Being a restaurant manager is like being a juggler who is juggling six knives – each knife must be carefully handled to avoid catastrophe. To say it is a lot of pressure, especially as a new manager, is an understatement. It is often extremely overwhelming trying to juggle all the moving parts of a restaurant – the everyday employee managerial issues, customer satisfaction, food service, and other problems that are only present in the restaurant industry. Below are a few tips that will tremendously help your restaurant management skills:
1. Stay Consistent
The restaurant industry has ups and downs like none other. Each day, some new problem presents itself. Managers must be sure to remain consistent with how they respond and approach issues. Stay consistent with how you communicate with your employees as well as customers, how you maintain policies and procedures, and with what you expect from your staff. Even during stressful times, a consistent, confident leader will reassure the team that everything is under control and relieve a great deal of stress for them.
2. Be Proactive
Too often, there will not be much time to react to issues that arise in the foodservice industry. For that reason, it is vital to be as proactive as possible in preparing for future problems. Be proactive, not reactive. It is far less stressful.
A few areas you should prepare for in advance are:
- Staffing needs
- Menu changes or updates
- Advertising and promotions
- Inventory Control
- Updating technology
3. Get First-Hand Experience
Be a leader who leads by example; be one who knows first-hand what his employees are facing. See how the kitchen runs, what the cooks must deal with, and what challenges servers or hosts face. Employees tend to respect managers more who have done their job first-hand and know what their challenges are. The more you know about each job position, the better manager you will become.
4. Make Staff Retention a Priority
What is the restaurant manager’s biggest challenge? A recent survey revealed that 46% of restaurant managers reported that staffing is their most difficult challenge. Hiring, training, and retaining staff can be a costly and time-intensive process. Always having to replace and retrain staff is an unnecessary expense. Make a point to focus on staff retention.
5. Monitor the Customer Experience
Customer satisfaction is your primary goal for every choice you make in the business. This can be a very complex issue since you are dealing with so many aspects of customer expectations – food preferences or restrictions, non-peak periods, rude customers, etc.
Customer satisfaction is not just about the food, however. Customers want more than just good food – they want an experience. Concerning yourself with the food preparation and efficient service is essential, but do not forget to look at the larger picture. The overall experience of your customers is the heart of your business. Pay attention to all the “little” things that go into an excellent customer experience – fair prices, lighting and ambiance, cleanliness, simple and quick seating, friendly staff, unique offerings, etc. Find a way to make a unique, memorable experience for your customers so they will want to share it with others.
6. Capitalize on Word-of-Mouth Referrals
The most common reason people choose to eat a restaurant is that they heard about it from someone else. In fact, 78% of business comes from referrals or word-of-mouth. The second most common reason for people choosing a restaurant now is because of social media. Both relate to what others say about you, not what you say about your business. This includes both positive and negative input. For this reason, online reviews and an online presence are vital to the success of any restaurant business.
7. Choose to Invest in Advertising
Even though word-of-mouth referrals and social media reviews are essential, a restaurant cannot solely survive on those. You still need to invest in traditional advertising like signs, print ads, and online ads. In such a competitive market, make advertising a priority. However, it is imperative to set a budget and stick to it because marketing costs can quickly get out of hand. Make your marketing dollars count by considering the following:
- Social trends
- Peak and seasonal sales
- Food trends
8. Don’t Forget About Yourself
Lastly, the most critical managerial tip: do not forget to take care of yourself. The restaurant business is an extremely taxing business, both physically and mentally. Take care of your physical and mental health and be sure to take time for yourself. You cannot help others if you do not help yourself first.