Restaurant Management: Watch and Learn


Like anyone who watches Survivor can tell you, times of stress often reveal who we are as people and as a team. And while it may not be fair to chastise a team for performing under par when you’ve been slammed for six hours straight during a busy weekend, it is fair to make a note of where the team is breaking down and make a plan for how to remedy those problems when things calm down.

As a restaurant manager, don’t let the busy times pass you by. These are often the times when you can learn the most about your team. So pay attention, and take notes. Do it after the shift, if you need to, but keep a careful account of what went wrong and what went right. Later, you’ll be able to analyze the situation and pinpoint its core problem.

Be specific with your restaurant’s performance goals.

You don’t need to write that “Sally” had four tables that complained how long it took to get drinks, but you do need to make a note that drink wait time is too long. Then investigate. Is it the bar or the servers? Does Sally have too many tables? Do you need more servers to ensure that customers are adequately attended to? Does the bartender need assistance? Remind those who work for tips that additional servers can only help them. Happier customers tip more and the money comes out the same… without the stress.

Look at the big picture affecting your restaurant’s future.

If you keep running out of items, you need to analyze more than your ordering abilities. Are your servers selling this item because they’re sure their guests will like it, and they don’t have that type of confidence in your other menu items? Ask your team for anonymous responses to tough questions: What do you really think about the menu? What isn’t working? What do you get the most complaints on?

Then ask the entire team where they think the operation could improve. Insist that there is no name-calling, but make it easy for them to pinpoint problems. Then, at your next team training session, reveal the responses and call a series of brainstorming meetings to find solutions.

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