Learn how to save time, become more organized, reduce stress, and prevent burnout with these six useful restaurant management tips.
As a restaurant manager, your job is a big one with many responsibilities:
- Hiring, training, and supervising staff
- Building and maintaining staff schedules
- Ensuring people follow restaurant rules
- Making sure staff abide by the food safety protocols
- Maintaining revenue levels
On top of that, you also have to put out fires, make tough decisions like firing employees, and cope with the challenges of balancing restaurant staffing and staff scheduling needs. With such a diverse range of responsibilities, stress is inevitable. But if you don't properly manage this stress, it can spiral out of control and cause burnout.
The good news? You don't have to suffer from burnout as long as you implement the right strategies. Here are six practical restaurant management tips to help you better manage the daily grind of running a restaurant.
6 Practical Restaurant Management Tips to Prevent Burnout
1. Use Technology to Automate Repetitive Tasks
Think about the many restaurant tasks you attend to daily. How many of these are repetitive, a total time-suck, require manual input, and lead to costly business mistakes?
You can probably think of a few, but let's look at one that has a direct impact on your labor costs: Shift scheduling. If you're like some restaurant managers, you create shift schedules using either pen and paper, no formal method, or Excel spreadsheets.
While these methods aren't necessarily wrong, they do have some big pitfalls: Creating schedules takes time, managing and tracking schedules is a nightmare, and gathering business data is even harder. And if you use Excel—arguably the best of these three methods— you can probably recognize these common problems:
- You have to continually flip between schedules across multiple spreadsheets
- Schedules are prone to error as you may need to input information manually
- You have to consolidate information from emails, written notes, and texts
- It's hard to maintain optimal schedules, so you're often over or understaffed
- Business data is harder to come by as you have to create reports yourself
- Communication is slow because you need to communicate shift changes in person and via email or text
Now imagine how much easier your job would be if you didn't have to spend time on these mundane tasks. Just think about all that extra time you'd have and how much more relaxed you'd feel because you wouldn't have the burden of all that extra work. This scenario is possible with scheduling software. The right scheduling software:
- Saves you money—$2000/month to be exact
- Helps you create schedules in 30 min or less
- Lets you approve or deny availability requests with a single click
- Ensures that schedules remain optimal so you can keep your labor costs under control
- Gives you real-time access to sales and labor reports to make better business decisions.
- Pinpoints unassigned shifts
- Lets staff organize shift changes amongst themselves, so you have one less thing to worry about
- Allows you to communicate schedule changes on the go via a mobile device
- Makes it insanely simple to approve time-off requests
2. Integrate Certain Systems to Improve Your Bottom Line
No restaurant is complete without a POS system. Your POS system is your restaurant's control center. It helps you make reservations, accept payments, and gather business data to create sales and labor reports to improve your bottom line.
A POS system is most beneficial when it integrates with other platforms. Integrating various systems means you have access to a management system that controls the various crucial elements of your restaurant from one place. Having a system like this is incredibly convenient—you don't have to switch between platforms, and also incredibly powerful—you can quickly access tools and reports you need to boost your efficiency and bottom line.
Let's look at a couple of crucial POS software integrations and how this makes your restaurant management job easier:
Accounting. By integrating your POS with an accounting package, your sales data can automatically be pulled into your accounting program and critical financial documents like your accounting ledger. This integration streamlines basic systems, reduces errors, and gives you accurate financial data quickly to make better business decisions.
An example of an accounting and POS system that integrate together are TouchBistro (POS) and Shogo (Accounting).
Scheduling. So, you saw how scheduling software helps you create optimized schedules much faster than pen and paper and Excel. But, by integrating scheduling software with your POS system, you can better schedule employees based on certain POS information.
Sales reports, for example, can tell you how many covers and sales employees make on specific days and when you're busiest (and quietest). Based on this information, you can schedule the right staff during the right periods to boost profits and control labor costs.
The exact reduction in labor costs will vary between businesses and depend on the tools used. For example, some restaurateurs are seeing a 4% reduction in labor costs after integrating 7shifts ant TouchBistro.
3. Invest in Employee Training to Minimize Problems
Putting out fires is part and parcel of being a restaurant manager. But, if all you ever do is put out fires because of employee mistakes, it may be time to review your employee training.
While employee training may initially feel like a drain, over the long term, you will benefit. You will feel more relaxed because employees will be able to do their job properly and make fewer mistakes, which means you'll have fewer fires to put out.
