Advice for new restaurant owners


06 AUGUST 2019


Congratulations on your new job as a restaurant manager. I am sure you are very excited to start your new position. If you have transitioned from another position in the restaurant industry, I am sure you are excited to make many great changes to improve restaurant operations and fix many of the problems you have seen at other restaurants. You are probably eager to hit the ground running and start making an impact right away.

I know how you feel. I felt the same way when I got my first job as a restaurant manager. As someone who has managed several restaurants and worked with countless new managers, I have found it may benefit you to take a deep breath. I can relate to the desire to make an impact right away. However, it is important to remember that your new role is a marathon and not a sprint. It will be important to your long term success that you take a very measured approach to the next few weeks.

It is important to remember that most of the changes you will want to make can only be achieved with the support of your staff. When you first appear at the restaurant, you are an outsider. No matter how great your resume is or how good your intentions are, you must win over your staff before you can accomplish your goals. This will be more difficult if you walk in with the attitude that you are there to fix things that the staff may not be ready to acknowledge are broken.

I would recommend taking some time in the beginning to learn why things are done the way they are. Get to know your staff and fellow managers. Take notes on things you want to change, but give it a couple of weeks before trying to implement changes. Your first objective should be to gain the respect of you team members. You do this by showing that you are there to support them and work hard. This will get you much further than trying to fight them. In the words of John C. Maxwell, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Once you have gained the trust and respect of your staff, begin to prioritize the changes you would like to occur. Remember that Rome was not built in a day. Taking the time to get to know your staff will allow you to learn who the influencers are and which of them you can count on as advocates for the changes. Seek advice and input from these influencers. A few extra brains might improve upon the ideas you have. Work with your staff and they will be more likely to work with you.

It is also important to build a rapport with your fellow managers. Their willingness to support and enforce these policy changes will be vital as well. They might have also been around long enough to have seen the outcome of past attempts at making these changes. They can be very valuable soundboards for your ideas and may have ideas of their own to further these changes. Approaching them with your ideas will set a good precedent of cooperation instead of competition. If they have been around longer and are working on a promotion, it is vital that you show them you can be a team player. Failure to do so can lead to reluctance to provide you with the support your new policies need in your absence and sabotage their success.

A successful restaurant is much like a great sporting team. As a manager, you are the new coach. Before you decide to rewrite the playbook, you need to see the strengths and weaknesses of the players. You need to understand the viewpoints of the other coaches. Until you have done this, you will not be able to get the best results out of your team. In the beginning it will be best to keep the new plays you have drawn up to yourself. Doing so will allow you to utilize them when the time is right. When you do so, the fans and front office will take notice.