To maximize sales in your peak periods, it needs to start with the manager.  It’s important to recognize that you may be missing out on sales opportunities, in situations that should be bringing you your greatest profits.  The main reason that many restaurant managers do little about these challenges is because they don’t recognize that they’re happening.

So, Where Is The Manager?

How can a manager help to maximize your peak periods?  The first step is ensuring the manager is properly overseeing the restaurant’s business flow and is truly present.  It never ceases to amaze me when I’m a guest in a restaurant how seldom I ever see a manager on the dining room floor.  To me, their absence is conspicuous.  When they are present, it’s usually to run the front reception and hosting station or they’re approaching tables of guests, as some restaurants make it policy for managers to visit every table.  In many cases, I see restaurant managers get caught up helping a server who’s “in the weeds”, or, they’re bussing tables.  Is this the best use of their time?  Not usually.

Highest and best use of time

While managers in these situations have the best intentions and are genuinely trying to help, they fail by allowing themselves to get stuck in one position, and they’ve just lost the most important position in the restaurant:  there is no longer someone overseeing or managing the restaurant operation.

In order to maximize sales during your peak periods, the manager’s first priority is to ensure the overall operation is functioning smoothly and efficiently.  While checking on tables is a valuable endeavour for a manager, it shouldn’t be a manager’s priority during peak periods.  This is however, a priority for servers, and ensuring quality checks are done properly takes place through training and conditioning.  However, during peak business periods, an effective manager should be able to review the status of a table or section simply by skilled and careful observation.  They should be able to:

  • quickly assess what stage of the meal guests are at
  • recognize whether the server is in control of their tables and section
  • assess whether the guests are relaxed & enjoying their visit or are they anxious or unhappy

The benefit and result of this skilled observation during a rush period, is that the manager only needs to approach tables where:

  • guests appear unhappy or confused
  • guests are clearly trying to find their server
  • the status is not so obvious and requires more direct inquiry
  • the guests are regular customers, who will always appreciate being acknowledged

Don’t misunderstand:  approaching happy guests is also valuable, to smile and say hello and even visit, when appropriate.  During a rushed, busy period is just not that appropriate time.

Is the manager being busy or being effective?

Approaching every single restaurant guest, unnecessarily interrupts the guests’ conversation, doesn’t prompt honest answers, and is hugely time consuming.  Insisting on this task as policy confuses being busy with being effective.

The primary goal during rush periods for a restaurant manager is to ensure that everything is running smoothly.  If  a manager is stuck doing any one staff job out of necessity, you may have the wrong people in the wrong jobs or you may be understaffed.

So, how do you maximize your peak periods?

  • Ensure your serving teams are taking care of proper quality checking so that managers don’t have to
  • Ensure the lineup is moving quickly into clean and ready tables
  • Ensure that servers are not overwhelmed by the regular flow of business
  • Ensure your serving teams remain relaxed while still maintaining an appropriate sense of urgency and,
  • Ensure that at your busiest times, your serving teams don’t exchange your greatest sales opportunities for simply trying to keep up

So, how do you accomplish all of this, maximizing sales opportunities and ultimately, increased profit margins?  Make a commitment to exceptional training!