How to Be an Effective Restaurant Owner?
The paperwork is in order; you printed the menus in fancy, premium paper; the kitchen is set up, and the floors and tables are squeaky clean. It’s time to flip the ‘Open’ sign around and get your dreamed business going. Congratulations, you’re a restaurateur now.
Welcome to the club. Sadly, owning a restaurant is a satisfying but short-lived dream for most entrepreneurs. Sixty percent of new restaurants shut down within their first year. It’s usually not for the food, or the goodwill of the fine employees; most closures have to do with lousy locations, and mainly with poor management by the owner.
Because we want you to succeed, we’ve come up with a few tips to become an effective restaurant owner; one who survives the statistics. And not only that, we want you to climb the ladder of success and take your restaurant to its highest potential.
– Choose the right people.
Unless you’re a one-man-band and are planning to do everything on your own, from rolling burritos to cleaning up the washroom, you’ll need a team.
Know this before it’s too late: People are your most valuable asset. A good team, both in the kitchen and on the floor, can make any good restaurant a great one and can be the difference between dollar signs and red numbers.
Hire capable people, really put thought into every candidate. Look for service-oriented people that can work as a team. Pay them well too.
Now learn their names, their hobbies, and favourite music, because what all successful restaurants have in common, is that they’re run by a strong team. Do you like sports? Well, it’s the same thing.
– Empower your staff
Once you put together a good team, make sure you train them properly and grant them the tools to make decisions. Empower your people and make them feel like they’re part of the business.
Micromanagement is the number one reason for staff rotation; let the people be! Trust they’ll make the right choices.
Before you give them the keys to your business, figuratively, make sure they know what you and your restaurant stand for. Make them believe in your dream. Have a solid set of values and a mission – write it down and post it where everyone can see it.
– Be loyal to your customers.
Restaurateurs all want loyal customers; they’re the key to success. No one, on the other hand, thinks about returning that loyalty to their patrons.
First, get to know every person who walks into your restaurant. You never know who might become a regular. Talk to people, but don’t be overly chatty.
If people come back, greet them as friends, make them feel at home. Although all of this might sound obvious, many owners walk by the tables without looking down to who’s sitting there; you’re never too busy to say hello.
Being loyal to your customers means that you’re fair with them. So, make sure you have the means to get in touch with your regular clients. If you’re not opening on Sunday for maintenance give them a heads up, if your changing your prices or updating your menu, let them know.
– Go with the flow
Sure, you have everything planned out. I’m sure every item on your menu looks delicious, but learn to listen to your clientele. Never be too proud to admit that something is not going the way you planned.
Learn to adapt, to tweak your recipes and change your menu as needed. Listen to your clients and put a thought on their suggestions. When you listen, people respond with their wallets.
While you’re at it, talk to your staff, see how they feel about your menu; they’re the ones closer to the guests.
– Check those numbers
If you want to be an effective restaurant owner, make sure you do the math every day. A miscalculation on food costs can cause significant damage in the long run. Get your sight off the books for a second, and you might end up losing money with every sale.
What are your highest costs? Are there some corners you can cut without compromising quality? Are you getting the best deals out of your suppliers?
Crunch those numbers, because every penny counts.
– Keep the money flowing.
Learn to reinvest. Cashing out on revenues sounds tempting, but a restaurant is a high maintenance business. Talk to your chef; see if there’s a need for new equipment, there’s always room for improvement.
Cooks are masters in getting the job done with what they have in hand but give them the right tools and see your food go from good to great. High-quality dishes can only be crafted in top-notch kitchens.
Inspect your equipment thoroughly at least every three months, fix what needs to be fixed, and replace what ought to be replaced.
– Ask for help
You’re not expected to run your operation all on your own. The best restaurant managers know when to ask for help.
Are you flat chat with your social networks? Are they taking too much of your day? Hire someone. Do you need help with licenses and legal paperwork? Find an assistant. Don’t be a hero, build a multidisciplinary team, and focus on the big things.
The best business owners are the ones with the best teams. You’re the leader all right, but you can’t handle it all by yourself.
– Be a good neighbour
If you are to succeed as a restaurateur, understand that your business is part of something larger than what goes on inside its four walls; you’re part of a community.
Walk the neighbourhood and meet the people. See if there’s a local fair you can be part of or an animal shelter that could use your support. Ask yourself: What can I do to help my neighbours? And it’s not always about money (it’s rarely about money) it’s about being a part of, it about lending a hand.
Be the heart of your community; be there for the people, and they’ll never let you fail.