to busy for your own restaurant

Posted on In Focus Sep 2011 - by Tandoori Editor
to busy for your own restaurant

Ajmal Mushtaq tells Tandoori how to deliver better results, create more free time for yourself and add value to your restaurant.

Equipment broken down, staff not turned up, administrative tasks, VAT, tax, updating website, management, advertising and marketing, team training, meetings, numerous sales calls per day, serving your customers, quality controlling the food, general maintenance, banking, health and safety, numerous fund raising requests per day and staff training. These are just a few of the tasks we restaurateurs are faced with every day.
All very time consuming of course, and not all always easy to handle either. You really have to know what you are doing because one too many mis-steps can make you trip and make the wrong decision and that in itself can be risky for your business.
Running a restaurant may look easy from the outside – I have heard far too many customers who have sat in a restaurant and wished they too could be running a restaurant. Not that there is anything wrong with having a dream, but turning that into a reality is something quite different, and then you have to keep it afloat. 
In many cases, it is a daily firefight. So the question is – “how do you timetable all your activities to ensure you are running your restaurant as effectively as possible?” 
I enjoy running Mushtaqs restaurant. I also enjoy planning the next steps. I enjoy a lot of free time (three days per week). So how do you get to this stage? The answer is you need to set the agenda rather than constantly responding to situations. I timetabled all the tasks and allocated set amounts of time against each and this has delivered the results that I wanted – a great business where I have plenty of free time.
Here is how I have prioritised my working week.
Customer Service 50% - Most restaurants are only busy between 12 – 2pm or between 5pm and 9.30pm. This leaves plenty of spare time in between to work on other areas. As the customer is the most important person in the business, it makes sense to spend the majority of the time on the front line delivering great customer service. I am on the front line four evenings per week and spend time ensuring every aspect of the Mushtaqs service is as it should be. 
Staff Training 15% - This is critical for the success of Mushtaqs. I spend 15% of my working week training, motivating, enthusing and empowering my team. The customers get great service and the staff feel really valued. As a result of this training, there are almost no instances where the staff don’t come to work. But the greatest benefit of this training is that it ensures that the service is to the standard that I have set – even when I am not there. This allows me to take off up to three days per week. 
Quality Control 15% - At Mushtaqs the management team and I spend 15% of our time on quality control. This fosters a culture of excellent food and ensures the kitchen team are under the same scrutiny as the service team. The quality control is conducted through ‘formal checks’ and ‘taste tests’ as soon as the food is cooked. In addition to this, we have anonymous testing, spot checks and mystery diners. The combination of all of these puts pressure on the kitchen team to deliver every item of food to the same high standard. 
Operations 10% - This includes all the different elements that you need in order to run the business smoothly. For this section, I focus on ordering to set systems so we are never caught short of stock, conducting stock checks and rotation to minimize wastage, general maintenance and servicing of food machinery and ensuring the award-winning hygiene standards are being maintained. 
Office 10% - Spending as little as 10% in the office is sufficient for me. All the Tax, VAT, Employee, Health & Safety, Immigration, Banking, Marketing etc files and actions are all organised in such a manner that the actual administration of business takes the least time. It makes sense for me to spend as little time in the office as possible as many of these actions do not add any value to the customer. 
The key point is to have a framework within which you operate. Once you achieve a timetable and framework for your actions, many of the tasks that previously caused you headache at short notice will be minimized and you can look forward to enjoying running your business and enjoying your time off. Set the agenda rather than responding to problems. 
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