3 Things All New Restaurant Managers Need To Know
By Sarah Freeman Hospitality and Tourism Specialist
Going out to eat is an experience just about everyone can relate to. It is a part of our culture, and a popular way for people to socialize. I have worked in the restaurant industry on and off since I was 16 years old (where did the time go??). Almost a year ago I accepted a full time managing position with a company I had been employed with as a server and bartender for 2 years. As all new managers know, becoming a manager means new responsibilities and higher expectations. These new duties may consist of hiring, scheduling, doing inventory, overseeing staff during shifts, and basically anything else. When I speak with new managers, I often hear that the most trying part of their job is...wait for it... engaging with unsatisfied and sometimes unpleasant guests. While this can the greatest challenge for a new manager, it can also be the most beneficial. Below are the 3 things all new restaurant managers need to know before taking their first shift.
You are NEVER going to please everyone
Hearing the words, “My table asked to speak with the manager,” is typically never a good thing. You prepare yourself to deal with an unhappy guest who didn’t enjoy their pizza because it was too well done, or because their server forgot to bring their second round of drinks out. 9 out of 10 times you can remedy the situation. However, sometimes there is simply nothing you can do to please people. It is important to recognize that this is not personal, and no matter what field of work you are in this is bound to happen. When this situation arises, you will attempt and exhaust all ideas you can possibly think of to make the guest happy. After you have done so and you realize there is no way you are going to win Susan over, you have to let it go. You apologize one last time, tell her that you hope she comes back in and walk away. After these encounters I tend to beat myself up, I replay the situation in my head and think to myself, “What else could I have done,” or, “What did I do wrong.” The answer is always the same - nothing. Do not let people like Susan make you second guess yourself. The bottom line is that some people are simply miserable, remember that is their issue, not yours
Non- Verbal communication is more important than verbal
When speaking with an unhappy patron, it is important to play close attention to your body language. Tom is not going to believe you are genuinely concerned about his poor dining experience if your non-verbal cues are contradicting the words that are coming out of your mouth. Face to face communication is far more effective, as long as you are mindful of your nonverbal cues. Remember to make good eye contact, and stand tall. Don’t even think about crossing those arms or leaning on something. You are professional and you need to come off as that, be inviting. In addition to this, it is important to be aware and cautious with your tone. Don’t give Tom any more reasons to be upset, if he is already unhappy the last thing you want to do is come off as having an attitude. As angry as Tom might make you, continue using that chipper tone like telemarketers do after you have unleashed on them about being on their do not call list.
Patience is a necessary key to remaining professional and successful
Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” He is referring to the act of waiting as being bitter, but if you do it, the end result is satisfying, or sweet. It is important to practice patience regularly and it will become a habit. This is something many people lack, but a trait that everyone needs. Working in this position has tested my patience on a daily basis, but has also made it grow stronger. For instance, when I know for a fact a displeased customer is embellishing their story, I immediately want to cut them off and call them out. My tolerance for these types of situations used to be somewhere in the range of minimal to non-existent. I had to learn to bite my tongue, and stay focused on the main issue. Patience is not something you are born with, it is self-taught. Those frustrating situations that make you scream on the inside are by no means enjoyable, but remember, they are practice
While managing isn’t a career most people want to pursue long term, it can been one of the best experiences for your career. It will challenge you, test your patience , but most importantly, if done correctly it will help you grow personally and professionally.
Sarah Freeman is a Junior Marketing Associate and world traveler specializing in hospitality and tourism. Connect with her on Linkedin here.