Do you want to attract new customers, retain existing ones and grow your restaurant? If YES, here are 50 best restaurant management tips for managers & owners.
A restaurant manager works in a fast-paced environment, and his job description ranges from the mundane to the most challenging. In fact, the restaurant manager is most times the difference between the success and failure of a restaurant.
With the demanding nature of restaurant management, a restaurant manager requires a compendium of skills to be able to stand out. Here are a few tips and tricks a restaurant manager can key into to drive his or her business to success.
50 Best Management Tips & Tricks for Restaurant Managers & Owners
- Attitude is everything
The mood of the manager of a business has a way of affecting the staff, and same applies to a restaurant. A negative attitude on your part as a manager can trickle down through your employees and seep into your guests, making them have a terrible dining experience.
A customer that meets unfriendly or moody servers is likely not to visit the restaurant anymore. Work on keeping a positive attitude at all times come what may, and try to inculcate it in your staff. Of course you may feel irritable and frustrated from time to time, but try to remember why you took the job in the first place. That passion can help you see things in a better light.
- Create stability always
The restaurant business is quite unpredictable because of the many challenges that crop up frequently. One day can differ from the next which can in turn differ from the next. This can wear away at employee efficiency because they have no idea what to expect from day to day.
Your job as a manager would be to keep the restaurant on a familiar ground for all your staff. Keep communication lines open and be consistent with your expectations. This will help your employees stay grounded when everything else changes.
- Be good at planning ahead
There is nothing that gives a restaurant manager stability like planning ahead. Being able to anticipate needs and problems, and being proactive in the management of these issues, can go a long way towards keeping stress and chaos at bay.
You can start by making a list of things that need to be done in the next few months. Then prioritize those items by importance and start working on them. Plan on how to get frequent supplies and how to handle staff turnover. If you get those done sooner rather than later, you’ll avoid the problems that come with being short-staffed and staying without important supplies.
- Delegate effectively
The job of a restaurant manager is never done. There are always a thousand and one little details waiting for your attention. This is why it is important to learn to delegate. Start by delegating the less-critical day-to-day chores to trusted employees you know can get the job done. This frees you up to focus on the bigger, more important issues your restaurant will face. In addition to freeing up your time, delegating tasks to employees helps to get them familiar with what is involved in running a restaurant.
- Own up to mistakes
Mistakes always happen, we just can’t run away from them. As a restaurant manager, you must own up to these mistakes and find effective ways to resolve them. This means being accountable for your mistakes, moving past them, and finding a solution. The worst you can do is blame your staff when a mistake occurs.
Not only would it lower the morale of your workers, but it would make your staff see you as tyrannical. Whenever a mistake has been made, apologize for it and then brainstorm with your employees how to prevent such mistakes in the future. This can be a great way to train your staff to exhibit the same behavior.
- Focus on the business
With so many distracting factors that crop up when running a restaurant business, it is advised that a manager remembers his business. You must, as a manager keep your restaurant up-to-date, fresh, and functioning over the long-haul, not just day-to-day. Take the time to examine dining trends, marketing results, and overall business practices. Working on the business in this way will help keep your restaurant open and successful for years to come.
- Make success a big deal
Everyone needs encouragement now and again. Your employees are no different. Making success a big deal in your restaurant, and rewarding them for it, can go a long way toward making your staff perform at their best. When you celebrate success, your employees see the value of doing a good job and know that you appreciate their efforts.
If you see someone doing a good job or notice how they handled a problem really well, take a moment to pull them aside and commend them. This one-on-one attention can make the employee feel like they are a valuable member of the team.
- Let customer satisfaction always come first
Customers come with a lot of preferences, and sometimes those special requests take a toll on the staff, but you have to inculcate into your staff that customer satisfaction should always come first no matter what. If your customers a happy, they would bring in friends and relatives, and in turn make the business happy.
The way you deal with customers goes a long way toward influencing how customers perceive your restaurant. This perception can have a profound effect on the success or failure of everything you do in the business. The way you deal with your customers also influences how your employees will react when put in a similar position, so you must in essence set a good example.
