At Perfect Venue, we appreciate how much hard work goes into managing a restaurant. Every day comes with new challenges, and every shift requires the restaurant owner and manager to wear countless different hats. As a whole, restaurant management involves many responsibilities and skills, all of which are crucial to stay on top of.
With so many moving parts, the manager is charged with bringing the whole team together to play their role in executing the various day-to-day tasks that need to happen. When each section of the restaurant runs smoothly and in unison, you can maximize business success.
Here’s your complete restaurant management guide to help improve your team and operational performance.
Core Restaurant Management Responsibilities
Before we get into management tips and best practices, let’s first cover some of the core responsibilities that go into restaurant management. If it’s your job to oversee daily operations, you’ll likely be heading up:
- Hiring and training staff: Ensuring the restaurant has the right employees who are always well-equipped and ready for each service.
- Controlling daily restaurant operations: Overseeing the ins and outs of day-to-day operations and making sure that a high standard is achieved with each service.
- Managing accounting and finances: Paying suppliers, watching profit margins, managing cash flow, and balancing the till at the end of each service.
- Inventory management: Ordering supplies, maintaining relationships with suppliers, and carefully managing inventory in line with the restaurant’s cash flow.
- Payroll: Scheduling and making all employee payments.
- Marketing: Creating marketing and advertising campaigns to attract customers to the restaurant.
- Customer service: Ensuring customers are happy and receive a high level of service.
- Innovation: Saying ahead of restaurant industry trends and thinking of new ways to grow and innovate the restaurant.
Now, let’s cover a few of the best tips and strategies for better restaurant business management.
15 Tried and Trusted Tips For Effective Restaurant Management
Successful managers know there are three main areas they need to focus on: themselves, their team, and the business. Get these in line, and you’re all set for success.
As you’ll see from the list below, it’s no small task, though. Getting everything in order will require dedication and commitment on your part.
Work on Yourself
Managing people and running a business take very specific skills. Before you can excel at these, you need to start at home and really dig into what it takes to make your restaurant tick.
1. Get Hands-on Experience
The best restaurant management teams have walked in the shoes of their employees. They should understand all the different jobs that go into running a restaurant and be able to wear many different hats to support this.
Effective management is all about understanding the challenges that employees face. This lets you as a manager better handle these challenges, provide support, and offer solutions from a position of authority.
Not only does this positively impact general operations, but it also results in employees who respect you more. From the kitchen to the front-of-house, there are so many moving parts involved in a restaurant. A manager who truly understands every aspect of their business can get things done more efficiently.
2. Get on the Front Foot
One of the best restaurant management tactics is to prevent mishaps that could be avoided from cropping up. To do this, you need to be completely dialed into your restaurant and how it functions. This will help you predict issues ahead of time and stay on top of any problems that arise.
This requires excellent problem-solving skills and organization. It also requires you to accurately anticipate the restaurant's needs - something that comes with experience. From managing the food costs to planning staffing and reservations, knowing the inner workings and getting on the front foot with them is essential.
3. Take Care of Yourself and Delegate
Running a restaurant is hard work. Operating a full-service restaurant could mean putting in 15-hour shifts seven days a week. Restaurant owners hardly get a break and are on their feet the whole day. This is mentally and physically draining and can result in burnout.
The most successful managers pay attention to their physical and mental well-being while working. It’s incredibly important to take breaks, set aside time off, and delegate tasks to other employees.
Good restaurant management is also only possible with a positive attitude, which comes from being in a good frame of mind. A negative attitude will quickly trickle down from the top to employees and guests, creating an overall bad energy across the restaurant.
Many managers get so swept up in the day-to-day chaos that they forget about their passion. Running a restaurant should always be a fun and positive thing. Remember, the energy you bring to your business will shine through to everyone that walks through its doors.
Finally, remember to delegate tasks. Not only does this take the pressure off you, but it also helps to empower your team. Dishing out important tasks shows employees that you trust them. This will help build a more positive working environment and help to spread the load.
4. Be Accountable for Your Mistakes
No matter how many years of experience you have in the restaurant industry, you will still end up making mistakes. That’s okay. What matters is how you deal with these mistakes.
To successfully run a business, you need to be able to move past mistakes and learn from them. There will be ups and downs; take these in your stride and work on doing better next time.
If you make a mistake, bring it up in regular teams meetings. Own it and apologize for it, then move on. This is the only way to grow professionally and will help your team respect you more.
