How Managing a Restaurant has Made Me a Better Business Owner
If you’ve worked in a restaurant in any capacity, you’ve probably heard the term “in the weeds.”
Your day can go from calm to chaos in a matter of minutes, am I right?! One of my most memorable management shifts was at an upscale restaurant, the night of a Lady Gaga concert. The bar got hammered so hard with specialty cocktails orders that we couldn’t wash glassware fast enough, shake hard enough or stop the tickets from rolling off the bar printer.
Or the time, I had to run the floor (manage the dining room, for non-restaurant folk) while running to the back to bake freaking cakes during dinner service because the prep cook didn’t show up. You simple can’t run out of the restaurant’s famous carrot cake. It’s not an option.
These experiences are what restaurant dreams nightmares are made of…
I could share war stories for days about staff no-shows, breakdowns, fights, late deliveries, equipment failures and insane customers. I could also share stories of great triumph like surviving those shifts, shattering sales goals, happy customers, breakthroughs and watching staff grow and excel by following your lead.
Working in a restaurant was and always will be the ultimate teacher of time management and seizing opportunities. If you are hungry, have to pee or make a phone call you better take care of it the second there’s a lull. Got orders to place, better make time…food & alcohol vendors aren’t very forgiving if you miss an order cutoff time. They don’t give a shit that a tour bus stopped at your restaurant and you were bombarded with 75 individual orders when you should have been counting kegs and placing orders. That's right, no beer delivery for you...
So how has this helped me as the owner of a tax and accounting firm?
While a restaurant may have more moving parts than my practice, I still like to operate in a similar fashion. Instead of scheduling a large staff, I’m scheduling projects for my clients. Instead of reviewing weekly/monthly numbers and sending off to corporate, I’m reviewing with my clients. Weekly inventory is now following up with clients and prospects. Preparing for a health inspection is replaced by proper procedures to protect against an audit. Managing food & beverage costs is replaced with time/project cost evaluations and establishing new revenue streams. Every process on a list, ready to be checked off so we can go about our day.
In any business, there are non-negotiable, recurring tasks such as ordering meat for bbq restaurant or keeping up with bookkeeping, that must be completed for the business to thrive. There will always be fires to put out, projects that swallow you whole and life that gets in the way. So the only way to be ready for the chaos is to be efficient in the calm.
If you are just starting out, write out your processes, plan your client on-boarding and research tools that will help automate repetitive tasks in your business like sending out invoices. Get on auto pilot now so you can focus on working with new clients.
If you've been in business for a while, what are some processes or tasks that you dread or really slow you down? Think about automating or outsourcing those tasks so you can be efficient AF.
Use your time wisely as you will never get it back. Plan. Prepare. Follow Through.