No matter how good your food, concept or location, your restaurant probably won't be a success if you don't properly organize your business operations. Creating a logical and well-defined chain of command, and managing your various business functions effectively, will help you spot and address the restaurant's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

List your Functions

As a first step in organizing your restaurant, acknowledge all of the functions you will need to execute. These can mirror the functions of any small business, such as:

  • administration
  • marketing
  • production
  • human resources
  • information technology
  • finance

The production function, for example, would focus on your kitchen because it is where you produce your dishes. Marketing would include developing your concept, deciding on your target customer, creating your menus, setting your prices and managing your advertising, promotions, public relations and social media. Your finance function would not only set your annual budget and keep track of monetary transactions, but also work closely with your executive chef on food cost controls and formulas for profitability. A more simple organization scheme for a small restaurant might be to divide your functions into kitchen, dining room and business office.

Create an Organization Chart

Once you know how you will organize your operations, create a detailed organization chart that lists the employees you will hire. Include their functional areas, titles and where they fit in your chain of command. For example, your kitchen might include an executive chef, sous chef, line cooks and dishwashers. Your dining room staff would work under a manager and include servers and bus persons. Depending on the size of your bar, you might have a bar manager and bartenders, or you might place those jobs under the dining room manager. Restaurants often have either the owner or a general manager overseeing all other departments.

Write Job Descriptions

Write detailed job descriptions for each employee to ensure no duties go unattended. For example, your dining room manager will create staff schedules and train new employees. Your executive chef will work with your business and marketing managers to create menu items that can be priced within your brand/concept goals using your agreed-upon food-cost formulas. The executive chef will also determine who cooks, cleans and washes dishes, and set their schedules. In addition, he will order food, track inventory and record waste and theft. Use your written job descriptions to conduct annual reviews, award bonuses and give promotions.

Hold Team Meetings

Part of organizing your business into separate functions requires managing these areas so they work together as one unit. Require regular team meetings of department heads so they understand how their areas affect the other areas of the restaurant. Share achievements to create a sense of teamwork. Allow managers to share problems they’re facing, which might generate suggestions from other managers. For example, the dining room manager might reveal that server tips are down because food is taking too long to leave the kitchen. The executive chef might suggest that the kitchen be given an expediter to improve communication between servers and cooks. In addition to management meetings, have each manager hold function-level staff meetings to keep employees informed.