Running a restaurant can at times be challenging, stressful, and demanding. But it can also be extremely fulfilling and profitable when done efficiently.
For most large chain restaurants and franchises, there is a training program detailing the duties, problems, solutions, and most effective ways to manage the restaurant. But for the independent restaurant owner, there is no training program— most of the time, the dedicated and passionate entrepreneurs are on their own to experience the successes and failures of running a restaurant. For the most part, we will be looking at the business and personnel side of managing a restaurant.
First, problems will undoubtedly arise when running a restaurant. As a manager and leader, your staff will look to you for guidance; you need to be prepared and confident to tackle any problem that gets thrown your way. Let’s look at some typical problems and ways to deal with them.
Ineffective data collection
As a restaurant owner, you are responsible for determining staff cost, profit from each menu item, monthly sales targets, average customer sales, and many more numbers and projections. Understanding and processing these metrics and assessing areas of improvement or adjustment is key to your business’ survival. Don’t be afraid to make changes if you are not meeting your goals. If you are not achieving your sales targets, perhaps promotional or marketing upgrades are in order.
The increasingly high cost of goods
You’ve established an attractive menu and built a solid base of customers. But due to market fluctuations and demand for certain products, your cost of goods has gone up. Thus, your bottom line is affected. Rather than increase prices and risk losing some valued customers, try exploring other avenues of the food supply. Local food suppliers are often eager to get their products to the market. Especially while supporting independently owned restaurants.
High staff turnover
The turnover rate in the service industry is high and likely always will be. A good employee lost means a new one must be found, trained, and integrated into the team. However, you can alleviate the turnover by offering your employees support and guidance, whenever possible.
Restaurant employees often quit because they feel stressed or neglected. Building a solid team and valuing their work can help you avoid the headache of understaffing in the future.
Tips to improve management processes
Figuring out the best way to manage your unique restaurant is something only you can answer. But there is always room for improvement when honestly evaluating your business. Check out the checklist below to determine if you’re getting the most out of your restaurant.
Proactive management rather than reactive management
Are you looking towards future market trends, staffing needs, and predictions, or just reacting to what happens on a weekly basis? Understanding your restaurant’s growth, value and clientele will help you shape accurate needs for the future and eliminate work and loss down the road.
Fair and consistent personnel management
Do your staff members feel like you’re playing favorites with certain employees or groups of employees? Whether it’s real or just perceived, staff infighting can result in lackluster performance or even worse. As a manager and leader, it’s your responsibility to bring a team together and make sure you’re treating them fairly and consistently.
Value your reputation
Nothing can attract or drive away customers and employees like a strong verbal recommendation or a stunning online review. If someone is unsatisfied with your products or management style, listen to them and try to improve. Both positive and negative reviews of your business travel fast.
Have a measured marketing approach
For the most part, different media reaches different age groups. If your restaurant relies on customers aged 50 and above, investing in ads for Snapchat and Instagram are not the best use of resources. Diversifying your marketing campaign is important but you want to be sure it’s reaching the people who will likely be your customers.
Look for sustainable ways to save money
Switching to the cheapest possible products may net you profits in the short term but in the long run, you will certainly lose customers and your following will deteriorate. A common sustainable method of saving money is trimming your wasted and spoiled food by making more effective food orders.
Data and planning go into determining how much food and which ingredients you need. Constantly monitoring and adjusting these demands will allow you to find an ordering plan that is most efficient for your restaurant. Having multi-trained employees is also a proven way to get more from your restaurant.
Often, staff members are interested in working in a different area of the restaurant. This can be handy during staff shortages or when employees call in sick. Having a competent employee who can help out in the kitchen or with serving can save you a lot of work in a pinch.