We Need to Talk About Restaurant Managers Quitting

By: Guv Callahan

4 Minute Read

Nov 29, 2017

The Creative Exchange 373981 267501 Edited

resturant managers quitting

In the last 10 years, the restaurant industry has experienced rapid and dramatic growth. The National Restaurant Association estimates that roughly 550 new restaurants open every month in the U.S.

That’s a lot of restaurants.

Who are the lucky people who need to make all of the important decisions? Restaurant managers. They’re the key to a restaurant’s success, and if you want your restaurant to be a success, you need to stop your restaurant managers from quitting.

But how?

Statistics on Restaurant Management Turnover

Unfortunately, restaurant manager retention has become a huge problem throughout the industry.

According to research conducted by TDn2K, restaurant manager turnover is at an all-time high.

  • 60.2% is the manager turnover rate for limited service restaurants.
  • 37.7% is the number for for full service restaurants.
  • 71% of the managers who were left in 2016 did so voluntarily.
  • From that group, 16% were top performers.

If you’re experiencing too much churn with your managers, it’s costing you thousands of dollars to hire and train new ones.

So, why is this the case? Why aren’t managers sticking around? Let’s investigate.

2 Reasons Why Managers Quit Your Restaurant

1) Managers Need Better Training

Many restaurant managers aren’t properly trained for the job. A lot of people who get promoted to manager do so because the previous manager either quit or got fired, and there’s a necessity to fill the spot.

Those new managers are then typically given a trial-by-fire training experience. There may be some tribal knowledge about the operation, but there's still a learning curve to truly running a business with demanding people needs and even more demanding margins.

It's frustrating for everyone involved, and managers may revert to a less-stressful position.

2) Managers Have Too Much to Do

Did we mention that being a restaurant manager is demanding?

Restaurant managers are trying to cram 12 hours of work into one shift - making schedules, administering payroll, dealing with angry customers, and pushing the team to its limits.

A 1986 Cornell University study, Why Restaurant Managers Quit (and How to Keep Them), examined the causes behind manager turnover. Sadly, many are still applicable today.

It starts with a decline in job satisfaction, then commitment to the restaurant organization falls off, and, finally, the manager has an intention to leave.

Why Manager Retention Is Vital for Restaurant Success

Manager retention has a direct tie to both restaurant success and overall restaurant turnover.

According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, a lack of engagement among your front-line managers severely damages employee engagement among your front-line workers. Managers' engagement directly influences their employees' engagement, creating what Gallup calls the "cascade effect," and the link between the two is powerful.

Taco Bell conducted a study when, in 2012, their corporate office realized that the business’s turnover rate began to rise while engagement scores began to fall.

restaurant manager training

After examining why staff members were leaving, they discovered that increased levels of stress and inadequate training were driving factors. Their research also found a strong correlation between poor store performance and regional general manager turnover.

“You can’t stabilize team-member turnover unless you stabilize the turnover above the restaurant [level: area coaches and RGMs],” said Bjorn Erland, Taco Bell’s Vice President of People and Experience.

2 Ways to Better Support Managers (So They Don't Quit)

1) Provide Better Restaurant Technology

Providing better support to restaurant managers starts with training, as we’ve discussed, but it also starts with providing better solutions.

Integrated, intelligent restaurant technology can help managers with the 1,001 things they need to do. Such solutions will be vital as the next generation of restaurant managers begins to gain footing in the industry.

These managers are younger, less experienced and - you guessed it - dependent on technology. A solution with intelligent workflow and data-driven design will help managers make better decisions.

2) Help them Become Leaders

You don’t just want restaurant managers.

You want restaurant leaders.

You want your managers to feel like stewards of the business’s margins, profits, and people. If you can help them make better decisions around labor, inventory, staff, performance, line checks, and more, they’ll be more likely to stay with your restaurant.

Organize regular meetings between managers and owners/operators so that managers can learn strategy and grow with your business. Show your managers a growth path and communicate with them about that growth path, so they know the milestones to get there and are driven to make it happen.

Your managers are vital to your business, and you can’t afford to lose them because you worked them too hard.

Need more resources to keep your staff satisfied? Click below to learn more!

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