Here’s the thing about owning your own restaurant – you don’t get to spend the day out at the golf course, raking in the money. You’re not sleeping in or showing up whenever you finally feel like it. It’s possible to do that as an owner of some businesses, but a restaurant is not one of them.
The more likely scenario you’re facing is that you came in early, checked on lights, freezers, ovens, and air conditioning/heating, then ordered supplies, answered the phone, and subsequently covered an entire shift for a missing employee. You’re on the front lines, chopping vegetables, frying potatoes, and serving patrons as they come in. Unfortunately, your day doesn’t end when the employee’s shift does. After that, you still have to make sure deliveries are on their way, fix the broken cash register (or contact someone to do so), pay the rent, and handle everything else that comes your way. It’s very easy for your life to become one never-ending repetition of solid stress. Without having the ability to hire 17 people to handle everything for you, though, is there anything that can be done?
To some extent, yes! Here are a few tips to reduce stress in your everyday life.
Surround yourself with competent people … and then trust them to do their jobs.
Once you’ve got your employees properly trained, let them work. Don’t micromanage, don’t patronize, don’t lecture, and don’t butt in. Not only does avoiding these behaviors reduce the amount of time you are forced to spend hovering over shoulders, it builds stronger relationships as well as loyalty. Your employees are statistically likely to rise to your expectations.
Be sensitive to the needs of your patrons, but also be sensitive to the needs and wants of your employees.
These are people who know your company and represent your company. Treat them well, listen sympathetically to concerns when they come up, and do your best to help them. This will, in turn, encourage them to return the favor.
Don’t forget: listening to your employees does not require you to be a pushover. You can still be the boss and have high expectations.
Be ready to hop in when your help is needed.
There will be situations that arise when your employees feel hopelessly out of their depth. If they need help, be there. Offer assistance when they ask for it. Don’t hover in a corner waiting for bad situations to come up so you can start putting out fires. That will drive you crazy… possibly literally. Instead, focus on realistic expectations that you will be necessary in some situations but not every situation.
Take advantage of technologies specifically made to help you.
Don’t be a holdout for no reason. You don’t want to automate things, of course, because part of being in the hospitality industry is the crucial person-to-person interaction, but it can become necessary, especially in light of staffing problems occurring because of COVID and other restrictions. Don’t turn your nose up at systems that will help you run your business smoother, faster, and more efficiently. Get online, make a menu, let people order from their phones and computers. It can reduce the amount of mistakes that are made, as well as speed up the process of getting orders ready. Use payroll, inventory and shift management software, get a good point-of-sale, and let some services handle themselves.
Don’t panic if things don’t go exactly as you expect.
Sometimes deliveries don’t come on time, patrons get unfairly angry over perceived issues, mistakes get made, problems arise … but it’s not the end of the world unless you let these things continue to eat away at your business and your psyche. Don’t throw anger and blame around your restaurant, because not only does it not help you, it doesn’t help everyone who hears it (including people who may have honestly made mistakes). Make sure people know when they’ve done something wrong, and then move on. Take steps toward reducing late deliveries, make sure you’ve done all you can, and then make it a personal policy to handle sporadic issues rather than expecting them and subsequently blowing up when they happen.
Put the right people in the right position.
If your major strength is making food, make sure you’re involved in that. If your weakness is marketing, find someone who can work on that for you. It’s good to improve your weaknesses, but if you leave all the major business decisions up to yourself, you will likely burn out without reaching success. There’s nothing wrong with learning a new skill on the side, but there is wisdom in letting book people handle the books, numbers people handle the numbers, and food people handle the food. You would never expect a law firm to succeed if you had your lawyers doing the accounting and the accountants handling the court cases. Don’t put yourself in a position to feel like you’re failing.
Own your victories.
Societally, we have somehow convinced ourselves that being proud of anything we accomplish is frowned on. If you built your business from scratch, you should allow yourself to mentally acknowledge that what you did worked. It helps you understand what you can do next time to achieve similar results. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, this attitude can help you feel better prepared for any future situations you face.