Restaurant branding might seem like it’s only suitable for the big boys; those corporate entities that cajole staff into conforming to a set of rigid expectations.

In spite of this, independent restaurants shouldn’t dismiss the idea of ensuring their employees are effective ambassadors for the brand they’ve developed.

Here’s a look at how you can turn staff into cheerleaders for your organisation without resorting to belligerent brain-washing or mind-numbingly dull corporate training techniques.

Reward early enthusiasm

For employees to truly love your restaurant, they need to be pulled onboard the branding bandwagon from day one.

That means you can’t afford to let their initial flame of passion for your business flicker and die the minute they arrive for their first day at work.

Counteracting this is easy; you need to make newcomers feel included and supported by the entire organisation.

A greeting party that lets them get to know their colleagues and settle into the vibe of your restaurant is a useful tool. Making them feel at ease will help them do the same for guests, too.

Focus on strengths, not weaknesses

Every employee is an individual with different skill sets and preferences, so the key to keeping them satisfied and productive in their role is working out what drives them and what puts them in a funk.

Talking to staff not just about their responsibilities, but about what they hope to achieve in the future and where they see their career progressing is useful in this respect.

You should try to emphasise the strengths they have, rather than criticising them for weaknesses, as this will make them more willing to become powerful brand advocates for your restaurant.

Offer perks

Running a restaurant is a team effort and you’ll want to make sure that everyone is working together towards a unified end goal, while feeling appreciated for their individual efforts.

There are lots of ways to boost staff morale, such as setting aside a room or area of your premises which they can use to relax and socialise.

Keeping them well fed while they work and offering them friends and family discounts is also an affordable, effective way of providing perks that show you care.

Make some merch

Whether or not you have branded work uniforms for your front of house staff, you shouldn’t stop there with producing attractive clothing that’s emblazoned with your restaurant’s logo.

Wearable merch that staff get given free of charge will help your brand get noticed locally, so long as you avoid tacky items and instead opt for something well designed and of a decent quality.

From warm hoodies and backpacks to stylish stickers and even reusable water bottles, there’s a lot of branded booty you can dish out to employees that they’ll willingly use in other contexts.

Wrapping up

You can’t turn restaurant staff into brand advocates overnight, nor expect them to respond well to being pushed into a specific mould.

Instead, the best approach is to consider their needs and build up their love of your business over time, so that they’ll be happy to support it of their own free will.