Restaurant Management – Five Key Tips For Managing a Restaurant

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It takes a special person to manage a restaurant and interact with restaurant customers and restaurant staff. Not everyone is cut out to be a restaurant manager.

Managers need to be on their feet for long periods of time-anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day. Managers also need to be trained to be aware of labor and food costs, customer service and how to manage people. They need to be trained in every aspect of the restaurant business.

Five key aspects for every manager are:

1. Keeping an open mind

2. Being able to accept criticism

3. Retaining large amounts information

4. Having excellent customer service skills

5. Knowing how to understand both sides of the story

Sometimes it takes years to fully train someone in this business. There are two ways people usually become a manager, either earning a college degree or moving up in the ranks.

I have been in the restaurant business for over 25 years, and I have worked with both kinds of management. There are advantages and disadvantages to both paths. From either path, it’s important that you provide managers with training to understand their role in the restaurant.

Most managers straight out of college had very little hands-on training in a restaurant. Maybe they have some experience working in fast food, or as a cook or server in an independently owned restaurant or chain restaurant. Maybe they have no restaurant experience at all. The experience they have in life will be part of what they bring to the management role. A college graduate may have the head knowledge without a clear understanding of the restaurant industry. He or she may not realize the complexity of the job. Even with a degree, it’s important to train the new manager in your restaurant. Everyone will benefit from training.

People who have worked their way up through the ranks may have a greater understanding based on the path they took. However, the person will need some additional training to understand the manager’s role. It is not always easy for someone to move into management from other positions. Training is important for the person moving into manager’s role. That person will need to be prepared to look at the restaurant from a different perspective.

Some people think becoming a restaurant manager is easy, but it is not. Managers have a lot of responsibilities. Managers are exposed to stressful situations throughout the day, they must keep their composure and react to any situation in a calm manner. Every manager deals with situations differently.

It is like an automobile shifting its gears; before you shift into a certain decision you must think about the outcome. Think before you shift. Don’t automatically shift on impulse thoughts. In-fact, most managers make mistakes in their career. The key is to learn from those mistakes.

You will make new mistakes, although hopefully you will not make the same mistakes over and over.

I am going to give you some insight and tips on how to be the manager people will respect.

1. Be open-minded to change and embrace it. Changes happen every day, especially in the restaurant business. Procedures and policies are revamped constantly. As a manager, you must adjust to these changes. You may not like them or agree with these changes, but it is the manager’s responsibility to adhere to these changes and help implement them to the staff members. If you disagree with a change, don’t just go to complain and don’t complain to other staff members. Go to your supervisor with possible reasons and alternatives. Have the attitude that you want to follow their policy, but would like to suggest some reasons that this may not be the only path. Don’t say they are wrong, but say that you have other ideas on how to handle the situation. Open communication with your supervisor is vital to maintaining your credibility and upholding respect for your supervisor.

2. Managers must be able to take criticism from others. Taking criticism from others, simply means, that other employees may tell you that they do not agree with your decision on a certain topic. As a wise manager, you will use this towards your advantage and correct yourself. Listening to other people may offer other ways to get the same job done. Your way is not always the right way. Sometimes there is no “right way,” but just different options that may return better results.

3. Managers must be able to retain a large amount of information. Managers must have a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the restaurant. You must know the menu and restaurant style, and have knowledge of the operations of each area. You need to know how to cook, serve, greet, prep, and wash dishes, along with the manager’s responsibilities. This includes watching labor, knowing if there are too many people working or more people are needed. You need to be aware of food costs, realizing if food is being wasted or even stolen. You also need to know how to handle money and count cash. The toughest part is that you also need to be able to juggle all this knowledge every minute of the shift.

4. Managers need excellent customer service skills. Managers are constantly dealing with the public and staff members. The way you speak to people must be in a professional manner. Always think before you speak. Some people react to their first thought, but this may not always be the best way to handle the situation. If employees are not getting along, you will need to know how to help them work together, without a negative attitude. You also need to know how to handle difficult customers, as well as the pleasant customers. Knowing how to take a compliment is as important as knowing how to take a complaint in a positive professional manner.

5. There are always two sides to a story. This is especially true when staff members disagree. The manager needs to listen to both sides and see the perspective of each staff member. People often choose, or fall into a specific role at the restaurant because of their skills and abilities. Cooks may or may not have terrific people skills. Servers may or may not have any idea how to cook. Keep the personality of each staff member in mind as you approach them. A cook may be offended by a customer complaint about a dish that the cook feels proud of. The server may see the customer’s side. As a manager, you will have to deal with the customer’s complaint and see their side. You also have to know how to communicate the customer concerns to the cook without offending him or her. Think before you speak on both sides. You learn a lot more by listening and asking open-ended questions, not just yes or no questions. Don’t make assumptions that you know their answer before someone responds to your questions. Take the time to listen and fully understand.

Keep these five key aspects in mind if you are the manager or if you are the person who is hiring managers. All managers should keep an open mind, be able to handle criticism, retain large amounts of information, have excellent customer service skills and know how to understand both sides of the story. If every restaurant was managed by people who have those key aspects as part of their skill set and knowledge, then the issues would decrease, and profit would increase in those restaurants. Training your managers is one way to make that happen.