A restaurant cannot function with merely good oversight. From start to close, a restaurant needs strong leadership, both in FOH and BOH operations. There are too many people doing too many different things for the restaurant to work on cruise control. So a good restaurant manager is a valuable part of the team.
Training is a key element in developing a team of extraordinary managers. In the hospitality industry, solid restaurant management training gives crucial lessons into tasks that successful managers need to perform to attract and retain customers and employees, manage inventories and provide superior customer service.
Restaurants number among the most competitive of businesses, and productive, skilled managers appeal to customers and staff by interacting with people in friendly, outgoing ways. Dealing with people at the most basic level of service—providing nutrition—results in dynamic situations that change on daily.
The technical skills needed to run restaurants include knowledge of food safety, portion control, interacting with staff, handling customer complaints, marketing and creating diner incentives. In addition, managers should have a sound understanding of all staff positions. Good managers affect the bottom line in numerous ways. For example, managers must learn to order inventory with precision because unused perishable foods cause waste that could cause even successful restaurants to fail. It is an owner’s responsibility to train their managers systematically to avoid disasters.
The manager has to know the ins and outs of the restaurant business. Business knowledge helps managers deal confidently with vendors, corporate officers and customers. Restaurants have clear chains of command, and managers need to be able to answer everyone’s questions in a timely, accurate manner. Also, restaurant managers can provide long-term strategic help beyond the day-to-day operations. Restaurant owners and managers might find it necessary to write business plans to obtain financing, for example. Managers should be an integral part of the business of the restaurant.
There are a few roles that are normally not delegated to anyone below a manager. Manager’s duties normally include the ability to handle inventory, create work schedules, train employees and solve unanticipated problems. Inventory and sourcing have become increasingly important to overall success, so managers need to know how to find the expected quality at reasonable prices or negotiate for better prices.
Restaurant managers have to be experts at communication. They communicate at many levels: issuing directives to staff, hiring and firing talent, justifying restaurant policies and handling complaints with diplomacy and appropriate action. Being personable matters. Some managers solicit feedback from guests as they dine, building a human connection with customers.
Managers should assist in the marketing and branding—to provide ideas, familiarize themselves with upcoming campaigns and make sure marketing strategies work with operations. They may take part in advertising campaigns, design and proofread menus, create daily specials to move perishable inventories and help to create marketing and public relations strategies.
Restaurants use lots of cooking, mixing, cleaning and baking equipment, and managers need to know how these machines operate, where to look for service and how to ensure that workers operate all equipment within safety guidelines. Managers with ServSafe® certifications show customers, employers and staff that managers take their food-handling duties earnestly.
Restaurant management programs address all these issues to help managers perform their duties. Many successful managers come from the equipment-manufacturing side of the industry.
People and Management Skills
Restaurants run close to the edge of profitability, and small changes can often ensure success and higher profits. Management skills include taking advantage of training resources for staff so that workers understand their duties and cause fewer losses due to waste or poor portion control. Proper planning gives managers the tools they need to solve people problems. Restaurants function like machines with people as the moving parts, so your managers need be able to effective.
Examples of unanticipated problems that managers might need to address include the following scenarios:
- Restaurants might offer delivery services, and a driver who performs well could still attract unfavorable attention by failing to drive courteously. The restaurant manager might receive a complaint from an offended motorist.
- Managers might need to coddle service technicians who repair and maintain coolers and freezers. Maintaining proper temperatures proves critical in the restaurant industry, and finding reasonably priced and reliable repair people and keeping them happy become unexpected management duties.
- Tracking restaurant trends and keeping informed about what your competitors are doing help managers understand customers’ dining habits so that they can recommend menu changes, create seasonal promotions, plan cooking classes and implement other promotions.
Managers need outgoing personalities to inspire, motivate and interact with the staff, vendors, customers and corporate executives. Management training offers preparation to adapt to human-resource management, customer service, maintenance, shipping, receiving and accounting duties.
Dealing with Complaints
The steps for handling complaints begin with active listening. Good managers never interrupt but allow customers to finish explaining their problems. Listening gives cues to the staff so that they can handle complaints in similar ways. Employees encounter delicate situations all the time like customers running late, failing to know about price increases or wanting special prices for promotions that have expired.
Regardless of the situation, managers need to take each complaint seriously, apologize for the customer’s discomfort, empathize with the customer and offer an action plan to solve the problem. The customer deserves to know that their complaints stimulate real actions. Often, complaints arise due to people expecting something different from what they received. Give the customer an action plan to address the problem and follow through exactly. This technique helps to remove the disconnect between expectations and performance.
Delegating and Training
A big part of any manager’s duties involves training staff members, educating workers and customers and delegating authority. Managers should train in ways that are easy to pass along to others, so many restaurants develop standardized training manuals for each restaurant job. These manuals provide a simple but effective way to train staff members to the same standards. Managers can use the manuals as guides for teaching and as tools for evaluating new hires and regular staff performance.
Some of the most talented managers never learn to delegate authority gracefully and strategically, and this quality can present serious problems in running an efficient restaurant. Restaurant service requires a team effort, and if a manager can’t lead a team, your restaurant won’t reach its potential.
The reasons that some people fear to delegate authority is that they feel they can do the job better or don’t want to face consequences of other people’s mistakes. If the staff isn’t properly trained, that shortcoming needs to be resolved. Any manager faces the limitations of time, and nobody can be in two places at once. Conditions for delegating authority responsibly include:
- Does the task involve short- or long-term consequences?
- How many tasks does the manager need to accomplish in a given period?
- Will the task occur routinely?
- Can another person handle the job?
- Can assigning the task to someone help him or her grow and develop?
Managing a restaurant is a business, and management training gives talented people the technical skills that they need for success. Managers have the unenviable task of keeping a finger in every pie metaphorically while insuring that no fingers get in any pies literally. Many online programs offer training courses, videos, webinars and templates from government, educational institutes and private resources. Taking advantage of management training, a restaurant manager has the skills and training to lead the culinary troops. Support in the form of well-trained BOH and FOH staffs provides the munitions to handle any eventuality with grace under fire, fairness and determination to accomplish the restaurant owner’s goals.