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Why Running a Restaurant Doesn't Have to Rule Your Life

Why Running a Restaurant Doesn't Have to Rule Your Life
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Many restaurant owners are living the dream. They own their own business, control their own future and make their own rules. That said, eighty to a hundred waking hours of the week are dedicated to the restaurant, with another handful of hours spent dreaming about the restaurant. It’s hard work and it takes immense dedication and sacrifice.

That means very little wiggle room for vacations or basic quality time with family. But you don't have to sacrifice the people most important to you for your work. Here are four ways to reduce the time commitment to your restaurant without sacrificing the overall operation of the business so you can be more productive and spend more time with family:

1. Automate what you can. Define what is being done now that can be automated. Determine what manual tasks you manage regularly that can be converted into electronic or computer-based operations. For example, we worked with a client who was repeatedly hand-writing his catering menu and pricing for interested customers. We automated this process by posting a standard catering menu and pricing list on his website. He also kept printed copies of it on-hand for walk-ins. Instead of taking time to write a custom catering menu each time, we automated and standardized this process, saving time and effort while delivering a quicker and more efficient menu to the customer.

2. Hire a general manager. If you are looking for the easiest way to drastically cut your hours, hire a GM. As second-in-command GMs have the skills and experience to run your restaurant effectively. With margins thin and budgetary constraints weighing heavily on restaurants, this will be a tough option to swing given that a great GM can come with a hefty price tag. That said, if you want to immediately open up your schedule, this is the way to go. Consider less experienced GM professionals coming out of school as a more cost-effective option.

3. Delegate. Use your people. Don’t sell your staff short. Most of them are probably young, ambitious and thirsty for more responsibility. Write out your daily activities to determine what can and can't be delegated. This gives you the opportunity to really showcase your leadership ability and foster a culture of creativity and inventiveness. You’ll be surprised at the great results your staff can produce.

4. Use organizing tools. There are some free or cost-conscious tools online to help you stay organized few of my favorites include: Google Drive and Google Calendar to share documents and schedules, Hootsuite to consolidate your social media postings and Shiftgig, which connects restaurant job-seekers to restaurants in need of additional staff.
 

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

David Koji is Managing Partner of DineAbility, LLC, a restaurant consulting company based in Colchester, Conn., specializing in front-of-house, back-of-house, voice-of-customer and staff training.

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