If you are new to managing a restaurant, working out where to start can be very daunting. Your tasks often include handling community outreach, mediating staff conflicts, crunching inventory numbers, meeting customer expectations, and more, all while making sure both the front and back of house run smoothly. From prioritizing to delegating, restaurant managers need to tap into a variety of different skills in order to be successful. These restaurant management tips will help you to feel confident in taking the next steps of your career in this fast-paced industry.
Image – free for commercial use
Make Sure Your Staff Feels Valued
It’s no secret that employee turnover can be a big problem for many restaurants. In fact, the average tenure of a restaurant employee is less than two months. It is more expensive to train new members than it is to keep the ones that you already have, and it can take a lot of hours out of your day to carry out interviews, follow up, and train new employees. What are some of the best ways to keep your employees happy and motivated to stay with you?
If you don’t already have one, think about starting an ‘Employee of the Month’ program. Make sure that the winning employee gets a bonus check, gift card, or something valuable to reward their achievement and motivate others to do the same. You can also practice open-book management to foster more transparency and loyalty among your staff. This is when a company is transparent to employees about the company’s financial information, profitability, profit sharing, and educational classes. It can also allow your staff to feel more valued by you as a manager.
During busy times, it doesn’t hurt to offer a free meal for those working double shifts (keep an eye on who this is using these 14 Best Free Employee Scheduling Software Tools) or give everyone a gift card during the holidays to say thank you for a job well done. You could also have set incentives for people who stay with you for certain amounts of time, like three months, six months, a year, and so on. These incentives could be monetary, or something like a higher schedule priority.
Revamp Your Menu On A Seasonal Basis
Having some signature dishes if a great way to encourage customers to keep coming back, but so is switching things up occasionally. Even just revamping your menu for each season can help to keep things fresh and interesting, and makes it easier to work with local farms and suppliers who grow different fruits, veggies, and herbs, depending on the season.
During the summer, ingredients like peaches and zucchini are great additions to a salad or appetizer. During the winter, carrots and brussels sprouts can be added to a side dish or entree. Using seasonal, local ingredients will not only keep your restaurant menu from feeling samey, but you are also likely to be able to save money on transportation costs that you would normally have to pay to import ingredients.
Be Thoughtful About Marketing
Part of managing a restaurant also means helping to drive new customers through your doors. One of the most effective ways to do this is by having a solid restaurant marketing strategy. Social media is perfect for marketing a restaurant. This is either free or a lot cheaper than other more traditional marketing methods, like television commercials or print advertising. It’s also relatively easy to maintain a good social presence.
It’s a good idea to have a well-maintained presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The ideal frequency of posts varies across each platform, but at least once a week is a good place to get started.
Once you have a regular post schedule, don’t forget to interact with your customers who message, comment, and like your posts on these channels. This is another way to communicate the feel of your brand, make fans feel special, and show that you are authentic. If you have the budget, you can also use paid social media adverts to spread brand awareness about your restaurant and to target the right audience. Paid ads are also easier to track.
Train Employees To Expect The Unexpected
It’s often said in the restaurant industry that ‘the customer is always right’. Depending on your customer’s demeanor, this can be easier said than lived up to. Your customers provide the revenue that you need to stay open, so it is important to do everything that you can, within reasons, to make sure they have a good experience.
Make sure that all of your staff know how to respond when someone asks about menu modifications for dietary restrictions. They should also know what to do if a customer is angry or out of line, and people that arrive at the restaurant ten minutes before closing. Restaurant managers need to be able to handle it all, so the more you prepare your team for a variety of scenarios, the better.
Suggest Hosting Events
As a manager, you will be affected by how much revenue your restaurant brings in. If you are looking for creative ways to give your bottom line a boost, if you have a private or semi-private dining area that can hold larger groups, you can suggest to the restaurant owners that they should think about renting out these spaces for events if they don’t do so already. Events can quickly fill up your calendar, giving you some breathing room if you are struggling to meet sales goals. If you are concerned about accommodating these events and your regular customers at the same time, you can get started by only hosting events during times you would normally be closed or slow.
If you are just starting to host events and want to drum up some interest, you can use introductory deals:
- Give a discount to customers who want to rent out your space on a weeknight
- Offer ten percent off to someone who books a party within the first three months of your new events program launching
- Send a gift card or a nice bottle of champagne if a client’s referral books within three months
If you already offer events bookings and want to make sure your customers know that, add a page on your website with events information and photos of previous events that you have held in your space (with permission from your clients). This page is also a great place to highlight that your space is ideal for multiple event types, such as birthday parties, rehearsal dinners, and corporate events. You could also put a well-designed piece of paper with event information into check presenters to encourage diners to host events in your restaurant.
Make Tracking Sales And Inventory Easier
Crunching the numbers is often part of a restaurant manager’s daily work life. In addition to tracking sales from dining reservations and events, you also need to keep up with food and bar inventory, customer counts, payroll costs, and more. One way to help you to accomplish this is an organized way is with a point-of-sale (POS) system. Depending on the type of system you choose, you can change menus, access reports, manage online ordering, and predict sales trends, all in place. POS systems are usually cloud-based, so that means you can work on the go instead of being stuck at a desk.
Manual inventory is usually very time-consuming. Advances in technology mean that there are inventory management solutions that can automate the process, which saves a lot of time.