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What They Didn’t Tell You About Running a Restaurant

It is surprising how many people would like to run their own restaurant. It’s slightly less surprising that so few of them actually follow through on that dream (to be fair, statistically, the number of people who wanted to be astronauts when they were kids that actually became astronauts is also quite low), since starting a business is expensive, exhausting, and complicated. But what’s maybe most surprising of all is that when restaurant owners push through all the beginning processes and get going, they almost unanimously find one thing they didn’t realize about continuing to keep this restaurant going:

It’s HARD.

There are quite a few businesses where you can get it running and off the ground, hire some competent go-getters to work for you, and then reap the rewards while sipping cocktails in your location of choice. A restaurant isn’t one of them.

This, of course, is true with most places that make and sell food: ice cream parlors, bakeries, bars, sandwich shops, pizzerias and more.

Owning a restaurant is stressful and time-consuming … every single day. That’s not something that ever really goes away. Even when you’ve hired a manager to largely run the place for you, you’re still handling everything that gets overlooked at any given moment.

When you’re in charge of the place, you’re not just a cook. You’re not just a manager. You’re an accountant, a strategist, an oven-fixer. On any given day, you’re a waiter, a hostess, a cashier. You’re chopping vegetables in the back, ordering more napkins, helping customers, finding someone to help you with the broken freezer – or finding a way to fix it yourself, and figuring out how to handle employee issues.

It’s tough to go on a vacation when you own your own restaurant. Instead of swimming on the beach or hiking in the mountains, you’re up bright and early to get things ready. You’re making sure your roster of employees does what they need to. You’re checking on equipment and ensuring there is food available. So when things go wrong, and they inevitably will, it’s important to remember two things:

  1. Why did you get into this business in the first place?
  2. There is help available.
  • Why did you get into this business?

We don’t mean this in a “what was I thinking?” kind of way. You started your restaurant for a reason. You like to cook, you like to bake, you love the look on people’s faces when they eat what you’ve made, or maybe you just like to help people. That’s the hospitality industry, and seeing satisfaction on others’ faces as a direct result of something you did is a great feeling. When things are going wrong, don’t forget to go back to that – this is something that genuinely makes you happy, and it can even when it feels overwhelming.

  • There is help!

You don’t have to run things alone, even though it often feels like that’s the case. Some of the most successful restaurateurs have learned the hard way that things are better when they get help. There are people and systems that can help you. When you feel like you’re on a sinking ship by yourself, figure out what your biggest weakness is, and then find a person, company, or technology that can do it for you, which will drastically improve your stress levels. If you struggle with the paperwork, hire a bookkeeper. If you can’t figure out how you keep running out of hamburger patties, get an inventory management system. Everything will go much smoother when you don’t have to sweat the things that you’re already struggling with.

If what you’re having trouble with is getting enough people or time to answer the phone, Reachify can help you with that. Our all-in-one phone system allows you to have an auto-attendant that will handle your most common questions and deflect calls to online actions so you can get back to your restaurant.

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