The New Year always brings about a sense that things can be better. It’s like you get a mulligan for the last year; a fresh start filled with hope, promise, and ambition.
When thinking of 2018 and your big goals for the months ahead, remember this: your restaurant can’t succeed on hope and hope alone.
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success in the New Year is to do a personal inventory of 2017; take a long hard look at the way you do things and be honest about their effectiveness.
In order to get where you want to be, you’ll need to leave some dead weight back in 2017. Here are eight things to avoid altogether when managing your restaurant in 2018.
1. Stop settling for C players
The war for quality talent rages on. It has been going on for some time, and as an industry, we haven’t done a very good job of marketing the restaurant business as an attractive career choice for younger generations.
That being said, there’s still time. We can change.
It starts with not settling for average players. Prospective employees will look at who you currently have on staff, and gage whether they want to work for you based on what they see.
The problem with staffing your restaurant with C players is just that: they’re C players, not A players. Rising to A player status from lower in the ranks isn’t impossible, but it will take a lot of hard work and an innate drive that many C players don’t naturally possess.
Who you hire to directly interact with your guests is one of the most important decisions you make as a leader in your restaurant. Don’t take that lightly. Each employee is a brand ambassador, the face of your organization to potential and existing customers. Don’t cave under the pressure to fill a position with a warm body, quality is always more important than quantity.
2. Stop trying to do everything yourself
It’s not a crime to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, no one is going to think you incapable of doing your job.
As a matter of fact, do you know what employees really hate? Managers who refuse to ask for help. Put your pride aside!
Thinking you have to do it all yourself is only an effective management strategy if you work by yourself. Don’t be afraid to lean on your team, restaurant staffs are known for being tight-knit and supportive. Don't shut your employees out when you need a helping hand, they won't judge you. You're only human, after all.
3. Stop dabbling in social media
That Facebook post you put up last week was a hit, but that was last week.
The biggest thing you can do to improve your marketing in this new year is to be consistent. When it comes to restaurant social media, frequent, relevant posting will keep your brand top-of-mind with followers.
The easiest way to do this is to pick a few days each week on which you’ll post to your social media accounts (which you can easily schedule out using Toast's free Restaurant Marketing Plan). This is a small change that, when applied over time, can lead to some big results.
4. Stop playing favorites with team members
You might think you don’t play favorites on your team, but the truth is you’re probably doing so without realizing it. Do you have a go-to person whenever a project comes about? Who’s the one you dish to about your personal life? Have you taken anyone on as a mentee? Though unintentional, these sorts of relationships will call for extra attention to a specific employee, and that in turn can cause a rift among your team.
While it’s nearly impossible not to have a favorite (or two), the best thing you can do is to always be aware of how your actions are impacting others. Awareness is the epicenter of change. Take stock of your actions and honestly ask yourself “is this building my team up or pulling them apart?”. The truth will always set you free, even if it’s a tough pill to swallow.
5. Stop trying to be everything to everyone
This is directed to your brand, specifically your menu. The mega menu days are thankfully slipping away to yesteryear. Write these words down: bigger menu, bigger headaches.
The menu that tries to appeal to everyone is only good for one type of guest: the indecisive kind. Bigger menus require more staff to execute, generate more waste, cost more money to maintain, and tend to be mediocre. Which is better: doing 5 things really well, or 10 things just so? Same goes with menu items.
6. Stop playing the martyr
Working 70+ hours a week is not helping your restaurant, even if you think it is. Many wear the number of hours they work in a week as a badge of honor. How many times have you heard two coworkers jockeying back and forth on the number of doubles they’ve worked in a row? “Yeah well, I’ve done six doubles and haven’t had a day off in two weeks!”
Remember when I mentioned “quality over quantity”? Same thing applies to restaurant scheduling. The question begs: how many of those 70 hours were spent actually doing impactful work, not just looking busy?
Sadly, many managers measure their worth by the number of hours they work, rather than the results they get. This needs to change.
A simple time audit, where your track everything you do per-hour in a given week, can be quite an eye opener; it will help you hone in on how productive you actually are during a short period of time. This means you’ll need to be honest about the fact that your mid-morning 45 minute rundown of last night’s game needs to be left in 2017.
7. Stop competing and start standing out
In the New Year, more restaurants are going to open up in your market and you can’t stop it. There are two responses you can take: offense or defense.
Most choose to play defense, which will invariably end up hurting your brand. Defense makes you careful and cautious. When you play the game with your back up, focusing on not losing points rather than gaining more, you are in a mindset of scarcity. You’re operating and making decisions influenced by fear.
Those new restaurants on the block have nothing to lose, and they use it to their advantage. They will challenge your brand, challenge your "old" way of doing things, all in an attempt to saturate the market and get their name out there.
They want what you have, and it’s up to you to decide if you’re going to just roll over and let them have it...or fight like your life, and business, depends on it. Haven’t you ever heard, the best defense is a good offense?
8. Stop the blame and shame game
In 2018, focus on these two words: personal accountability. This means you’ll need to take ownership for everything in your life, and your restaurant. Blaming others won’t solve your problems, and neither will excusing poor behavior or decision making on your part.
Accept it, learn from it, then move on and try to do better in the future; this will make you a more effective restaurant leader. Step up and take control in the New Year; while you can’t control what others do, you can control how you respond.
First step: stop the blame game. The line cook didn’t do his checklist? Give him more detailed training. Someone slows up late and you shame them about how that hurts the team? Reframe and ask them what they could do to better be on time.
The New Year brings with it excitement and the dreams of potential; it also brings last year’s baggage! Be honest with yourself, and say goodbye to tired tactics holding your restaurant back from success.
Don’t be afraid of change, embrace it; treat the New Year as an opportunity to positively impact your brand far beyond the end of 2018.