How to Give Restaurant Employee Raises

Have you had a restaurant employee ask for a raise, but you we’re thinking about firing them? If that’s ever happened to you, this week’s video shares some simple steps for solving this problem. Watch now!

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Have you had a restaurant employee ask you for a raise even though you we’re thinking about firing them? Leaving you wondering how you are so far off on this subject. If that’s ever happened to you, I am going to help you with this week’s video.

What raises should you be giving?

There’s only two ways that I give raises, or at least that I talk to my clients about how they should be giving raises in their restaurant:

  1. The first way someone gets a raise is if it’s a company-wide raise. Let’s say at the end of the year you determine you had a great year. Cost of living is going up so you decide to give a 3% raise across the board. Everybody participates in that – from the lowest paid to the highest paid.
  2. The second way to get a raise is to move up in the company. If you were a prep cook and now you’re a line cook, you should get a raise with that since in most restaurants line cooks have more responsibilities.

That’s it! You don’t get longevity raises, you don’t get the raise for “Hey! I’ve been here for a year it’s time for more money.” That’s not how we do it here, we either give company-wide raises or we give promotion-type raises.

But what do you do when someone comes up to you and says, “Hey, I really need more money otherwise I have to leave.” Here’s the thing, I obviously can’t make that decision for you and you have to do it yourself. But chances are during your onboarding process and during your mentorship time with this person, you probably didn’t do a very good job of explaining to them what it means in this world to make money.

A lot of young people and a lot of inexperienced people think that they should receive more money just from knowing how to do the job, and if they don’t get more they threaten to leave. Right now a lot of you are struggling for staff because the economy is so good, so you’re you’re paying it.

We have to teach our people that in order to get more money, you have to offer more to the world. You have to provide more, be more responsible, do a better job, and do things faster. In other words, you have to add value. Same with prices, you can’t just double your prices on your menu without changing things in your restaurant or nobody is going to come back. If you increase the quality or sell a bigger burger, then sometimes a price increase is justified. Additionally, because everyone knows prices go up over time, you can do some price increases over time. This is no different for employee raises.

What do you say when someone does ask for a raise?

When someone comes to you and says, “I’ve been here for a year, I’m doing a really good job. I feel like I need more money.” The question you need to ask is: What additional responsibility can you add to the company or have you added to the company that makes you deserving of this money?

If someone says they want more money the first thing I say is something like this, “Great! You’re currently a prep cook and if you want to become a line cook, which offers more money, why don’t you start training for that position?” Give them the training manual, get them paired up with so-and-so, and as soon as a new position is available, pay them more money.

If you know you don’t have any positions available or there’s nowhere else for this person to go, then the question is, “What more can you bring to the table? I would love to pay you more, but in exchange I need you to be able to do this and that.” Put together an action plan for them and then review it over the next 6-8 weeks or whatever to make sure that they’re doing it.

The reality is many of you are saying that you would pay this person more money if they would just do these things, but they never do them or know to do them. When they come to you wanting more money, you have a great opportunity to teach them how to do these things and pay more if they can do them. But so many times we wait until it’s too late, we don’t have good responses, or we haven’t thought about it, and now our employees are holding us hostage.

Final Thoughts:

I hope this was helpful. To me this isn’t really that complex of a topic. I think we really make it more complex than it needs to be. The more organized, structured and laid out these things are, the easier it’s going to be to give or deny raises. It’s also going to be easier for you to keep your staff happy.


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