How to Run Pre-Shift Meetings for Your Restaurant

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How to Run Pre-Shift Meetings for Your Restaurant

What is a pre-shift meeting for restaurants and why is it an indicator of a successful restaurant? And how are you supposed to run a pre-shift meeting in your restaurant, especially when not everybody comes in at the same time? Let’s talk about when to hold a pre-shift meeting in your restaurant, what to cover and why this is an essential system.

A pre-shift meeting, also known as a lineup, is your opportunity to train your team about your expectations every day.

When should you hold a pre-shift meeting?

Technically a pre-shift meeting is held right before the shift. The team should arrive 15 minutes before their shift ready to get to work. That does not mean wet hair, a brush in hand, uniform shirt draped over their arm. It means dressed and ready. Yes, you have to pay them. And you do want to make sure you schedule accordingly, that if you're bringing them in at 3:45, that's what their schedule says. Yes, their work starts at 4 p.m., but they need to attend the pre-shift meeting at 3:45 p.m. because it gives you 15 minutes to get everybody on the same page. (I address staggered starts further down.)

What should you cover in your pre shift meeting?

  • Daily specials, soups, entrées, desserts, anything that's special.
  • A feature for the day.
  • Special promotions such as a coupon servers might be seeing. Are you running a coupon? Do you have a Mother's Day special? What are you doing? Everyone needs to know. So it's not a surprise when a coupon shows up or promotion shows up.
  • Contests for servers and other salespeople on the floor such as bartenders. Is it server bingo? Is it server poker? Is it anyone who sells these things gets an entry to win, something important to do?
  • House policies from cell phones to uniform policies to keep everybody informed.
  • New procedures and how to use new equipment like a new coffee maker or iced tea maker. Or if you want seating done a certain way, any changing procedures.
  • Train sanitation standards and assign tasks. Assign daily, weekly and monthly side work duties so everybody knows what they're responsible for when they start their shift.


In a day and age where you’re stagger starting, bringing people in at different times so you’re not paying people to stand around, how do you do pre-shift meetings? Put pre-shift meeting notes together. Whether you hand write or type them up, you're going to post pre-shift meeting notes after the live meeting. Then as people come in for their shift, they read them and initial they’ve read them. At the end of each shift, put them in a binder and keep it for you to review to make sure it's being followed. You don’t have to keep them for a long time, but for enough time that you know everyone has had a chance to learn new policies, expectations and procedures.  

If you want a smoother operation, one where everyone is on the same page, then you're going to want to start to implement a pre-shift meeting today. I can tell you member after member says this simple system has changed their world by getting the whole team moving in the right direction together.

If you would like to learn how you can add 13% to your bottom line and get 2 days off per week from your restaurant – guaranteed – click to watch a video training I put together for restaurant owners:

Be sure to visit my YouTube channel for more helpful restaurant management video tips.


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