Leading Your Restaurant Catering Team

Catering LeadershipAs the leader of your restaurant catering program, you are often responsible for managing a team of other individuals – those who look to you for guidance, training, support, help and information in their daily activities. You are a brand representative for your company, and are responsible for many front line impressions as well.

How do you make the most of that position and the responsibility it brings? How do you stand as a role model for the rest of your team? Whether you are representing your organization at a conference, standing in front of potential clients, or working the daily grind with your team around you, you are part of a group that is reliant on its members for success.

Here are some suggestions for leading your team:

Experience Everything

Whether that means jumping into a delivery with a driver, and experiencing how the customer receives their order; or taking part in an order-taking at the front counter or on the phone with your Catering Sales Representative (CSR); or working in the kitchen to prepare a large catering order for that day. Find a way to get yourself involved in the processes and activities that your team takes part in on a daily basis, and experience things from the customer perspective too. Get an idea of what the customer expects, the questions that are asked on both sides of the catering order, and, equally as important, ask and answer questions of your own teammates for their perspective.

Show Your Enthusiasm

There is nothing more communicative than sharing your passion for what you do – whether it’s the message that your company portrays, the sales pitch you are working to perfect as you stand in front of a potential client, the weekly team meeting to get your front- and back-of-house staff motivated for a week of great catering, or the phone call you have with a new supplier. Enthusiasm for what you do and what you represent facilitates that positive attitude, and encourages others you interact with to do the same. Sharing your story, your passion and your dedication with others, is reflected in the work you do, and as a result, your catering customers feel it too.

Learn From Your Team

With a team comes a whole host of opinions, ideas, suggestions, impressions, feelings and actions. You have the opportunity to work through the great moments and the not-so-great moments, but every single one is a moment to be learned from. Document the things you learn as a team, create process documents to streamline your operations, identify issues that can be fixed, and be open and honest about your findings (good or bad) with your peers, at staff meetings, or during review sessions. Using the experiences of those around you can create a powerful foundation for scalable operations as your organization and team(s) grow.

Recognize and Reward Your People

Everyone loves to hear a “Thank You!” or a “Well Done!” now and again, rewards are always appreciated, and overall recognition by a brand can be highly sought after. But many companies forget that sometimes investment in its people is more desired than anything – whether that’s providing more training for those that are showing promise, introducing top performers to additional responsibilities that may be outside their daily job requirements (such as front-of-house staff being trained and trusted with managerial duties in the absence of their managers), paying for education, or encouraging staff to learn something new (like another language or an art). Training and education comes in many forms – just ask Lisa DeFeo-Bass, who is now our VP of Education & Training for the MMS Catering Institute™ – and encouraging that environment in the work place is another form of communication.

All of these are varying elements of communication that can help strengthen a team, identify strengths and weaknesses, and define positive leadership.

“Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.”

— Gilbert Amelio President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp.