Fixing a Bad Running Restaurant

21 Apr

Fixing a Bad Running Restaurant


Improving the profitability of a restaurant takes leadership, motivation, dedication, determination, vision, courage and great marketing! Implementing changes in any organization is never a cake walk. Restaurant work environments are very structured. They run on routines. That is to say at 8am on a Monday, everyone knows Robbie will be in the back working on counting the truck order in, dating all the packages and putting them away in their proper storage areas. Johanna will be running to the bank to pick up a change order. Julio will be starting the preliminary prep work for lunch. It’s been like that every Monday since I can remember, change a few names here and there. But, what if upper management isn’t happy with the way the restaurant as a whole has been preforming lately? That’s why the brought you aboard. And, I hope you are determined to succeed where others before you have failed miserably. It’s time to make some changes and people don’t like change. Get ready for an uphill battle!

If you are the owner of a poorly preforming restaurant or a manager who is hoping to advance their culinary career by fixing a restaurant that has been mismanaged for years. Well, congratulations! I don’t know how you found the Philadelphia Restaurant Consultant Blog but I know if you are still here reading then you are as excited as I am about discussing new ways for restaurants to succeed in a sluggish economy. You are probably also excited and chomping on the bit to begin implementing improvements on everything from front of the house hospitality and food service, as well as back of the house kitchen operations. Woo!… Cowboy! Take a deep breath. We got to walk before we can run.

Whether upper management brought you in to fix the problem or you were promoted from within because of your great work ethic, you are still the new man here. Your buddies on the cook line no longer view you as their pal. You are; the new boss, the new owner, the new manager and everyone is nervous. First impressions are extremely important right now. You don’t want to approach your first day like a raging bull in a china shop. Believe me, it will take you a very long time to live down that mistake. And that’s time you could be spending making an impact on restaurant operations.

Let’s first reassure your staff that Armageddon has not arrived simply because they have a new boss. Sure it is okay to state professionally that you know everyone working here knows the restaurant isn’t running up to par. You certainly can inform them that you intend to address all of the restaurant’s problems and you are sure you can come up with ways to get the ship sailing straight again. You should then explain that you know it is going to take hard work from everyone if we are going to succeed. The use of ‘we’ shows that you think of them as a team with you included on the roster. You should make it clear that you can’t run the restaurant all by yourself so, if we are going to make a go of this place then everyone of us is going to have to work very hard from here on out. We all have a stake in the restaurant doing well. And any fine running restaurant is always a reflection of her skilled crew.

Next, you want to make it clear that if anyone has any ideas on how to make the place run better, smoother or more efficient or if anyone has any concerns at all, your door is always open. They should feel free to come to you at any time with anything restaurant related. Yes, you should state you have a few ideas (everyone expects you to). And, you’d like everyone to buy into them when they are set in motion because again you are going to need everyone to buy in, for any change to succeed.

Now, it is time to write up your plan. First start out by listing everything you can think of that is wrong. Then prioritize the changes in order of what you wish to implement first. Realize that every change that is made, in a poorly performing restaurant should be accompanied by a formal written announcement. The announcement of the change should be backed up by notices taped to the wall in as many places as possible, especially tacked to the break room bulletin board. This is a sloppy run operation you are trying to fix. People have gotten lax and lazy. If you don’t post notes everywhere, this crew will go right back to doing things the same old way within a few days. Be prepared to do a lot of follow up on any change you make and keep tabs that the change is being done the new way. Once you fix something you want it to stay fixed!

Don’t implement too many things at one time. If a crew is set in their ways, trying to give them a bunch of things to remember that they have to do differently is not going to go over very big. “Baby steps” As Bill Murray would say. Slow and steady wins the race! Stick to your plan. Stick to the time table you set for implementing each portion of the plan. If your ideas were well thought out, as each one succeeds, everyone will grow more and more confident in your ability to lead. Then, each new change will get easier and easier to implement. Eventually, you will have everyone buying into whatever comes out of your mouth. Congratulations you’ve won over your crew’s respect! You are a real manager now and it’s all going to be gravy from here on in!


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