How to Manage a Restaurant

stackedpotsLearning how to manage a restaurant is easier than actually managing a restaurant. There are so many little details and components to learn making it an engaging task to learn. However; the actual art or science of how to manage a restaurant requires far than we are taught in hospitality management school.

Here’s how I look at restaurant management; I propose a top down approach of interlocking systems and then a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of follow up. Before we get into the nuts and bolts of restaurant management; possibly the single most important lesson I’ve learned about management in 20+ years in the industry and an MBA is… wait, for it… What gets measured is what gets done. Period. End of story. I have been and seen many restaurant managers and owners work like the dickens for long days and days on end with no reprieve all in the name of “I just have to put out this next fire and then I’ll get organized and it will become manageable. It is a lovely story but an apparently unending one. It never stops and soon we are dog tired, short on patience and funds as well. It can be a very frustrating life.  If we spend all of our time doing we are spending none of our time assessing the impact of our efforts.
If the world were according to me this is how to manage a restaurant.

1)      Set a goal.  Or answer the question of why we are here and what we are doing.

2)      Determine what goes into achieving the stated goal.

3)      Answer: How much of this can I do myself?

4)       Get help. And although it has been said before I’ll say it again; surround yourself with the smartest and most motivated people you can.

5)      Empower those around with a clear goal and any critical constraints to achieving that goal.

6)      Set them free to do their job while you focus on yours.

7)      Follow up and measure the results of their work and yours.

8)      Assess where you are in relation to the goal. i.e. we are doing great but not going to make our target goal.

9)      Adjust.

So, that all sounds great but doesn’t actually tell you how to manage a restaurant in a practical way. The trick or key to effective restaurant management is pay attention to the details over and over and over again.  People come to a restaurant to enjoy food. Our job is to set up the situation so that people can enjoy great food at a reasonable price in a pleasing atmosphere.

There are a few non-negotiable for restaurant patrons- they want a lipstick free glass, they want hot food hot and cold food cold. So it is in checking on those details and adjusting prior to a complaint is how one manages a restaurant. Not all that complicated but critically important. And I think that is the true trick to effectively managing a restaurant- making the mundane important consistently.


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