What Your Restaurant Managers Teach Me

By David Scott Peters

www.therestaurantexpert.com

Over the last decade we have worked with countless restaurant managers. So many have been just incredible, perfectly suited for their important roles in your restaurant.

Below are three of them from the past few years that possess a trait I admire and that exemplifies a lesson we all need to learn.

Change is good. – Jay Rushford, Operations Manager, Uncle Bub’s BBQ, Westmont, IL

Jay is the type of guy that is level and has a positive mental outlook on everything. His challenge was to take a restaurant with incredible sales and match those sales with equally impressive profits. Faced with a team resistant to change, this was not an easy task. Jay never once questioned that change was a good thing. Instead he became what my father used to call a “change agent.” He was the restaurant’s biggest advocate for change, a guy who never jammed it down people’s throats, a guy who took the time to train his people on the systems so that they could understand why change was coming and why it was not only good for the restaurant, but good for them, too.

No challenge is too big. – Chris Ford, General Manager, AJ’s Seafood Grille, Ridgeland, MS

Chris was headed for an advanced degree in physical therapy when he found himself in a restaurant where the managers before him just created chaos and frustration for the owners, employees and customers. But Chris saw this as a challenge, an opportunity to grow and a chance for him to see if he really loved the restaurant biz. Somehow, seeing incredible potential in him, I convinced him to give the job a shot and take the general manager position. Since then, he has never looked back. Not only did he see the challenge and kick its ass, he went on to open a new location and has yet to find a challenge too big. With challenge comes growth.

We are ALL on the same team. – Jamie Steinbrecher, Chef, The Okeechobee Steakhouse, West Palm Beach, FL

Jamie is one of those unusual finds in the industry: a chef who creates incredible dishes and understands the business side. He is a truly talented chef and a confident leader, managing his team with honest communication and patience. One of the things that most impresses me about Jamie is his willingness to include the front-of-house management team. He does not look at the kitchen from an “us vs. them” perspective, but rather as one whole team. One of the greatest examples of this is the relationship he has built with the general manager. Together they move the business in a positive direction on a daily basis.

I consider myself extremely lucky to work with so many incredible managers in the business, so many that I cannot mention them all here. I hope that you draw some inspiration from these incredible people and identify the skill sets you need to possess as a manager to be successful and what you should be looking for in your team as an owner.

David Scott Peters TheRestaurantExpert (1)David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at www.therestaurantexpert.com/rdspos.

 

The Solution to Miscommunication in Restaurants

By David Scott Peters

www.therestaurantexpert.com

Communication is key to getting anything done in your restaurant, from cleaning to profitability. The big communication challenge in restaurant management is making sure you get your message across in a manner that everyone understands and can execute what you want done how you want it done.

Now, managers and owners have very different challenges when it comes to communicating these wants.

Owners tend to fail to communicate what they want done and how they want it done. As a result they express their frustration often when their managers seem to not get their job done. Then owners start to believe the only way to get anything done is to do it themselves, resulting in highly paid babysitters as managers — people to watch the restaurant, not manage.

Managers have a completely different frustration. It’s their crazy-making owners who fly into the business creating a new list of things they want done, never explaining how they want it done and creating this list that can never be accomplished as fast as the owner would like. When the manager can’t execute on the owner’s expectations, the manager is told what they are doing wrong every day.

These challenges are completely avoidable, and I have the solution.

The best way to avoid these challenges is to have routine manger meetings.

I know what you’re saying to yourself: “David, I meet with my managers almost daily, and we still have this problem.”

When you say that to me, I’m going to tell you very quickly, the “meetings” you’re having with your managers, those are not a manager meeting. And worse, those “meetings” lead to more problems.

A manager meeting is scheduled on a weekly basis. It’s not a five-minute tirade over what didn’t get done at closing the night before. It’s a weekly, scheduled time, set aside to review goals, expectations and challenges and then brainstorm solutions.

