As a restaurant owner, you're aware that when it comes to time, it's of the essence & is extremely valuable. In an industry where business hours can start at dawn and extend until after midnight, it is crucial for owners and managers to find ways to maximize their productivity, profitability, and energy. While running your restaurant, you must focus not only on keeping up with the day-to-day, but with keeping up with industry trends to better prepare for the future. In an era of constantly evolving technology such as apps, online presence, and social media, lagging behind can prove to be a fatal flaw.
Although it’s certainly a challenge, there are definitely ways to make each work day less dizzying and more efficient. Read on for our suggestions on how to make the most of your time and tips on some places to focus it.
Make the most of your time:
Delegate Tasks Smartly
One of the most time-consuming things about being an owner is overseeing the staff. From servers, to cooks, to managers, it may seem like it is a job within itself just to keep tabs on all employees and operations. At times, it may be too difficult to handle everything effectively on your own. Some restaurant owners have a hard time relinquishing full control, but it is often necessary.
How do you solve this? With a strategy! Identify tasks for each staff member and hold him or her accountable for them. Implement a system with clearly defined expectations on what your staff’s day-to-day should be. Whether it is a spreadsheet that is emailed out each week, or a checklist that is handed out each day, have this documented to make sure all employees sign off on their responsibilities. This will prevent micromanaging your employees, help the overall functionality of the restaurant, and, most importantly, give you back some hours in the day to utilize elsewhere.
In order to succeed and get the results you want, it is vital to plan ahead. Identify your needs and be proactive about them. Be organized! Make a list of what needs to be accomplished on a daily basis and another list for long range projects. Allocate your time in a way that best suits the way you operate. If you function best after your first two cups of coffee, schedule your important obligations for the morning. Conversely, you might fare better when most patrons have left for the evening and things are winding down. Recognize your own abilities and structure your day accordingly in order to get the most out of it.
Think on Your Feet
Even the most well-thought out playbook can get thrown off course. Unforeseen occurrences are unavoidable, and they happen all the time! Staff may call in sick last minute or a food delivery might be delayed. It’s the nature of the beast. And you have to be able to act quickly! If you find yourself behind the eight ball with the clock ticking, reassess. Your list of daily tasks needs to be prioritized. Tackle the issues of most importance first. If you need help, refer back to Tip #1 – delegate!
Take Time to Stay Informed
When you are crunched for time the last thing you want to deal with is a phone call from someone trying to sell you something. As a restaurant owner you’ll receive what feels like 50 phone calls a day to go along with the handful of pop-ins by reps promising that they have the next big thing. Although some of their products might not align with your vision or your needs, it is important to allocate time to hear what they have to say. With so much competition in the industry, it’s crucial to stay in the know about latest technologies and trends so you can stay ahead of the curve.
Have your staff take down detailed messages of the calls if you’re unable to answer them yourself. Then, take 15-30 minutes a day to return your phone calls. Listen to what’s being offered and if you are intrigued, find a time where you can go into further detail of their product and talk next steps. This way you can focus on the products and services that are relevant to you and make decisions about what will best serve your business.
It is important to know that things change. What you have been doing for the past few decades may not be the best thing for you anymore. Be open to the new ideas and welcome change. Changing a process or strategy can even help you save more time in the future!
Create a monthly or quarterly budget. Being aware of cash flow and sticking to an allocated budget will help you to be more at ease and in control of your finances. Plus, with an organized budget, you'll spend less time at the end of a week or a month going back to reconcile costs that could have already been accounted for.
Maintaining Social Media Presence
It may seem like having social media accounts to run is too time-consuming, but having this presence is crucial. Close to half the world’s population (3.03 billion people) are on some type of social media! You want to get in front of your customers and potential new ones, so it's wise to be where they're spending a lot of their time - online and on social media!
Create a Facebook, Twitter, and/or an Instagram. You can even use a social posting tool to schedule posts ahead of time so you don't have to worry about scrambling at the last second. This is a great way to interact with followers, post about specials and upcoming event, and even respond to questions or concerns. Social media is the modern day word of mouth, so you want to be present where your customers are in order to drive new business and maintain old relationships.
Create a personality for your business by running contests, posting enticing photos, and showing the story behind your restaurant. Social media is all about human interaction, so let the uniqueness of your brand shine through.
Monitoring Your Competitors
Be aware of what your competition is doing. See what works well for them and recognize what areas of your business may need improvement in order to keep up or stay ahead. Of course, you want to stay authentic and true to your own brand, but it’s wise to keep a pulse on the industry landscape.
Keeping Up With Technology
We live in a world where technological advances are routine, no matter what industry you’re in. The abundance of technology may seem overwhelming, but there are also many products out there that can be beneficial to your business. There are apps, websites, and software to help with virtually anything - from time management to online ordering and even issuing a check to a customer at the end of a meal. You just need to determine which technologies will be useful and affordable for your business, and what tasks you can complete the old fashioned way. Most technology companies will offer a free trial period so you can test out the product and make a decision after actually getting your hands on it. Take advantage of these as they can be crucial when considering a new product. If those aren’t available, head to the company’s website. Reading more about their product or service, and even checking out their blogs or downloadable content, can help you get a feel for what they offer.
Listening To Your Customers
Take the time to monitor your customers’ thoughts and opinions. Keep tabs on your reviews to recognize your strengths and listen when customers offer suggestions for improvement. If possible, respond to reviews. Interaction shows you care. You can even utilize positive reviews in testimonial features and other marketing initiatives.
Try designating a certain block of time to reviewing and responding to online reviews. If you get into the habit of making this process routine, it will become second nature.
The restaurant industry is unlike any other. The hours are long and tiring and there are constant demands. Patrons expect complete satisfaction, from food to service and ambiance, and if they aren’t completely pleased, you risk losing a valuable customer. Clearly, it is imperative for restaurant owners to be on top of their game when it comes to all aspects of the business. It may seem like a small feat to properly manage your time, but it can be done. By having a solid plan for training and management, prioritizing your responsibilities, delegating tasks, and keeping up with the latest industry and technology trends, you can find balance and success within a hectic and demanding atmosphere.
About the Author: Casey Densing is a Senior Business Analyst at SinglePlatform, where he helps small business owners promote their online presence. Outside of the office, Casey can be found at the nearest sporting event or best new restaurant in New York City.