- Be firm but perceptive
As a restaurant manager, you need to always have a firm grip of the business. You need to set high standards and goals and expect your employees to produce results. That may mean that you have to push your employees outside their comfort zone once in a while, but that is the only way they can grow and improve in the restaurant industry. Adversity and challenge breeds experience and skill. You can reach you goals and drive your employees to improve while at the same time being sensitive to their needs and flexible to the demands of the situation.
- Learn to multitask
Like I said before, the job of a restaurant manager is never done. For you achieve maximum effectiveness, you need to learn the art of multitasking. Your employees are going to be coming to you with questions about all sorts of things. Suppliers are going to be calling to schedule deliveries. Customers are going to want to talk. You’ve got schedules to put together, finances to reconcile, advertising and marketing to arrange etc.
You need to be able to give your attention to one task for a period of time, allow yourself to be pulled away to a second task when necessary, and then be proficient enough to step right back into that first task without hesitation. Know that they are things you cannot delegate, so you have to see to them yourself.
- Improve yourself
It takes an astute entrepreneur to run a restaurant to profitability. Granted, not everyone was born with these qualities, so you have to give yourself up to learning them. Pick up a skill you feel you are lacking and start learning it.
When you feel like you’ve integrated that skill into your management style, pick another skill from the list and work on it. By improving yourself and your management style, you can effectively improve your staff, your employees, and your restaurant as a whole.
- Don’t over flood your menu
Some restaurant managers feel that it is best to provide customers a lot of choices so as to cater to different tastes. But this can backfire in the long run. It has been discovered that when customers are given a lot of choices, they don’t know what choice to make at the end.
Research shows that fine dining restaurants saw higher sales when offering 7-10 items per menu category. Casual and quick service concepts are advised to aim for 6 per category. As a restaurant manager, you can still give guests options by letting them customize your menu items. With digital menus on restaurant tablets, guests can click to see extras and add-ons for each dish.
- Treat your regulars well
Did you know that regular customers tend to spend up to 67% more than new customers? Having a regular customer base is crucial for your restaurant, as they are walking and talking adverts for you. It is on record that many restaurant managers are always particular about getting new customers, forgetting to retain regulars.
While it is good to get new customers, but a good manager should ensure he retains his regulars. These are the ones that make sure your business is running. In fact, you should focus on increasing customer retention rates by 5%, and you’ll see 25-95% higher profits. To ensure that your customers keep coming back, you need to set up a favourable loyalty program.
- Plug crime loopholes
Quite a number of things can expose a restaurant to risk, like offering free Wi-Fi from the same server that connects to your POS system. This in fact is a mistake a lot of restaurant managers make. You need a dedicated server for your POS system to discourage fraud. It should be noted a a crime can take down a business, so you ought to be weary as a restaurant manager.
- Avoid closing too early
A lot of people for one reason or the other always stay out late. If you tend to close your restaurant early, say 9pm, you would always miss out on these after rush-hour sales. To keep kitchen and server labor costs low, start with a late night happy hour menu or you can designate a specific easy menu for late nights.
- Use your playlist to your full advantage
It has been noticed that slow relaxing music makes restaurant patrons to stick around and drink. Slow tempo music was shown to increase drink sales by up to 40% in one study. However, other studies suggest that loud, fast music speeds up alcohol consumption – but only when the bar is packed. The restaurant manager should always control the playlist and work it to raise sales for the business.
- Modify your website
A latest research shows that 9 in 10 smartphone owners use their devices when deciding where to eat. And 88% seek directions and hours, followed by the menu. To ensure your website is functional, it has to show these essentials first, and must be able to automatically adjust to the screen size of a smartphone. If it doesn’t, then it is time to modify it. This doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg as there are cheaper options available.
