managing your store vs working a position

So I would love to get some feedback from you all. I have been planning away the opening of my place (dine in, carry out, delivery?) And really trying to plan the best way to be profitable. I have managed corporate restaurants for years and I understand there is a huge difference but when I was there the training specifically said that it as a bad thing to be doing traditional hourly jobs more than a brief period of time during a rush (wash dishes, run food etc). I’m definitely a hands on person and love cooking. I will do whatever I can to make the place profitable but it seems to make sense that my time is better served in the long run talking with guests and working on marketing and keeping the systems humming rather than mixing dough or working the line. I’m trying to develop a staffing needs/schedule. Do I plan on being behind the line or register to keep labor down or am I shooting myself in the foot? What do you guys do? What works for you? Are you profitable? I’d love to hear thOughts. I know to start you you are going to be spending more on labor but if you drive sales it seems it would pay for that investment in spades. Thanks.

Plan on training, supervising, mentoring, and evaluating everyday, all day. Plan on filling the gap as you weed through employees and respond to changes in business volume. From the few people I’ve met and evaluated with ‘corporate, high volume’ restaurant experience, I’ve learned that they’re better at writing and planning than they are at implementing and executing. They have been very poor at evaluating and identifying business trends. They have been exceptionally poor in training and supervision. Overall, I would never hire someone with that background.

You will be the head chef, head waiter, head dishwasher, head bartender, head technician, head deliveryman, head HR manager, head book keeper, head financial officer, and head promoter. You will set, identify, train, and evaluate everyone on every task within the business.

You will adapt your approach to your surroundings, what works for some, may not work for you. As you acquire and retain good personnel, you’ll be able to train them to be effective supervisors, allowing you to apply more time promoting the business while have confidence in operations. *I would not recommend hiring “managers, or supervisors”, I’d groom and promote from those I’ve already trained.

I run a very profitable business, think highest income bracket, but it didn’t happen overnight. I can also DO everything in the business. I value and pay my employees FAR more than my competitors and have very high retention. I do not have corporate restaurant management or employment experience.

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I would agree on most of the corporate types but the company i worked for lettuce entertain you in Chicago is very different, the fostered a environment of entrepreneurship.

I was happy to see this thread as my partner and I have been discussing the possibility of fully staffing our shop, in fact, I was just working out some numbers to see logistically how it would play out. We have been open 4 years and are looking at some other opportunities/streams of income that would obviously take us away from the day to day. Having been very hands on since day one, I’m finding it quite difficult thinking about handing the baton to my crew and not because I don’t trust them but rather because I’ve always had the mentality “if you want it done right, do it yourself”. This obviously is not self serving if the end goal is to have the place operate like a well oiled machine without you needing to be there constantly yourself to oversee and jump in when necessary.

I still struggle with this myself. Fighting between being the owner or the operator. I am too much of a control freak to give too much power to somebody else. I realize that can sometimes be a flawed way to think. But my working 6 days a week has taken one of my stores and doubled the sales. I have learned over the years to back off a little and let the store run. On a Friday night I used to be on line cooking. I have backed off from that and try to manage all the positions watching all areas putting out fires, etc. I have quite a few good people and until they are given the opportunity, you never know what they are capable of.
Being a new place, I personally would start with the operator mentality and teach your staff by showing them the way you want things done. Expect to be the cook, prep, customer service, etc. And down the road make the shift to owner. But it all comes down to what you want out of it and what kind of employees you pull in.

Thank you for your reply. Sounds like a realistic plan.

You have to do/be aware of everything yourself. At first. Once established it is false economy to replace a $15 an hour employee ( approx $2,700 a month total cost ) with yourself. It will cost you WAY more than that in mistakes, decisions being made by staff, instead of you, while your too busy building pies or whatever. You will NOT be able to work a full time position within the biz AND oversee and manage and promote effectively. When we opened our second location I worked part time as cook during some lunches and managed the rest of the time.
An example… We are all bombarded with salespeople trying to get us involved with or buy or etc etc… Your too busy building pies to at least look at what they are selling. I wasn’t, so I listened to a salesperson for the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses. $280 a year membership. Each location. They have a discount program established with a c card/interac processor that happened to be who I was using. Long story short, one form, one phone call, I’m now saving over $200 a month in fees. I shopped rates every six months prior so was confident I had a good deal…
A year and a bit later both locations are ran by a GM and I ride my motorcycle full time. Heading to Texas on Monday, back to Phoenix for bike week and then home.

Thanks for your reply. How long would you say before you are straight managing? What kind of bike? I have 2009 hd cross bones.

I just realized I missed a key component of what you have to plan for. No paycheque for a minimum of first year. Yes, I’m serious.
If you are planning to take a paycheque within first twelve months you better understand that your business plan needs to incorporate having that expected annual salary, in cash, on deposit, the day you open the doors. Yahoo if if you do not need to use it. Just understand that that is a very unusual scenario… VERY… Might be hard to believe but most business guru types would actually say two years… It was close to three years before I took a dollar from my first location.
Re bikes… Have a heavily modded 130+HP Road King and just bought a '13 RoadGlide Ultra. Recent inductee to the Iron Butt Association. Leaving Monday from Vancouver Island riding to El Paso. Be there in under 48 hrs. Yeah, we have a defective gene…
IBA member #57135

On the flip side, when I opened my store I was paying myself every two weeks from the get-go and had money left over at the end of the month to put back into the business. But I had the advantage of working with my wife, we both came from GM jobs and we’ve been paying ourselves the same we were making back then since we opened. Granted, we work a lot more… but it’s worth it. Obviously this is probably nothing to count on, but I just wanted to throw out that it’s possible. We’re also trying to ‘step away’ a bit, it’s very hard. Each year for Pizza Expo we build up a crew to get us through the days we are gone… we really can’t seem to find people willing to work and climb the ladder, both my wife and I worked from the bottom to the top, we didn’t think it would be hard to find a few employees like us and give them the opportunity to take control… but everyone seems so complacent with seemingly no ambition. It’s frustrating.

As stated, you are most assuredly the exception to the rule… Having said that, you have to “build up a crew” so you can go away for a for a few days? We all do things differently.
My goal was to have a business that payed me while the EMPLOYEES worked. Isn’t that why somebody would want to own a business? Others worked and you, as the owner, decided when and how you worked?

My goal was to make a bunch of money. I guess I could pay someone half of what I make and go home but that would not be as fun as paying myself all of it. Of course, ask me in 20 years when I’m in my 50’s and I might have a different outlook.

As for building a crew, I had my morning opener leave each year in the beginning of March. So yes, we have plenty of people to work dinner and close but once again we find ourselves making sure the morning is taken care of when we’re not here. Our best employees have classes so it makes it hard to cross-train them in the mornings. We found someone who we’re excited about, and we’ll be good to go until he decides he wants to do something else with his life. I’m guessing next March sometime.

Our situations sounds very similar Pizzanow! Working with a spouse, wanting to bank as much money as possible while we are young, having great employees that are occupied with classes during the day, finding that seldom does someone want to climb the ladder, etc. My goal all along was the same as Boatnuts, to have employees work while I get paid as well. However I am discovering that this is probably much easier to do from the get-go rather than transition to. As they say, I’d like to be working ON my business rather than IN my business. Its a double edged sword, if you start from the beginning with a full crew rarely can you take any money home in the beginning but you are setting the business up to be self sufficient without working in the trenches. On the flip side, if you work from day one you likely can take a paycheck home since you are doing the job of 2-3 regular employees however that comes at the cost of constantly working and having a hard time disconnecting from the role of working IN the business. Just my 2 cents…

We interviewed someone the other day that would have been great to ‘take over’… when I talked with my wife about it, we asked how much we would require this guy to do… and the answer was, ‘Not much’. There wasn’t much we were willing to give up in order to justify paying this guy what he wanted (and was probably worth). We just had our 2 year anniversary, and I am in no hurry to give up the grind just yet. There is still too many things I want to do before I feel our store is ‘finished’ as far as the things I want to add/implement.