How To Manage A Restaurant Staff: The Ultimate Guide

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    KWs: How To Manage A Restaurant Staff, How To Manage your Restaurant Staff, Manage A Restaurant Staff, Create a Restaurant Staff from Scratch, Manage Restaurant Finances, Manage restaurant food waste, Train restaurant staff,


    A restaurant can have top-notch entree food and serve the most popular cocktails. It can utilize innovative restaurant tech alongside the friendliest waiters. However, a restaurant is nothing without its manager.

    A restaurant manager has several questions to ask every day to streamline restaurant operations:

    • How can I keep my restaurant staff motivated and happy?
    • How can I make sure my customers leave your restaurant happy?
    • How can I keep restaurant expenses and overhead expenses at a minimum?
    • How can I ensure my food costs stay reasonable?
    • Which items from the restaurant menus generate the most profit?
    • How am I expected to get through a day without my restaurant literally burning to the ground?

    To answer all of these questions, you need to be a great restaurant manager.

    Often, restaurant owners are driven to open their own establishment as a means to showcase their creativity and drive their own success. Little do they know, a litany of things need to happen to open a bar or restaurant. Once the doors open, the job has just begun.

    When a brand new restaurant enters the scene, it needs an equal balance of  restaurant marketing ideas and a solid restaurant business plan to successfully take off. Restaurant failure, especially within the first year of operation, can be based on a number of reasons.

    However, one surefire way an owner can keep a number of variables under control is by hiring and maintaining great restaurant management. In this article, we will break down what makes a great restaurant manager

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    The Importance of a Great Restaurant Manager

    The manager is often the cornerstone to a successful restaurant. A successful restaurant manager requires a rare combination of physical stamina, intellectual prowess, and emotional skills in order to thrive.

    At first, a restaurant owner might double as a manager in his or her own restaurant. However, as the business grows or expands, an owner might delegate an ample amount of duties to a dedicated restaurant manager. Typically, a hospitality establishment needs a manager on the floor at all times.

    A restaurant manager will simultaneously handle employee relations, customer service concerns, quality control, and inventory management techniques. This is only a small sampling of what falls under the umbrella of a restaurant manager on a daily basis.

    A restaurant manager tackles a competitive analysis or SWOT analysis for restaurant improvement ideas with the wait staff and restaurant ownership group. Because this position requires such a wide range of competencies, it’s crucial to take care in hiring an effective leader.

    How to Hire an Effective Restaurant Manager

    How to Hire an Effective Restaurant Manager

    When hiring a restaurant manager, there are numerous skills and bits of knowledge that should be included in the restaurant manager job description. The long hours, physically demanding work, and combination of personalities (both in employees and customers) are just part of a restaurant manager’s everyday struggle.

    In addition to the technical responsibilities required, the restaurant manager must also possess a deep understanding of the restaurant industry. Most often, restaurant managers have a long history of working in the hospitality sector.

    It is not at all uncommon to see a busser turn into a server and then, eventually, stand as a general manager of the same restaurant. In fact, some of the most renowned restaurateurs started as bussers.

    A hospitality veteran makes an ideal manager because she knows all of the elements of a restaurant. As a result, she understands the landscape of the teamwork that needs to come together in order to operate successfully. This experience often allows the manager to have a deep understanding of prioritizing in a fast-paced environment.  

    In short, it is almost always wiser to hire a manager that rose up the ranks rather than a manager experienced in other industries. The restaurant and hospitality industry is vastly different from retail and 9-5 office operations. Always hire your restaurant managers with that in mind.

    How to Create a Restaurant Staff from Scratch

    How to Create A Restaurant Staff from Scratch

    Once the manager is aboard, she needs to address her staff. In the case of a brand new restaurant, she will likely be responsible for hiring an entire restaurant staff. This will include hiring servers, bussers, hiring hosts, various types of chefs, a bartender or two, and more.

    To enhance the overall restaurant experience, be sure that you hire bar staff that has mixology skills, such as how to make popular cocktail recipes, know how to calculate ABV, and can come up with original ideas for drink specials

    Learn more from our complete list of drinks every bartender should know and some of the best cocktail recipe books for bartending inspiration.

    According to restaurateur Danny Meyer, you should keep five core competencies in mind when building a restaurant dream team. Those fivequalities crucial to a great restaurant team that meets the “hospitality quotient” (HQ) are:

    1. Optimistic Warmth

    Restaurant team members work long, difficult hours. These hours are spent in close quarters with the entire team on duty, too. Meyer looks for optimistic warmth as a quality of someone who is decidedly not a naysayer. This is a team member who can bring positivity and light, even on the most difficult days.

    1. Intelligence

    Rather than regarding a “book smart” person, Meyer describes this sort of intelligence as a curiosity to learn. This is a person who is open to learning from experience on a daily basis.

    Intelligence pertaining to common restaurant practices can lead to a jump in ROI. The ROI meaning refers to the amount of revenue your business generates compared to the amount of money you invest in it. When your staff knows how to sell menu items and provoke customers to return in the future, they become a key factor in the business’ success. 

    1. Work Ethic

    This one is self-explanatory. In addition to being “trainable” at a specific level of competency for a job, Meyer describes this as the type of person who will always look for the best way to do her or his own job, especially if it improves existing methods.

    1. Empathy and Self-Awareness

    Meyer buckets these two competencies together. This is the type of person who is attuned to how others feel. In addition, this person is sensitive to how their actions affect others, whether coworkers or customers. Empathy is a must in hospitality as it helps one to constantly be anticipating needs.

    1. Integrity

    This is a core competency in any relationship. Will this person do the right thing, even when nobody's looking?

    How to Manage a Restaurant Staff

    How to Manage a Restaurant Staff

    Some restaurant managers are hired as a replacement for a….not-so-great manager. As a result, she might inherit a team that is uninspired, unfocused and drained. Motivating a tired team can often prove to be a harder task than hiring an entirely new team.

    Motivating a restaurant staff is not all about contests to see who can upsell the most pink lemonades and chocolate mousse pies. A great restaurant manager will take the time to address the problems that exist by listening.

    In actually listening and building a new foundation, the new manager can immediately foster a trustful relationship with team members. There are a few things a new manager can do to build this trusting environment from the start.

    1. A Great Manager Knows All Team Members

    From the very beginning, know your team members. Rather than knowing their first name and job title, find out more about your servers.

    Do they have kids? A favorite sports team? Manager or not, you spend a large percentage of your lifetime with your coworkers.

    In addition to the personal relationships, getting to know team members better allows a manager to become familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. In this way, a manager will have better insights into how to staff a particular event, who works well together, and who might be a good option for advancement (possibly to be a manager themselves!) in the future.

    Take the time to actually know your team members and to share service advice. Building friendships in a busy restaurant setting boosts morale.

    Keeping open lines of communication also allows employees to feel comfortable speaking to the manager. Allowing for candid conversation will prevent many potential problems from ever arising.

    1. A Great Manager Leads By Example  

    Have you ever had a lazy boss? A lazy manager guessed it, lazy and unmotivated employees.

    A manager who delegates all duties will run into many problems while running a restaurant. A restaurant has too many moving parts to enact a “set it and forget it” management attitude. Maintaining active surveillance is crucial to make sure things are running correctly and to make room for improvements.

    An effective restaurant manager must spend time on the restaurant floor, both during the busiest times and the slowest times. Without this frontline experience, the manager really has no idea what is going on, save for bottom-line numbers.

    Besides having a crucial understanding of the day-to-day elements of a restaurant, a present boss makes a real impact. A manager who works as hard as her employees is more likely to earn respect and loyalty than one who leads with blind authority.

    1. A Great Manager Takes Responsibility

    Whether a day yields successes or failures, a good restaurant manager will both acknowledge and address that they belong to the whole team.

    On a great day, a restaurant manager could reward the team with something as big as a staff meal or something as simple as positive recognition for a job well done.

    On a day riddled with failures, instead of pointing figures, a great manager will identify and address the problems in a constructive manner. Recognition of positive landmarks is just as important as communicating areas of improvement.

    How to Manage Restaurant Finances

    Many aspects of managing restaurant finances will occur within the realm of overhead costs. This can include rent, utilities, food costs, and payroll.

    Lucky for the modern restaurant manager, there are many hospitality software solutions for managing costs. New technology in restaurants, like digital menus and QR codes, makes management easier by offering solutions for food costs, labor management, payment processing, employee training, and inventory restocks. 

