15 Essential Tips for Restaurant Managers
Owning and managing a restaurant is a rewarding career, but it presents many unique challenges as well.
Restaurant management is rather unique in that there is so much direct interaction between you, your employees and your customers. Additionally, poor management practices and poor service from your staff is far more apparent to any individual who enters your establishment - you want to make sure that you and your staff are always on your A game!
We come in contact with many restaurant managers through our restaurant shift scheduling software, Your Next Seven.
We’ve listened to our clients and decided to compile a list of 15 essential tips to help you manage your restaurant more efficiently.
1: Always have a plan (and a backup in case that plan fails)
The last thing you want is to be caught unprepared in the middle of a dinner rush. Always make sure that everyone on each shift understands their role, responsibility and what to do if something goes wrong.
You should also prepare for those times when things do go wrong, because they are bound to happen. Make sure you are prepared to fix problems throughout the shift without affecting the quality of your restaurant’s service. If your best cook gets sick in the middle of a shift, you need a plan of action to cover for him.
2: Prioritize communication with your staff and your diners
Communication is invaluable, especially at those times when nothing in your restaurant is going right.
From a customer’s point of view, if the service at your restaurant is being affected by staff difficulties they will at least want to be kept in the loop so that they know when they are getting their food, how you are making up for the inconvenience and that you are aware of the situation.
The same goes for the staff. When things get out of hand your staff needs to know that you are aware of the situation and are working to control it.
3: Know your employees’ strengths, and use them to the fullest
By understanding your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, you can place them in roles that cater to those strengths. Not only will this improve your restaurant service overall, it will make your employees’ work far more enjoyable and they will be eager to provide better service if they feel that they are being given an opportunity to use their strengths to the fullest.
4: Make working at your restaurant fun
No one enjoys working with a stern, overbearing boss.
If your employees find you overbearing, they will be far less motivated to perform well.
Make sure that you have a relaxed but respectful relationship with your employees so that you can make working in your restaurant an enjoyable job. If they feel that they can have fun with their work while using their skills, they will provide the best service possible without you even telling them to.
5: Manage you and your employees’ time wisely
Managing everyone’s time wisely is essential to keep your restaurant running smoothly and ensure that you are not losing money due to poor time management.
Making sure everyone knows their schedule and their task is important, and being able to quickly plan out a schedule and make adjustments on the fly is essential for any restaurant manager.
A great way to keep track of you and your restaurant employee shift schedules is to use a time management application like Your Next Seven.
6: Set quality standards and never compromise them
This rule applies for any restaurant, whether fast food or gourmet dining.
When you start your restaurant, you need to have a clear idea of the quality of food you are serving and then stick to those standards. Make sure your cooks and servers know your food and service standards and stick to them too.
This will ensure that everyone receives quality service and all of your employees have a clear goal in mind for each shift.
7: Create a positive work environment
No one likes to work in a tense environment.
Make each shift fun and engaging if at all possible. Don’t be afraid to have fun with your employees and be friendly with them. The more they feel that you respect them and their opinions, the better service they will provide.
8: Set the example for your restaurant employees
There’s nothing more frustrating than being managed by someone who does not practice what they preach.
When you set standards and policies for your employees, make sure that you follow those policies too. Make sure your employees see you abiding by them and making them a priority in your work.
This will emphasize the importance of your policies and encourage them to do the same.
9: Be patient with your employees and your customers
Remember when you worked for someone who was impatient and disrespectful all the time?
Don’t be that manager.
If problems arise, sort them out peacefully and respectfully. That’s not to say you should downplay major issues, but being respectful with your employees will avoid a lot of problems and motivate them to perform better overall.
10: Take your service to the next level
When is the last time you left a restaurant and thought “Man! I was impressed with their mediocre service!”
Go out of your way to make the experience in your restaurant amazing. It may be as simple as walking up to each table before they leave and asking how their food was, or talking to them for a brief moment. Often it is little things like this that will make the biggest impression on your customers.
11: Go out of your way to make customers happy
Closely related to #10, if something goes wrong on a customer’s order, go out of your way to make it right.
Give them a discount. Make the meal free. Give them free dessert.
More often than not, people will care more about your response to a mistake than they care about the mistake itself. Go out of your way to make it right and make your diners happy.
12: Learn what motivates your team
Many times there are small things you can do to kick your team into high gear for providing stellar service.
Try running small contests to see who can complete orders the fastest (and with the best looking food), set a prize to see which server can manage tables the best. Give them rewards for great service.
Find out what makes work more fun for your employees, what motivates them to provide the best service possible even on the worst nights.
13: Be consistent with disciplinary action
Unfortunately, things won’t always go smoothly and some rules will be broken.
If an employee has broken a rule, be consistent in dealing out disciplinary action. Don’t play favorites or show that you do not actually enforce the rules.
14: Reward valuable employees
One of the best ways to motivate your employees and encourage a healthier relationship with them is to recognize employees who provide outstanding service.
It doesn’t have to be obvious things, like doing remarkably well at waiting tables during a lunch rush. It might be smaller things, such as that one employee you have who always does a great job cleaning up the kitchen after his shift.
Look for areas that your employees are excelling in, and let them know that you recognize those areas by providing commendation and/or small rewards.
15: Keep good records
This tip isn’t so much focused strictly on restaurant businesses, but any business at all.
Good record keeping is essential for any manager. Keeping accurate records for employee discounts, expenses and income will avoid many frustrations when tax time rolls around.
Additionally, having accurate records will provide you with a valuable set of data that you can then use over time to make adjustments in your restaurant so as to improve overall performance and quality of service.
Do you have any management tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below! Also tell us which one of the above tips you found the most useful, and how you intend to apply it.