I’ve eaten at many, many restaurants in my lifetime. Who hasn’t? But that doesn’t make me qualified in knowing how to manage a restaurant! I would imagine that restaurant management entails a lot more than just serving delicious meals to customers. And that what goes on behind the scenes is key.
This piqued my interest because after all, food is one of the pillars of our survival. And here’s what I learned: with the right recipe, you can gain new customers, in addition to customers returning time and time again. Therefore, it’s imperative that you employ the right staff who deliver excellent customer service time and time again.
With so much on your plate and the constant thought of “are we doing enough” or “are we rising above our competition”, it’s a lot to take on. Not to mention, checking on inventory, calling suppliers, and managing your staff who need you too. Your employees are always looking to you for direction, and you are working against the clock to execute everything perfectly and on time.
It doesn’t stop there. Your responsibilities also include:
- Day-to-day operations
- Inventory for the chefs
- Speaking with suppliers
- Setting JIT (just in time) policies
- Keeping your costs down but still delivering high-quality food
- Scheduling staff according to their agenda
- Increasing revenue
- Smooth onboarding
- And so much more.
With all the above challenges, you also have to ensure that your staff stays. Recent studies show that due to the pandemic staff turnover reached an unimaginable 130% in 2020. Those numbers alone are shocking!
My research also led me to speak with various restaurant managers. Based on our conversions, these top 9 tips you need to know so you can reduce turnover and keep your restaurant functioning as it should.
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10 Tips on How to Manage a Restaurant
The first tip for any restaurant manager to be successful is that you have to be 100% committed to your business. The passion that you have to achieve success will transcend over to your staff, giving them a feeling for the establishment too. Your dedication is what will help you through those trying times. It will also help you become creative when you need to be.
Appreciate Your Staff
These are the people who wake up every morning to work for you because they want to, not because of a paycheck. These employees are the ones who are putting the money in the bank. Without them, you are just a sign and a couple of tables.
To show appreciation, you could introduce ways to encourage your staff and enhance overall morale. This includes choosing an employee of the month, and the winner is celebrated with their favorite dessert. The prize isn’t what’s important, it’s the recognition!
All employees want is to be recognized for their efforts. It’s very evident as 63% of employees are less likely to look for a new job within 3-6 months when they get the acknowledgment they deserve. This is especially important for busy seasons and peak hours when your employees may have to cancel their personal plans to put in the hours.
As a manager, you have so many daily duties that you don’t want to spend your days’ training and hiring, because well, that’s just exhausting! Hence, new hires should receive adequate training. This means that when they hit the floor, they are prepared.
Your handbook and training material should cover:
- Proficient and professional when it comes to customers
- Maintaining the standard of customer service
- Understanding the menu
- Knowing which dishes are most profitable
- Selling the dish of the day
- Dress code
- And so much more.
Make Yourself Known
You are a part of your business. Use that opportunity to introduce yourself and welcome your customers. Customers may provide you with the feedback you’ve been waiting months to hear. You could leave a suggestion box for guests to give you feedback, or provide a survey for them to fill out when you hand over their receipt.
If your restaurant is profitable at the end of the month, that’s great news. However, knowing how to manage a restaurant is one thing. However, speaking to a regular customer can give you the feedback to make any necessary changes. You can gauge how well your staff understands and sells the menu. In addition, you are able to learn about the level of service, the quality of the food, the overall impression, and so much more.
Scheduling is a vital part of how to manage a restaurant. Your staff needs to feel you consider their requests when it comes to their work. If your workers are in college or part-time, you need to ensure it fits their schedule.
Be sure that your employees can take vacation time and that they can request sick days without hassle. Often when you haven’t, you end up having back and forth phone calls to arrange workers to cover shifts.
The Customer is Always Right
Your customer is your bread and butter, so you need to ensure that they are happy. When people go out to eat, it’s for good food, the dining experience, and spending quality time with friends and family. Therefore, you want to provide your customers with a memorable experience, and hence customer service should be your number one priority.
This also means you need to be prepared to expect the unexpected. This includes the following scenarios:
- Large parties who haven’t booked a table
- Complaints without reasoning
- Customers that don’t enjoy like what they ordered
- Diners arriving just before closing
- And the list goes on
All the points mentioned above can end in the customer leaving your restaurant with a smile, and all you did was provide excellent customer service along with a smile.
Customers want to feel that you took on board their issue and you dealt with it. They will be recommending you to their friends. You always have to keep in mind that one sale is not the end of the transaction but just the beginning.