- Remove dollar signs from your menu
Though this restaurant management trick is not sworn to, but there seem to be some level of reality to it. It has been discovered that removing dollar signs from menus prompt customers to spend more. Even a study by Cornell University collaborates this saying that diners spend 8% more when dollar signs are removed. The study also shows that adding zeroes subconsciously suggests an item costs more. So you need to let the dollar signs and the zeros go.
- Maximize your outdoors
In the summer or spring time when the weather is so beautiful, who wants to be stuck in the balmy indoors when eating? As a restaurant manager, you have to learn when to move things outside. If you have a huge parking lot, or an extra sidewalk space, you can utilize the space when the weather is right. One study revealed an amazing 30% increase in revenue for restaurants with outdoor seating. You can start small by setting up café tables and chairs, or picnic tables; but if you have the resources, you can invest in a patio or deck.
- Be out and about during rush hour
With the myriad of activities seeking the attention of the restaurant manager, there is every tendency for you to hole up in your office at every chance you get trying to finish paperwork. But this is not best for the business. Simply visiting each table will wow your guests as they may not expect it. For customers to say, “the manager of the restaurant dropped in to say hi” is a big deal and a big boost for your business. Make good use of the surprise and delight factor.
- Never ignore trends
Trends come and go, but when the trends are around, they can be such a big deal and can form some of your bestsellers. So, always follow trends in the restaurant industry and make room for them on your menu. Note that not all trends are to be followed for obvious reasons, but you should not neglect the ones that people are embracing the most, and which of course won’t put a hole on your pocket.
- Plan your reception hours
Restaurant managers deal with sales reps on a regular basis, but these unscheduled pop-ins can make a mess of your plans for the day. In order to accommodate sales reps and still have to finish your tasks, you have to set a rigid timing. Communicate with your sales reps and have them know when they can come around. This would reduce the distraction and help you achieve more. You can request them to call or text before coming around.
- Train your staff
One of the ways to prevent staff turnover is with proper training. Not only that, proper training will also help prevent you from wasting time on tasks that your employees are more than capable of handling. Outside of food and beverage training, it is important to focus your training on operational procedures. This makes sure that the necessary work gets done, and would also prevent you from having to always hire new staff.
- Utilize restaurant apps
There are countless apps available for the restaurant industry that can help you boost productivity as a restaurant manager. From reservation apps to scheduling apps, you can remove tedious tasks from your everyday routine. For example, reprinting wine lists and managing your beverage menu can take up too much time, so you should consider an app like Uncorkd that help reduce the time spent managing your menus. Uncorkd also helps you to manage inventory, increase your marketing impact, and makes instant updates to your online menu.
- Review Sales Data
Knowing your sales numbers is a crucial way to build a deeper understanding of how your restaurant runs. Looking at the rate of sales for wines or cocktails can impact how often you order certain products. Looking at your table turns and knowing your busiest hours allows you to streamline staffing decisions. By reviewing restaurant data, you can make decisions faster and with more confidence.
- Schedule me-time for yourself
If you have the opportunity to create your own schedule, or influence when you’re scheduled to be at work, then make sure you schedule a time each week that you can be in the restaurant alone. Having time to yourself to get paperwork done, plan for events, or put together training programs will put you in a better position to handle issues with service and staff when they come up. This would no doubt mean that you have to come in early before food or drink service starts, so you have time to work without interruption.
- Motivate your team
A motivated team can go the extra mile for a business; they provide that extra gas that is required during extreme situations. So you should of necessity keep your team motivated and happy. Initiate team-building meetings, reward hard work and develop the habit of offering surprise perks.
In addition, be a model leader; sometimes work as a chef, a secretary or a lobby boy, this would give good example to the team, telling them that no task is a big deal. Another crucial restaurant management tip is to ensure activities like away days, motivational sessions, camps and parties are held occasionally to ensure that everyone stays focused and motivated.
- Always keep abreast with the quality of your food and service
Hospitality is all about service and you must not lose focus of that. Customer service holds the key in the hospitality industry and that must always reverberate within the system of your restaurant. In fact, the grade of your service can make the difference in your restaurant retaining customers or not. Again, you always have to ensure that health and food safety regulations are followed; you do not want to get into trouble with the law, do you?
