Being a manager is a tough role in any business, but when it involves a restaurant, the job gets much more challenging. Managing a restaurant is one of those jobs that involve countless different responsibilities and requires a plethora of skills.
From handling both front and back of the house operations, leading a diverse staff, keeping your guests happy, all the while making sure that the restaurant is performing well and earning money, is no easy task.
With all these responsibilities on their plate, it's natural for restaurant managers to feel overwhelmed. Fear not, we’re here to help! We’ve compiled a list of the most useful tips that will help improve your restaurant management skills and lighten the burden from your shoulders.
11 Tips For Managing Your Restaurant Effectively
1. Be proactive and reactive
The restaurant industry is one of the most fast-paced, dynamic industries in the world. Things are constantly in motion. It’s important for restaurant managers to always stay on top of these ever-changing trends and adapt their restaurants accordingly, or they risk falling behind.
For instance, due to the recent introduction of capacity restrictions caused by the pandemic, customers have started preferring restaurants that offer table reservations. For restaurant managers, it’s crucial to identify these trends early and make changes proactively before everyone else does, or they’ll be playing catch up and losing customers.
On the other hand, restaurant managers should also be reactive in their management style and make instant reaction-based changes to grab any opportunities that come their way. For example, if a restaurant manager suddenly starts to notice an influx of customers at his/her restaurant asking for vegan dishes, they must quickly take action and add vegan dishes to their menu to capitalize on the situation and build a stronger customer base.
2. Be aware of what your competitors are doing
With new restaurants popping up every day, guests are spoiled for choice. There are 100s of options to choose from, so if they find something that’s lacking at a restaurant somewhere else, they’re not coming back. This is why about 60% of restaurants don’t make it past the first year.
It can get hard to keep up with the competitors. But for restaurant managers, it’s important to always stay updated about your competitors, what they’re offering guests, what their USP is, what guests like/dislike about them, etc. This allows you to always stay one step ahead and keep your competitive edge which improves a restaurant’s chances of survival in the industry.
3. Understand your customers
Customers are the backbone of a business. They are, after all, a restaurant’s main source of income. Yet, a lot of restaurant managers fail to focus on their guests.
As a manager, it’s very important to have an in-depth understanding of your customers - who they are, their needs and wants, their preferences, etc., so that you can tailor your restaurant accordingly. Remember, your restaurant exists to cater to their needs, so make sure you’re able to give them exactly what they need.
Understanding your guests better also allows you to provide them with a personalized guest experience every time they walk into your restaurant, which helps build a stronger relationship with them and improves their loyalty towards your brand. It costs five times more to attract a new guest than it takes to keep an existing one, so make sure you try to retain as many customers as possible.
4. Have proper processes in place
A restaurant’s performance is the result of 100s of processes taking place simultaneously. To succeed, all the operations must run like a well-oiled machine, around the clock. Even a small glitch can set back the entire system.
It’s the restaurant’s manager’s responsibility to have proper processes defined for each operation so that there is no confusion across the team and everything runs smoothly. This not only standardizes and streamlines the operations across your restaurant but also improves overall efficiency.
An operations manual can be very helpful in recording these processes and act as a guide for you and your team.
5. Ask your employees
One of the most important things to remember as a restaurant manager is that you don’t know everything. There might be others around you who may be more aware of certain things, and it’s always a good idea to take their opinion into account to improve your decision-making.
Your front-of-house employees, for instance, are a big asset for understanding your guests better because they spend more time than anyone else “on the field” with them. They can provide you with useful insights about your customers based on their experience and first-hand communication with the guests.
Make sure you are talking to your employees and including them in the decision-making process regularly. This not only provides better insights but also makes the team feel like they are part of the process which in turn makes them more motivated.
6. Train and re-train your staff
A well-trained team can be the difference between a good and a great restaurant. The more trained your employees are in your restaurant’s operations, the better your restaurant performs, significantly improving your likelihood of success.
Every restaurant has its own way of doing things. It's important to train every employee properly, even the ones with years of experience, to ensure that all of them are on the same page about the workings of your restaurant.
An employee training manual can come in handy to ensure that each employee goes through a standardized training process and has something to look back to for regular revision.
Employees must also get regular training recaps to ensure that everything is still fresh in their minds and they’re always at their A-game.
7. Look after your employees
Employees are the most integral part of the business, and looking after them is an important part of a restaurant manager’s job.
More often than not, restaurant managers fail at providing their employees with a good experience, which is why the industry has one of the highest employee turnover rates (less than 2 months). Given the cost of hiring and training new team members, restaurants need to focus on retaining their existing ones by providing them with competitive pay, good leadership, and incentives to boost their morale and keep them happy.
When employees are happy, they’re more likely to be more invested in the restaurant’s success and perform better, leading to increased efficiency and revenue.
8. Feedback, feedback, feedback
Feedback is one of the most useful tools for a restaurant manager. No matter where it’s coming from, your employees, your managers, or your customers, feedback provides a deeper insight into your restaurant’s performance that would have otherwise been missed.
Guest feedback, for instance, can tell you exactly what guests like or dislike at your restaurant. It gives a better understanding of whether your restaurant can fulfill their wants or not, and helps in identifying areas of improvement.
Make sure to set up a solid review system for receiving regular feedback from your guests to always keep track of your restaurant performance. This can be done using public review websites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp, or by setting up an in-house feedback system with software like Eat App.
9. Don't forget about marketing
As a manager, it’s easy to get tangled up in the 100s of tasks involved in running the restaurant smoothly and forget all about marketing. We get it, your plate is full. However, what’s the point of putting all that effort into making sure everything at your restaurant is perfect if your customers have no idea about it?
You may be running the best restaurant in the world with the most delicious food, but your guests won’t know that until you tell them. That’s where the importance of marketing comes in.
Marketing is what makes people walk through your restaurant’s doors. So make sure you’ve not pushed it to the end of your priority list. Spend time on understanding your guests’ behavior and preferences to choose the best platform to promote your restaurant and reach the right people.
10. Make your life easier with technology
Here’s a fun fact for restaurant managers - you don’t have to do it all by yourself. In recent years, restaurant technology has revolutionized restaurant operations, providing managers a helping hand in their everyday tasks like maintaining a customer database, managing reservations, collecting guest feedback, etc.
Make sure you’re making use of technology like CRM systems, table management systems, advanced reporting systems, etc., to improve your restaurant’s operational efficiency and make your life easier.
Not sure which technology to invest in for your restaurant? Check out our list of 9 best reservation systems here
11. Keep learning
The manager is the person who is supposed to have all the answers. To be that person, you must keep yourself educated in every aspect of the restaurant. Educate yourself about the cuisine your restaurant serves, where the ingredients come from, the history, the heritage. Learn about different management styles so that you can lead your people the best way possible. And most importantly, keep learning more and more about your customers so that can provide them with the best experience possible.
Given the dynamic nature of the industry, continuous learning is crucial for restaurant managers to keep up with the changing environment and to perfect their craft over time.