My Top 10 Lessons Learned for Running a Restaurant

 In 1. David Scott Peters, budget, Communication, Employees, Food Costs, Labor, Leadership, SMART Systems

In celebration of the past 10 years, here are 10 key lessons about running a restaurant I want to share with you. I’ve picked these up along the way from all the incredible people my team and I work with on a daily basis. From speeches and coaching to on-site consultations and management training, these lessons touch on everything you do as a restaurant owner.

Lesson 1 – Core Values

Every restaurant owner needs to go through the exercise of documenting their core values. Once written down, your core values are used as guiding principles for running your business — for you and your employees alike.

Lesson 2 – Organizational Chart

Communication in any restaurant is the key to its success. Clearly communicating roles makes life a lot better for all of your employees because they know who to go to for help and whom they are supposed to listen to.

Lesson 3 – Your Responsibility to Run Profitably

You have a responsibility to run a profitable restaurant. It’s not an option, not a hope to and not a wish. It’s a must. Without you, there is no restaurant for your customers and there are no jobs for your employees.

Lesson 4 – Imposing Your Will

When you realize there is no such thing as common sense, you embrace the idea that you need to have systems in place for everything you do in the restaurant. So that there is no question, these systems need to be clearly defined, documented, trained and inspected.

Lesson 5 – Cash Controls and Checklists

You must have a system in place to keep your management team honest, allow them to handle your cash and ensure it all makes it to the bank. Checklists encourage a culture where the details matter, where money doesn’t grow on trees and one that promotes a positive work environment because both management and employees know what their jobs are, how to do them, how well they should be done and when they should be done.

Lesson 6 – The Two Most Important Things

The two most important things any restaurant should have in place are often the two things none of them have in place. The first is a budget. The second most important thing is a set of recipe costing cards.

Lesson 7 – The Most Important Number

Prime cost is your total cost of goods sold (based on use, not purchases) and your total labor costs (including taxes, benefits and insurance) for management and line employees combined.

Lesson 8 – Get an Implementer

Restaurant owners get excited about change, but often lack the tenacity to stick with change, especially when they get pushback from employees. That is why they ALL must have an implementer on their team who will see change through and make sure it sticks.

Lesson 9 – TAKE ACTION!

While we can give you all the systems you need to run a profitable restaurant, the reality of it is there is no magic pill. It requires you to implement the ideas, train them and ensure they are being used on a daily basis.

Lesson 10 – You Need Help

Last but not least, you have to understand that running a restaurant is one of the most challenging businesses I know. There are so many moving parts and so many things you must know and do to be successful. And you have to realize you cannot — and shouldn’t have to — do it all yourself!

By learning and following my top 10 lessons to restaurant success, you will not only make more money, you will gain your freedom back to have a life because you have a management team and employees who know what their jobs are, how to do them, how well they should be done and when they should be done.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of systems in running a restaurant, read our free special report, Breaking Away from the Insanity: How to easily take control of your restaurant and make more money. Download it here. Be sure to visit our YouTube channel for more helpful restaurant business management video tips.

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