Your training program should include:
- An orientation or onboarding process that makes new hires feel welcome and provides them with the knowledge and tools to do their jobs. For example, they should know how to use the POS, be able to communicate to guests properly, understand closing procedures, and so on. This orientation program could include new employees having to shadow your best staff for an idea of how things work in the restaurant
- Sharing your employee handbook with everyone. This book is a document that covers pretty much everything they need to know about your restaurant, including HR policies, your mission statement, do's and don'ts, opening and closing procedures, and other crucial processes they should know
- Refresh training. Staff can and do forget their initial training, so make sure you refresh their memory to prevent bad habits from creeping in
- Regular check-ins with employees to see how they're doing— in addition to the typical performance reviews
4. Delegate Work to the Right People to Reduce Your Workload
Delegation frees up time and removes the pressure of having to do all the restaurant tasks yourself. Of course, finding the right employees for specific jobs can be challenging. Hire the right people from the start and train them— that's half the battle won.
Chances are good you can probably identify a couple of people who are best suited for specific tasks right off the bat. If you can't, don't worry! Simply identify the go-getters; the motivated staff; those with a positive attitude and work ethic. They don't necessarily have to be top performers.
Then, take them under your wing and mold them into future managers by coaching grooming them to take on more responsibility. You'd be pretty surprised how many people rise to the occasion because they feel valued and enjoy that you're offering them an opportunity to grow—something that's sorely missing in many restaurants with many quitting their jobs as a result.
Taking a mentorship role doesn't only allow you to remove tasks from your plate right now, but it also gives you peace of mind to take leave and go on vacation knowing that the entire restaurant is in capable hands.
5. Track Detailed Notes in Your Managers Logbook to Become More Organized
A logbook is a book in which you record important details and events about your restaurant. Maybe there's a shift change you want to note down? Or perhaps, there's something you want to remind yourself to discuss with your team? Regardless of what exactly you record in the logbook, it will help you in many ways.
Firstly, you'll become more organized and feel more relaxed. Having a logbook means all your important notes are in one place for easy access, which improves organization and helps you better manage your workload.
For example, the 7shifts restaurant manager's logbook lets you keep daily notes, crucial shift details, and various follow up tasks in the cloud. You can also:
- Take notes on the go via your smartphone or on the web
- Orghanize these notes by fate and time
- Easily access past entries by searchiing by date or category
Secondly, you can keep tabs on your team's satisfaction. The right logbook is cloud-based, which lets you get real-time feedback from your employees. For example, with 7shifts, staff can provide you with private assessments of how their shift went.
You can then proactively manage your team, so they're always performing optimally. You'll be able to quickly pinpoint any problem areas before they occur and implement any fixes promptly.
6. Learn to Unplug so You Can Unwind
The previous five restaurant management tips all concentrated on ways to simplify the daily management of a restaurant. But, to keep your stress in check and avoid burnout, you also need to switch off. This means:
Disconnecting after work hours. Admittedly, there may be occasions when you have to put in the extra hours—maybe there's a function you have to prepare for, or you need to complete the year-end financial reports. But, for the most part, you can probably get away with not working after hours. It's just up to you to make a point of doing this: Do not respond to work emails and calls, put your laptop away, and prioritize leisure and family time.
Setting boundaries. If you often answer employee calls after hours because of problems at work, it may be time to set a few boundaries. Firstly, let employees know they should only call you when there is a real emergency at work. Secondly, define what an emergency is otherwise they'll call you more often than you'd like.
For example, a customer complaining that their steak was underdone is not an emergency—and the staff on shift are probably more than capable of solving that problem. But, a customer accidentally falling and breaking their leg—well that's a different story altogether.
The Bottom Line on Restaurant Management Tips to Avoid Burnout
With such a diverse range of responsibilities—hiring and firing, maintaining revenue, creating staff schedules, and balancing everyone's needs—any restaurant manager job will involve some stress.
But just because stress is part of your job doesn't mean you should turn a blind eye. After all, failure to properly manage and control it can lead to overextension and burnout. Luckily, as you saw, there are practical restaurant management tips to manage stress better and prevent burnout:
- Invest in technology to automate mundate tasks
- Integrate your POS system with other systems to streamlne operations and boost profits
- Invest in training, so there are fewer fires to put out
- Assign tasks to the riight employee to lighten your workload
- Track notes in your logbook to become more organized
- Disconnect yourself from your work to unwind
Have you ever experienced burnout? What strategies would you recommend to prevent it?
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Nick Darlington (www.nickdarlington.com) is a B2B writer who conceives, writes and produces engaging website copy, blog posts and lead magnets for technology companies.