Being a restaurant manager is everything but boring. This jack-of-all-trades is responsible for many things — all of which are integral to the success of the restaurants for which he or she is responsible. While it’s impossible to tie down everything a restaurant manager does every day, here’s a closer look at restaurant management across four major areas.
1. Customer Service
A restaurant without diners isn’t going to be a restaurant for very long. This is why customer service is a pivotal part of restaurant management. After all, when diners have positive experiences at your establishment, they’re likely to spread the news. The flip side of the coin? If their experiences are negative, they’ll also tell their friends.
Quality customer service comprises several aspects, including your restaurant’s appearance, ambiance, staff, wait times and communications. Even though restaurant managers may not always be on the front lines of operations, customer service is still very much part of their daily tasks. Checking in with diners about their experiences is not only an opportunity to identify any issues that need to be addressed, but it also helps build the relationships that turn first-time guests into regulars.
And while many things have changed in the restaurant industry, at least one thing remains the same: The customer is still always right. How diner complaints are handled directly determines whether diners will return. Addressing problems quickly — and teaching your staff to do the same — is a must.
2. Employee Management
Speaking of your staff, customers aren’t the only people whose satisfaction matters in restaurant management. Employee satisfaction is also essential. A happy, motivated staff is a hard-working staff made up of individuals who are willing to go the extra mile to keep diners happy. They’re also less likely to leave, making employee management a vital retention tool.
Other important aspects of employee management include hiring the right people, training them well, cultivating teamwork, providing feedback and scheduling/staffing.
As with customer service, communication is also imperative when it comes to employee management. It comes down to one basic question: What do you expect from your employees? The more your staff understands the expectations, as well as where they fit into the “big picture” of your restaurant, the more productive they’ll be in their jobs.
3. Menu Management
“Your restaurant menu plays a defining role in communicating your brand to patrons. The types of foods you sell, your pricing and even the way your menu is presented — every aspect impacts your customers’ overall impression of your restaurant. Naturally, for many restaurants, menu management is job one,” contends Krista Fabregas for FitSmallBusiness.com.
But the importance of menu management transcends the diner experience. It’s also about profitability. Restaurant owner and manager Allison Bethell tells FitSmallBusiness.com, “Ideally, the restaurant owner, manager and chef should develop this together. For startups, it’s really important that at least one of these decision makers has experience in food costing and preparation needs to ensure that the menu is profitable.”
Attention to menu management can also help you do everything from making the most of your specials to regularly reviewing actual food costs. “If you know your average cost of the ingredients that go into meals, then you know the number of meals you can prepare with your current inventory. If you run out of ingredients before you make the forecasted number of meals from stock-on-hand, you know you have a waste or theft problem,” continues Bethell.
4. “Back-of-House” Operations
Any restaurant manager knows that what goes on behind the scenes is just as important to the success of an establishment, if not more, than front-of-house operations — starting with managing your finances. Budgeting your expenses, maintaining a cash flow statement, tracking expenses, keeping labor costs in check, enforcing payment deadlines, and preparing for known expenses are all part of staying in the black.
Other back-of-house restaurant duties include handling payroll costs, property costs, insurance, improvements and equipment, utilities, licenses, marketing, advertising and taxes.
According to Bethell, there is one last thing to keep in mind about restaurant management: “Without processes and procedures, it’s difficult to set expectations, train staff and manage the overall food production and serving process. Front-of-house (FOH) processes that drive dining room and bar staff activities differ greatly from back-of-house (BOH) kitchen-area processes, but both are equally important,” she says.
The takeaway? Documentation of processes and procedures, a keen attention to detail and superb people skills can take you a long way in your restaurant management career.