When I was initially planning on becoming a restaurant owner/manager of my 1st restaurant, I was told that I could expect to work a 70 hour week. At the time I was working a GM for a restaurant and averaging 55 to 60 hours per week. Being young and single, I accepted these hours as part of the package. Shortly after I opened the restaurant, I was married and significant life style changes would have to be made. I then had to consider the fact that if I wanted to raise a family, my time would now have to be divided.
As is often the case, once we make something a priority, we can normally make it happen. I knew only one way to work at running a restaurant, and that was taking me long hours. Therefore, I hired a Time Management consultant who was currently working with Hewlett Packard middle and upper management personnel.
Below are the practices and some tips that he taught me that not only resulted in my having quality time to raise a family but made me a more efficient manager of my restaurant business:

  1. Most importantly of all, I learned to run the restaurant through operational systems. Systems designed for a consistent and repetitious performance of job procedures. Instead of having to personally direct every aspect of the operation, I now had systems that ran the restaurant. I ran the systems and the systems ran the staff. Clearly defined and proven operational systems are the key ingredient to successful restaurant franchises. Start up restaurants without the franchise type systems will pre-determine a 70 hour week for the GM or owner manager.
  2. Is it important or just urgent? How often in a day is the GM interrupted to answer a telephone call that could easily be returned at a designated time set by the GM? How many times does a salesman drop by to introduce themselves and their product, when they could easily be told to please call for an appointment? What may be urgent to someone does not necessarily make it important. Also, it can be important but not urgent, and can be handled later at the GM’s time discretion. Therefore, the choice of the GM’s time should be based on the decision that it is both urgent and important.
  3. Prioritizing time with a “to do list” is helpful as long as the prioritized activities are flexible. No matter how well a restaurant manager is organized, there will always be times when his or her immediate attention will be needed.
  4. Anticipating the next day’s activities and trying to plan for them can save a great deal of wasted time. For example, it may be a good idea to plan paper work activities on the slowest day of a week rather than a busy weekend day.
  5. A good way to organize yourself to be more productive with your time, is for one week to monitor your activities by time spent on them and noting “wasted time”.

Time management for a 1st time independent restaurant start up is typically more of a problem than it is for restaurant chains with proven franchise style operating systems. Management’s time is more scripted by the proven franchise style operating systems described in proven restaurant concept operations manuals.
By W&W Restaurant Consulting Group, a restaurant consulting company