The two major reasons for failures are locations and poorly organized processes

Did you know that 60 percent of restaurants fail during their first year, while 80 percent face death’s door without making it past their five years?

The two major reasons for failures are locations and poorly organized processes. If location is quite an obvious and easily fixable problem, managerial issues cause restaurant owners and managers too much headache, indeed.

Is there a secret ingredient to professional restaurant management?

If you apply the below little-known or sometimes underestimated tricks, you’ll have a stellar restaurant team that can lead your business to higher revenues and success.

Top 10 Secrets on How to Manage a Restaurant

Polish the customer service

In fact, low-quality service is the reason for roughly 83 percent of customers to swear off restaurants.

Here’s what you might need to do to enhance customer service and polish it to perfection:

  • Work out a strategy to prioritize a customer-centric approach 
  • Inspire engagement with incentive marketing and limited-time offers
  • Approach the holidays with greater attention
  • Personalize visitors’ experiences
  • Train service staff and practice possible scenarios with “mystery diners”
  • Provide a “wow” treatment

Concerning the latter, the Starbucks barista, for example, learned sign language to deliver better assistance to her deaf customer. Isn’t it a “wow” service?

Train your employees correctly

If the only thing you do is instructing your workers to “always be nice to customers,” that’s not enough, to say the least. You might need to consider some better ways to train your restaurant staff.

In addition, take advantage of the back-of-house training program to both educate your team and drive culinary innovations.  Planning educational sessions for employees, stick to the principle of three Rs:

  • Regularity—provide opportunities for qualification enhancements at least on a monthly basis.
  • Reasoning—explain why they need to improve their skills continuously.
  • Rewarding—reward workers for their achievements and talents (keep away from favoritism). 

Remember that communication is key

This applies to both your team and customers. And both verbal and non-verbal communication.

Top 5 secrets to communicating with employees:

  • Go digital and chat with them
  • Show that you care, ask about their wants and needs, answer their questions and concerns
  • Praise in public but criticize in private
  • Encourage feedback, collect it, and react on it
  • Treat employees like customers

Top 5 secrets to communicating with guests:

  • Address regular visitors by names
  • Individualize communication (e.g., a personalized handwritten note is a killer trick to win your customers’ hearts forever)
  • Use body language (eye contact, handshake, sincere smile, etc.)
  • Earn loyalty by sharing personal stories
  • Make them feel they get your fullest attention

Be aware of the laws and regulations

You should be informed of inspection types and licenses, food preparation, construction, and zoning regulations, and other significant rules in order not to repeat the fate of Oakland pop-up Nokni and face your establishment shutting down for being illegal. That’s not the worst outcome, as you may guess.

Do you know everything about labor laws, consequences of having undocumented restaurant workers, or employee retention tax credit?

Browse the legal topics in the restaurant industry regularly, consult lawyers, if needed, and keep pace with the changes in both state and local laws. E.g., alcohol certification has recently become mandatory in California.

Take advantage of strong advertising to build brand awareness

A powerful and creative ad campaign can boost a restaurant’s reputation and drive profits. You may follow the example of Buffalo Wild Wings and benefit with TV and radio ads.

Advertisements should be obligatory incorporated throughout social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. In this case, productive social media management may be your first step to developing a stronger restaurant’s voice and expanding brand awareness.

Note: the golden rule for any restaurant business is to be Instagram-oriented. Your Instagram profile’s content should stand out, while diners should be lured to take photos, share them, comment, and recommend the place. That’s how you can enable word-of-mouth advertising. Winning customers over is possible with the “instagrammable” blue-green, violet, or coral shades and vibrant colors (orange, yellow, red).

Think long-term and plan more thoroughly

Planning isn’t a piece of cake, because you cannot forecast unexpected situations (like it was with COVID-19 changing the foodservice industry). It’s worthwhile to update your crisis plan and always have Plan B as a back-up.

Perhaps it’s the most appropriate time to rework your business plan and think from the perspective of long-term planning to boost restaurant performance like Rave or Red Robin did.

Master staff scheduling

So as not to beat around the bush, make the best use of the following scheduling tactics to increase profitability:

  • Take into account employees’ preferences
  • Let everyone work high-dollar shifts
  • Make sure you have on-call workers
  • Prepare schedules in advance and enable prompt access to them
  • Use the benefits of automation and create online schedules

Stay open to learn from your team

Whether it’s a pre-shift meeting, a staff meal ritual, or just a common minute from the work routine—always listen to what your team members have to say.

They may dazzle you with striking suggestions on improvements you’ve never thought about. Recognize their individual strengths, interact with them during team buildings, and listen more carefully to create a strong team of people that will be willing to share their ideas with you.

Focus on solving problems not blaming

Cleanliness is one of the biggest problems and concerns, as 95 percent of consumers want to see an enhanced commitment to cleaning after the pandemic outbreak.

Of course, you can pin the blame on your personnel, in case you receive a complaint about the lack of sanitizers or a dirty restroom, for example, but it’s a manager’s responsibility to guarantee a cleaner, safer place for diners.

Some restaurant managers often like to play the so-called “blame game” and get fixated on finding fault. When a problem arises, don’t waste time looking for a scapegoat—solve it as soon as possible instead.

Innovate as much as you can

Innovations and AI-powered technologies, in particular, can help reduce costs, fight inflation, enhance back-of-the-house efficiency, and attract more guests.

As robotics and automation have already gained a firm footing in the hospitality industry and QR codes cannot surprise anyone now, it might be beneficial to try something out-of-the-ordinary.

In case you offer delivery services, you may benefit with a restaurant ordering system. The customers can make and manage orders from the mobile app, website, as well as Facebook and Instagram. It also allows you to implement a targeted social media advertising strategy.

Alternatively, learn from the competitors who have already applied innovational strategies effectively in their establishments to improve restaurant efficiency:

  • Robotics (Wings and Rings)
  • Instagram tables (Boston Chops Downtown)
  • Code-protected lockboxes to charge phones (Parlor Pizza)
  • Conveyor belts (Chubby Cattle)
  • Private igloos, domes, and dining pods (Gianni’s Café, The Three Horseshoes)
  • Other tech products can also enlarge your toolkit.


Expectations to restaurateurs and restaurant managers are high as ever.

Let your dining establishment thrive with happy guests, as soon as you “cook” the best management strategy from the above tips.

Alejandra Leyva is a food enthusiast, digital nomad & content creator. She follows #deleteBigTech and practices Live Slow & Do More way of life


Expert Takes, Feature, Labor & Employees