The 5 Most Common Restaurant Problems Solved by a Restaurant Coach

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The 5 Most Common Restaurant Problems Solved by a Restaurant Coach

Owning a restaurant is one of the most challenging businesses to run. It is not an overstatement when I tell you I talk with restaurant owners on an almost daily basis, whether that be on discovery calls, one-on-one direct access coaching calls, group coaching calls, or late night and weekend “oh crap” calls. I make myself available to the restaurant owners I coach. My world is all about helping independent restaurant owners, and a sprinkling of franchisees, not only survive but thrive in this industry. For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to put my knowledge and experience to work while revolutionizing the way independent restaurants operate. I’ve been doing this work since 2003, and I can tell you exactly what will work and what won’t work in restaurant business operations. In this episode of my podcast, The Restaurant Prosperity Formula, I am talking about some of the most common issues and advice I share with restaurant owners, broken down into five categories. Those categories are sales, success, boundaries, accountability and strategic planning.

Restaurant sales

Everybody wants to increase their sales. I talk to restaurant owners with sales volumes that range between very low, medium and extremely high. Now, there are sales volumes that I deem too low. When you start doing anything under $500,000 a year in sales, that's too low. When you're doing $200,000, $300,000, even $400,000 in sales, it's very difficult to make money in the restaurant business. In these cases I'm not the right person to help you in 99% of the time because I can't save you enough time. Often, at that level, there aren’t managers or even key employees. Often, that $300,000 or under can often be a very expensive hobby. It's not an enterprise that can make you money to give you freedom from your business.

The minimum to start to make money, to have managers in place, to make change in your business, is about $850,000 a year in gross sales. But I will tell you that you really want more. But that's about the cusp of where you can afford a full management team and make the money you deserve to have some freedom. Ideally, you want a restaurant that’s doing $2 million or more per year because it takes the same amount of effort to operate a business that does $300,000 as it does a $2 million restaurant. With $2 million in sales versus 1 million to 2 million, not only can you have a full management team in place, but you start seeing some efficiencies in labor because, and you can start making real money without having to be there.

Successful restaurant business  

Often restaurant owners feel like they failed because they're not making the money they deserve or what they think they should be making, or they're not making money at all. Making money is a measurement of success in the restaurant business because you didn't open a restaurant to create a charity. You didn't open a restaurant to be a prisoner to it and not make money, let alone feed the damn business. But the truth is, some people have that reality. I want you to understand that doesn't mean you're not successful. I want you to think about if you're operating today and you've been open for the last three years, you just made it through an incredibly hard time with some serious punches that knocked a lot of restaurants out. As a business, you are ingenious. You are somebody who is a survivor. You can make anything work. This is a tough business, but when was the last time you took an inventory of where you've come from and what you've accomplished year to date? I think you'll find that you've had some real success.

Boundaries in the restaurant business

All too often, restaurant owners are solving everyone's problems, enabling them not to think. Restaurant owners’ phones are often ringing off the hook with questions that could easily be answered, but the restaurant owner hasn’t put the boundaries in place. From needing a plunger to product delivery issues, you get the call and stop what you're doing and go fix it. You establish yourself as the problem fixer, even when you’re in the restaurant, which means you’re constantly interrupted. You need to have managers and supervisors on every shift to give them permission, to give yourself permission, to create boundaries that it's okay to say, hey, go see somebody else. But when you don't have managers, when you don't have supervisor types, and you are the manager, you've created a situation for yourself.

Establishing accountability

Look, you can't expect to have your managers implement the systems and stay on them on their own. Human beings are always looking for the easy road. And when it’s a J-O-B, when it's not their restaurant, they’re not going to care about your restaurant as much as you do. I think it's unrealistic for you to think that way. They're not going to love your place the way you do. You must lead your team and become the leader your restaurant needs. You have to say, “I'm going to get my managers the training they need. I'm not going to abdicate the responsibility to get it done, abdicate accountability to them. I'm going to make sure that I'm going to tell them what I want done. I'm going to give them the tools and systems to be well capable of running the restaurant my way, allowing me to impose my will without being there.” In doing so, you as the leader of your business, must be willing to hold them accountable, or as I prefer, answerable.

Strategic planning as a restaurant owner

This is a big one, often overlooked as restaurant owners. You cannot move your business forward if you're doing all the jobs, if you're placing your orders, if you are cooking the food, if you are hiring the people, if you're scheduling, if you're running the shift, if you're doing all the people's jobs. Instead of working down, you need to work up. If you're working down, doing your line employees’ and managers’ jobs, you don't have the time to run your business, to lead your business, to move it forward. All you're doing is killing snakes. As the restaurant owner, you need to identify all the tasks that you do – from placing an order, creating a catering order,

counting money and taking it to the bank, typing in numbers in your DSR tracker on a daily basis, writing down what's on your waste sheet – and then develop the systems to assign them to your managers. Your job is to take all the data they enter and report and use it strategically. Your focus should be on marketing, developing your managers, leading the team, holding them accountable, moving the business forward right from the 300-foot view, not from the trenches.

To start working on your business rather than in it, you have to find managers and supervisors who are able to run the day to day in your restaurant. You have to enable these managers, whether they're hourly supervisors, key employees, don't care what you call them, someone has to be able to run that shift in place of you.

The benefits of following this advice is you'll start to feel confident in yourself and realize that you, my friend, are the proverbial sh*t. You own a restaurant. You created a dream out of nothing, right? Your dream became a reality. From that cocktail napkin to that. That's the hard part. All you have to do now is focus on making the money you deserve.

For more details and the full advice for solving each of these challenges, listen to the whole podcast episode.

Click the podcast player above to listen in, or you can watch the video on YouTubeclick here to download the latest episode

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Create Freedom from Your Restaurant