Managing a restaurant is not easy. It can be quite frantic. Especially during the weekends or peak sale days.
As a restaurant manager you have to be on top of quite a few different functions. It can range from managing staff, to present improved service to customers, to arranging restaurant fundraisers.
So here are some tips to ensure a smooth service and fuss-free restaurant management.
1. Start with the staff
Your staff are the building blocks of a good restaurant service. When your staff is happy and well coordinated all your functions are going to work smoothly.
A stable workforce is the key to restaurant management success.
Here’s how you could ensure a happy and healthy workforce:
- Conduct one-on-ones: Restaurants tend to be hierarchical. And this hierarchy snubs open expression. Organize sessions in which your staff can have a dialogue with you about their challenges. Even if the challenges can’t be addressed right away, being heard goes a long way in strengthening the morale of your employees.
- Reward hard work: Set the right examples by rewarding employees that go above and beyond the call of duty.
- Organise fun sessions: Restaurants are one of the most demanding places to work. And the daily grind takes a toll on the best. Allow your staff to “let off some steam” (figuratively). Have a staff meal or go out once in a while. This also dissolves inhibition and brings people together.
2. Stay focussed on your customer experience
Your customers are looking for a unique experience when they come to you. A great experience sticks to your customer like nothing else and keeps you top of mind. Your customers want to feel special from the moment they walk into your restaurant and every interaction matters.
Generally speaking, the following is what makes up the “experience” of your restaurant.
- Unique food – You should have a good “story” to your food. A unique food philosophy that captures the imagination of your diners.
- Courteous staff – Your Front-of-house staff are key to your restaurant’s experience.
- Prompt service – Whilst some dishes take longer than others and the size of the table matters, a general rule of thumb is that bigger tables are willing to wait longer than smaller ones.
- Good ambience – People dine-out to unwind from their busy schedules and hectic work weeks. So a comfortable ambience that ties to your restaurant concept is essential. Keeping the surroundings clean is equally important. Also, maintaining the kitchen, restrooms, and waiting lounge are important. Make sure you use commercial products for your kitchen so food and drink can be stored and prepared efficiently. Read more here about such commercial products.
3. Take feedback
Feedback is the easiest and most direct way of knowing how your customers feel about your food and/or service experience.
Following these simple steps can ensure effective feedback:
- Ask for it: This is obvious but for some reason not done enough of. Train your servers to ask for feedback, politely without interrupting the guest’s experience. Take feedback well both ways. “People forget what you said, but they never forget how you made them feel.”
- But how?: Let’s be honest. Feedback forms snuck in with the cheque are a bore. No one wants to fill them out and you end up interrupting the guests final moments at your restaurant. You need to ease that process as much as possible. We recommend an intuitive and chat-based feedback tool that you send out as a text or email the following day.
4. Strive for an efficient service
You may be tempted to manage finances, inventory and billing on multiple xl sheets in an ad hoc manner. But be cautioned. As your restaurant grows in number of tables, number of services or number of outlets, things begin to get more complicated. Good thing there are restaurant invoice management system available in the market.
You have 10 outlets across 10 cities averaging 20-25 tables each. Orders are coming in, both offline and online. Now what?
Welcome to the xl nightmare.
And welcome to preparing for this beforehand:
- Invest in a centralised restaurant management system where all your data gets stored.
- Hire a team that looks at each of the outlets and gives you reports on performance. Reports and dashboards make your real problems visible. You can then prioritize your activities.
- Get rid of broken and complicated workflows. Spreadsheets don’t really belong in the restaurant.
- Maintain a restaurant analytics dashboard to be on top of all your numbers – inventory, finances, and the likes.
5. Err on the side of the latest technology
Introducing new technology like digital signs can give an old, tired restaurant a new lease on life. New customer-facing technology helps restaurants feel modern and ‘with the times’. Technology plays a great role in simplifying your restaurant management process. Automation and process orientation are two essential aspects. Invest in a full stack restaurant technology solution comprising of a feature rich, cloud based, handheld POS. Your restaurant POS sits on top of all your key data and operations tasks. As you expand your business, your POS should be robust enough to grow with you. Next add Online Ordering for Takeaway and delivery. Restaurant Online Ordering has boomed with the growth of the on-demand food delivery services.
Software marketplace based integrations just don’t work. And the cost of integrations often exceed the cost of the actual software. So look for an all-in-one kind of restaurant management system.
For instance, to drive repeat customers you will need a CRM system. And a CRM will only function if your POS punches in customer data well. Without accurate data, your CRM system is next to being useless.
To be technology updated we would recommend you do the following:
- Shortlist one or two restaurant, food-tech blogs. You can try out Modern Restaurant Management or LimeTray’s blog. These blogs have a subscription option that helps you stay updated with tips, tricks and the latest from restaurant management.
- Talk to your fellow restaurateurs on what technology they are using (or thinking of using).
6. Lead by example. Or hire people who do.
Your restaurant manager should have knowledge of all the different functions of your restaurant. This leads to a better understanding of the problems at your restaurant and better decision making. As before, reward hard work and you will go a long way in establishing a work culture of excellence.
7. Managing taxes, paperwork and legal matters
Let’s keep this neat.
- Tax compliance: all kinds of taxes you need to charge (service tax, delivery tax) and pay (income tax, business tax), PAN Card, tax documents.
- Company registration papers: Papers and documents which have your restaurant details, year of inception etc.
- Property papers: You need to have the Lease Papers or Ownership proof at all times.
- Restaurant licensing: Certificates and all the related food quality standards information.
- HR policies: Wage laws, employee protection laws, anti-harassment laws are a few examples of the legal aspects of the HR policies that need to be in place.
8. Market your restaurant
“Marketing (and branding) is what people say about you when you are not in the room” – Jeff Bezos.
Marketing is your biggest tool when it comes to having a healthy number of repeat customers. Really good marketing is all about generating a positive word of mouth.
- Tell your story on your website and app: Inform your visitors and give them a reason to come to you (if you want your fair share of the market). An image rich website that showcases your food, space, people and customers is a great starting point.
- Managing your CRM system: Once you have your customer’s data, automated CRM campaigns help stay relevant with them. Check if your campaigns are faring well by keeping a tab of open and click rates.
- Review sites and delivery apps: List yourself on all the popular restaurant aggregator apps and review sites in your region. Even if you don’t focus on delivery. It’s great to be discoverable. But it’s not enough to just list yourself. Managing the comments and reviews on these listings is even more important. If you find this to be too taxing, consider outsourcing this task or hire a specialist.
- Update your social media frequently: Your posts should be a mix ranging from food photographs, customer reviews, happy employee snaps, latest restaurant updates, and trending topics in your niche or region. Create fun content that your audience would be engaged with. Sharing your customer’s own content is also a great way to add some extra social media credibility to your pages.
Back to growing
We get that managing a restaurant is hard. Odd hours, trouble retaining staff, a competitive market and delivery apps driving consumers to stay in more. On the plus side, restaurant technology is growing rapidly and there are better solutions in the market everyday. When in doubt, try leaning on the basics – A motivated staff, streamlined finances, and happy customers that can’t stop talking about your restaurant.