Traditionally, the manager log has been thought of as a diary of sorts, where the manager on duty records the goings on during their shift to keep the rest of management in the know; the good, the bad, and the ugly of it.
Many restaurants reserve the log for management’s eyes only, which is a huge mistake. The log is a phenomenal tool for facilitating quick and easy communication with staff on any number of topics.
Seize the full potential of the manager log, you must. Communicate seamlessly, you can. Stress, you will not.
Here are seven creative ways the manager log book can be used to keep staff in the loop.
1. Track employee trends
Has someone been disengaged lately? Track employee disengagement in the manager logbook. Maybe someone has been punching in late, frequently calling in sick, or asking others to cover their shift.
The manager log book can be used to keep a “file” on all employees, so it’s easy to keep track of every time they were late, called out, or called in sick. When individual staff members meet a certain threshold (perhaps three shifts late), you could set aside a time to sit down with them and ask how you can help them be on time more often. It could be a simple scheduling issue.
On that same vein, the manager logbook can also be used to recognize great employees.
Every day, the GM could make note of an “employee of the day” across the team. At the end of the month, the owner could tally up the votes for everyone on your team, and decide on who the “employee of the month” is based on peer-collected data.
2. Track check issues
In an ideal world, there would never be any check issues. However, in the rare case that there are, they can be tracked in the manager log book, especially if they require action from the next shift's manager.
While the POS will keep track of discounts and voids automatically, sometimes it’s nice to attach a story as to why something was discounted, voided, or lost.
Smart manager log books will give the opportunity to reference a specific check number, so management can close the loop in the customer database.
3. Track guest behavior
Speaking of tracking customers, the restaurant manager can use the daily log book to do just that: track guest behavior. Did a certain regular come in again? Was a guest unhappy, and if so, who was the server on that check? On the flip side, was a guest extremely happy, and if so what can we do to show our appreciation to the customer and the server assigned to that table?
Use the manager log book to log guest behavior as it happens. As a bonus, there is the opportunity to include a clear call to action for the next manager. The example above directs tomorrow's manager to text a gift card to the guest, thanking them for their patronage and enticing them to come again.
4. Track weather patterns
Every restaurant is affected by the weather, whether you have outdoor seating or not.
The weather could affect restaurant employee scheduling, as well as the volume of customers that visiting a restaurant.
Bars and patios should be especially wary of the weather, as well as ocean side restaurants. If there’s a snowstorm tomorrow, the log could be used to urge managers to allow some employees to stay home. If the weather is 90 degrees and your restaurant is in a beach town, the log could be used to recruit additional staff for a shift.
5. Track excessive discounts, voids, and comps.
While a restaurant POS system should track discounts and voids automatically, management may want to keep track of trends, especially as they relate to specific employees, for three reasons.
Voids after closeout are a big opportunity for theft. Managers, alone in the restaurant at the end of the shift, have every opportunity to void out cash transactions that occurred during the day. The books balance out in the POS system and they can take the cash for themselves. Keep a close eye on all voids, especially those made after close, and which manager is approving them.
If there are several comps and voids from a specific server, servers may need another training session on how to use their point of sale system. If they keep firing the wrong orders to the kitchen over and over again, it could just be an issue with their understanding of how to work the system.
Discounts & Comps
Finally what food is getting discounted and comped is also important. Maybe that steak has been sent back five times in the last week with customers complaining that it's undercooked, indicating the kitchen should rethink the sous vide method they just started trying out (or retrain your chefs).
6. Track repairs and maintenance.
Did any POS hardware or restaurant equipment need to be replaced in the last shift? Is the restaurant running low on something that the next manager could order? These can all be recorded for fellow management in the manager log book.
This tactic is especially helpful if something broke during a shift. The owner can be notified know right away that the frialator died by tagging them in a note, and the next shift will also know what to expect.
7. Track big events.
It’s the morning shift, and brunch is being served on the patio. A server overhears her customers talking about the big game tonight: Red Sox vs. Yankees. The bar will definitely be packed tonight. Cha-ching!
This is a great use case for the manager log book. This server can write note to the next shift’s manager, letting them know to be ready for the event and to stock up the bar.
Other upcoming events worthy of tracking in the manager’s log are inspections. The owner can use this tool to let their GMs know when they’ll be inspected. In the case where the owner doesn’t get a heads up, the GM can write a note to the owner about the inspection and how they think it went.
Your Manager Logbook Is Only as Smart As You Make It
There’s no right or wrong way to use the manager log book; the possibilities are endless, and different businesses will naturally have different priorities.
A sports bar, for example, will most likely need to make note of big games coming up during the week. They could use the manager log to let the staff know they should wear team-appropriate apparel, or to be ready for an influx of fans at a certain time.
A wine bar may use the log to update their staff on droughts or wildfires in California’s wine country, as they could affect available inventory or cause changes to their menu offerings.
How you choose to use the manager log will be unique to your restaurant, but always remember: communication is key to the success of any happy relationship, both personal and professional.
Allie Tetreault is the Content Strategist for Toast. When she’s not managing the Toast Restaurant Management blog and creating valuable resources for restaurateurs, she’s belting in an a cappella group and toiling over new recipes in the kitchen. Her favorite foods are sushi and pasta—but not together!