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Old 10-04-2012, 03:11 AM
 
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I want to open a restaurant with a friend within 2 years, were both under 30, single. we know the chances are low, but if we go broke, we can still recover. were going all in, in real life.

so far, I see that being a boss, you have to have 3 skills, its manage people, time, and money. what I see in my supervisors is that they are getting paid x amount of money over the workers to manage them. for them, its very hard to motivate workers if they are getting paid close to min wage, for the supervisor its a career, while for the worker they are just there to make a buck, then leave. managing people is one of my hardest thing, i'm trying to improve myself everyday to grow a thicker skin on my face. i can see that managing people, some of them are in a different walk of life, some of them have their own issues and demons, and one wrong word can make them explode.

are there any other things i need to really know that is very important?
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:12 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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The knowledge and skills needed to run a business are many, finance, marketing, in your case culinary ability, in addition to managing people. Your motivation for transient employees is the threat of firing if they don't perform as expected. Your expectations should be given in writing and they need to be monitored regularly to ensure that any problems are dealt with right away before they start chasing away the customers. When you interview people pay close attention to the answer when you ask why they want the job. If you can read their body language and determine the difference between the truth and "what they think you want to hear" you will be able to make good selections. There are people out there with a real work ethic, that will do their best even for minimum wage.
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:55 AM
 
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I would recommend taking a class on supervision and/or industrial relations.

The *best* classes for this are university "extension" or "post graduate" classes held in the evening or on weekends - where all the students in the class are supervisors and the teacher is also a working supervisor (industrial relations, a working lawyer which defends companies from employee lawsuits). Then you learn a LOT. Not only from the teacher, but from the other students as well.

Think about that as compared with classes where all the students in the class have never supervised anyone before and the teacher is a teacher full time. Quite a difference!

Then read this book...
The One Minute Manager: Ken Blanchard,Spencer Johnson: 9780007107926: Amazon.com: Books

Beyond the above, a few classes on basic psychology can be a big help. For the legal stuff and avoiding pitfalls, search google.com for the following words and read, read, read...
employee lawsuits

And you may find that either you or your friend might be more of a "people person", have patience with employees, understand their problems better, or whatever. If that is the case, then that person should handle problems with employees.

And then restaurants can get into trouble or can save money by the way they pay workers, specifically waiters/waitresses. Tax laws constantly change! I would recommend asking other restaurants who their CPA is, then go ask the CPA the best way to pay employees / keep the IRS happy.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:01 AM
 
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Location. I've managed theatres from northern Vermont to south Florida and many places in between. Even above any skill in managing and motivating, the location and mores of the employees make a HUGE difference. There were some locales where finding an employee that was up to the standards of the WORST employee in a different area was a treat. Slightly upscale areas within areas with colleges or universities seem to be best, chronically impoverished areas (city or country) with low education standards are the pits.

As an employer of minimum wage young people, you are a trainer and will be spending a lot of time teaching. That is the trade-off. Once an employee gets really good, they will leave for a better job. Understand that and wish them well.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:32 PM
 
28,900 posts, read 48,683,325 times
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I was a contributor to this book. No, I don't get any money off its sales:

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting A Restaurant,2nd Edition: Howard Cannon: 9781592574162: Amazon.com: Books

I am NOT trying to discourage you. Owning a business can be highly rewarding, both emotionally and financially. But owning a business can also be the total opposite. And restaurants, above almost all other businesses, are dicey operations. So if you're going to own a restaurant you really need to know what you're doing, and you better be prepared to work really hard.

Management is harder than it looks, by the way. Because you have to be 50% brigadier general, 50% quality control fanatic, 50% life coach, 50% morale officer, and 50% a whole lot of other things that the rank and file simply aren't aware of. Juggling cats, spinning plates, whatever figurative language you use, you'll be dealing with competing priorities at all times. This is why your current managers, even the most competent ones, tend to need a little management of their own from time to time.

Some quick pointers:

1) Be really, really good at what you're going to do. If you aren't phenomenal in the kitchen, don't even start. This should be true of just about anything. It's an all-or-nothing proposition. Save your money if you're not 100% convinced that you can put a great plate of food out there every night.

2) Begin with a brand. Be able to answer this question with absolute conviction: "How is your business different from all the other competitors out there?" Because if you're just opening up another pizza place or whatever in a town where there are already plenty of those, you're dead before you even open. So have a hook, a really good hook, one that people can't readily duplicate.

