The restaurant industry is certainly an environment of continuous growth and learning, but it might quickly turn into a nightmare during busy days. When working with so many people and catering to huge crowds of customers, the tension can escalate and things can go out of hand.
During busy days at a restaurant, your processes and plans can break down if you aren’t prepared for the unexpected. Having a crowded restaurant is indeed the goal for restaurant owners, but if you are not prepared to manage stressful situations, chaos might ensue.
How to manage a busy day at a restaurant is a question all restaurant owners should focus on.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can prepare yourself and your staff better for busy days. Here are some of the most effective tips to manage busy restaurants:
Managing a busy restaurant can be a cause of major stress, especially if things aren’t going well. The most important thing you should remember is to no panic. Having the restaurant owner or manager panicking wouldn’t help the staff and make things better.
If you feel yourself on a verge of panic, stop and take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you are in control and can turn things around. Start focusing on the problems and prioritize them. Avoid focusing on the mistakes made and keep your attention on solving them.
Once the busy day is over, you can always reevaluate the processes and determine what went wrong and how you can improve. However, at the moment, keep delivering the best you can to keep the customers happy.
Always Plan Ahead
The best way to manage a busy restaurant is to be prepared and planning ahead. Anticipating the busy days or busy hours and being proactive about it can drastically reduce your stress and avoid any major problems.
Create a monthly to-do list that would include doing inventory, dealing with the suppliers, ordering things you need, and more. Next, divide this list into a weekly list and add more items as needed to ensure things are efficiently taken care of. Lastly, create a to-do list every night for the next day and prioritize the tasks.
When you are on top of things, it helps you avoid delays and issues during the days and hours your restaurant is busy.
Maintain a Well-Trained Staff
One of the best restaurant management tips is to hire and maintain a well-trained staff. Your employees should know how to work as a team and must be competent enough to make spur-of-the-moment decisions to prevent problems.
The kitchen of a restaurant is a high-pressure environment, which is why you have to hire chefs and helpers who are vigilant and skilled to handle the increase in orders.
You must monitor the progress of your staff, give feedback, and provide training to help them establish and update their skills. Everyone should understand the scope of their job and what is expected from them.
You might feel the urge to do things on your own even on the busiest of days at the restaurant. This is where things can get messy. You can’t expect yourself to perform all tasks yourself and not make mistakes. It is essential to understand the power of delegation.
Begin by delegating the tasks that are less critical to other employees. Determine the weaknesses and strengths of your staff and delegate responsibilities to attain the best results. You can further train them to improve and develop new skills.
Trust Your Best Employees
Every manager at a restaurant or other business has a few star employees. These are the people who can work without much supervision, have excellent time management skills, and are efficient problem-solvers. You should trust them to do their job and even help others.
An outstanding leader identifies individuals with leadership skills and encourages them to lead. This is what you must do with your best employees. Give them more responsibilities and trust them to handle things the best way possible during busy nights.
Be Tough but Sensitive
This might appear like a contradiction but a restaurant owner or manager must strike a balance between these. You must also be flexible but rigid. Set higher goals and standards for your employees to create better results.
Working in a restaurant means working in a high-pressure environment. Therefore, your employees should be prepared to push themselves to do more, especially during busy days. In certain situations, you would have to push them outside their comfort zone to get things back on track.
To improve restaurant operations, you must learn to do multitasking. While there would be times when you can focus on one thing at a time, a busy day at the restaurant is to be on your multitasking game.
Multitasking should be one of the major skills in a restaurant manager otherwise it would be easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated when things get busy. Here are a few things that may help:
- Work on tasks with one or two of your best employees as it would minimize your stress when you have to quickly switch to another task.
- Have your to-do list at a visible location to keep a tab on what needs to be done.
- Get more help when you need it to avoid further mistakes or delays.
Multitasking skills should be encouraged within your staff as well. With determination and practice, it can get easier to develop and improve your multitasking skills.
Customer Satisfaction Comes First
Whether you call it customer care, customer happiness, customer service, or customer satisfaction, this should be your top priority even on a busy day. There would be many instances when you would have to face unpredictable interactions with your customers. For instance:
- A huge crowd of customers coming in 15 minutes before the closing time
- A customer who disliked the food the others seem to be enjoying
- A large group trying to make a last-minute reservation at peak time
- Customers with specific dietary restrictions
The list goes on. You can’t be rude to them or tell them they are being unreasonable. The way you manage these stressful situations on top of an already busy day goes a long way towards creating learning opportunities for your staff and impressing your customers.
Expecting the Unexpected
Even with the unpredictable customer behavior and requests, you and your staff should still be prepared for more unexpected things. Your customers are the ones who bring you revenue to maintain your restaurant, which is why you need to create a positive experience for them no matter what.
While you might understand how to react and respond to unexpected things, it is also essential that you train your staff to do the same. They should know how to interact with a customer who is requesting modifications in the food for dietary restrictions, demanding the dish to be changed because it is not up to the mark, or being rude to the staff for a minor issue.
Moreover, you and your staff should be prepared for other situations, like unexpected kitchen emergencies. This includes running out of ingredients, dishes falling on the floor, undercooked food, ingredients going bad.
The more you train yourself and your team to handle any situation, the better you would be able to manage the restaurant on a busy day.
Manage Your Calendar
To avoid unexpected problems in the kitchen or elsewhere in the restaurant, you should learn how to manage and maintain your calendar. Getting good at scheduling will help you be more in control of time and efficiently manage a busy day in the restaurant.
Being consistent in using a calendar and maintaining a set schedule can be a major difference between a good and bad day. This will help you set appointments with suppliers, vendors, and other stakeholders, which means they won’t disturb you during busy days.
Moreover, you can schedule meetings and training sessions for employees, their weekly responsibilities, their off days, and any substitutes you have to hire. You would also be able to keep a tab on things around the restaurant that needs repair and maintenance.
Maintaining a restaurant and creating a schedule will help you keep everything on track and avoid further problems during the times the restaurant is at its busiest.
Restaurants, especially the kitchens, are often chaotic when making multiple dishes, and things can get worse when you are dealing with a dining hall loaded with customers. Maintaining a level head and being on top of things on a busy night can certainly be a challenge.
However, these tips can ensure you manage a busy day at your restaurant smoothly and keep your customers happy. Be sure to be prepared in advance and maintain a schedule. Moreover, you should have a qualified and well-trained staff for efficient service.
You can make things easier for you by automating all processes using MenuCRM. You can make it your online ordering system, your restaurant website, customer communication system, CRM, and even a loyalty platform. It provides full features that can simplify processes for independent restaurant owners.