A restaurant general manager talks to her staff in the back of the restaurant.

You have to teach employees what their job is, how to do it, how well it should be done, more importantly, by when.

3 Tips to Build a Stellar Restaurant Management Team

How to avoid some common mistakes and misconceptions.

Building systems so anyone can run your restaurant will transform your business, but the only way you can get it all done is to have a management team in place to do the work, and they must be stellar.

On their journey to building this stellar management team, one of the mistakes I see restaurant owners make over and over again is finding their best employee and then dragging them, kicking and screaming, into management. They’re usually an employee you love and think does a great job in their non-management role. You approach them and when they hesitate, you strong arm them, talk them into becoming a manager. You explain they’d be great because the customers love them, the team loves them, they’re great with numbers, etc. They keep telling you no until your nonstop begging breaks them down to finally say yes.

When you do this, very often you take your best employee and make them your worst. If they didn’t want it and weren’t suited for it, they quit or get fired in six months to a year because they should have never been a manager. 

  • They don't have the skill sets to be a manager.
  • They don't communicate and hold people accountable.
  • They don't do the things we need to get the numbers we need.
  • They don't follow the systems
  • They were the best server, the best cook, or the best bartender, but they should have never been a manager. 

I used to make this mistake all the time. You just can't throw keys for the restaurant to a server and promote them to a manager. No way.

You have to teach them what their job is, how to do it, how well it should be done, more importantly, by when. And the key to your success is simple systems for everything you do combined with great training.

A lot of restaurant owners will tell me they know they’re supposed to spend money on managers, but the managers never do the job the way the owner wants it done. That leaves the owner still working in the restaurant and still not making the money they deserve.

Here are the three tips to avoid these outcomes and build your stellar restaurant management team.

No. 1, you have to understand that there's a system, a process, a way to doing anything and everything in your business. You can't have five managers on the team, whether they're salaried or hourly, that each count a bar drawer to $300 their individual way. There can't be five different ways. How can you audit five ways? How can you train five ways? How do you make sure when a manger moves on for a new job that the new person does it the same way? You can't. Instead, there is your system, your process, your way and everyone follows it.

No. 2, you have to train them what their job is, how to do it, how well it should be done and by when. For example, it's important to understand that taking inventory isn’t just counting stuff. It's making sure it's accurate, that it’s on time and that all the steps are completed. Every system has to be followed so you get the right information, the right numbers, the right details.

No. 3, you have to be willing to write them up. Here's the deal. We're all too often so easy, so eager to write up a line employee. “Hey, you showed up late. I'm writing you up.” But when a manager shows up late, we're like, “Dude, dude, you're killing me here!” Restaurant owners – really, most business owners – are afraid to write managers up because if you lose the manager, who's going to do their job? You know you don’t have 40 more hours in your week to do the work. So, you give them all this rope and are too hesitant to hold them accountable.

Here’s the deal: you have to be willing to write them up. And in my world, I will write up a manager only once. See, when I write them up the first time, they're either so embarrassed that they're going to tow the line and get on board and do things my way, or they're going to quit or get fired very quickly. Either way, I win. See, I win by them doing it my way, and I win when they go away, because why do I want to spend six months, a year, two years investing in a person who is never going to do it my way?

If you want to have a stellar management team, follow these three tips.

David Scott Peters is an author, restaurant coach and speaker who teaches restaurant operators how to take control of their businesses and finally realize their full potential. His first book, Restaurant Prosperity Formula: What Successful Restaurateurs Do, teaches the systems and traits to develop to run a profitable restaurant. Thousands of restaurants have worked with Peters to transform their businesses. Get his three principles to restaurant success at https://dsp.coach/three-key-principles.