restaurant manager

Three tools every restaurant manager should be using

By Donald Burns

Here you are managing a restaurant. Is it all you hoped it would be? Probably not. You might even say that it’s quite the challenge. Never fear. Becoming a fierce restaurant manager can be simpler than you realize – you just need to use the right tools.

If you had to narrow it down to a few critical items that separate the good managers from the outstanding, here would be that list:

Understand people

You think you know people, and maybe you do. Most likely you see them on a very limited dimension. It’s just that human beings tend to see the world based on our own perceptions. That can be a limitation when dealing with a variety of personalities. Luckily, there is a way to help you become better at understanding people…a behavioural survey.

Behavioural surveys have been around since the days of Hypocrites. The system has become more scientific, yet the premise is the same. People are wired to have natural strengths. Having a behavioural survey is kind of like having a crystal ball into the future. They can give you a glimpse of how a person will react to stress, communicate, naturally lead, approach tasks, and how much kinetic energy they will have during a day.

Some people get energy from people. Some get energy from tasks. Knowing how people are going to work together is far more important than you realize. We tend to hire individuals on skills and never stop to think about how their personality will mix with our team. It’s just like throwing a bunch of random ingredients into a recipe and expecting an incredible outcome. Not good odds.

Behavioural surveys give you a little playbook for each person on your team and how they are going to act. Behaviour does predict performance. Now the first step is to understand your strengths. You must be willing to be honest with yourself first.

A behavioural survey will let you know what you are good at and what you are not good at (okay, maybe you suck at it). The biggest obstacle many managers face is doing things that do not play to their strengths. If you are not the kind of person who loves to design spreadsheets, don’t spend hours trying to create an Excel worksheet from scratch. Find others that love spreadsheets and use their strength to better your brand.

Use a budget

There are basically two approaches to managing a restaurant: proactive or reactive. Eighty per cent of managers use the reactive method. When you are reactionary, you are always playing defense. It’s hard to score points and win the game just using a reaction mindset.

Having a clear and concise budget gives you a road map to make better decisions each day. When you have a map and you become lost or find yourself off course, you make adjustments. The same is true when you have a budget. Each day you compare where you are to where you want to be and you make corrections. The worst thing you can do is have a “management by autopsy” mindset. That’s when you only look at the numbers at the end of the week (or day) and then are shocked by how bad they are.

This puts you right into reaction mode and trying to cut to make up for the losses you occurred. Reaction leads to cuts that can impact the guest experience in a negative way. You never want to take away from the guest experience. That kind of management is a downward spiral to your restaurant being on life support. You know what happens soon after when your business is on life support? I’ll send flowers to the funeral.


restaurant managerThis one might throw you for a loop. What does meditation have to do with being an outstanding manager? Everything.

Everything impacts everything. Your energy and mindset as a manager has a big influence on your team and that impacts the guest experience. Culture flows down, not up, and that starts with you. You are the epicentre of your restaurant’s culture, whether you know it or not.

Think about energy. It’s all about people. Don’t believe me? Walk into your restaurant when it’s empty and notice the energy level? Now, is that energy different on a busy dinner service? Of course! What changed? It’s people. People are energy. As a leader in your restaurant, your energy will flow down and have a ripple effect on the experience your guests have.

Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, increase happiness, and improve your focus. All of these elements will have an impact on the energy you bring into your restaurant. Including just a 10-minute meditation routine into your day will improve your restaurant because it will improve you! Your restaurant will become it’s best, when you become your best! Once again, remember which way culture (energy) flows.

With the invention of the smartphone, there is no excuse not to start meditating. There are a lot of apps available that make it easier than ever to get started. Some popular ones include Headspace and Calm. Just download and get started.

The modern manager needs to understand that to compete in today’s ultra-competitive market, you must pick up the tools available and use them. Tools are just potential. It’s not until you pick them up and use them consistently that you will see the results.

About the author:

Donald Burns is The Restaurant Coach™, named one of The Top 50 Restaurant Experts to Follow in 2018 and one of 23 Inspiring Hospitality Experts to Follow on Twitter. He is the leading authority, speaker, and international coach on how restaurant owners, operators, and culinary professionals go from just good to becoming outstanding. A former USAF Pararescueman (PJ), restaurant owner, and Executive Chef with Wolfgang Puck, he has the unique skills to break restaurants free from average and skyrocket them to peak performance. He works with restaurants that want to build their brand, strengthen their team, and increase their profits. He is the author of: Your Restaurant Sucks! Embrace the suck. Unleash your restaurant. Become outstanding.

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