What are the most important restaurant management skills? It takes a special kind of soul to become a restaurateur. Many career journeys in the restaurant business have a stop at the position of manager.
Some people happily spend the rest of their lives as managers, while for others it’s just one stop on a much longer journey. Regardless, there are several key skills that every manager must develop as they evolve into their role from simply organizing people to being a true leader.
Improving your food business by defining your concept
Restaurant Mission Statement and Strategy
A mission statement establishes the restaurant’s overall goals and values, while the strategy outlines the specific actions and tactics that will be used to achieve those goals.
Different restaurants will have different aims – some prioritize an exceptional dining experience, while others will hold community, culture, or sustainability above all else.
When all staff members have the same mission, it becomes a whole lot easier to make decisions and provide a consistent customer experience.
Revamping your menu on a seasonal basis
Whether you run a high-end steakhouse or a greasy burger joint, a seasonal menu refresh provides a tremendous benefit. With new items, your cooks get to flex different muscles and you get the opportunity to bring in new customers by providing new flavors as well as a sense of exclusivity. Items available for a limited time only appeal to a fundamental human desire to not miss out – research shows this scarcity effect is particularly potent with food.
In addition, you get to switch suppliers and cut out any ingredients that got particularly expensive for any number of reasons. This helps you on the margins. In an industry as competitive as this, you need every edge you can get.
Hiring your staff
Culture mission statement
With the rampant turnover rate in the food service industry exacerbated by the post-pandemic economy, finding quality staff that will stick around is a seemingly Herculean task.
However, there are innovations from hiring software on the market today such as text-to-apply, automated all-in-one DocuSign, and simultaneous posting across major job boards that make hiring and employee onboarding a breeze.
A restaurant with an efficient, streamlined hiring onboarding system will prevail over those that stick their new hires in the manager’s office and have them read the employee manual or watch boring training videos.
Managing your restaurant
Keeping your restaurant clean
You might think this is obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many restaurants fail at staying clean. We’re not talking about getting a passing grade from the sanitation inspector, though that is important – we’re talking about making a good impression.
The cleanliness of your restaurant – doors, floors, windows, tabletops, bathrooms, silverware, dishwasher stains on cups and plates, the speed at which dishes are bussed – these are all factors your customers will notice, consciously or unconsciously, and they will affect the image of your restaurant in their minds. If this image is good, customers will want to return it.
Your menu offerings could be the best in town, but you risk alienating the customers who want a clean dining experience if your restaurant isn’t kept tidy!
Train employees to expect the unexpected
Restaurants of any size often encounter unexpected situations, such as a sudden rush of customers or a kitchen equipment failure. It’s key to train your employees to not panic and instead approach these situations with a solution-oriented mindset. By developing improvisational problem-solving tactics, your employees will be prepared for anything, your customers will have a better experience, and your restaurant’s reputation will be protected.
Managing your finances
It’s critical to stay on top of sales, expenses, and staff reports to make sure you’re not bleeding money anywhere. Track all sorts of key restaurant metrics like sales numbers, labor costs, and food and beverage waste to make informed decisions that help out your restaurant’s bottom line.
Dealing with difficult customers
One of the greatest challenges of any customer-facing position is dealing with complaints. No matter how rude, entitled, or genuinely upset a customer may be, it’s important to remain professional and maintain a positive attitude.
All staff should be trained to actively listen to customers’ concerns and address them calmly and respectfully. Show empathy and apologize if necessary, and take action to resolve the issue to the best of your ability.
Pay attention to online reviews
Review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have taken over the internet like a plague. You’ll find those two websites whenever you search for anything with “restaurant” in it. Dread them, run from them, these two review sites are here to stay. Might as well get some utility out of them.
High ratings and positive reviews can attract new business while negative thoughts will have the opposite effect. However, reviews often yield more information than meets the eye: they can help you identify operational issues via patterns in customer complaints such as long wait times, unavailability of certain dishes, poor service, and more.
You can also scour reviews for opportunities for targeted marketing efforts. By analyzing online reviews, you can identify a target audience, their preferences, and what they are looking for in a restaurant, and use this information to create targeted marketing campaigns to attract them.
The restaurant industry certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s immensely competitive. Most fail. The present moment is a more difficult time than ever for a restaurant to succeed. Yet, there are those few that will succeed because of great managers who put their all into the noble task of cultivating an environment in which customers wish to spend their time and eat a good meal.