It doesn’t matter if you have been in the restaurant industry for a decade or are just starting out, running a successful restaurant can be a stressful task. Management takes on multiple jobs throughout the restaurant including hiring, marketing, maintaining the budget, operations and keeping customers and staff happy. When working in a restaurant, management must utilize a variety of skills to run a successful business. Throughout my decades of working with restaurant and small business owners, these are four areas I always speak with clients about so they can be successful in their roles.
Value your staff
Employee turnover in the hospitality industry is always high as many young people use these positions as starter jobs to help build work experience before moving on to college or other professional positions. The average turnover rate during the past 10 years in the restaurant industry is 79.7 percent according to Toast, a leading publication reporting on the hospitality industry. Understanding high turnover rates are part of the business, as a manager it means you must invest in employees that you know will be valuable to the business for the long-term.
Showing appreciation to your staff always helps boost morale. The restaurant industry is one of the toughest businesses to work in. You often have young employees who go outside of their duties to make sure the restaurant is running smoothly and ensure each customer receives the best service possible. Awarding your staff’s hard work and loyalty to the business is essential in keeping your employees. A couple of ways to show appreciation include, creating an employee of the month program, or when someone receives a good review from a customer reward their work. Don’t just give them a thanks or a high five. Find time to take them aside and let them know you recognize the great work they are putting in. They will appreciate this more than you know. Being noticed for doing a good job always helps motivate people to do even better.
Consider creating incentives for your staff when they overachieve or reach certain goals. Paid time off, promotional offers or a bonus in their paycheck are great incentives to start with. Remember just saying thank you or giving a pat on the back isn’t enough. Yes, they will appreciate it, but incentives let them know you truly appreciate their work and want to reward them for it. Finding ways to boost employee’s enthusiasm is always a great way to keep your staff wanting to come to work and do what they can to help the business succeed.
Stick to your core values
Create a plan for how you and your staff must work within the restaurant to get the most out of your employees. Doing so will lead to better service and a better experience for customers. Set goals for your staff. For front of house workers set goals on the number of turnovers of tables or good reviews. For back of house set goals on the time it takes to get food to the pass and out to customers.
As a manager it is your job to set the tone. Often, managers will say one thing and then expect another. Be consistent in your directives and guidance. If food is not being prepared correctly, speak to the cooks. Don’t be negative but make sure they have everything they need to succeed in their positions. If a customer has a complaint, solve it in the calmest possible way. Good leaders promote confidence. As a confident manager the way you do your job will trickle down to your employees and show them how they should deal with difficult situations.
Every night a problem will arise that will make you use different problem-solving techniques. A customer will complain, the expo line will get backed up, a server may fall and drop an order. Keep calm in these situations. Assess the situation and deal with it accordingly. Your job during service is to fix problems and help your staff. During meal services let your team take the reins. They are the ones on the floor, on the ovens and making the business run. Letting your staff take care of business shows them you respect them enough to take care of the customers, the service you expect and the business overall.
A key area restaurant managers must always keep a close eye on is the inflow and outflow of money. One way to do this is to find creative ways for the business to save money where it can. For instance, the first step should always be creating a budget and stick with it. This means a budget not only for food and supplies but for staff, parking lot cleaning, window washing and garbage pickup.
Another area is to keep an eye on the menu. If you have a large menu with a bunch of items, consider consolidating it to what is trending. Pay attention to what customers are ordering, what food is getting sent back and slowly cut down on the items you are serving. Having a large menu puts added pressure on the kitchen and servers. Understand the style of restaurant you are running. If you are a sports themed restaurant stick to the burgers and wings. If you are a steakhouse don’t sell overpriced versions of chicken fingers. Understanding your menu, and what customers are purchasing regularly will help save money because you aren’t purchasing items that are just going into the trash. Keep your menu small and concise. Have a focus for your restaurant and stick with it.
Managing a restaurant requires you to wear many hats. You must take care of orders, inventory, managing the crew and dealing with any sort of issue that arises daily. Even with all these different tasks don’t forget about the importance of online reviews. We live in a world where anyone with a phone can easily jump on Google or Yelp and leave a good or bad review in a matter of seconds.
Train your employees to give the best service possible and how to make customers feel comfortable and excited about being at your restaurant. Watch the online sites. If someone leaves a bad review, don’t feel like you can’t respond. Reach out the person and see how you can make their next visit better. Word of mouth and online reviews are how restaurants gain more business. So never dismiss a negative review. For instance, a customer had an overcooked steak. Fix it. Ask the customer to come for another visit and ask for you by name before they are seated so you can provide a personal touch. Take care of the customers and more will come. Doing small gestures of service shows your employees you aren’t just in your job for the money. You really want to provide a service that makes people happy. You care about your customers.
Overseeing a restaurant is a daunting task with all the many positions a manager must tackle. By creating a plan, treating employees with respect, and maintaining high standards you can be successful. Restaurants will only run as well as the people who work the shifts. Being a good leader will help your business and staff achieve its goals and in turn will lead to better customer service and better outreach that will grow the restaurant.
An additional resource that will help you as a manager is a book entitled, “Unreasonable Hospitality,” by Will Guidara. For those looking for more information on what it takes to lead a restaurant this is a great book to turn to.
John Waters is the principal of Waters Business Consulting Group, LLC in Scottsdale, Arizona. Waters is an expert in helping business owners, management and executives achieve their goals and grow their business.