Communication in restaurants is key to getting anything done, from cleaning to profitability. The big challenge for restaurant owners is communicating to restaurant management in a manner that everyone understands so that they can execute what the owner wants done how they want it done.
To do this right, owners must have sit-down manager meetings that focus on moving the business forward. These meetings facilitate communication and move the business forward. Sit-down meetings are where things get DONE.
A lot of owners say they meet with their managers almost daily, but the “meetings” they’re referring to, where they stop them in passing, those are not a manager meeting. A manager meeting is scheduled on a weekly basis. It’s not a five-minute tirade over what didn’t get done at closing the night before. It’s a weekly, scheduled time, set aside to review goals, expectations and challenges and then brainstorm solutions. It is also mandatory.
To begin having effective restaurant management team meetings, follow these seven steps:
- Plan properly and ahead of time
- Make attendance mandatory
- Collect info for the meeting and create an agenda in advance
- Stay on track
- Facilitate and communicate
- Assign specific actions
- Take notes
Step 1: Plan
This is the step where the leader of the meeting looks at last week’s priorities and goals and audit where they are. Did they get accomplished, did everyone hit the goals or were there things that happened that delayed results? Take the time to really look at things with a detailed eye.
Meet with the general manager and communicate the goals for the next week. Gather the general manager’s priorities that need to be addressed and added to the list. This is an opportunity to make sure the general manager is on the same page the owner. This also sets the general manager up for success to conduct an effective and efficient managers’ meeting.
Next, create a list of goals for the team for the upcoming week. Be specific and clear in the list of what is to be done, how it should be done, how well it should be done and more importantly by when. Without deadlines, nothing gets done.
Step 2: Make it mandatory
To ensure attendance, make sure everyone understands the meeting is mandatory. Do managers a favor ad make sure to switch up the days of the mandatory meeting so that the same employee isn’t coming in on his or her day off. Every. Single. Time.
Owners can still set this up on a regular schedule so everyone can plan to attend the meeting, but rotate the day of the week for the meeting.
Step 3: Create agenda and collect data
Whether it’s the owner or general manager who will create the agenda, use the list of goals for the week to create the agenda for the meeting.
The agenda should include such things as a start time and a finish time and topics to be addressed as well as who is responsible for addressing each topic.
Make sure to have numbers and appropriate reports on hand, such as the prime cost targets, key item report, waste sheets, marketing materials, etc. Have everything ready so when the agenda is handed out, everyone has everything they need to be successful.
Step 4: Stay on track
Be sure to stick to the agenda. If and when a NEW topic comes up, make sure to determine if it should be tabled until the next meeting or if it deserves a sidebar meeting after the manager meeting. Do not add it on the fly. When topics aren’t controlled and there isn’t a start and stop time, manager meetings go forever.
Manager meetings should run 60-90 minutes. Anything longer than 90 minutes creates an environment where the mangers get frustrated because they feel their time isn’t valued, and quite frankly, they start tuning out.
Step 5: Facilitate and communicate
Restaurant owners should not run the meeting, unless, of course, they also fulfill the general manager role. The general manager is supposed to execute the plan. He or she is going to be held accountable for these goals, so they need to be put in a leadership role to demonstrate they are the other managers’ in attendance direct supervisor.
When conducting the meeting, the general manager should talk about 20 percent of the time and clear expectations must be laid out. This is possible because they come to the meeting prepared after completing step three above. They will bring the correct information from cost of goods sold, labor costs, employee issues, project updates, etc. They should present to the group on their areas of responsibility and offer an opportunity to engage every manager at the meeting.
Step 6: Assign specific actions
Break down the steps for what needs to be done and who is going to be responsible for each step. Assign deadlines and benchmarks because delegating effectively is important, helping everyone on the team to be successful.
This is part of communicating expectations clearly, helping everyone on the team understand what needs to get done, how it should be done and by when.
Step 7: Take notes
Assign someone to take notes and then distribute the notes to everyone. This keeps everyone focused on moving forward. No one has an excuse as to why they didn’t get their part done because it was recorded and circulated.
Restaurant owners who are tired of things not getting done, tired of not making the money the restaurant should be making and/or tired of being frustrated daily with everyone’s performance—owner or manager—then follow these seven simple steps. Just remember it’s not only about being organized, it’s also about being consistent. This comes from conducting the managers meeting weekly.
This way, the next week can be compared to the week before. That which we measure improves.