Best Advice for Restaurant Managers

advice for restaurant managersRestaurant managers are under a lot of pressure, and why wouldn’t they be? Day after day, night after night, they orchestrate the front of the house while keeping diners happy. They coordinate with the executive chef and are required to be experts in human resources, time management, and inventory control. When you consider how many duties a restaurant manager has to juggle, it’s not surprising that many would love to hear how other managers bring the best experience possible to their customers.

Here are some great pieces of advice that East Coast Chair & Barstool has heard from accomplished restaurant managers. 

·        Don’t try to change it all. You’re not Gordon Ramsay. If you’d like to make changes, especially if you’re starting to manage a restaurant that has been in business for some time, observe the general atmosphere and front-end business, then pinpoint several areas that you believe need the most work and can make the biggest impact. Major changes can throw a restaurant into upheaval, change the quality of the food, and hurt the restaurant’s image. For instance, if your diners mostly come to your restaurant for a healthy, quick lunch, adding fried foods to the menu may disappoint your regulars. Be sure that your changes will make your customer base happy.

·        Budget your time so your restaurant can grow. Time management is probably the most useful skill a restaurant manager has. Knowing how long everything should take, and then knowing how long it actually takes is the first step. From there, you can plan how to improve your process, your training, and your delegation skills. If you don’t know how to manage your time, don’t worry. It’s something that can be taught. Why not use the same time management programs that CEOs rely on? It will change you from a manager who may micromanage or manage ineffectively, to one who can learn how to set aside extra time to grow their restaurant. Once you carve out that time, you can increase your productivity and then coach your staff to do the same.

 ·       Schedule your employees so they have a life. Restaurant employees know that they will be working long shifts and long hours, but if you can create a schedule that gives them the opportunity to enjoy planned days off on a regular basis, then you’ll be able to garner employee loyalty, reduce waitstaff turnover, and have your pick of potential employees once the word gets out that believe in work-life balance. Hiring the right people is a key part of a restaurant’s success, and you want to make sure that you can choose from a wide talent base.

 ·       Be business savvy, not just restaurant savvy. You may have been working in restaurants since you were a teenager, but do you have experience with inventory management, budgeting, labor requirements, legal issues, and overall administrative duties? If not, consider taking a course in restaurant management so that you can make sure you’re impacting business in the best way. 

We’d love to hear your advice too! Leave us a comment below to share your own advice and experiences.

50 Ways Restaurants Engage Their Employees

Restaurants often have a wide mix of employees, from managers to bus boys (and bus girls), from full-time salaried employees to part-time hourly staff who may work a regular 20 hours a week or a minimum of one weekend a month.  It’s a challenge to keep the creative executive chef in the back and the outgoing host staff in the front and everyone in between feeling like they are all part of the same team.  That’s why I’ve compiled a list of tips from a variety of HR professionals in the field on how you can successfully engage your employees.  Every role is important, and your staff need to feel appreciated and like they belong.  Whether you have your own HR Department or rely on a third party HR consultant, your restaurant can effectively manage your people with some or all of these 50 tips and ideas:restaurant employee engagement ideas

1. Well written and executed HR policies that follow the brand culture and mission statement
2. Referral program to motivate existing staff to help recruit new staff
3. Staff recruitment strategies that are welcoming for prospects and new hires
4. Establish a “first 30” program to identify ways to make a new hire feel important in the first 30 seconds, the first 30 minutes, the first 30 days, and the first 30 shifts
5. Formal and in-depth training programs
6. Formalized career paths
7. Honest and transparent status of job growth and promotions opportunities
8. Staff who are coaches or mentors to their co-workers who can foster growth
9. Ongoing and new training for staff trainers
10. Engaging managers who in turn will engage their employees
11. Clear organizational charts so every employee knows who their direct supervisor is (i.e., too many bosses makes it confusing for everyone)
12. Implement annual certifications that require additional training before being earned
13. Regular safety training
14. Recognize accident-free staff members in a positive and ‘public’ manner in front of their peers
15. Develop a points system for staff rewards (e.g., staff can accrue points for gift card sales, dessert up sells, or number of hours of training in order to earn prizes or perks)
16. Regular employee surveys
17. Employee feedback forums or programs
18. Reward employees who make suggestions that are implemented (e.g., cost-savings, menu changes, sustainability practices)
19. Open door policy to encourage communication and freedom of voicing opinions and concerns (and ACT on any concerns brought to your attention)
20. Social media policy that promotes positive participation and engagement on social networks
21. Social media groups or pages set up for employee interaction (e.g., a closed Facebook group)
22. Intranet or forum to post company news, welcome new hires, and congratulate staff on milestone anniversaries or awards, which will help bridge any communication gaps among all levels and departments
23. Employee retreats, workshops, and team-building exercises
24. Quality circle meetings with staff
25. Regular one-on-one meetings between staff and supervisor to address personal goals both in and outside of work
26. Open and frequent communication, regular manager-to-staff interaction, and stay interviews
27. Arrange job shadowing between departments to help everyone understand their co-workers’ roles and responsibilities (and in turn how they fit into the big picture)
28. Encourage managers/supervisors to perform all tasks in their department occasionally in order to be a team player, assist staff as needed, and earn respect of subordinates
29. Reward staff who are recognized in guest feedback, including in online spaces (it’s nice to copy the staff in a reply, so the guest knows their feedback was heard and shared)
30. Offer fun employee contests, either random or pre-planned (e.g., top seller of the day)
31. Turn menu training into an ongoing interactive trivia game with small rewards for correct answers
32. Hold an employee and family day on-site
33. Host an employee picnic or party off-site
34. Offer employees a discount and reach out to neighboring stores to designate a co-promotional discount program for employees
35. Find creative (even if random) perks to offer (e.g., employee parking spots, free bag of coffee to take home after your 50th shift, monthly t-shirt days, etc.)
36. Give meaningful and individualized staff anniversary gifts based on tenure (e.g., 5 year gift, 10 year gift, etc.)
37. Offer the opportunity to earn a sabbatical after a set number of years, allowing a long-term staff to take a one-time extended vacation within a certain time frame
38. Promote the brand’s social responsibility to the employees and encourage participation in volunteer or fundraising activities
39. Encourage staff to bond together to volunteer on a community project or participate in a fundraising activity
40. Offer staff a couple days off each year to do charity work of their choosing
41. Celebrate your anniversary date by driving employee engagement (e.g., 15 employee projects for the 15th anniversary year)
42. Allow staff to vote on the music station one day out of the week
43. Keep the employee break room clean and comfortable
44. Provide secure lockers or cabinets for personal belongings of staff
45. Post the employee schedule promptly and be as flexible as possible with requests and shift changes
46. Implement a voluntary wellness, smoking cessation, or fitness program
47. Encourage staff to attend free or local trainings, support staff who are in school, or offer tuition reimbursement where applicable
48. Empower supervisors to instantly reward staff who do a great job, handle a customer concern effectively, or master a task or new technique
49. Include retention and succession planning in your HR policies
50. Treat employees with dignity and respect while showing them that you care about them as people, not just revenue-makers

It really boils down to that last point. If you genuinely care about your staff, get to know them on a somewhat personal (but not-too-personal) level, help them achieve their goals both professional and otherwise, and create a happy environment for them to report to each day, you’ll be well on your way to engaging your employees who will want to, in return, help you find success for a long time to come!



Some of these great ideas were borrowed from these HR professionals: