Many people think that a restaurant's success is due to the talents of its kitchen staff — especially its chef. While there may be some truth to that, another key ingredient for a well-run restaurant is its management.
A successful restaurant manager sets the tone for the entire customer experience — combining tasty food and excellent service with consistent and efficient operations. This can also have a big impact on the bottom line. What are some ways that you can be a more successful restaurant manager? Take a fresh look at our 6 restaurant management tips to see what you can learn and implement.
1. Invest in a formal training program
One of the best things you can do for your restaurant is to ensure that the people who work there have the training and the resources they need to do a great job. Invest the time in developing a training and new hire orientation program that sets expectations and communicates your values, procedures, and policies to every employee.
Start on day one with a restaurant employee handbook and a live demonstration. Outline and practice the most common scenarios so everyone on staff knows exactly what to do in any situation. This could be something as straightforward as how long to keep the potatoes in the fryer or something far more nuanced, such as how to handle customer complaints. Simulated customer-employee interactions help mitigate uncertainty and let your staff know exactly how to represent your brand. Once orientation is over, pre-shift meetings are a good ongoing vehicle for reinforcing the content from your training manual.
2. Develop a strong workplace culture
Restaurants have struggled more than any other industry to keep employees happy and engaged. Pre-COVID, research indicated that that restaurant employee turnover was as high as 75%. This means that 3 out of 4 restaurant employees were unlikely to last even a whole year. (Post-COVID, the numbers have been all over the place).
There are a number of reasons for the frequent employee turnover — like low wages and a lack of benefits. While those aren't going away any time soon, there are simple ways that successful restaurant managers can make employees feel valued and appreciated, which can increase retention.
Offer family meals. Family meals, where employees gather around the table to enjoy the food from your restaurant — give them time to get to know one another, connect, and decompress before a shift.
Take care with shift schedules. Be thoughtful about how you schedule your employees. Show consideration for their needs and preferences when you draw up the weekly schedule, especially for requested time off.
Celebrate milestones and achievements. Recognition programs, such as employee of the month or bonus gift cards, are a good way to showcase staff members who have demonstrated exemplary performance.
3. Create a great marketing strategy
Every restaurant has a unique story to tell. Make sure you create one — or multiple — and get the word out to the community. Some ideas:
Local sponsorships and events. Contact your local sports teams or schools to see if there are local events or other opportunities to showcase your brand.
Signage and flyers. Post these in highly visible locations and include inserts in your to-go orders.
Your website and social media. Invest in a website that tells your restaurant's story and allows you to share updates. Post customer favorites on social media.
Review sites and third-party review apps. To raise awareness, make sure you have an online presence with review sites and third-party apps.
Holiday promotions and discounts. Consider offering seasonal or other special promotions to draw in more traffic.
Create an eye-catching menu. Even your menu can serve as a strong marketing tool for your restaurant. With catchy descriptions and tempting photos, you can attract potential customers while increasing awareness of your brand.
Anything you can do to make your restaurant stand out and capture the attention of prospective customers will help. For ideas and inspiration, see our Top Restaurant Marketing Tips from Restaurant Owners.
4. Look for new revenue streams
Successful restaurant managers are always looking for new ways to grow their business. After all, there are only so many ways to cut ingredient costs or streamline your workflow operations. Some ideas to consider for additional revenue streams:
Catering. Preparing food for larger groups — such as offices, parties, and weddings — is less labor-intensive than creating individual meals.
Delivery & pickup. Another source of revenue that doesn't impact front-of-house staff is delivery and takeout orders.
Retail products. If your restaurant is famous for its sauces or other specialty items, consider offering retail products through DashMart.
5. Take advantage of technology
The past decade has seen great advancements in technology platforms designed to streamline cumbersome processes. Manual practices, such as writing orders down on paper for the kitchen, or calling in daily orders to your suppliers, have been replaced by all-in-one platforms that simplify restaurant management.
Successful restaurant managers now rely on technology to support and streamline ongoing tasks in inventory management, sales reporting, and analysis of the overall product mix. Point of sale (POS) software like Toast and Square has become ubiquitous, as have tools that support back-office functionality, and many of these integrate with DoorDash.
Advanced analytics and reporting with easy-to-use visualization tools — like the DoorDash Merchant Portal —are making dramatic improvements to daily operations. Restaurant managers can see at a glance what is happening at all levels within their restaurant.
6. Follow restaurant and consumer trends
One important way to stay up to date on restaurant best practices is to keep a close eye on the industry through news sources like Nation's Restaurant News, and through blogs like Eater and this one. These publications are always sharing the latest trends and stories about what is happening in the food and beverage industry, including consumer trends and preferences.
If you were paying close attention, you might have known that contactless payments were here to stay. You might have also known about the rising popularity of customer loyalty programs. Savvy restaurateurs can keep themselves informed through a variety of news sources as well as active forums, like these ones on Reddit and Facebook.
The bottom line
Restaurant managers are always looking for ways to cut costs and increase sales. Learning the best ways to manage your restaurant and your bottom line is an ongoing process involving trial and error. Delivery apps and services can act as your lifeline. Our restaurant partners can choose between a range of affordable services depending on current needs and existing restaurant staffing capabilities. Sign up for DoorDash — you'll be in great hands.