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ULTIMATE GUIDE to Restaurant Management

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Restaurant Leadership and Management -- part 1

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++ Describe the characteristics of effective leaders.

++ Discuss some important factors that must be considered when leading restaurant employees.

++ Know several important management concepts.

++ Discuss conflict management.

++ Describe the process of conflict resolution.

Leading Employees

Restaurant corporations of excellence regard their employee resources as their most valuable asset and competitive advantage. Progressive employers seek to become the employer of choice. We need to realize that the leadership of employee resources is critical because we don't manage our employees, we lead them. We manage finances, we lead employees. This is a fundamental paradigm shift. The restaurant experience is intangible, meaning that one restaurant is much the same as the other. What makes the difference is the human element of service, service, and service!

You may already be, or soon may be a leader in the restaurant industry. Being a leader is exciting; there are challenges, opportunities, and rewards. If you are a leader, your company has invested its trust in you and has expectations of your performance. But how do you feel? Well, you wouldn't be alone if you felt some apprehension because you are responsible not only for your work, but also for the work of others. We hope you get off to a great start with this guide and wish you success in your career.

Ever wonder about the impact that leaders have on the success of a restaurant company? Here is an example: On Restaurant Row in one city, one family restaurant has had 12 different busboys in two months. In the restaurant next door, the food is superb one week and terrible the next. The bar on the corner cannot find a decent bartender, much less keep one. Across the street, one restaurant had a near-riot in the kitchen resulting from an argument between the cooks and servers. The Italian restaurant two doors down is losing customers steadily because its service is so poor. But the oldest restaurant on the block is packing them in night after night, with staff who have been there for years.

In many of the city's restaurants, the employee turnover rate is very high. Every seven days we turn thousands of employees in this industry. We don't have a "labor" crisis.

We have a turnover crisis. Service is poor and guests complain, but then that's just part of the game, isn't it? Yet several restaurants in town have few staffing problems and happy guests.

Throughout the city a common cry in the restaurant industry is that you just can't get good people these days. People don't work hard the way they used to, they don't do what you expect them to, they come late and leave early or don't show up at all, they are sullen and rude, they don't always speak English-the complaints go on and on. The rotten help you get today must cause all the problems. Is this true? If it is true, what about those establishments where things run smoothly? Can it be that the way in which the workers are lead has something to do with the presence or absence of problems? You bet it does! In this section, we explore the leadership aspect of a restaurant.

In the hospitality industry almost everything depends on the physical labor of many hourly (or non-managerial) workers: people who cook, serve tables, mix drinks, wash dishes, mop floors. Few industries are as dependent for success on the performance of hourly workers. These employees make the products and they serve the customers-or drive them away.

How well these employees produce and serve depends largely on how well they are lead. If they are not lead well, the product or the service suffers and the restaurant is in trouble. It is the people who lead these employees who hold the keys to the success of the operation.

If you were to ask any hospitality leader what his or her greatest challenge is, the likely answer would be finding and keeping great employees motivated. Given the high turnover in the hospitality industry and the resultant cost, we begin to understand some of the leadership challenges that human resources professionals face.

The idea that a manager or supervisor must be a leader comes as a surprise to people who have never thought about it before. In terms of hospitality leadership, the following definition is appropriate: Leading is the process by which a person with vision is able to influence the activities and outcomes of others in a desired way.

Leadership begins with a vision, a mission, and goals. Vision is the articulation of the mission of the organization in such an appealing way that it vividly conveys what it can be like in the future. Vision instills a common purpose, self-esteem, and a sense of membership in the organization. The mission statement describes the purpose of the organization and outlines the kinds of activities performed for guests.

Mission statements normally have three parts: First, a statement of overall purpose; second, a statement explaining the values employees are expected to maintain in the daily decision-making process; third, a declaration of the major goals that leaders believe are essential as well as how to attain the goals. Goals should be relevant to the mission, specific and clear, challenging yet achievable, made in collaboration with employees, and written down with the strategies and tactics of how to meet the goals. The importance of vision, mission, goals, strategy, and tactics is critical to the success of the company, and supervisors do much of the crucial work.

In a work situation, the leader is placed there by the company. In the hospitality industry the term leader often refers to a manager at a lower organizational level who supervises entry-level or other employees who themselves do not have supervisory responsibilities. The employees are expected to do what the boss tells them to do-that's just part of the job, right? But if employees simply do what they are told, why is labor turnover so high, productivity so low, and absenteeism so prevalent? Why is there conflict between employees and management? The truth of the matter is that the leader is supposed to be leading the employees, but that does not guarantee that the employees will put all of their efforts into the job. This is where leadership comes in.

The hospitality industry is composed of 70 percent part-time, short-term people. They are "only working here until"-until they get out of high school, until they get out of college, until they have enough money to buy a car, or until an opening comes up someplace else. It is not uncommon to hear a young hourly employee say, "I'll keep this job until I can get a real job," for what they often mean is that they plan to switch from an hourly to a salaried position.


Restaurants are dependent on large numbers of people to fill low-wage entry-level jobs that include washing dishes and pots, busing tables, hosting, prepping the same or similar food every day from the same steam table. Employees sometimes take these jobs either because no special skill, ability, or limited experience is required, or because nothing else is available.

Often, they are frequently taken for granted, ignored, or spoken to only when reprimanded. Given the nature of the work and the attitudes of management and sometimes of other workers, it is no wonder that turnover is high.

Another level of hourly worker is the skilled or semiskilled: cashiers, bar tenders, cooks, and servers. These jobs are more appealing, the money is better, and there is a chance for advancement. Yet here, too, you often find temporary workers-students, moonlighters, people who cannot find anything in their own fields-people working there until .

Many employers assume that their employee will not stay long, and most of them do not. According to a National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Industry Operations Report, the turnover rate for hourly workers in full-service operations is 100 percent. That means that your typical full-service restaurant will lose every one of its hourly employees during one year and have to fill every position. If we were to ask workers to explain why they left their jobs, the most frequently cited reasons would likely be more money, a better work schedule, and more enjoyable work. Given this alarming statistic of 100 percent turnover we need to examine human resources leadership in hospitality beginning with the characteristics of leaders.


If we were to examine great leaders of the past we would likely come up with a list of characteristics and traits like this from the U.S. Guidebook for Marines … Courage, decisiveness, dependability, endurance, enthusiasm, initiative, integrity, judgment, justice, knowledge, loyalty, tact, and unselfishness. Of these, a Marine would likely say that integrity is the most important. Integrity to a Marine means to do something right even if nobody is aware of it.

Effective leaders have six traits that distinguish them from non-leaders: drive, the desire to influence others, honesty and moral character, self-confidence, intelligence, and relevant knowledge.

A person's drive shows that he or she is willing and able to exert exceptional effort to achieve a goal. This high-energy person is likely to take the initiative and be persistent.

Leaders have a desire to influence others. This desire is frequently seen as a willingness to accept authority. A leader also builds trusting relationships with those supervised, by being truthful. By showing consistency between their words and actions, leaders display honesty and moral character.

Leaders have self-confidence to influence others to pursue the goals of the organization. Employees tend to prefer a leader who has strong beliefs and is decisive, over one who seems unsure of which decision to make.

Influencing others takes a level of intelligence. A leader needs to gather, synthesize, and interpret a lot of information. Leaders create a vision, develop goals, communicate and motivate, problem-solve, and make decisions. A leader needs a high level of relevant knowledge, technical, theoretical, and conceptual.

Knowledge of the company, its policies and procedures, the department, and the employees are all necessary to make informed decisions.

Effective leaders are able to influence others to behave in a particular way. This is called power There are four primary sources of power:

1. Legitimate power, which is derived from an individual's position in an organization

2. Reward power, which is derived from an individual's control over rewards

3. Coercive power, which is derived from an individual's ability to threaten negative outcomes

4. Expert power, which is derived from an individual's personal charisma and the respect and/or admiration the individual inspires Many leaders have a combination of these sources of power to influence others to goal achievement.

The Nature of Leadership

Now, you may wonder, "What is a leader, and how is it any different from being a manager?" These are good questions. As a part of the management staff, one is expected to produce goods and services by working with people and using resources such as equipment and employees. That is what being a manager is all about. A leader can be defined as someone who guides or influences the actions of his or her employees to reach certain goals. A leader is a person whom people follow voluntarily. What you, as a supervisor, must do is to direct the work of your people in a way that causes them to do it voluntarily. You don't have to be a born leader, you don't have to be magnetic or charismatic; you have to get people to work for you willingly and to the best of their ability. That is what leadership is all about.

Although it is true that many leadership skills are innate and that not all managers make great leaders, it is also true that most managers will benefit from leadership training. Moreover, natural leaders will flourish in an environment that supports their growth and development.


The seven steps to establishing a foundation for leadership development:

1. Commit to investing the time, resources, and money needed to create a culture that supports leadership development.

2. Identify and communicate the differences between management skills and leadership abilities within the organization.

3. Develop quantifiable measurements that support leadership skills. These include percentage of retention, percentage of promotables, and percentage of cross-trained team members.

4. Make leadership skills a focus of management training. These include communication skills (written, verbal, nonverbal, and listening), team-building skills (teamwork, coaching, and feedback), proactive planning skills (transitioning from managing shifts to managing businesses), and interpersonal skills (motivation, delegation, decision-making, and problem-solving).

5. Implement ongoing programs that focus on leadership skills, such as managing multiple priorities, creating change, and presentation skills.

6. Know that in the right culture, leaders can be found at entry level.

7. Recognize, reward, and celebrate leaders for their passion, dedication, and results.


Ill. 1 shows the seven steps to establishing a foundation for leadership development:

In theory, you have authority over your people because you have formal authority, or the right to command, given to you by the organization. You are the boss and you have the power, the ability to command. You control the hiring, firing, raises, rewards, discipline, and punishment. In all reality, your authority is anything but absolute. Real authority is conferred on your subordinates, and you have to earn the right to lead them. It is possible for you to be the formal leader of your work group as well as have someone else who is the informal leader actually calling the shots.

The relationship between you and your people is a fluid one, subject to many subtle currents and cross-currents between them and you. If they do not willingly accept your authority, they have many ways of withholding success.

They can stay home from work, come in late, drag out the work into overtime, produce inferior products, drive your customers away with rudeness and poor service, break the rules, and refuse to do what you tell them to, create crises, and punish you by walking off the job and leaving you in the lurch. Laying down the law, the typical method of control in hospitality operations, does not necessarily maintain authority; on the contrary, it usually creates a negative, nonproductive environment.

What it all adds up to is that your job as a leader is to lead and coach a group of employees who are often untrained, all of whom are different from each other, and many of whom would rather be working somewhere else. You are dependent on them to do the work for which you are responsible. You will succeed only to the degree that they permit you to succeed. It is your job to get the workers to do their best for the enterprise, for the customers, and for you. How can one do this?

As a distinguished leadership expert noted, "Managers are people who do things right, and leaders are people who do the right things." Think about that for a moment. In other words, managers are involved in being efficient and in mastering routines, whereas leaders are involved in being effective and turning goals into reality. As a human resources leader, your job is to do the right things right , to be both efficient and effective. An effective supervisor in the hospitality industry is one whom, first, knows and understands basic principles of management, and second, applies them to managing all the resource operations.

In the hospitality industry we use a technique referred to as LBWA, leadership by walking around, spending a significant part of your day talking to your employees, guests, and peers. As you are walking around and talking to these various people, you should be performing three vital roles discussed in this guide: listening, coaching, and troubleshooting.

Employee Input and What's in It for Me?

Any restaurant that wants to optimize its potential will have extensive employee input into not only the vision and mission but also how to achieve or exceed them. Employees who are engaged with these processes will feel "in on things" and be more likely to go the extra mile to delight guests and create the all important guest loyalty. Employees can have input into the menu, the beverage menu, service methods, tip arrangements, shift selection and allocation, cost reductions, recycling programs, and energy reduction.

It's natural for employees to think or request "what's in it for me?" because if they are going that extra mile they surely need recognition and rewards for outstanding accomplishments.


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This web site offers the highest quality restaurant supplies, restaurant equipment, smallwares, catering supplies, bar supplies and janitorial supplies. Our online catalog contains thousands of restaurant supply items which are always in stock and ready for immediate shipment.

We also offer supplies and tools for home cooks and kitchens, such as dinnerware, flatware, serveware, bakeware and knives to bar and wine accessories. From decanters to dishware, corkscrews to coffee carafes, the details that set off the presentation of a meal were an integral part of our pleasure around the table. You simply can't lose with our ergonomically-engineered, durable and reliable kitchen tools ... all at unbeatable prices with superb after-sale support.

I am not with a restaurant. Can I still purchase restaurant equipment from you?

Although some of the products on this site are primarily for the commercial restaurant supplier, they are available for purchase by the general consumer. However, please be aware that the equipment products they carry are designed for power, utility and heavy use in a commercial foodservice environment. For example, compressors on commercial refrigeration may not be as quiet as today's typical home-use appliances.

What are the main categories of products on this restaurant supply web site?

They are:

  • Restaurant Equipment
  • Dining Room Supplies
  • Kitchen Supplies
  • Bar Supplies
  • Restaurant Furniture
  • Catering Supplies
  • Concession Supplies
  • Janitorial Supplies

What are the brand names of the restaurant supplies on this web site?

Here are our most popular brands:

Advance Tabco
Anchor Hocking
APW Wyott
Arctic Air
Beverage Air
Gold Medal
Hamilton Beach
Hobart Corp.
Homer Laughlin
San Jamar
Star Mfg.
True Mfg.
Wolf Range

What Sets this Vendor Apart From Its Competitors?


An extensive inventory, drawing from a total company inventory that exceeds nine million dollars. In addition to a fully stocked central Distribution Center, product can be pulled from any one of this vendors 12 stores in a matter of days…in other words, customers are well served!

The majority of our product is American made from leading manufacturers in the food service industry. For those who are sensitive to price but still insist on value, Ace Mart now carries a number of high quality imported items. back to top

This vendor invests a considerable amount of time and resources in staffing each store with sales associates who are thoroughly trained and ready to assist customers in finding solutions to their food service problems. Associates take pride in maintaining the friendly and informal atmosphere that has long characterized the company. back to top

Customer Base
Because of this vendor's tremendous purchasing power, the company is able to serve a broad base of customers... from small "mom and pops" to independently owned restaurants, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, to an increasingly large number of multi-unit chain and franchise accounts. Many have come to rely upon their motto: " When You Need It Now!" back to top

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This page was last updated: 29-Feb-2020 , 2013-05-07; prev. 2005-03-06 10:39 PST

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