Before you say this challenge doesn’t apply to you and your management team because you have weekly meetings, please ask yourself four questions:

1. Are my managers getting the things accomplished I want done?
2. Am I making the money in my restaurant that I deserve?
3. Am I the only one who does the talking?
4. Do my meetings go on and on and on… often running more than two hours?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, tune in next week for the “how.”

David Scott Peters TheRestaurantExpert (1)David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at www.therestaurantexpert.com/rdspos.

 

Measure Restaurant Sales to Determine Labor Needs

By David Scott Peters

www.therestaurantexpert.com

Creating the schedule in a restaurant is like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle. A proper functioning schedule is vital to your business. But putting all the right people in all the right places is just part of writing a schedule. The other part is knowing what your true needs really are.

Here at TheRestaurantExpert.com, we teach several different kinds of systems that make your independent restaurant operate more efficiently, more profitably and without you.

For labor systems, the key measurement is dollars per labor hour. This number will tell you with certainty when you don’t have enough labor and when you have too much labor scheduled for a certain shift.

But even quantitative measurements can lie. You have to be careful because you could be hitting your labor numbers and still be setting up your restaurant for disaster by having a combination of shifts that are either under staffed or over staffed. That’s when it’s important to combine your quantitative data (such as the numbers) with your qualitative data (the things you see in the restaurant along with your gut).

Ideally you want the right amount people in place for the needs of the business and no more.

To get there, first focus on your quantitative measurement and begin tracking your dollars per labor hour. Dollars per labor hour is sales divided by hours. This tells you how many dollars are coming in the restaurant per hour worked. It’s a road map to scheduling your hours in the right places. You’ll see trends and be able to move hours from less-efficient shifts to over-efficient shifts.

Efficiencies are different for everyone’s restaurant, so track your dollars per labor hour and realize that three weeks is what makes a trend.

And if your gut is telling you something different, pay attention. But don’t forego the numbers just because it doesn’t feel right. Change is hard for everyone, and if your team is used to having a dishwasher on Thursday nights, they’re not going to like it if you tell them they’re not getting one anymore. Observe what Thursday nights are really like and what is really needed. Then compare that to your quantitative results of your dollars per labor hour and make an educated decision, not a guess.

The most important thing is to just get started, gather the information you need to combine your gut instincts with solid numbers.

David Scott Peters TheRestaurantExpert (1)David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at www.therestaurantexpert.com/rdspos.

 

Don’t Give ‘Em a Management Entitlement Program

By David Scott Peters

www.therestaurantexpert.com

If I had a nickel for every time I am asked about how to properly structure a management bonus program, I could start thinking about retirement. No really, this has got to be one of the most-asked questions.

The truth is that structuring a bonus program is actually not that difficult. Often the bigger challenge is having the right systems in place to build it properly. Without the right systems, many management bonus programs are what I call management “entitlement” programs, where managers expect a bonus just for showing up.

To help you avoid this profit-sucking mistake, I am going to share with you the six systems you need to have in place to write a useful management bonus program that will encourage your managers to earn their bonus:

Job Description

This is a no brainer, yet often overlooked when we talk about management. Without a detailed job description for each level of management in place, you have managers on the floor who have no real clue of what their job is or how well you expect them to do it.

This becomes your paint-by-numbers outline when you start to write your bonus program because your minimum expectations are already outlined in black and white.

Budgets

Budgets give you, the operator, the ability to set targets, measure progress, evaluate performance and ensure you run profitably. Honestly, without a budget and targets in place there is no structure for any reasonable bonus program.

Prime Cost Control Systems

When you have budgets in place for your restaurant, you have cost of goods sold and labor targets (together they make up what is called your prime cost), but do you have systems in place to help management achieve those targets? You must give them a road map of how to control those numbers and achieve their goal, or you might as well not even bother implementing a bonus program. They will never hit their goals, which ultimately translates to lost profits for you.

Scoring Systems

When I refer to scoring systems, I am referring to both those that you impose and those that are imposed on you, such as the health department for the former and customer comment cards for the latter. Profitability alone should never be your sole focus. Implement, utilize and evaluate your scores. They will tell you a lot about how well you are doing and should be included when evaluating managers’ performances.

MBOs

The concept of MBOs was originated by Peter Drucker at The Harvard Business Review. He is called the Father of Modern Management, and he outlines MBOs in his 1954 book, The Practice of Management. There are five basic steps to the MBO Process, which are: 1) Review the objectives the company would like to accomplish, 2) Set objectives for your management team, 3) Continually monitor progress, 4) Continually evaluate progress, and 5) Reward the achievers. When you’ve done all that, you then start the process over again.

Timely Reporting

Last but not least, you have to have timely reporting. It’s not good enough to have all of these systems in place if you can’t gather, analyze and distribute your results to your team on a timely basis. Taking too long can de-motivate your management team and even worse yet, cause you to lose money.

With the right program, your managers will work harder than ever to earn that bonus and won’t blame you if they miss their targets. My goal with this article is to get you thinking about how important systems are in your restaurant and how they relate to rewarding your management team. Go down the list and take an inventory of what you have in place and if something is missing, add it to your I MUST IMPLEMENT LIST.

David Scott Peters TheRestaurantExpert (1)David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at www.TheRestaurantExpert.com.

9 Things to Offer to Attract Good Restaurant Employees

By David Scott Peters

www.therestaurantexpert.com

One of the key lessons I’ve learned over my years in the restaurant business is that not everyone works for you just for money. Money is a factor, but people are looking for much more.

So how do you provide the “much more?”

Many years ago now, restaurant coach Fred Langley best articulated what you have to strive for if you want to attract and keep the very best people on your team. He said you have to become the “Employer of Choice.” So what does that mean?

Without going into the whole explanation behind clinical psychologist Frederick Herzberg’s, “Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory,” let’s cover the key factors beyond money that he says motivate people to work and work hard:

  1. Supervision – Make sure you have a management team that coaches employees to success, understands what makes each employee unique and is able to push their buttons to get the best of your people.
  2. Fair compensation – While you don’t have to be at the top of your market’s pay scale, you certainly cannot be at the bottom.
  3. Good working conditions – Make sure you have a clean restaurant, that you have all the right equipment and tools for your employees to do their jobs, and make safety a priority.
  4. Interpersonal relationships – Avoid at all costs having a management team that thinks all of their people are stupid and treats them like crap. Remember, this is a people business and it all starts with your internal customers.
  5. Recognition – Look for people doing things right in your restaurant and give them kudos when you see it. It’s easy to find people doing something wrong. When you focus on the good things, you create a positive work environment where people want to continue to please you vs. just waiting for the scolding.
  6. Responsibility – Sometimes you have great employees who have been with you for many years who NEVER want to be a part of the management team. Yet, they are willing to do more. Look to teach and assign them tasks that make the company better and get more done. Allow them to be a more valued asset on the team and they will be motivated to do more.
  7. Achievement – With responsibility there are often measurable results. When your team sees how what they do has a direct positive impact on the business, they get a real sense of achievement, which makes them want more.
  8. Advancement – Remember money is not the only thing people are looking for when they join your management team. Many want to know that there is a clear path to promotion and advancement in your company. Whether it’s moving up the management ladder, moving into the next better paying line position or gaining the skills that make them more valuable in their career, there needs to be a clear path to advancement that’s based on doing a good job, not who you are sucking up to.
  9. Work itself – I remember my first jobs in the restaurant business were washing dishes, and I hated it. It felt thankless to me, and I was probably not mature enough to want to work that hard as a young teen. Moving up in my career, I’ve always kept that in the back of my mind when managing employees. You need to make sure the job, no matter what level in your organization, is rewarding.

High employee turnover is expensive and disruptive to any business. With training and systems in place, you start with employees who know what their job is and what is expected of them. But to keep them long term, you have to be an “employer of choice.” If you properly address the majority of these factors, you’ll be one!

David Scott Peters TheRestaurantExpert (1)David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at www.TheRestaurantExpert.com.