culture didn’t matter at all.
So company culture is a priority — but what really matters most? We asked restaurants to rank each of the tenets of a strong restaurant culture above from 1 (least important) to 5 (most important). Respondents indicated that creating quality food and experiences was first priority, with a whopping 96% agreeing that it’s a “very important” or the “most important” tenet of a strong restaurant culture. Building a strong, successful, sustained business wasn’t far behind. Making a difference in the community was the least favored, but by a relatively small margin.
Next, we asked respondents to rate the current company culture in their restaurants. A little more than half (52%) said their culture is “strong,” but only a fifth described their culture as “very strong.” A quarter rated themselves “acceptable,” suggesting there’s room for improvement. Only a few, though, chose “weak” or “very weak.”
For those who answered “strong” or “very strong” to the question above, we asked a follow-up: to what do they attribute their success? Responses varied, but the strength of their staff, ability to work as a team, and capable management popped up repeatedly. Some other highlights:
- “A strong team attitude with everyone working for the same guest experience.”
- “Clear leadership, opportunities for advancement, caring managers, transparency, respect”
- “‘All hands on deck’ approach. No job is too small for owners and no job is too big for staff (with the proper training and encouragement).”
- “Team work! It works! Friendly front and back of the house relations.”
- “We have long time employees who take pride in their work. We work together but also have fun together.”
- “Great training, lots of help and support. Pride in work well done for a company that cares about their guests experience.”
EDUCATION & TRAINING
Front of House
Since education and training are key for creating a strong company culture, we asked respondents what opportunities they offer. For the front-of-house, tastings reigned supreme — from wine and beer (89%) to ingredients (75%) and cocktails (68%). Steps of service were also high on the list, with 82% focusing on that training. Team-building offsites were less common, offered by 23% of the restaurants that participated.
In the “other” section, we saw some impressive and exciting offerings such as brand and social media training, brewery and winery visits, tea appreciation, contests, cross-training, tuition reimbursement, and sommelier certification paid by the company.
Back of House
For the back of house, ingredient tastings and corresponding education was by far the most popular, with 93% offering that training to their staff members. Butchery and preserving were moderately popular (44% and 39%, respectively), and 17% of respondents said they offer staff cooking competitions to keep their team engaged.
For those that answered “other,” there were some great responses, including team-building activities, promoting from within, tuition reimbursement, and new menu development training.
When it comes to traditional employee benefits, 74% of respondents offer dining perks and programs, followed by paid time off (56%), health insurance (55%), and corporate discounts (51%). Less popular were childcare (2%) and commuter benefits (8%).
But what do restaurants wish they could offer employees that they currently don’t? Interestingly, commuter benefits topped the list at 43%, followed by health insurance and child care, both at 41%. Dining perks and corporate discounts — while the most frequent overall — ranked low on the wish list.
Restaurants communicate their company culture to staff in a number of ways, with everyday staff interactions being the most popular (90%). Meetings and presentations and printed materials are also used frequently (59% and 53%, respectively), though digital communications were less favored (37%).
Some other methods? One-on-one interactions, teaching, and leading by example.
And the final question we posed: If you could describe your restaurant’s company culture in one word, what would it be? “Family” was far and away the most popular term used, showing up in 17% of responses. “Team,” “care,” “quality,” “respect,” “service,” and “teamwork” also topped the list.
Note: These results were based on a survey of about 170 respondents. Look for our next Insider Survey Series recap next month!