Opening a restaurant is a big undertaking. Just getting it off the ground and running is major accomplishment so if you have just opened your first restaurant, kudos for making your dream a reality. Don’t celebrate too hard though because there is still a lot of hard work ahead to make sure your restaurant is a thriving success. Your first year in business is a crucial time for you to iron out all the wrinkles and find your place in the restaurant industry.
As a restaurant owner, you might hire a manager or do the job yourself. Either way, there are certain things you should keep in mind when it comes to restaurant management to keep your seats filled and your customers happy.
Here is a Beginner’s Guide to Restaurant Management to help you find your winning restaurant management formula:
Your customer is always right
In any customer-facing business, the adage “the customer is always right” is the mantra that every staff member has to live by. Never let your ego or the ego of your staff ever get in the way of listening to your customers’ needs. Be open to criticism and make any realistic changes to improve the customer’s experience. To help you with this, try to observe your restaurant from your customer’s point of view. Are they waiting really long to get a table? Are their food allergy concerns not being addressed properly? And as always keep in mind in overall vision though and make sure you stick to that.
Hire staff who share your vision
The backbone of any successful restaurant is an experienced, dedicated staff. Make sure each staff member is aware of what expectations you have for them. Pay your staff well and give them the training they need to do their job well and everyone will benefit. A high turnover rate at your restaurant not only causes staffing problems it also makes it difficult to provide your customers with consistent excellent service. You don’t want your customers feeling like that the quality of service depends on which day of the week it is and who is on staff.
To keep your staff from being overworked and burning out quickly, make sure you have enough staff members to share all the tasks that make up running a restaurant and always have backup staffing planned for when you are extra busy or staff get sick or have an emergency at home. Here are some of the tasks that you need to make sure gets done:
- Opening the restaurant and prepping the dining room and kitchen
- Procurement of all supplies and ingredients and beverages
- Preparing meals
- Dish washing
- Serving customers
- Cleaning up the tables and getting them ready for the next customer
- Keep the bathrooms cleans fresh and clean all day
- Cleaning up and getting the restaurant ready for the next day
- Paying the bills and maintaining the books
Invest in advertising
Word of mouth will only get you so far in the restaurant business so even if it is a small budget, make sure you allocate some resources for advertising and restaurant promotions. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great, low-cost ways to connect with potential customers as well.
Switch up your menu regularly
They don’t have to be big changes, but is important that you are constantly fine-tuning your menu. While returning customers might have favorite dishes that they love, they will also enjoy being able to try new things on the menu as well. You never want your menu to feel stale.
Watch cash flow closely
The first year a restaurant is open is very crucial. In the beginning, it is expected that you will be putting out more money then you are making, but you want to make sure you stay on budget and that as soon as possible you are making more money then you are spending. Always keep a close eye on your cash flow so you don’t find yourself buried under debt and unable to dig out.
Consider offering catering to expand your business
Many restaurants also offer catering services whether one site or at people’s homes or banquet halls. It is a great way to reach more customers and increase sales. You just need to make sure you have the right equipment and additional staff to do it.
Find the right POS system
Technology is great and can really help you with restaurant management. Most restaurant owners now use some sort of point of sales system to keep track of sales, cash flow and even your inventory. The right system can help keep you financially on track and make sure you never run out of food or supplies while cutting down on waste.
The little things count too
Don’t discount small changes that can make a big difference in the management of your restaurant. Switching to energy efficient light bulbs and appliances can save you money and be better for the environment. Think about reducing your restaurant’s waste by recycling and composting.
Cultivate qualities of a good restaurant manager
Whether you are owner/manager or decide to hire a manager to run your restaurant, there are certain qualities that are essential for successful restaurant management.
Without a passion for what you are doing, you are not going to be able to devote all the time and energy you will need to make your restaurant work. Your staff will feed off this passionate energy and will want to work hard for you.
Foster healthy competition and creativity
While too much a focus on competition can cause stress and burnout, healthy competition and the encouragement to be creative will keep everyone trying to make the restaurant the best it can be.
Be a people person
It goes without saying that in the restaurant business you better be a people person. In restaurant management in particular, not only are you dealing with customers on a daily basis, you are also handling employee issues as well. Developing strong relationships with both customers and staff are really important in this business.
With these restaurant management tips in mind, you are sure to have a tight-running ship in no time. Good Luck!