When employees arrive at work, they expect that you have prepared their day for them. Hence, create checklists to be filled out so that your restaurant has everything completed for when the doors open. For example, your chefs need to have everything ready for when they need to begin cooking, and your new staff must have the correct dress code.
A couple of the checklists include:
- Restaurant opening checklist
- Restaurant closing checklist
- Manager end of the day review
- Incident report forms
- Uniform order form
- Bar inventory checklist
- Prep checklist for the chefs
This usually means you’re working with a printed sheet and a clipboard. This process can take a long time to collect and review.
Ease of Communication
Communication is essential for any business. However, in the restaurant industry, it’s paramount. It sounds like a bold statement. Nevertheless, without it, restaurant doors can close. Restaurants need to ensure that employees are up to date, whether that means a brand new revamped menu, instructions on cleaning the kitchen, etc.
Often that means calling in all your waiters to the kitchen to hear from the chef. The chef will explain the special of the day and any dishes they wish to promote. Now, that sounds like something out of Gordon Ramsay’s show. Although when everyone works different hours, that is not possible!
Communication doesn’t end there. It’s also about how you engage your employees. If you manage to nail that one, you are on the right path. Studies show that productivity is increased by 26% when engagement levels are high. When you keep engagement levels up, you are more likely to retain employees, crucial for your bottom line.
Payroll can usually incur discrepancies if you are not yet digitized. Staff can arrive at work later than expected, yet clock in on time. With all the tasks you’re managing it can be difficult to notice employees arriving ten minutes late. Your staff may also be buddy punching or may just argue with you that they completed more hours.
When you don’t have the right software, sometimes you just give in and that could be costing you a lot of money.
With employee management apps such as Connecteam, you have all the tools you need to keep employees updated, engaged, and content.
Based on the conversations I had with restaurant managers who use Connecteam on a regular basis, here’s what they said helped them run their business the most:
Onboarding employees is easy and can even help you retain your employees. You no longer have to spend hours explaining everything to your employee, which can be daunting for your new hire and tiring for you.
- Simply set up all the materials your trainee needs on the app, whether that’s photos, videos, documents, policies, menus, contracts, and more.
- New hires can follow everything on the app at their own pace, and even when they get on the floor, they can refer back to those manuals. Therefore, you can get back to the more crucial tasks.
- If an employee does have a question, they can use the in-app chat feature to send a quick message, which you can answer in real-time.
- The best part is that you can follow their progress as they move along – the app will also send automated reminders to ensure they complete the training material.
An employee scheduling app comes in handy because you can schedule your employees without the headache. Simply copy and paste shifts from previous weeks. For example, Mary never works on Thursdays. You can then copy and paste Mary’s previous week so that Mary doesn’t have a shift booked for Thursday.
Employees can also send in their sick days and vacation requests right from the app. Employees can input the days that they won’t be working, and then you can arrange shifts around the days off.
Stay on top of tasks:
You don’t need to print out sheets and wait for them to return to you. Employees can fill out the checklist on the desktop or right from a mobile device, and you receive the results in minutes. You also have the capability to combine all your checklists into one or send out checklists for each department to fill out.
As there is no time lag, you can deal with any issues before they become massive problems.
The communication feature is a dynamic and powerful tool to help you keep your team aligned. Say goodbye to gathering everyone around the kitchen table. You can send a company-wide update with the new menu, new employees, and even non-professional messages such as birthdays!
With all the clashes that payroll can cause, Connecteam’s time clock takes all those worries off your mind. The time clock feature has built-in GPS whenever someone clocks in and out so you don’t need to worry about time theft or buddy punching.
Your workers can sign in from their mobile devices, or you can set up a Kiosk station so that employees sign in and out once on site.
As a manager, this saves so much hassle. You can open the app from anywhere at any time and see who clocked in. You don’t need to stop what you’re doing to do a headcount.
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Now That You Have the Tips for How to Manage a Restaurant Effectively…
Remember that customer service is everything in the restaurant industry. It’s key to becoming profitable and gaining new clientele. As a manager, you have multiple skills you need when managing a restaurant efficiently. Having tasty meals, professional management, and onboarding correctly, and being the manager who has empathy can create great things. If your employees have the latest information on the menu and are engaged, this can only lead to happy customers.
Adding a slice of technology to the mix, you’re well on your way to keeping your payroll under control and ensuring that all your processes are effective. Once you implement a couple of our top tips and take on technology, you’ll be amazed at the extra time you have gained. You can put that to good use by working on other areas of the business. With a little hard work and staying focused on the end goal, you can achieve success!