When managing a restaurant, it’s important to remain profitable without compromising value, or vice versa. That is a common mistake made by restaurant operators. Successful restaurant management isn’t achieved in a day – managers must spend several weeks or months implementing optimization practices.
Here are five ways restaurant operators can achieve management success over time:
1. Manage costs
As mentioned, the key is to remain profitable without compromising your customer service. A big part of remaining profitable is managing labor, inventory and waste costs. For example, it’s important not to overstaff or overstock – employees will end up standing around and perishable food will end up going bad, leading to wasted money and wasted product.
Effective cost management can be done through your POS system. Through intuitive touch screen interfaces and robust back-office PCs with advanced restaurant management software, restaurant managers can monitor labor percentages and inventory levels over time to keep them at optimal levels. Managers can also keep track of costs, gains and losses to measure profitability.
2. Schedule smart
Schedule with the goal of providing exceptional service and taking advantage of sales opportunities – and avoid being wasteful.
Understaffing leads to poor customer service and overstaffing leads to unnecessary labor costs. When the number of employees scheduled is appropriate for the amount of guests, restaurants can achieve exceptional service while still remaining profitable.
If too few employees are scheduled, customers may not be able to get the help or service they were looking for – or will have to wait longer than they would like to receive meals or complete transactions. All it takes is one bad experience to start pushing customers away. If too many employees are scheduled, simple operations can become chaotic. Neither scenario is productive or profitable.
Another part of scheduling smart is making sure you have the right people at the same time. All of these precautions can be completed by monitoring labor percentages and costs, as well as analyzing employee performance reports. With that information, restaurant managers can schedule their strongest employees on the most challenging nights.
3. Put customer service first
Restaurant operators can work tirelessly to manage costs and optimize labor, but those efforts will go to waste if the establishment still offers poor customer service. Customer satisfaction is arguably the most important aspect of management, as it’s what builds the restaurant’s foundation and reputation. It draws customers in and keeps them there.
Here are a few elements of great customer service: 1) Provide extensive training for your staff, educating them about your service standards; 2) Enforce clear, concise standards for food preparation, storage and presentation; 3) Be extra mindful of your regulars – learn their names, favorite menu items and preferences.
Make sure your employees understand that they must actively listen to customer complaints, be understanding and apologetic and, of course, make a conscious effort to meet their needs. It’s a bonus if you or another management-level employee personally apologize to the customer in question and offer them a coupon or discount. Customers are more likely to be forgiving if you follow that process.
4. Reward appropriately
An aspect of successful management that is often overlooked is loyalty. It’s important to provide offers, incentives or rewards that are timely and appropriate. This goes for employees and customers – without them, your restaurant would cease to exist. So it’s important to give them both a reason to stick around.
Identify employees and customers that deserve rewards as a result of hard work or brand loyalty, respectively. Find out what motivates them to keep it up – contests, prizes, coupons, discounts, emails, point systems, whatever works.
Above all, create a positive environment
If your restaurant is a mess, your employees are overworked, your inventory is always going to waste or running out and your customers are receiving unsatisfactory meals then it’s safe to say that it isn’t a positive environment. Your customers should never have to make excuses for you – “well they were really busy” or “well our waitress was new” – a well organized restaurant creates a happy experience regardless of the circumstances. To achieve a positive environment, balance careful planning with hard work and friendliness.