Managers Need a Strong Foundation


Being a restaurant manager can be a difficult job. It can be 100 times harder when you don’t have the right tools and support in place to be successful at the job. As an owner or general manager, here are four key areas to focus on to ensure your managers are supported:

1. Culture
2. Job
3. Communication
4. Trust

Below I outline each of these four areas for managers and then provide you with steps you can take to ensure you’re establishing that strong foundation.


To be a great manager in any restaurant, no matter whether it’s a quick-service or full-service operation, you have to be a fit for the culture of the restaurant. If the restaurant is a fun environment, you can’t be a hard-ass. If the restaurant is extremely professional, you can’t be a jokester. If the restaurant believes in incredible service, you must be geared toward delivering a wow customer service experience. You get the picture; a great manager must be a fit for the restaurant’s culture.

In order to ensure your managers fit your company culture, ownership MUST define their core values. What are core values? Core values are your guiding principles as a person or shared principles when there are partners. These are deep rooted inside you. They are used to guide your business. You might not have them documented yet, but you know what they are when someone steps on one. For example, if someone calls you a liar and it infuriates you because you are an incredibly honest person, that’s a core value. Core values hit you deep inside your soul.

Your action steps are to document and communicate your core values. Once they are documented, you will post them everywhere you can. You will post them in your employee handbook, on the employee bulletin board, your website, etc. You’ll want your staff and guests to hold you accountable to your core values. But more importantly you want your managers to emulate YOUR core values and make decisions in your business with them as their guiding principles, not their own. When your managers make decisions based on your core values, they will never be in trouble. Or you’ll find yourself in a coaching opportunity when they choose wrong, but kept your core values in mind.


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Great managers have to make guests, staff and ownership happy. This can often feel like organized chaos because the manager is trying to do the best job they can based on their own experience. That means, if they haven’t experienced things the way ownership has, the job they do will often fall short of expectations. In other words, ownership wants managers to have something called “commonsense,” which does not exist!

Your action steps are to define what the manager’s job is, how to do it, how well you want it done and, most importantly, by when. You have to create manager checklists, clearly detailing your daily/shift expectations. You need to have a clearly defined job description so nothing is assumed. And last, but certainly not least, you must have a training system that ensures each manager is taught what their job is, how to do it, how well it should be done and by when.


Communication is critical if you want to be a great manager. If you can’t communicate what you want done, can’t give clear direction, train staff to your expectations, relate to your staff and guests, you will ultimately fail. The restaurant business revolves around being a great communicator. Great communication starts with having the right tools in place to help the process along.

Your action steps are implement, maintain and use a manager log each and every day in your restaurant. This way you train your managers to chase you down with the information you need to run the business, instead of you chasing them down. A manager log also ensures every manager is on the same page, even when they are off or on vacation.

Additional actions are to implement daily pre-shift meetings for all staff. Make training a daily thing. Also, document your pre-shift notes so they can be posted and initialed by all staff, ensuring every staff member knows what you are communicating even when you have a stagger start. To really knock it out of the park, conduct manager meetings on a weekly basis. These meeting should be no longer than 60–90 mins. They must have a ridged agenda and should require each manager to come to the meeting prepared.


All too often when communication is poor, managers are using commonsense to do their jobs, very loose systems are in place and there is a lack of trust in the ranks of management. Ugliness starts to creep into your restaurant, where AM managers start to resent PM managers because the restaurant wasn’t closed properly the night before. PM managers start to resent AM managers because the restaurant isn’t setup for the next shift. Managers also start to resent each other when there is a sense of entitlement or favoritism toward certain managers from ownership, because they are treated differently.

It is your job to create an environment of trust and a culture where each and every manager knows everyone has each other’s back.

Your action steps create a culture of close to open. Make sure every manager understands that all sides work and daily tasks are theirs to make sure they are completed before they leave. Basically, they must make sure they reset the restaurant completely before they hand the next shift over to the next manager. If they let someone go home without finishing their side work, they must do it themselves. This way, each manager knows the others have their back, and they can trust each other no matter what. The final part of this ownership MUST hold managers accountable to these tasks, no matter what, no matter who they are on the team.

You Supply the Foundation

David Scott Peters

Ultimately, managers need the owners of the restaurant to lead the management team to be able to become and be great managers. Leaders will make sure their managers know their core values, have systems from everything in the restaurant from checklist and training to operational systems, communication tools and be willing to hold every manager accountable, no matter who they are. In other words, managers can’t be all ownership wants them to be if ownership doesn’t lead and give them the foundation to be great.

David Scott Peters
David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. Download a free report to discover the #1 secret to lowering food and labor costs and running the independent restaurant you’ve always dreamed of. Learn more about how David can help you at