- Handle complaints professionally
Complaints are one thing that occurs frequently in a restaurant business, and as a manager, the way you handle these complaints would tell of your productivity. From being a smart, judicious judge to acting swiftly, always strive to create a harmonious working space for all. Even if you don’t agree with a customer’s complaint, how you handle it will determine whether the customer comes back. You should also handle staff complaints as effectively as you handle customer complaints.
- Make job expectations clear to staff
Sometimes, job roles can conflict, or they may be roles that are assumed that some people should take care of. This scenario should not arise in an effectively run restaurant. A manager should ensure that job roles are clearly spelt out. From the waitstaff to the house kitchen staff, each person needs to know his or her job, and be the best at it if your restaurant is going to run smoothly.
- Make publicity a priority
Advertising is a big part of restaurant management. If your restaurant is not well publicized, you would have problems with getting new customers. So, in order to keep your restaurant running effectively, you have to take care of the publicity side of business. You need to take out newspaper ads and radio announcements. You should equally not neglect the use of social media.
- Monitor your cash flow
Cash flow is the amount of cash coming in versus the amount of cash that’s going out of your business, and it should be monitored on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. It should be noted that a restaurant manager that lacks this skill would surely run his or her restaurant aground. If you don’t understand the basic concept of restaurant finances, then you should enroll in a course. You can do it online to maximize your time.
- Consider offering catering services
Restaurants, by virtue of what they are, have a built-in catering clientele in their customer base and they already have all the resources: food, equipment, and staff. You can probably easily expand into catering large and small events. This can be a way to earn additional income in your business.
- Lean back on the POS System
Point of sale systems allow restaurant owners to track sales, cash flow, and food inventory. This can greatly simplify day-to-day restaurant management and help to trim food costs and payroll, as well as track the popularity of menu items. For a restaurant manager, the POS system is at the core of your business so ensure that you have it.
- Monitor your menu and make the necessary changes
The price of food items can change frequently, and this would have to affect the price of food. As a restaurant manager, you have to monitor these changes so as to make the prices in your menu to correspond. Failure to do this can impact negatively on your business profits. Always monitor the cost of running your business and redistribute as required.
- Look for ways to save extra cash
There are little things one can do that can save you some cash. For example switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and installing low-flow faucets are just two ways that restaurants can save money, not to mention the environment. You just have to look around your establishment for hotspots you are pouring more money into than you have to. If you cannot dictate these on your own, you may have to bring in experts to help you. Trust me, the expense would be worth it.
- Find effective ways to handle stress
A restaurant manager runs on adrenaline on an average work day. You are expected to stay calm even in stressful situations, and you have to stay clear-headed and articulate even with the thousands of things you have to do. This is a perfect recipe for stress, and you need to find a way to handle these daily stresses before they take you down. A stressed out manager is just like a ticking bomb. One good way to handle stress is to delegate tasks effectively.
- Know how to tweak the numbers
Running a restaurant business is all about making profits, and as a restaurant manager, you have to ensure that the numbers correspond. You have to know which menu are costing you much, if you are always having to pay for additional help, if you are throwing away too much food, etc. A successful restaurant manager needs to be on top of the numbers and know how to adjust to the current situation, and turn a possible loss into a profit.
- Learn to innovate
The best restaurant managers keep ahead of their peers. They are always proactive in order to always be the first with the good ideas and latest menus. Marketing campaigns, staffing needs and restaurant menu changes are all handled before time to ensure there is no chaos.
The smart restaurant manager will make sure to use the best new technologies and make sure that they stay ahead of the restaurant automation technology race. Restaurant managers should be open to new ideas and ways to improve their operations.
- Have a lot of stamina
Opening a restaurant early in the morning and staying past closing time takes a toll on the body and mind. Effective restaurant managers can work on their feet for long periods of time and balance multiple physically demanding jobs, from helping out in the kitchen to bussing tables. So you have to build stamina if you want to be effective in this business. You can do this by making time for the gym.
