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Breathing Room: Finding Balance by Getting Back to the Basics

Do you ever feel just completely overwhelmed by the details involved in owning and managing a restaurant? I hear you, and you know what? You’re not alone. Restaurants are insanely complicated, and the amount of paperwork and particulars that you have to deal with on a daily basis is enough to make even the world’s best secretary shudder. Sometimes all you need is a gentle reminder to breathe and get back to the basics. Here are some tips to help you clear your head and find a bit of balance.

  1. Get Organized: Sometimes we become overwhelmed and frazzled simply because our physical environments are messy and cluttered. Gather your staff for a “Spring Cleaning” event, and make sure to bring snacks. Go through those piles of paper on your desk and throw away anything that is not 100% necessary. Buy new binders, folders, or filing cabinets if you need to. Take a trip to Ikea or The Container Store if you need new catch-alls for the podium or bins for menus and linens. A clear space equals a clear mind.
  2. Delegate: You can’t do everything yourself. As much as it pains you to loosen your death-grip on every single restaurant detail, you have got to learn to delegate. Learning to dole out tasks among your colleagues and employees will significantly lighten your load and free up valuable creative and managerial real estate in your brain. If you can afford it, hire a lawyer to handle your taxes, licenses, and permits, as well as an accountant to take care of the books. These professionals might actually be able to find ways to help you save money and increase your profit margins, which would make their employment well worth the initial extra cash.
  3. Make Use of Technology: There are a handful apps these days that have been built specifically for restaurateurs. These programs often help to consolidate payments, schedules, inventory, and even social media, allowing you to feel like you are in control, even from across the country. Do a little research, ask around and download a program or two that might help your business, specifically.
  4. Keep Accounting Separate: If you are feeling overwhelmed and only have the resources and/ or brain-space to make one change, this should be the one you choose. For many of us in the industry, bookkeeping is not exactly our strongpoint. Don’t get me wrong: we have other strengths: we’re creative and artistic and passionate. . . and not great with numbers. Hire an accountant you can trust who can take bookkeeping off of your plate entirely. I guarantee you’ll sleep better at night.

While these tips are basic, they are also essential. No one ever said that owning and operating a restaurant was easy. If it were, everyone and their grandma would do it. You, however, are extraordinary. You are brave and capable, and you do not have to do everything by yourself. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. What tricks do you use to maintain your sanity while running a restaurant? Please feel free to leave a comment below.