The keyword here is ‘team.’ Another part of making mistakes is being able to bring them up with your team and brainstorm ideas for how to avoid them in the future. By working together, you can build trust and develop more practical solutions.
5. Be Flexible
Even if the bulk of your responsibilities is admin-based, restaurant management should never just be sitting behind a desk working on spreadsheets. Instead, managers need to be on their feet, diving into different situations and responding on a whim to any issues that may arise.
To be a great restaurant manager, you have to be flexible. One moment you will be focused on monitoring cash flow; the next, you need to deal with customer complaints. Between this, you have to manage food waste, organize rosters, manage a marketing strategy, solve staffing disputes, and more.
Directing daily operations in a single direction is never the right approach for such a busy industry. Instead, restaurant management is all about flexibility and responding to unique scenarios.
Work on Your Employees
A great dining experience really comes down to the restaurant staff. When managing a restaurant, you need to put the team at the forefront. Here are a few essential staffing practices that will set your employees up for success:
6. Practice Positive Reinforcement and Celebrate Accomplishments
Employees need to see value in doing good work. If they put in hard work and perform well, they want their efforts to be acknowledged. As a restaurant manager, it's your job to ensure that employees are recognized for their input and stay motivated.
One way to do this is to apply one-on-one attention to each employee. Recognize their strengths, complement their good work, and make them feel like a respected and valuable asset to the team. You can also highlight successes in team meetings to help employees get the recognition they deserve.
This motivates staff, gets them more excited for each shift, and ultimately results in better work performance.
7. Focus on Employee Retention
Retaining employees is tricky in the restaurant industry. Any restaurant business understands the struggle of making new hires and dealing with employees suddenly leaving. This can have a significant impact on your operations.
One of the best restaurant management tips is to always aim toward transparency. Host regular staff meetings to keep everyone informed of where the restaurant is at. Communicate clearly and openly. Be consistent in your communications, have an open mind, and actively seek input from the team.
This involves dishing out your thoughts but also listening carefully and taking in feedback from staff. Doing so will help employees feel connected to the bigger picture and like they have a role to play in that. If staff are more engaged and motivated, performance will improve. The best restaurants feel more like a family or community than a workplace.
Many restaurant managers miss the mark here, and it’s to their detriment. Happy employees are essential to the success of the business. When the team enjoys their work, there are lower turnover rates. This saves money for the business as hiring and training new people is expensive. Plus, turnover can negatively impact the work culture.
One way to improve employee turnover is to run an employee of the month program with bonus rewards. You could give your employees gifts on holidays, host staff parties, provide free shift meals or family meals, organize team activities (like an annual picnic), or offer extra monetary incentives.
8. Encourage Teamwork
You hire people to fulfill many different roles within the business. While each role has specific requirements and job expectations, the best restaurants have employees who operate flawlessly as a team.
Make sure everyone, from the prep cook to the waiter, is on the same page. Try to communicate the customer experience to your whole team, and ensure that everyone knows how their individual role contributes to the restaurant's overall success.
Providing team incentives is essential here. By working together as a team, instead of carrying out various disconnected roles, restaurants can boost their productivity and overall experience in a big way.
9. Put Effort into Hiring and Training Your Team
One of the most critical basics of restaurant management is hiring and training staff. Most restaurants don’t put enough time or energy into this, which can significantly impact the customer experience.
When hiring new employees, make sure to train them sufficiently. Before pushing them out on the floor, they need to know all the processes and specifics behind the way your restaurant operates. They should also understand your philosophy towards customers.
Training should also be seen as an ongoing practice. No matter how experienced you or your employees are, no one can ever know everything. One good practice for restaurant managers is to try to fit in weekly meetings and training sessions. These can be short but cover a few tips and strategies that staff might be unaware of.
Team meetings can also be held before or after each service to touch up on training best practices.
Work on Your Business
As a restaurant owner, you need to stay on top of your various business processes. Here are some of the main tasks for restaurant management to work on:
10. Marketing Should be Always-On
Restaurant marketing is a big deal. You might have amazing menu items and a wonderful atmosphere, but if nobody knows about your restaurant, you won’t get any customers. The good news is you can use many free marketing tactics to promote your business.
First, you need a solid social media presence - this is non-negotiable in today’s climate. Use social media to display mouth-watering images of your food and to communicate with customers.
