Restaurant Managers Need a Strong Foundation

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Leadership, SMART Systems

Restaurant managers have a difficult job. It can be 100 times harder when you don’t have the right tools and support in place to be successful at the job. There are hundreds of things to do on any given day, such as managing the numbers, keeping staffing at appropriate levels, facilities management, etc. Your managers can’t do all of these things effectively unless you establish a strong foundation for them.

Everything a manager has to do can be categorized under one of four categories:

  1. Culture
  2. Job
  3. Communication
  4. Trust


Great restaurant managers in any restaurant, no matter whether it’s a quick-service or full-service operation, have to be a fit for the culture of the restaurant. If the restaurant is a fun environment, you can’t be a hard-ass. If the restaurant is extremely professional, you can’t be a jokester. If the restaurant believes in incredible service, you must be geared toward delivering a wow customer service experience. You get the picture, a great manager must be a fit for the restaurant’s culture.

To ensure your managers fit your company culture, ownership MUST define core values for the restaurant. What are core values? Core values are your guiding principles as a person or shared principles when there are partners. These are deep rooted inside you. They are used to guide your business. You might not have them documented yet, but you know what they are when someone steps on one. For example, if someone calls you a liar and it infuriates you because you are an incredibly honest person, that’s a core value. Core values hit you deep inside your soul.


Great managers have to make guests, staff and ownership happy. This can often feel like organized chaos because the manager is trying to do the best job they can based on their own experience. That means, if they haven’t experienced things the way ownership has, the job they do will often fall short of expectations. In other words, ownership wants managers to have something called “commonsense,” which does not exist!


Communication is critical if you want to be a great manager. If you can’t communicate what you want done, can’t give clear direction, train staff to your expectations, relate to your staff and guests, you will ultimately fail. The restaurant business revolves around being a great communicator. Great communication starts with having the right tools in place to help the process along.


All too often when communication is poor, restaurant managers are using commonsense to do their jobs, very loose systems are in place and there is a lack of trust in the ranks of management. Ugliness starts to creep into your restaurant, where AM managers start to resent PM managers because the restaurant wasn’t closed properly the night before. PM managers start to resent AM managers because the restaurant isn’t setup for the next shift. Managers also start to resent each other when there is a sense of entitlement or favoritism toward certain managers from ownership, because they are treated differently.

It is your job to create an environment of trust and a culture where each and every manager knows everyone has each other’s back.

You Supply the Foundation

Ultimately, managers need the owners of the restaurant to lead the management team to be able to become and be great managers. Leaders will make sure their managers know their core values, have systems from everything in the restaurant from checklist and training to operational systems, communication tools and be willing to hold every manager accountable, no matter who they are. In other words, managers can’t be all ownership wants them to be if ownership doesn’t lead and give them the foundation to be great.

To learn the systems that help you solidify these four categories into a foundation for your managers, download our free reportBreaking Away from the Insanity: How to easily take control of your restaurant and make more money.

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