It is an established practice for restaurants to have their general managers work the busiest shifts. As salaried employees – and often as the staff members with the greatest experience and seniority – it makes sense for them to work when the dining room is full and every minute counts. But there is also a strong case that can be made for having the general manager work at least a few slower shifts during the week
During the weekends and on certain weeknights, most restaurants are running at peak capacity. There is no time to do anything else than keep everything moving. While this seems like a great thing from a financial perspective, it can actually wind up costing the operation money. Why? Because there is no time for the manager to make the time and cost-saving decisions that he or she would otherwise implement.
How does the extra time managers have during slow periods add up to increased profitability?
- It gives them the opportunity to cut costs. Since general managers usually receive bonuses based on their restaurant’s profits, they have an incentive to keep spending down. On slow shifts, they can make the call to send idle staff home early, or arrange for them not to come in at all. Over time, these labor savings adds up.
- They can be on the lookout for ways to improve efficiency. When the restaurant is packed, every member of the staff should be busy. Time is counted in seconds, and this is true especially for managers. There is no space to implement or even identify any cost-saving measures. Not only does working off-peak hours allow them to be alert to possible improvements, it can also be a good time to try out new ideas.
- They can reduce waste, inefficiency, and dishonesty. General managers can not only oversee their employees’ level of effort and engagement, they can also detect and remedy more serious problems, such as sloppiness, unhygienic practices, lost time, and theft.While profit is important, there’s another ingredient to a successful restaurant: the people. In the second post of this two-part series, we’ll talk about how slow shifts can give general managers the time to build relationships with their customers and their employees that can ultimately lead to a better restaurant.