Top Tips for Restaurant Managers

By Graydon Clarke


Owning a music business, becoming a partner in an automotive repair shop, working as a chef in a catering company while serving the likes of Bill Clinton and Jean Chretien, and managing myriad restaurants is quite the eclectic resumé. Add point of sale software sales and account management to the mix, and here you have Victor Duarte – the SpeedLine senior account executive I had the pleasure to interview last week.

With a talent for management and years of experience in the hospitality industry, Victor was able to share a wealth of valuable knowledge and insights. In today’s post, the focus is on three of Victor’s top tips for restaurant managers.

Here we go:

Outlive, Outlast, and Do it All.

When I first asked Victor what his overall management style is, he insisted that to gain the respect of your employees and customers, it is a necessity to be cross-trained on everything in your restaurant. You should be able to do dishes, unclog toilets, wait tables, cook – everything. Not only that, but a new manager needs to actually set aside some time to do all of these tasks initially. When your employees and customers see you going into the washroom to unclog a toilet instead of delegating it to someone else, they will remember it. You’ll gain their respect and their loyalty. Paraphrasing the words of a former co-worker, Victor says, as a manager, ‘where you’re needed is where you go.’

Help Your Staff Have a Life Outside the Restaurant

In the hospitality industry, shifts are often unreliable, and turnover is high. We’ve all worked those jobs where you don’t know you’re working until you get a phone call that very day, or you need to wait for next week’s random schedule before you can plan your life.

When we started talking about retaining star employees, Victor highly recommended arranging set schedules for restaurant staff. Set schedules give employees a sense of security. You know when you are going to work. You know when you will be free months in advance. With set schedules, employees can plan out their lives instead of waiting on the restaurant to plan it for them.

Within the restaurant where Victor initiated set schedules, some of his staff have kept their positions for 6 to 10 years!

Be Visible.

Restaurants can be hectic, fraught with many situations that could make guests irate. I asked Victor how he kept guests happy and engaged in a busy service environment. As a manager, Victor says, always be visible. Walk around your restaurant and acknowledge your guests. Guests often get mad simply because their small problem takes so long to get acknowledged. Make sure this doesn’t happen. If you see a guest’s head turned so their chin is touching their shoulder, you know they are looking for a server or manager.

When you talk with unhappy guests, break down the issue with them. Ask simple ‘who, what, where, when, why’ questions. Then, ask how their issues can be solved. Do what you have to do, be it a discount, a free dessert, or a coupon for the next time they come in. In the hospitality industry, you survive off of repeat business. Taking a bit of a hit for a guest who could possibly be coming back to your restaurant for the rest of her life is a wise investment.


Posted on Mon, Aug 22, 2011 @ 09:08 AM.
Updated on March 11, 2020 @ 6:14 PM PST.

Posted by Graydon Clarke

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