The restaurant industry has always been challenging, but COVID-19 has required them to transform. In March, when the pandemic was at its peak, sales were down across American restaurant types by as much as 79%.
As of June, restaurant sales were down by 30%. This figure is well below the annual average, but also well above the COVID-19 low point. With positive sales data amid regions cautiously re-opening and mayors urging people to support local businesses, there are encouraging signs.
But managing a restaurant now won’t be easy. Here are a few skills today’s restaurant managers will need to succeed in the “new normal.”
Of all the restaurant manager skills required now, a flexible attitude is among the most important. Society is facing tectonic shifts on several fronts, and the ripple effects from this are hard to predict.
The ability to adapt on the fly is crucial and will serve managers well in several ways. For example, customers now bring a new set of expectations when they patronize a business, so managers need to unlearn what they used to know and be open-minded.
But adaptability matters in other ways, too. Managing a team of people who may be experiencing various kinds of stress at home may present new challenges at work.
No matter how tightly structured your restaurant may run, it’s wise to assume you’ll have to solve problems you’ve never faced before.
Many modern restaurants use software specifically designed to produce better schedules for all employees and reduce labor costs. Restaurant scheduling software allows employees to tell their manager their availability remotely through the app.
The software then uses these inputs and automation to produce a schedule that meets everybody’s needs in up to 80% less time than it would otherwise take. The time you get back leads to a direct labor cost reduction of 1-3%.
Employee scheduling software also has a powerful and smart communication technology. If a manager needs to find a replacement for a shift on short notice, the app makes it simple. Even when life throws restaurant managers a curveball, having the right software gives your business added stability.
Simply put, restaurants can’t operate the way they used to. Adjusting to the “new normal” can take many forms. Perhaps try some aggressive merchandising or promotions. Most restaurants have seen fit to increase their ability to deliver, but some are changing the fundamental nature of delivery.
For example, in addition to ordinary takeout food, some restaurants deliver meal kits, which let customers prepare ready-to-make meals on their own. Other restaurants offer food-box subscriptions. Thinking outside the standard takeout box will be better suited to some restaurants than others, depending on the kind of food they serve. Find whatever path works best for your restaurant and be prepared to take some bold steps forward.
Like many facets of life, restaurants are beginning to make a comeback. Restaurant managers who are adaptable, bold, and rely on smart and powerful technology put themselves in a position to succeed.