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Time Management Tips for Restaurant Managers

Time ManagementDo you want to know how to reduce or eliminate restaurant manager burnout?

This question grabs the attentions of restaurant operators from every restaurant niche. Segments that range from quick-service to fine dining, restaurant managers have a notoriously poor record for establishing longevity. Many restaurants, especially those run by corporate chains, have tried to address the burnout issue by reducing the number of hours their managers work each week. While this alleviates some of the issues that surround burnout, the true culprit is poor time management.

Time management simply involves controlling events. I know some restaurant operators will read this and laugh, since the perception is that restaurant operators do not have control over most events. We all know the restaurant industry presents one of the more unpredictable work environments. A typical restaurant manager’s day starts with team members calling in sick, from there, the unpredictable nature of the job snowballs into an avalanche. Restaurant managers have to recruit new team members, schedule the team members currently on their staffs, order product, take inventory, pay bills, and the list goes on and on. How do restaurant managers control the day’s events?

The 5 Ways that Managers Can Control the Day’s Events

Lurking around restaurant managers are numerous factors that drain time from their days. All they have to show for their efforts is higher blood pressure and a bunch of incomplete paperwork. The factors that deplete time lead to unproductive work habits, poor leadership, and inept enforcement of policies.

Let us look at the five primary factors that reduce most restaurant managers to the walking dead.

Negative Employees

I’ve heard a number of restaurant managers refer to themselves as babysitters. Well, no one forces restaurant mangers to deal with problem employees. Negative employees complain about work assignments, belittle fellow team members, and bring their personal problems to work. They are a time and energy devouring force that can bring restaurant managers to their knees. Negative employees selfishly believe that they need to share their problems with everybody. Restaurant managers have far too much to do besides listen to a team member complain about a bad day. Restaurant managers hold on to negative employees because of the difficulty they have staffing a full restaurant. You reduce team member turnover and save yourself considerable time when you get rid of negative employees.


Since when did restaurants become the Pentagon’s control room? Restaurant managers conduct more unnecessary meetings than any other type of manager. While pre shifts are an excellent way to set the tone for the day or night, there is no reason for the meetings to last more than five minutes. Mandatory employee meanings are usually nothing more that gripe sessions that waste time and sap energy. There are trainer meetings, back of the house meetings, full restaurant meetings, and meetings to decide on when to have meetings. Stop the meeting madness and spend your time doing what matters most: taking care of the guests.

Wearing Too Many Hats

Corporate restaurant chains take hits for implementing ludicrous policies, but the same people that turn a 20-page employee manual into a 100-page marathon reading session have some compelling ideas. One idea is the establishment of a system that allows managers to delegate tasks to hourly team members. We see qualified servers run mid shifts. Chefs and kitchen managers delegate the flow of their kitchens to sous chefs and assistant kitchen managers. Delegation is more of a problem in smaller independent restaurant, the exact types of environments that should promote manager delegation. Trying to do it all is a sure way to receive a one-way ticket to burnout city. Delegation means allowing high achievers to run the host stand, order and receive some of the restaurant’s product, hold pre shifts, and organize in store charity events. You need to spend your time developing team members to provide superior guest service.

Unscheduled Sales Calls

This is a touchy subject among some purveyors, who believe they have the inalienable right to march right into a restaurant and take up some of a restaurant manager’s time. While most purveyors understand to visit restaurants during off peak volume hours, some sales representatives ignore the “No Deliveries Between 11 and 2” sign that prominently hangs near the front door. Only commit to scheduled sales calls and make this clear, in a polite manner, the first day that you take over a restaurant management position. Your commitment to guest service supersedes the importance of unscheduled sales calls.

Poor Planning

No longer can restaurant managers afford to run their restaurants as a quarterback scrambles to evade a furious pass rush. Restaurant managers must operate their businesses by first developing a vision for their restaurants and then devising a road map on how to achieve the vision. That’s the long term of it. The short term requires restaurant managers to create daily action plans that address pressing issues and teaches team members a few lessons, not all of which pertain to working in a restaurant. A daily plan of action not only helps restaurant managers to manage their time more efficiently, it also provides a benchmark for measuring operational success.

If you are one of the myriad restaurant managers who stand precariously close to the burnout cliff, take a step back and implement the five time saving tips. While ten-hour shifts will still fly by fast, at least you will know how you spent your time managing the restaurant.