You can also run special promotions on social media to attract new customers to your restaurant. Examples could be running a giveaway in partnership with other local businesses. Loyalty programs, discounts, and strategic specials are all excellent restaurant marketing tactics.
Like any local company, a restaurant should also have a strong presence on Google My Business and other local business directories. Try to collect reviews, as this can make a big difference in attracting new customers.
You should also revamp your menus over time and keep your brand up to date. People's food preferences and trends are constantly changing, so it's vital that you respond to this.
Then, use your restaurant marketing channels to promote your new menus. This is a great way to encourage more return customers.
11. Invest in Resources for Customer Satisfaction
At the end of the day, the success of your restaurant comes down to diner satisfaction. If your customers are happy after they leave, they will recommend the restaurant and hopefully return. The more satisfied your customers, the more successful your business will be.
You will need to have good people skills to improve customer satisfaction. Understanding human psychology is essential for providing warm and welcoming experiences. Besides you, your staff also need always to be friendly and knowledgeable.
Of course, no restaurant can provide a great experience if the food is terrible. Make sure you serve high-quality and creative food. This should be at a reasonable price that offers your diners value. It doesn’t mean it needs to be cheap; it just needs to be worth it.
An effective restaurant manager also knows to ensure the restaurant is always clean and has an enjoyable ambiance. Provide quick service on top of this, and you will be on track to making your diners happy. Every customer counts.
Finally, it’s a basic rule of restaurant management that customer satisfaction should never come at the price of your employee’s well-being. Should any niggly mishaps occur, never sacrifice the physical or emotional well-being of your employees to get a positive review. Yes, customers are important, but difficult customers aren’t worth damaging relations with your staff.
12. Keep Your Eye on Finances
You need to have excellent financial management skills to run a restaurant. Operating costs will creep up if you don’t keep finances in check. Plus, there are typically lots of bills to pay each day. Being able to manage cash flow carefully is critical for the success of your business.
Pay close attention to food costs, labor costs, and other expenses (like cleaning supplies or laundry expenses for the tablecloths). It’s essential that your food cost, labor cost, etc., makes sense for healthy profit margins. Because there are so many expenses involved in restaurant finances, getting this right can be tricky.
You’ll need to predict future sales and generate projections for revenue, expenses, and profits. Ensure your menu pricing leaves enough room to ultimately make money for the business. To avoid financial risk, it’s best to work with someone experienced in sales forecasting and business finance.
13. Carefully Manage Orders
A vital part of restaurant management is keeping track of inventory and orders. This includes food and beverages, as well as cleaning supplies, candles, takeaway food packaging, and any other supplies your restaurant needs to operate.
As a manager, you must ensure you always have enough stock without over-ordering. This is especially true when it comes to food that has a very limited shelf life. Great food should be delivered fresh each day, which can be a tricky process to get right.
To do this, you will need to understand sales trends and get a good grasp of how much you plan to sell with each shift.
14. Invest in a Great POS System
While many important tech solutions and tools are used to run a restaurant, your POS system is possibly the most important. This is where you can manage all your sales, orders, and staffing processes.
A great POS system should help you establish staff rosters and shifts, provide detailed financial insights, and give you everything you need to make the front-of-house run smoothly. Ideally, your POS system should integrate with the other software solutions your business uses.
A great POS solution can make it much easier to run a big or small restaurant and stay on top of all the small details and events happening in each shift.
15. Be Open to Innovation
Whether you have an old or new restaurant, there are many ways to open it up to innovation. The world moves quickly, and your restaurant needs to keep up with the times. Having the right tools and technology to run your kitchen and meet the modern-day customer is essential.
A solid venue and event management platform is a good start. A solution like Perfect Venue can save you so much time and increase your ability to sell and host events at your restaurant. It keeps all the event details in one dashboard and gives you access to critical event-related templates.
Besides event management systems, ordering apps are very prominent in the industry. These allow diners to book their tables, read restaurant reviews, and access waitlists, among other things. Restaurants use these apps to manage reservations and build diner profiles that enhance the guest experience.
Other technologies you can implement in your restaurant include apps for communication, marketing, and scheduling. If you’re starting out, we recommend reading our article on some of the top free restaurant management apps.
With so much going on, managing a restaurant can be a daunting task. Following these strategies will help you develop a well-rounded restaurant management skillset, which you can apply to any restaurant business.
Every restaurant relies on solid management to keep its services running smoothly. By using the right tools and focusing on the right tasks, it’s not as tricky as it might seem to be a great manager.