As a manager, in a restaurant or otherwise, it is your responsibility to ensure that business is running smoothly. This ranges from how staff is performing to business outcomes. It can be a heavy load. However, there are still many easy and inexpensive things you can do to make sure your establishment is running the way it should and to prevent problems before they occur.

Get involved

No one thinks of the phrase “absentee boss” in a positive context. Being in the establishment is a good start, but you need to get out of your office and on the floor and in the kitchen.

Be seen.

Even if the general manager and/or owner are not, you can be. In fact, putting in the effort to be available to your staff and customers will help you in the end. Employees will respect you all the more, making your job that much easier.

Drop in unexpectedly

When I was working in the industry, my manager would pop in and out all the time. She would tell us that she had an appointment the next morning and was coming in late, then show up early and say that the appointment was rescheduled. After I moved on, she let me in on her little secret and explained that it was her way of keeping everyone on top of their game. And it worked.

The first few times you do this though, it may catch a few off guard. Give them some slack the first few times, but if they don’t shape up, you’ll know and can then do something about it.

Stop by after hours

You know those restaurant ‘spy’ shows where they go undercover to find out who’s behind the business’s shortages? Well, one of the recurring things on those programs is that abuses are happening after hours; bartenders are throwing parties, chefs are using your place for a pop-up restaurant, etc. Well, even though those shows are overdramatized, they’re not off the ball.

To ensure this is not happening at your business, especially if you’ve noticed something suspicious, go in when the place is closed, and do it often. For many restaurants, a drive by will suffice. No lights on and no parked cars are both good signs when the place is supposed to be closed. A similar tactic is to check with your alarm company to see when the alarm was turned on and turned off.

Hire an experienced person for the role of mystery shopper

Again, those ‘spy’ tv shows are on to something here.Using a mystery shopper can help uncover that which you would not discover otherwise. This can be anything from poor service and inconsistencies in food/beverages to comps, and more.

It’s best if your mystery shopper is experienced in restaurant and hospitality operations and someone you’re familiar with, but you’re employees are not.

Also, having your mystery shopper visit regularly will allow him or her to form relationships with your staff, increasing access to what’s going on behind the scenes.

Do an accurate inventory, and do it often

Whether you’re responsible for both food and beverages, or just one or the other, don’t just do an inventory on one time of item or before placing weekly orders. If possible, aim to do a thorough inventory 2-3 times per week. While inventory should always be done when the business is closed, don’t do it on the same days every week.

This is a lot to take on, but there are tools that can help. It’ll be worth it in the end; you’ll not only be protecting the business from unnecessary spending but also ensuring that business operations are running as they should.

Rotate staff between units and shifts

The more comfortable staff is with each other the more likely they will get together to do things that should not be done. This is a tough tightrope to walk.

You need to have people together enough that they work smoothly with each other, but not consistent enough to become overly friendly.

The side benefit of this is that everyone starts knowing how to work with everyone else, which is a plus if you have to switch around people for special events, staffing shortages, etc.

The bottom line is that there are several small steps that you can take to tighten up business operations and ensure that everything is being run as it should be.

Need some tools? Check out Management Hacks: Business Toolkit →