Restaurant management isn’t for everyone. The frenetic pace and constant pressure can be overwhelming for many people. Effective restaurant managers need to balance the needs of staff, customers and the business while dealing with the unforeseen problems that pop-up on a daily basis. Here are seven traits of effective restaurant managers.
1. Proactive Planning
Effective restaurant management requires being proactive and planning your shift at the beginning of each day. Having a checklist or simply a notebook to keep track of your daily tasks can help you start each shift off on the right foot. Here are some planning tips to get you started:
- Keep an eye on inventory. It’s always wise to take a detailed inventory of product before your day starts. You do not want to be in the middle of a lunch rush when you realize that you are running low on an ingredient. You can also take inventory at night so that you are ready to place orders in the morning. This includes food, take-out containers, cleaning supplies, and anything else that you’ll need to order.
- Scheduling. Take note of who is working, when they are working and who is available to work if someone doesn’t show up for his or her shift. Effective managers post schedules well enough in advance for employees to receive notice, which enables them to be prepared for the week.
- Special Tasks.Do a walk-through of the front and back of the house and take note of any special tasks that can be completed during slow hours. This can include cleaning out the compressors of all the refrigeration equipment, organizing the walk-in or clearing exterior landscaping of cigarette butts and trash.
As a restaurant manager you are involved with every aspect of the restaurant. The more consistent you are with your approach to each duty, the better response you will get from your staff and customers.
- Never play favorites. Your staff needs to know that you approach each situation with the same level of fairness for each and every one of them. As soon as you lean on favoritism you undermine the trust of your staff and mark yourself as unreliable. The restaurant’s employee manual should be your first point of reference when doling out justice. It can be hard to be the “bad guy” but maintaining the same level of consequences for all employees will gain you their respect and confidence in the long run.
- Meet customer expectations. The last thing you want is for your food or service to be described as “hit or miss.” As soon as your customers walk in the front door their experience is in your hands. If they’ve been to your restaurant before they walk in with a set of expectations that need to be met. They might be returning for that amazing meatball sub they had last week or the fast service that got them in and out in time for a conference call. As a restaurant manger it’s your job to ensure that food and service are always consistent.
Effective communication with your staff and other managers is absolutely necessary in the chaotic world of the restaurant industry. Here are some tips for effective communication:
- Hold regular staff meetings. Hold staff meetings at the beginning of each shift to review expectations, inform employees of any changes in policy and go over dinner specials.
- Stay on the same page. Keep a notebook or planner for intercommunication between managers.
- Encourage staff. Give your staff positive feedback and let them know when they’re doing a great job.
- Be a good listener. Give your staff the opportunity to be apart of the discussion during policy changes and decision-making. This will make them feel more valued and invested in the restaurant.
4. Tempo Management
Restaurant managers set the tempo for the rest of the staff. Imparting a sense of urgency to your staff starts with you. If you want your staff to be at their best they need a leader who is willing to lead by example:
- Be the first one there and the last one to leave. If you want your crew to be punctual you better be the first face they see when they walk in the door. This is just as important at the end of the day. An effective manager stays until the last employee has completed all side work and is checked out with cash and receipts for the day.
- Show hustle. Having a good understanding of every position in the restaurant is important so that you can jump in where you’re needed. Impart the pace of the working environment by setting it.
- React to and resolve problems immediately. If someone lets you know there is a customer complaint or other pressing issue, drop what you’re doing and give it the attention it deserves. Working to resolve customer complaints or employee concerns can give everyone a better perspective going forward.
By maintaining a high-energy and enthusiastic approach to your work you will set the standard for everyone else to follow suit.
5. Attitude Adjustments
Bringing a negative attitude to the work place is the worst thing you can do for employee morale. Your attitude is contagious If you come into work with a dark cloud hanging over you expect it to be a bleak place by shift’s end. Here are some tips for maintaining a positive attitude in yourself and your staff:
- Complaining brings people down. Focusing on the problem only brings everyone down with you. Focus on reaching a solution for one thing at a time, building positive momentum.
- Always look on the bright side. There are going to be things you don’t want to do, but by bringing a good attitude to difficult tasks you will make them more enjoyable.
- Know that mistakes will happen. Reacting to a crew member’s mistake with harsh criticism doesn’t help the problem. Recognize the mistake and provide constructive criticism to build self-esteem and confidence.
- Don’t point fingers. As a restaurant manager it is your responsibility to ensure the success of your staff. Take responsibility for your mistakes and view other slip-ups as opportunities for growth that will make you a more effective manager.
It can sometimes feel like you are needed everywhere at once when managing a restaurant. That may be because you are. Reaching a comfortable balance and not stretching yourself to thin are paramount to your success and sanity.
- Delegate tasks. While you may feel the need to solve every issue personally, you need to recognize what tasks can be completed without you. Delegating a task also shows that you have confidence in your staff, helping to build their self-esteem and also make the operation more effective overall.
- Face time. You are the face of the restaurant. You need to greet and interact with at least 50 percent of the customers that come in. No matter how many fires you’re putting out behind the scenes, remember to make time for customers. They are the reason you have a job.
- Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Make sure you never get stuck on one task for too long. Successful managers need to keep on the move, floating from one station to the next. When you do stop to help resolve an issue be decisive with your actions and move on.
7. Customer Service
Great restaurant managers have great customer service. You can have a trendy menu, star chef and great location, but if you don’t treat the customers right nothing else will matter and your restaurant will fail. Here are some ways to take your customer service to the next level:
- Get to know your regulars. Remember their names, favorite dishes and drinks and greet them every time they come in. Give them a free drink or appetizer every once in while to let them know you appreciate their loyalty.
- Always say “yes.” Be receptive to the needs of your customers. Sometimes it may be an impossible request, but always start by saying “yes” and figure out the logistics afterward. If you at least try to meet their needs, they will be much more forgiving if you can’t.
- Use your spidey sense. You know the look of someone when their confused or growing impatient. Step in to address any concerns before concerns become complaints.
- Restaurant managers have to wear many hats during any given day of work. To be successful you must plan ahead, communicate expectations to staff, care for customers and do it all in a consistent and up-beat manner. Once you are able to embody these traits you will be able to handle anything that is thrown at you, including the kitchen sink.