According to the National Restaurant Association, 9 out of 10 restaurant managers start at entry level.
In other words, only 10% of new restaurant managers have an ounce of restaurant management experience.
What does this mean for your restaurant business? Well, first, you can't hire new restaurant managers and expect them to "get it" on day one. Even if you're promoting a great server or chef, that doesn't mean they'll be a great restaurant manager, especially without the right training.
I can hear you now: "But I don't have time to train my managers!"
Don't worry. You don't need as robust a program as Olive Garden's:
Olive Garden Manager-in-Training (MIT) Program
As a Manager-in-Training, you’ll participate in an extensive, 12-week training program. During the first phase of the program you’ll receive an 8-week concentrated overview of each employee and manager position. In the second phase you will travel to the Darden Restaurant Support Center in Orlando, Florida for four days of additional specialized training. When you return from Orlando, you will begin the final phase of focused training as a Culinary, Staffing & Training or Service Manager. You will be assigned a coaching manager that will act as a mentor for the remaining three weeks of your training. During this period you will experience, hands-on, day-to-day operations in managing the department that you will be responsible for leading upon graduating from the MIT program.
Rather than embarking on a 12-week training program, just copy and read the links, resources, and tips in this blog post. After you hire the perfect restaurant manager, don't leave him or her hanging. Print out this page and bookmark these links, and you'll be well on your way.
1. Restaurant Management Courses & Certifications
You may not need your new restaurant managers to take an intensive restaurant training program, but you do want them to research the restaurant industry and perhaps even get certified in restaurant management.
Restaurant managers are staples in both the front of house and back of house, so they must be well-versed in food safety, food waste solutions, inventory management, sourcing, accounting, human resources, and so much more.
Here are a few courses and certifications your new restaurant manager could take, whether at a hospitality school nearby or online:
- ServSafe® Food Safety Program for Managers
- Penn Foster Career School's Online Restaurant Management Career Diploma Program
- The ICE's School of Culinary Management
2. Clearly Defined Objectives and Goals
Restaurant managers perform well when they have clearly defined objectives and long-term and short-term goals.
People with written goals are 20% more likely to achieve them than people without written goals according to this Dominican University study. For the first month, or quarter, or year, give your manager clear goals and keep him or her accountable. Encourage your restaurant manager to write down his or her goals for the foreseeable future and keep each other posted on results.
Here are a few examples of what these goals might be:
- Cultivate a better guest experience - Managers can measure this metric by regularly reading their restaurant's reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, Zomato, and TripAdvisor.
- Improve restaurant staff morale - Conduct a quarterly employee NPS score to sort employees into promoters (they love the culture), passives (they're unsure how they feel), and detractors (they think the workplace could be improved). Then, act on their recommended changes and repeat.
- Increase profit by X% - This goal is the most clear for restaurant managers: make data-driven decisions on inventory, menu prices, and more to increase restaurant profits and decrease spending.
3. Training on Training on Training
A big part of a restaurant manager's job is working with employees to make sure they're happy and keeping staff turnover low. The restaurant manager must be a people-person who is comfortable interacting with staff both as a friend and as a boss.
In this case, it makes sense to train restaurant managers on how to train restaurant staff. They need to know the restaurant policies, the restaurant culture, and the necessary human resources procedures, such as hiring and firing. If possible, you may also want to ask the new manager to attend a leadership seminar or course.
Here are some restaurant staff training resources to give your manager:
- How Core Values Impact Your Restaurant's Culture
- How to Engage Millennials with Restaurant Staff Training
- How to Manage Restaurant Employees
4. Restaurant Reporting 101
Now, it's time to get technical. Every restaurant manager needs to be well-versed in the point of sale system and any restaurant reporting integrations your restaurant business uses. Some systems have POS training programs that walk you through how to use the system as a server, manager, and owner.
However, your new restaurant manager must also know the basics of inventory tracking, front and back of house reporting, profit and loss reporting, menu pricing, invoicing, liquor control - the list goes on and on. Here are a few resources for your restaurant manager's technical restaurant education:
- How to Read a Restaurant Profit and Loss Statement
- How to Use a Menu Engineering Worksheet
- The Top 10 Restaurant Data Reports for Your POS Software
5. Clarity on Handling Restaurant Repairs
What happens when the fridge breaks and you're not there? You need to leave a list (or in many cases, a binder) of all the restaurant equipment in your kitchen, bar, and front of house, as well as the contact information for the mechanics or technicians that work with this equipment.
Without this important information, your restaurant manager will be stranded when something goes wrong. And I say when, not if, because restaurant equipment can be quite prone to malfunctions due to spills and other mishaps. Keep this in mind when buying equipment built for the rigors of the restaurant industry. Here are just a few you should watch out for:
- Cooking equipment - ranges, fryers, griddles, steamers, toasters, etc.
- Commercial ovens - convection, gas, rotisserie, pizza, etc.
- Dishwashing equipment - dishwashers, garbage disposals, drying racks, commercial sinks, etc.
- Commercial refrigerators - freezers, display cases, back bar coolers, etc.
6. Common Guest Complaints
What are the common complaints guests have in your restaurant?
While roleplaying common guest interactions may not be one of the most fun aspects of training your new restaurant manager, it is one of the most important. Guests will often ask for the manager when they are peeved, whether it's because of price increases, promotion misunderstandings, or reservation mishaps.
Teach your restaurant manager how to listen to these complaints, but also how to give customers an action plan and follow through on them. Here are a few examples of common feedback:
- Bad service - If a guest was particularly irked by a server, they may call over the manager. Listen to their qualms, and then explain politely that it will never happen again, and you will talk to that employee.
- Bad food - Sometimes, guests will not be pleased with the quality of your food. "I asked for medium rare, and this is medium!" The easiest way to combat this problem is to take back the food and make it to their specifications, while informing the guest that they will chat with the chef to see what went wrong.
- Long wait time - For the first 10 minutes waiting a table, guests might tap their feet. For the next 10 minutes, they'll roll their eyes. Any longer, and they'll probably ask for a manager. Calmly explain that their party will be seated at the first table available, and that the fantastic guest experience will make up for the wait.
7. List of Publications to Watch for Restaurant Trends
Finally, restaurant managers must stay up to date on the industry, always looking for new restaurant ideas to try. Provide your new restaurant manager with a list of publications to read, and encourage him/her to subscribe to certain blogs, online magazines, or forums.
These publications should inform them on their industry, whether it be quick service or full service, the competition, dining habits, seasonal promotions, technology innovations, and even more. Here are a few examples to start:
- The Top 10 Restaurant Management Blogs for Restaurateurs
- Food Trends in 2016: What Restaurateurs Need to Know
- 7 Restaurant Podcasts You Don't Want to Miss
What Are Your Restaurant Management Training Secrets?
Remember that statistic from the beginning of this post from The National Restaurant Association? They found that 9 out of 10 restaurant managers don't have restaurant experience. However, they also fund that the median restaurant industry tenure of restaurant managers is 20 years. Seven out of ten restaurant employees plan to stay in the industry until they retire.
So far, I haven't mentioned one of the most important aspects of restaurant management training: on-the-job experience. Restaurant management is a job that requires passion, and after a few weeks running around the kitchen, diving into the data, and working with staff, it can become a job that elicits passion.
With the right foot forward, your new restaurant managers could very well become restaurant industry mavens. So what are you waiting for?