    Here are five areas of business management a restaurant is likely to hemorrhage money:

    1. Inventory Management

    The traditional methods of taking inventory are both time-consuming and expensive. Rather than calling individual sellers from a wholesale directory, utilize a restaurant inventory management app like BlueCart to streamline such processes.

    A user-friendly app can allow you to take inventory quickly and efficiently. Plus, who doesn’t want a simple solution to cut costs?

    1. Restaurant Staff Training

    When training your FOH staff and BOH staff, use the opportunity to instill best back of house practices. Make sure your back-of-house knows the standard pour of alcohol and proper proportions of foods and sauces to use in each dish. Additionally, ensure that your servers and bartenders are well-versed in proper serving amounts and in ordering correctly on your restaurant or bar POS system.

    1. Labor Costs

    One way that a great restaurant manager will control the labor cost is by assigning the proper amount of shifts to its employees. Specifically, a great restaurant manager will become an expert on how to staff a restaurant for a dead rainy Tuesday night as opposed to staffing it for a Mother’s Day Brunch. Speaking of brunch, learn more about what is brunch food to better organize some of your busiest shifts.

    1. Menu and Recipe Costs

    Managing food costs is extremely important to a restaurant’s bottom line. Food and recipe costing can mean the difference between a failing restaurant and a thriving restaurant. Calculate your food costs in order to identify where you are potentially losing money and where you might be able to save some.

    1. Manage Restaurant Food Waste

    Make sure your staff is keeping track of any food waste. Whether an item was burned by the kitchen or ordered incorrectly, it is important to keep track of all food waste. If you can determine a solution to reduce food waste and inventory shrinkage, your bottom line will improve.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Managing a Restaurant Staff

    So, we’ve covered a complete guide to managing a restaurant staff. Continue reading a brief set of questions and answers that many people frequently ask to improve your restaurant management abilities. 

    How Do You Supervise A Restaurant?

    To successfully supervise a restaurant, follow these five steps:

    • Hire enough bar and wait staff
    • Create unique marketing campaigns 
    • Set up your restaurant to accommodate guests
    • Utilize restaurant tech to boost profits and organize tasks 
    • Streamline kitchen operations by consistently restocking inventory 

    How Do You Organize A Restaurant Staff?

    To begin organizing your staff, you’ll want to make sure you create organized schedules. By having the proper number of employees working each shift, you’ll quickly realize how simple it is to streamline restaurant operations. Plus, it’ll help your staff not feel so overwhelmed, which can happen quite often. 

    A fully-staffed restaurant also translates well to your customers, as it decreases wait times. Long wait times are one of the biggest drivers of negative restaurant reviews, so be mindful of this during your hiring and scheduling processes. 

    What Skills Do Restaurant Managers Need?

    Whether you operate an upscale restaurant or a casual dining experience , restaurant managers need the same skills across the board. To be successful, you’ll need to acquire skills pertaining to:

    • Customer service
    • Inventory management 
    • Organization 
    • Teamwork and leadership
    • Accounting and finance
    • Marketing and branding 

    How Do You Coach A Restaurant Staff?

    Coach your restaurant staff by setting clear expectations right from the beginning, and offer extensive training. Make it known to all of your employees that they can report any comments, questions, and concerns to you and their manager. 

    How Do You Properly Staff A Restaurant?

    Begin staffing your restaurant by mapping out how many of each position you need to hire. Then, utilize a job search tool like Indeed or LinkedIn to accept and review applications. Look at each applicant’s job history and skill sets prior to scheduling interviews, and choose the candidates that best suit the open roles. 

    What Are Restaurant Management Responsibilities?

    Standard restaurant management responsibilities include: 

    • Staffing
    • Shift scheduling
    • Training staff
    • Maintain food quality standards 
    • Inventory management
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    In Conclusion

    Managing a restaurant is not for the faint of heart.

    Proper restaurant management requires one person to wear many hats. This person needs to be a problem-solving, resilient people person who can recognize and remedy their own weaknesses on the spot.

    Many problems can be avoided by creating and maintaining an organized operation. Here are just a few ways a restaurant manager can organize their operations to avoid problems.

    With that, it only seems appropriate to end on the wise words of Danny Meyer,

    “In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”

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