- Have great customer service skills
Restaurants are filled with unpredictable customers that can task the average worker. From diners with multiple dietary restrictions to last-minute group reservations, and the list goes on, these scenes are plentiful in a typical day. Competent restaurant managers are required to handle these scenarios with customer satisfaction in mind. You should also strive to instill the same values in your staff.
- Create restaurant family meal time
Restaurant family meal is a period when restaurant staff gather to enjoy a simple meal before guests start walking through the door. The family meal is a great way to foster positive interaction and a feeling of camaraderie among your employees. It also gives the restaurant manager a chance to talk about work issues. These meals need not be expensive as they are usually created from meal scraps of the previous day. In the process of getting creative for the next meal, kitchen staff will inevitably become better at reducing food waste in general.
- Be willing to pitch in
Restaurant managers are not just there to throw commands at people, they should also be able to pitch in when things become overwhelming. Leaving all the work to your staff would mark you out as bossy and insensitive. When you pitch in at times of need, your workers would also be willing to do same for their colleagues.
- Be transparent
Transparency is an important aspect of restaurant management. Millennial employees in particular want know what’s going on and what’s being done within the restaurant. This is because the younger generation wants to feel connected and part of something larger.
If you can foster transparency with your employees, they will feel more a part of your team and be engaged and motivated to perform at the highest levels. You can foster transparency by conducting regular staff meetings to keep employees up to date on the business. During work hours, keep in constant communication with your employees so you know what’s going on.
- Lead by setting example
If you want your employees to perform at a high level, you have to perform that way first. It is the case of jumping to show them how it is done. Employees are always prone to blending into an organization the way they find it without making any changes, so if you want any positive changes, you have to bring it to the table.
If you want your servers to keep an eye on the dining room and help out if the waiters get behind, show them how it’s done, not tell them how it is done. If they see you reacting to the needs of the business without being asked, they’ll be more likely to emulate your behavior.
- Hone your problem solving skills
Everything that can go wrong in a restaurant will go wrong at one point or another. It’s pretty much a universal law. Because of that, it’s important to develop and strengthen your problem-solving skills so you can handle the myriad emergencies that are an integral part of the restaurant business.
When faced with a problem, figure out the simplest solution that satisfies all parties involved and then execute. Don’t over think it; you have all the time to analyze what you did at close of work, and if the decision you took was not the right one, you would have learnt your lessons. You must be able to handle problems as quickly as they come.
- Learn how to handle negative reviews
Restaurants do sometimes get negative reviews from dissatisfied customers. A restaurant manager should know how to handle these reviews so as not to hurt his or her business. Trying to be smart or insulting to a dissatisfied customer would blow the whole situation out of proportion and can seriously hurt your business.
You must learn how to rectify ugly situations and turn it around to your favour. Again, some restaurant managers simply delete such comments, but that may not be the wisest way to go. As a restaurant manager, always ensure that you or a reliable staff are the ones that handle reviews so as not to mess things up.
- Enliven your dining experience
To get your customers coming back, as a restaurant manager, you have to learn to think beyond the plate. Your job as a restaurant manager is to create the ultimate experience. You could think of introducing live trivia competitions to increase midweek business. You need to add value to every guest’s visit by putting entertainment on the menu. They would always look forward to this especially with the world being such a stressful place.
- Market your restaurant…in your restaurant
A smart restaurant manager maximizes the time guests are on-premises to market his or her business. You can use posters of upcoming events to custom coasters at the bar, put up random signage, give out fliers for promotions etc. You main aim would be to use every opportunity to keep your business in the eyes of your customers.
- Support a good cause
While running your business in a community, you have to make plans to give back to the community. Beyond helping the community, donating time or money to a charity pays off. It should be noted that 72% of guests recommend restaurants that support a good cause. You can make it interactive by allowing your customers to vote on the charity your restaurant gets to support each month or each year. This would boost publicity for you in no little way.