3) Market, market, and market some more. This is the number one reason for the failure of small businesses. Yeah, everybody says Location, Location, Location, and there's a great deal of truth to that. But a well-marketed restaurant in a decent location will best a well-located restaurant any day of the week. The mistake people make when beginning a business is that they figure out their operating expenses down to the last paper clip, and then throw in a $500 budget to cover marketing, without knowing the true costs of anything. $500 might get you an ad in the paper and a banner, but that's about it. And how are you going to continue promoting? It is really a 52-week a year effort.

Fortunately, if you're in the restaurant biz, social media has provided some really great avenues for you to elbow your way to the forefront such as Yelp! and Urban Spoon. These have become the go-to for people looking for new and different places to eat. So if you are actively working those, as well as devoting time to a viable Facebook presence (No, I don't mean getting 20 likes among your friends and family, either. I mean actively promoting your restaurant AND the experience of eating there. Not just the special of the day) then you have a grassroots campaign without a huge expenditure. Groupon can work, too, but you have to be exceedingly careful with it. I know restaurant owners who tried it, had a short-term bump in revenue and were almost overwhelmed as the coupon neared expiration date.

4) Have a fanatical devotion to your product. Do not put food on the table unless you're really proud of it. Because while Yelp! and UrbanSpoon can be valuable marketing tools, they are also double-edged swords. If multiple people have a bad meal with you, they'll crucify you on those sites. So I would look on those sites daily for reviews of your place and publicly respond if someone had a bad experience. Heck, give them a complimentary meal. That's the best way I know to win back somebody's loyalty after a bad experience.

5) Have a fanatical devotion to the dining experience. Unless you're running a hot dog stand, people aren't just eating at your place -- They're taking a break from their job at lunch, they're wanting a break from cooking themselves, and they're looking for a place to sit and chill after a long day of traveling on business. In fact, I'll take that back. There are several hot dog stands I frequent and, at every one of them, the owner knows his customers by name, and keeps a running patter with all his patrons. As a result people feel like they know the guy because they think he knows him. So even at the most elementary level, having rapport with your customers is absolutely critical.

That means while the food itself is half the equation, the experience your diners will have is the second half. All you need is an inattentive waiter, a slow kitchen, or any number of other factors, and you will also be ruined by bad reviews on Yelp!

And here's one more thing I've never understood about restaurants. When the diner has declined to order anything else, BRING THEM THE CHECK PROMPTLY. I cannot tell you how many times I've enjoyed a good meal and then moldered forever while the server goes AWOL with my American Express card. Hey, maybe we're trying to make a show on time. Maybe we need to relieve the babysitter. Maybe we're just tired and want to go home. At that point, give us what we want. If we pay the bill and then linger for a few more minutes, that's fine. But give us that option, okay?

6) If you serve alcohol, watch the bar like a hawk. Have a bartender you trust. Because it's so hard to measure what's been served and because so much cash changes hands, a crooked bartender can rob you blind. At one of the most successful restaurants I ever knew, the owner of the place didn't supervise the kitchen and didn't supervise the maitre 'd. She sat there and watched the bar, her fingers poised over a ten-key adding machine, adding up the drinks that were served that night. She sold the place after 25 years and, as legend has it, the new owners just weren't as vigilant. They were out of business inside of a year.

7) You better love what you do, because it's a hard biz. Not discouraging you. Just telling you what it's going to be like. My next-door neighbor is a restaurateur, running a very successful white-tablecloth place. He leaves for work at 10 every morning and gets home around 1:30 or 2:00 the following morning. To be sure, he's not spending every moment dicing vegetables or standing over a hot stove, but you get the idea.

8) It's better to start five years from now well-capitalized than start two years from now on a shoestring. I cannot tell you how important this is. I've known people who mortgaged their house to open a business only to shut their doors a few months later, all because they didn't have enough money saved up. Save like a demon, rob liquor stores if you have to, but have a large and substantial rainy day fund. And be armed with pessimistic cash flow projections, because those will be likely to be correct.

9) I don't care how close you and your friend are. Going into business with a partner is like getting married. And just like all successful marriages, there has to be a hard-headed meeting of the minds on how things are going to work moving forward. If one of you is the majority shareholder, if you have different responsibilities, if one of you is lending the company money, then write. it. down. Everything. And just like a marriage, do not let someone just get pissed off and leave. Like a marriage you have to be absolutely transparent with one another. And, like a marriage, you have to be diplomatic when you have a disagreement. Trust me on this.

So good luck!

Last edited by cpg35223; 10-04-2012 at 03:58 PM..
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:47 AM
 
19,153 posts, read 58,209,195 times
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Excellent post, CPG. "Management is harder than it looks, by the way. Because you have to be 50% brigadier general, 50% quality control fanatic, 50% life coach, 50% morale officer, and 50% a whole lot of other things that the rank and file simply aren't aware of." Abso-frikking-loutely!
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