Three tools every restaurant manager should use

By Donald Burns

Here you manage a restaurant. Is this all you hoped for? Probably not. You might even say it’s quite a challenge. Never scared. Becoming a fierce restaurant manager can be easier than you think – you just need to use the right tools.

If you had to limit yourself to a few critical things that separate good managers from great ones, here is that list:

Understanding people

You think you know people, and maybe you know them. Most likely, you see them in a very limited dimension. It’s just that human beings tend to see the world based on our own perceptions. This can be a limitation when it comes to a variety of personalities. Fortunately, there is a way to help you understand people better … behavioral inquiry.

Behavioral surveys have been around since the days of the hypocrites. The system has become more scientific, but the principle is the same. People are programmed to have natural strengths. Having a behavioral investigation is a bit like having a crystal ball in the future. They can give you insight into how a person will react to stress, communicate, lead naturally, approach tasks, and how much kinetic energy they will have over the course of a day.

Some people get their energy from people. Some get their energy from tasks. Knowing how people are going to work together is more important than you might think. We tend to hire people based on their skills and never stop thinking about how their personality will blend into our team. It’s like throwing a bunch of random ingredients into a recipe and expecting amazing results. Not a good chance.

Behavioral surveys give you a little manual for each member of your team and how they will act. Behavior predicts performance. Now the first step is to understand your strengths. You must first be prepared to be honest with yourself.

A behavioral investigation will let you know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at (okay, maybe you’re bad). The biggest hurdle many managers face is doing things that don’t showcase their strengths. If you are not the type of person who enjoys designing spreadsheets, then don’t spend hours trying to create an Excel spreadsheet from scratch. Find others who love spreadsheets and use their strength to improve your brand.

Use a budget

There are basically two approaches to running a restaurant: proactive or reactive. Eighty percent of managers use the reactive method. When you are reactionary, you always play defense. It’s hard to score points and win the game just using a reaction mindset.

Having a clear and concise budget gives you a roadmap for making better decisions every day. When you have a map and you get lost or get out of your way, you make adjustments. The same is true when you have a budget. Every day you compare where you are to where you want to be and make corrections. The worst thing you can do is have an “autopsy management” mindset. This is when you only look at the numbers at the end of the week (or day) and then get shocked at how severe they are.

This puts you directly into reaction mode and tries to cut to make up for any losses you have taken. The reaction results in reductions that can negatively impact the customer experience. You never want to take away from the customer experience. This type of management is a downward spiral so that your restaurant is on life support. Do you know what happens soon after when your business is on life support? I’ll send flowers to the funeral.


This one might throw you for a loop. What does meditation have to do with being an exceptional manager? All.

Everything impacts everything. Your energy and your state of mind as a manager have a big influence on your team and this has an impact on the customer experience. Culture flows down, not up, and it starts with you. You are the epicenter of your restaurant culture, whether you know it or not.

Think about energy. It’s all about people. Do not believe me ? Walk into your restaurant when it’s empty and notice the energy level? Now, is that energy any different on a busy dinner service? Sure! What changed? It’s the people. People are energy. As a leader in your restaurant, your energy will flow and have a ripple effect on the experience of your guests.

Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, increase happiness, and improve your focus. All of these will have an impact on the energy you bring to your restaurant. Including only a 10 minute meditation routine in your day will improve your restaurant because it will improve you! Your restaurant will become the best, when you become your best! Again, remember how culture (energy) flows.

With the invention of the smartphone, there is no longer an excuse not to start meditating. There are many apps available that make getting started easier than ever. Some of the most popular are Headspace and Calm. Just download and get started.

The modern manager must understand that to be competitive in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, you must take the tools available and use them. Tools are only potential. Only when you’ve picked them up and used them consistently will you see the results.

About the Author:

Donald Burns is The Coach Restaurant â„¢, named one of the 50 best catering experts to follow in 2018 and one of 23 inspiring hospitality experts to follow Twitter. He is the leading international authority, speaker and coach on how restaurateurs, operators and cooking professionals go from good to exceptional. Former USAF Pararescueman (PJ), restaurant owner and executive chef of Wolfgang Puck, he has the unique skills to take restaurants out of the middle and skyrocket them to peak performance. He works with restaurants who want to develop their brand, strengthen their team and increase their profits. He is the author of: Your restaurant sucks! Kiss the suck. Free up your restaurant. Become exceptional.

Tags: app, behavior, behavioral survey, budget, Donald Burns, energy, meditate, meditation, state of mind, restaurant manager, The Restaurant Coach, understanding people

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