So you’ve just started up your own restaurant. Congratulations! The first couple years as a restaurant owner are an odd mix of challenging and (hopefully) rewarding.
But in the very beginning of your journey as a business owner — as well as in the many years to come — there are details you want to keep in sight beyond just the food and customer service. These are 15 things to keep in mind as you grow your business from here forward.
1. Overall policies
The big question: do you have policies in place? Do you have specific rules for your entire staff to follow in an employee manual? Are all expectations for each shift properly explained during training and reinforced on a day-to-day basis? You can’t expect your employees (or even your managers) to be able to follow your instructions and follow the rules if you don’t lay them out clearly.
2. Safety procedures
Emergencies can happen at any time in a restaurant. Whether it’s dangerous weather or a customer getting hurt, you should have proper training for your staff so they know exactly what their job is in any emergency situation. Official first aid training could even be a beneficial investment to offer your managers. Outside of emergencies, your staff should also follow specific every day procedures to ensure your guests remain safe, from simply placing down caution signage after mopping the floor to following proper sanitation guidelines. Speaking of…
3. Cleaning procedures
No matter if it’s a morning, afternoon, or late night shift, the ABC’s of restaurants apply — Always Be Cleaning. Besides wiping down the tables and sanitizing work stations during the shift, every shift should end with specific cleaning procedures. That checklist must be completely checked off every single time and reviewed by the shift manager.
4. Training refreshers
It’s far too easy for an employee to be trained when they first join your team and then never get additional training. That’s not good for a consistent business. It’s very easy to skim over important information too quickly during initial training, and employees can easily forget details in the middle of a long day of learning new things. Giving refreshers will help fill in any gaps left from that initial training. There’s also the chance that policies and procedures have been adjusted since a particular employee came on board. Offering big group training meetings can help get everyone on the same page at the same time.
5. Take care of the “paper” part of the business
That’s right — as the owner, you need to be the one paying attention to the stuff some people consider tedious about running a business. This includes understanding financial documents, keeping legal documents in the right places, having documentation back-ups, and keeping all cyber security up-to-date.
6. A smart social media presence
Between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever the next big thing will be in the upcoming year, social media isn’t going away. When used strategically and consistently, engaging in social media as a business can be solid, relatively inexpensive marketing and a way for your guests to engage right back at you.
7. Don’t forget about HR
Businesses within the restaurant industry often don’t have the same formal structure as the kinds of businesses operating out of office buildings. Because of that, a good portion of restaurant owners just don’t think about a human resources department (or even an on-call consultant) as a necessity. If you want to retain your employees for the long run (and avoid the costs and time wastes of rotating door hiring), then you will need to take the human relations element of being an employer seriously.
8. Get your pricing right
Yes, it’s a pain to change your menus if you’ve already set prices. However, if there’s major discrepancies between what you’re selling items for and what the ideal price would be to sell them at a profit, then that needs to be changed sooner than later.
9. Procedures for unhappy customers
Managers should all be on the same page in terms of how to handle various disgruntled customer situations. Yes, it’s can be about emboldening managers to know they can comp an item if the situation calls for it, but it’s also about giving them the context of when that’s appropriate and when it’s not. Not every situation should be solved by offering the customer something. If a customer is being angry to the point of abusive towards a member of your staff, the manager on hand should know what you expect them to do to deescalate the situation, even if that means removing the guest from the restaurant.
10. Evaluate your flaws
Every business owner has room for improvement, as does every business. While you’ll want to challenge your employees to strive to be a little better every single week, you should also hold yourself to those same standards. And if you realize where your shortcomings are as a boss and a leader in your restaurant, do you have concrete plans on how to improve and a process in place that will make it happen?
11. Be strict about inventory
This goes back to overall policies. You want to set down clear rules and guidelines when it comes to how your kitchen staff (and front of the house staff, for the matter) uses your inventory. That goes for both strict no personal use rules and training how to efficiently prep those ingredients — the former protects against straight up theft and the latter protects against wasting your product.
12. Know what to do if the lights go out
Do you have the number of your electrical company (written down, in case you’re without your technology)? Do you have a backup generator? If the power completely goes out, do you have a plan for how to test the safety of all refrigerated/frozen food? Do you know how you’ll accommodate guests if the blackout happens during a shift?
13. Always open on time
It’s very easy to slide from only opening your restaurants a few minutes late every once in a while to opening your restaurant late on a regular basis. Besides the fact that you want to keep a tight ship in general, opening late could lose you those early bird customers who show up right when you’re supposed to be open.
14. Keep an eye out for pests
No restaurant owner wants to deal with rodents or bugs in their building. But not catching a pest problem in time (or worse, choosing to ignore the problem) can have long-term consequences. Fixing the issue will be a bigger pain, you have a bigger chance of getting caught by the health inspector, and your business’ reputation could be in danger. Better to nip the problem in the bud at the very first sign of trouble. You just can’t afford denial.
15. Be honest with your staff
When it comes to finances, your recent successes, and your expectations for them and the restaurant as a whole, talking to your staff and being open with them can be really beneficial. It can put the choices they see you make in a better context, and it helps them feel more engaged in the business. By offering that insight, their place in the company has the chance to become more than just clocking in and out of their job.
What’s the next step? Getting more savvy on hiring, training, retaining, and even firing your employees. And we have a free eBook for that: