Common Sense Restaurant Management
By Stu Leventhal
Restaurants have been around for thousands of years. Undoubtedly there has always been good ones and bad ones. With all the modern conveniences the basics of how a customer judges, rates and recommends his favorite food or watering hole has not changed at all.
Good restaurant management is about creating an oasis for you customers so they can escape from their problems and worries, stop and rest along their journeys and be pampered! It has little to do with providing a square meal for a square price. If you are not focused on creating a constant and reliable ambiance that your customers can rely upon through thick and thin then you are in the wrong business.
Your customers, especially regulars become your extended family. And, family members can be a pain in the butt. There will be times when you have no patience to listen to another sad story but hey remember there’s probably another deli across town that can make a Corned Beef Rueben just as good as your sandwich maker.
If you wish to build a strong restaurant business, think about the hit TV show Cheers. The characters came to the bar to Socialize not to get drunk. The shows revolved around them all sharing pieces of their hectic and often unusual happenings in their lives away from the bar with all their friends at the bar. The banter between the employees and the guests was informal to say the least. Yet, it seemed like every corner bar in every neighborhood across America. Do you encourage your servers to engage their customers like Sam, Carla and Woody do? And how about yourself? Do you converse like Coach, Rebecca and Diane did? Or, are your customers scared to call you over to discuss a problem with their meals?
Of course the food has to be top notch! But that’s a gimme! Everyone should expect; quality food, made from the best ingredients, under sanitary and food safe conditions, served up timely with a smile! There is a lot of competition out there. If your goal is to build repeat business, you have to do more than what’s average.
There are plenty of places selling good burgers yet everyone knows which burger joint is considered the best in town. Most of the time it is the place that is the most fun to dine at too!
Of course you know that there is a common belief that if one sends back their plate because their meal wasn’t prepared to their liking, the people in the kitchen will spit in their food or do something even worse. For that reason, many diners will suffer through an unsatisfying meal rather than complain. This is why it is absolutely required for the manager to be visible on the dining floor 90% of the time the restaurant is open for business.
Your job is to act like the host who is throwing a big party. You float around making sure everyone is having a good time and the service and food is perfect. You mingle, schmooze and entertain. You act concerned when you detect something is bothering a guest and over joyed to see them even when you are run down and feel a cold coming on. Behind the scenes you manage food costs, waste and spoilage, place orders, take inventory and forever push you’re your staff for more productivity. Are you overwhelmed yet just reading about all your responsibilities? Cause there are more…
Keeping peace among the ranks is a full time job in itself. Interviewing, hiring, training disciplining, coaching and encouraging all fall on your shoulders. And, you are also responsible for budgeting marketing funds, building sales, showing a profit and keeping accurate records of every aspect of the business so you can report to higher ups, owners and stock holders. Yes, it can be a bit of a juggling act but the one area that can never be sacrificed or put second is your dining room presence! You must be aware of what is going on with your customers!
A good manager knows when he’s been in the back office too long, on the phone too long, in a meeting too long, checking in the truck order at the loading dock too long! The business of good restaurant management is being hands on, out on the floor, directing and helping to enhance your crew’s efforts to please the guests. As long as guests are having a good time they will forgive anything. No matter what goes wrong, if they are having fun they will shout your praise and tell all their friends for years to come about your extra efforts and the great time they had!
Good word of mouth is still the best advertising! We are living in the age of the super, digital, virtual, highway and a bad or good tweet or text is only a click away with a cell phone.
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