Independent Restaurant Operator Tips for Running a Restaurant You Love

Are you an independent restaurant operator looking for ideas to help you operate better? Are you looking because your lost sales overnight in the COVID-19 pandemic? Were you forced to pivot your business and start using delivery services and all kinds of different things that you weren't necessarily paying attention to before because your customer base’s needs were different? We're all trying to figure out how can we operate better. I’m glad you’re because I've got some tips to share with you to help you run a restaurant you love. Click below to watch the video or keep scrolling to read the tips. 

When I'm posting this, we are still in the pandemic. There is no post-COVID yet. And you've already gone through all these challenges that robbed you of sales and profits. And now you’re trying to figure out how to hang in there get through this struggle. Independent restaurant operators are sorting through all the options and deciding if they have to grin and bear it and just lose as little money as possible or if there is a real shot at making money. I think you should have the goal to come out the other side thriving when all the restrictions are lifted.

Well I want to give you a few tips that can help you get through this.

Number one, I want you to have a clear vision of who you are. Did your business change dramatically? Is that not the vision you had when you opened your business? Is it a new vision? No matter what it is. Be very clear. Write it down. Literally take a pad of paper and write out what your vision is for your business because that way you can clearly communicate it to your staff, to your management team, to your customers. And then everything you and your team do is congruent with that vision.

Number two, I want you to use systems for everything you do to impose your will without being there. You need to establish a system, a process, a way to doing anything and everything in your business. This ranges from an opening and closing side work checklist to how to count out a bar drawer to $300 to how you schedule. The bottom line is this. You want it done your way. It’s exactly how the chain restaurants kick our ass: there's a system, a process a way of doing anything and everything in their business. That's how they don't have owners in them. So make sure you document and train your systems, your process, your way.

Number three, I want you to find a trustworthy accountant who you can work with on a monthly basis. Meet with them at minimum on a monthly basis. Make sure they show you your numbers and review your numbers with you. They should work with you to make sure your chart of accounts is set up properly, that you know what's in every bucket. This is your report card to tell you how to run your business.

Number four, if you don't have a budget, get working on it. I tell people all the time the two most important systems any restaurant should have are budgets and recipe costing cards. They can be overwhelming, but you’ll never get them in place if you don’t start. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. To start, gather your sales and your sales mix. Get your cost of goods sold. If you don't have accurate numbers, get a close proximity of where you think your food cost and pour cost are. Go down your labor cost and then line by line by line find what your expenses are. And the next thing you know, about an hour later, you probably have created a budget template, which then can give you the ability to put your plan in place. Your plan is what you're going to do to stick to the budget. What systems are you going to put in place to achieve new numbers so that you can say, here's what I was going to lose or I was going to make, but I want to do better than that and this is my plan for success? That’s why a budget is so important to your success.

And number five, when the shit hits the fan like it has with this pandemic, remember why you got into business. Was it because you want to have a legacy? Do you have children you're trying to pass this onto? Were you already one of part of that legacy? Did your grandparents hand it down to your parents and then to you? Do you want to see that go away or do you want to continue that? Or do you plan on selling it? Maybe you opened this business and the whole idea was to create some wealth. You bought the building. You've been paying off that SBA loan for real estate. You've been working your ass off. And you actually want to have a retirement. Keep that vision we talked about first. Use it to motivate you to find ways to adapt and run a restaurant you still love so that when this is all over, you still have your asset. And because of this time, these tips and your willingness to do the work, you’ll still have an asset. You will still have a business, you will still be in operation, even if you're losing a little bit of money now. Don’t give up on it too early.  

These are five tips any independent restaurant operator can use to run a restaurant they love!

I cover Restaurant 101, putting systems in place and more in my book. Order your copy of  Restaurant Prosperity Formula: What Successful Restaurateurs Do here

You can also complete a free restaurant evaluation. It's a great way to identify immediate opportunities where you can make things better in your restaurant. 

Be sure to visit my YouTube channel for more helpful restaurant management video tips. 


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