Right now I work about 50-60 hours per week. But, not one of those hours is spent as an hourly employee and there are no times that I HAVE to be at the restaurant. It took almost 3 years to get here…
For the first 3 months I was there open to close, seven days per week. Eventually, one of my guys stepped into the role of assistant manager, and I was able to get out of there for some day shifts while he watched the place.
Pretty soon, he was running the days by himself and I never had to be there. I turned food ordering over to him during that time. I would work on marketing and accounting during the day, and work as the night manager from 4:00pm to Close, 7 days.
Then we found a part-time night manager. I still remember the first night I left that store to him… it was pretty scary. He only covered two nights per week, and I still had the rest.
By the 18 month mark I had an assistant manager closing every night, but I was still there for many of them. I would get them through the rush and then take off and let the manager close. I usually was out by 8:00pm or so.
Today, my original daytime assistant manager is the General Manager. He takes care of all day-to-day operational items. I could never step foot inside the actual store and everything would run just fine without me. He does all ordering, scheduling, hiring, firing, etc. I spend all of my time doing marketing, accounting, vendor meetings, menu planning, etc… plus laying the preliminary plans for our second location, which we’re negotiating the lease for now.
I still spend a lot of time at the store of course, usually in the daytime. And I’m always there on Friday and Saturday nights, but not as a scheduled cook. I cruise the dining room, talk to my employees and customers, and just generally oversee everything. The GM is also there every Fri and Sat night, along with some really good assistant managers. The important thing is that I don’t have to be there… if my wife and I want to make plans there’s nothing holding me back.
This was my goal all along. When I first opened, I planned on having managers run the store by the 6th month. That was way over-optimistic! But, it wasn’t that much longer I suppose. It really comes down to if this is what you want. I know a lot of you LOVE working in your stores. I’m not so fond of it. I’m much more drawn to the business side of things, and my goal is to be a multi-unit operator.
For those of you reaching for this goal, there’s three major things you need:
- The right manager. Find somebody you trust with your store and start training them. Once you think they’re ready, you can’t be afraid to give 'em the keys. Let them handle a shift a week or so while you stay at home. Keep your phone nearby just in case, but RELAX.
Something you probably don’t want to hear… the right managers will cost you MONEY. Don’t hire somebody at 50 cents more than your cooks and expect him to be a great manager. There’s a reason he’s working for nearly minimum wage with high school employees. I learned this lesson the hard way, repeatedly. My managers (and especially my GM) are compensated VERY well. My GM also gets a cut of the profits.
Systems. Make sure you have a system laid out for EVERYTHING. Opening, prepping, how to make a pizza, how to resolve customer complaints, how to close… everything. You can’t leave the knowledge locked in your head, and you can’t expect your employees to figure it out on their own. This was one of the first things I started working on when I opened.
Training. Your managers need to know how to do everything you do if you really want to not be “at the store.” If you have a night off and can’t go more than 5 miles in case they call you, you might as well just go in. Make lists of everything you do throughout the week, and then make sure your guys are trained on how to do them.