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Top Tips on How to Manage a Restaurant Successfully

top tips on how to manage a restaurant successfully
Daphne Blake

By Daphne Blake

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Become the gatekeeper to success

The restaurant manager is pivotal to the success of every restaurant. Are you up for the task? Read these top tips on what a restaurant manager does and how you can beat the competition to manage a restaurant successfully.

A manager can make or break a restaurant, so it is imperative that you truly understand your job and what is expected of you. Managers have a lot on their plates. The list of duties for restaurant managers is enormous, and it may seem daunting at first, but we've got some great tips on how to make every aspect of restaurant management go smoother, run more efficiently, and even save your establishment some money in the process.

Staffing decisions

Your job as a restaurant manager means you'll be responsible for interviewing, hiring, and firing all staff members. This includes hosts and hostesses, wait staff, kitchen staff, as well as janitorial and maintenance. Along with your staffing duties, you'll likely be responsible for staff scheduling and performance reviews. When considering scheduling options, keep in mind call-ins for illnesses or having backups for covering vacation days. Bigger restaurants or those with multiple locations sometimes have a more difficult time keeping track of all the staff and their daily duties, so time and labor-saving procedures should be implemented early on to keep everything running as it should.

TIP Traditionally, staffing has been handled with overwhelming stacks of paper to track everyone and what they're doing. That includes hours worked, duties performed (or missed), and overall performance notes. Loose papers, notebooks, and ledgers are exhausting, expensive, and wasteful of time, money, and resources. Thanks to modern technology, all aspects of staff management can now be tracked and handled digitally. There's a wide variety of apps and software available that can tackle each issue, and one of the shining stars for staff management is ZipChecklist—an industry leader in task management and food safety. Using ZipChecklist software saves time and money, helping your establishment run more efficiently through real-time updates to keep tabs on every aspect of your restaurant and your staff. Ready to read more about productivity apps?

Tracking and ordering inventory

managing a restaurant

While you may not be required to personally inventory every item in the restaurant, you will be in charge of signing off on all requests for restocking. This includes inventory requests from the kitchen, the front end, the bar, and maintenance. You'll need to check those requests against the monthly budget to be sure the restaurant stays on track.

TIP Inventory is another aspect of management that has been brought from the dark ages of mountains of paperwork to the digital age. Inventory tracking software is an integral part of running an efficient and cost-effective restaurant. With the help of technology, gone are the days of over-stocking, under-stocking, and going over budget. Read more about inventory management here

Spearheading customer service

We've all heard the adage "The customer is always right," and whether or not we agree with the customer's opinion, it's best to treat them as if you do agree. One angry review can spell disaster for a restaurant, especially a fledgling one without many loyal patrons. As the manager of your restaurant, customer service will fall on your shoulders. That means you'll be responsible for training staff on good customer service practices and handling any issues as they arise.

TIPNever let a problem sit. Always deal with upset customers right away, preferably before they leave the building. Offer an apology with a free meal or dessert or coupons for a future visit. The internet has made it easier than ever for customers to express their displeasure. But that doesn't mean you're sunk. Keep an eye on your restaurant's reviews on social media and review websites, and then be ready to step in and publicly offer an apology and a token of appreciation to tempt them to come back and give your restaurant another chance. Even if that customer doesn't accept the offer, other people reading the reviews will see your efforts and may decide to stop in.

Handling marketing and advertising efforts

If your restaurant doesn't have a dedicated marketing specialist or social media person, these tasks may fall on the restaurant manager. Thinking up and creating ads in print, online, and for the radio are often the manager's job, as are implementing ideas for promotions and special events designed to attract more customers.

TIPIf you're stumped by this one, try following competing restaurants on social media and see what types of promotions they're running and what the public's reaction has been. While you shouldn't copy an idea directly, thinking of something similar is a good place to start. Listen to the feedback you get on your social media or from patrons in the restaurant, and adjust your next event accordingly. You can also leave suggestion cards at each table and ask patrons what kinds of events they'd be most interested in.

Finances and bookkeeping

planning events as a manager of a restaurant

Daily business reviews and daily deposits are generally the manager's job, but there's much more to keeping finances in check. These other tasks don't always fall on the manager's shoulders, but it's good to have at least basic knowledge of these processes, just in case a manager needs to step in. Keeping close tabs on all financial matters goes beyond the inventory budget and includes things like staff wages, taxes, and the establishment's bank accounts, too.

TIP Bookkeeping software has made the financial aspects of restaurant management a lot easier. Even so, unless you also hold a degree in accounting or bookkeeping, it might be best to hire a specialist for the huge financial tasks.

Planning events

Catering services or handling reservations for large groups—such as business meetings, wedding parties, or school trips—takes planning and special attention. Making sure your staff can handle the pressure of such a large crowd is an important part of successfully managing a restaurant, as is making sure your inventory is spot on. This means planning, imagining any pitfalls you may face, and preparing your staff for every possible scenario are paramount to a successful event.

TIPIt should be fairly obvious by now that this aspect of restaurant management leans heavily on the points made above. Without the firm foundation of great staff, awesome inventory control, excellent customer service, and a firm grasp on your finances, any catering or significant event in your restaurant would be doomed to fail. Once again, this is where technology can save the day. Having software available that can handle many, if not all, of the points above will go a long way in ensuring events go smoothly and end up helping your restaurant's reputation increase.

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