All About Managing a Restaurant

How to give great customer service
How to give great customer service. Pfaffenhofen a.d.Ilm/Deutschland via Pixabay

Chances are, if you are thinking of opening a new restaurant or already own your own restaurant, you like to cook, like to eat out or like to be around people.  And any or all of these traits are great to have in the restaurant industry. But to be an effective restaurant owner, you need to be efficient in many other areas as well.  Often times when small business owners are just starting out, you don’t realize that they are doing more than offering a service they are good at.

As the owner, you are in charge of hiring, firing, payroll, inventory, maintenance and whole host of other areas.  Being organized right from the beginning and knowing what you can do and what you should delegate to others will help you be the most effective restaurant owner possible.

Start Tracking Your Daily Business

As soon as you open for business, start tracking your daily sales. A daily business review report can be generated through a POS (Point of Sale) system or tracked by hand in a notebook or on a calendar. For example, I like the calendar, being old-school and all. I simply jotted down the number of lunches in the upper left hand corner of each day on the calendar and dinner numbers in the lower left hand corner. At the end of the year the monthly calendars went into a three-ring binder for easy reference the next year. Easy-Peasy! I also tracked the weather, which in Maine (where I live) plays a vital part in our local restaurant scene.

If there is a weekend snowstorm, it can explain low numbers on a Saturday night, or if there is an usually warm spring day, it can help explain a particularly busy lunch rush. The start of vacation season or ski season signals an uptick and business, therefore we knew to add extra staff to each shift.

  Keeping track of our daily business review helped us plan for staffing as well as keep payroll in line. It can also help you purchase the right amount of food and beverages, based on the previous year’s numbers.

Know How to Effectively Manage Your Restaurant Staff

The hardest part of owning a restaurant, for me at least, was handling the staff issues that inevitably arose.  I was an inept HR person (and that is being pretty generous).  Creating a staff handbook which outlines your business policies, rules and regulations sounds dull, but it is an important aspect of effectively managing your staff. Having clear expectations as well as consequences for poor performance can help circumvent problems later on.  Read more about effective staff management here. 

Know What to do Yourself and What to Outsource

If numbers and excel spreadsheets aren’t your thing, seriously consider hiring a part time bookkeeper to handle your payroll and other financial matters.  Other areas to consider outsourcing include your laundry and commercial kitchen cleaning– it may be cheaper to hire an outside company than to pay your staff to do it.  Marketing is another area that you may want to delegate to an outside vendor.

  There are a lot of programs available to make inexpensive websites and with social media, many restaurants don’t even have a website (but they should). Unless you can carve out the time necessary for maintaining an effective social media campaign and keeping your restaurant up-to-date it is better to hand it off to a professional. 

As the owner of your restaurant, you are the leader. You set the tone for your staff.  People in all industries love to boss-watch and you are no exception.  Model the behavior you want to see in your staff. Read more about being an awesome restaurant boss