Four Ways to Build More Effective Restaurant Leadership

The modern restaurant and foodservice industry are facing the most challenging restaurant landscape in decades. After surviving the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurant operators are now facing record high food costs, ongoing labor shortages, inconsistencies in the supply chain, and quickly changing guest preferences. Additionally, many restaurateurs added or improved their off prem capabilities to stay afloat during the pandemic, but they are now seeing other gaps in their tech stack that need to be addressed to remain competitive and maximize profits moving forward.

Modern restaurants need strong leadership right now to guide them through these changes and challenges. Here are four ways to lead your restaurant more effectively.

1 – Hone Your Labor and Scheduling Processes

It’s no surprise that getting your staffing wrong is an expensive mistake for restaurants. Understaffing can turn customers away when they’re frustrated by long wait times or poor service, and over staffing will instantly eat into your profitability. Scheduling software can help you determine optimal staffing levels based on forecasted demand.

And though that in and of itself is helpful, it also communicates something important to your employees – you care about their experience and want to make things easier for them. It shows you’re working to maintain appropriate staffing levels, make it easier for employees to manage their schedules, and implement technology that helps them see their schedule and communicate with their manager from a single, always up-to-date location.

2 – Give Employees Training and Education Opportunities

While some of your employees are just in the industry for its flexibility during school, many more are making a career of foodservice and want to grow and be successful in their career. During the Great Resignation, many restaurant workers cited lack of career growth or training as one of the top reasons for leaving the industry. As turnover continues to be high, you can demonstrate leadership and dedication to employees by ensuring they have the information and tools to make them successful.

This builds their loyalty to the company, but also improves the service and efficiency in your organization and reduces costs by reducing turnover. Whether it’s on the job training, corporate training modules, or conferences, there are many ways you can help empower your employees with better training.

You can also ask trusted employees if there are resources they would like and use employee feedback to build the things they would find most helpful. Then tap into those trusted employees to build intentional mentoring relationships that will foster institutional knowledge across a wider network, helping protect you against disruption if you lose a key employee.

Remember to audit your learning and training programs to make sure they aren’t getting stale over time, in addition to looking for new ways to provide training or invest in learning programs that align with your company goals.

3 – Foster Better Communication

Open and transparent communication is a hallmark of great leadership. It can be tempting to try and protect employees from concerns or issues, but it’s an ultimately misguided impulse. Employees can sense when their employer is dealing with challenges but are more likely to stick with it if they understand what those challenges are and what the company is doing to address them.

Further, listen to your employees. Create frequent check-ins, both formal and informal, to solicit feedback. Communication and the “lack of feeling heard or appreciated” is another one of the top reasons listed as to why hospitality workers left the industry during the Great Resignation. Make a point of calling out successes and praising good work, not just talking about things that could use improvement during these check-ins. By fostering a transparent company culture, employees are more engaged, motivated, and productive. 

4 – Use Integrated Restaurant Technology

There is no shortage of software solutions offering help to restaurants. While you do not have to implement every possible improvement, being thoughtful about how you empower employees can pay dividends. Many of these vendors can make frontline employees’ jobs easier, as well as give critical data to corporate employees as they make decisions about promotions, menu mix, pricing, and more. 

With trustworthy data, you can remediate noncompliance issues, adjust workflows, and implement new processes or procedures to ensure your restaurants are running safely and efficiently. Your employees will appreciate that you are striving to improve the brand and give them what they need to be successful.

By providing proper knowledge, tools, and support you can help employees (and your restaurant) thrive.