When a company grows to a certain size, the way its employees are managed must also evolve. Many a bar operator starts out as the sole owner / operator of their business, and they often fill a labor role while they pursue opportunities to expand, open new venues, and create more value. This provides the owners with some level of assurance that things will be done a certain way because they are physically there overseeing operations.
However, when a business starts expanding into different cities, success is less determined by the abilities of the owner and is more so about the abilities of the people hired. Despite the input from some management consultants who theorize about what makes good managers, bar management must be approached in a sometimes unconventional way due to the unique nature of a bar or nightclub environment.
Read below for three unconventional tips for managing hospitality employees in multiple venues.
Make a Big Deal over Small Things
Many years ago, there was a book published by Richard and Kristine Carlson entitled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. The book is basically a permission slip to slack off, not be fanatical about details, and be lenient.
These people obviously did not build a large hospitality company; high-level operators are very concerned about small details.
For example, something “small” like not refilling the bathroom soap dispensers before a big event can lead to embarrassing situations that can literally destroy your reputation. If one of the people who can’t wash their hands properly is a VIP client, you risk losing that client and all subsequent income that customer would spend with you.
To avoid these catastrophes, you must be concerned about the smallest details. Bring every little thing that was not done exactly the way you wanted it done to the attention of your managers when you inspect your locations. If you are laid back in your demeanor when reviewing the performance of your staff, they will not step their game up to avoid your harsh criticism. Despite the high-pressure work environment this kind of attitude creates, this is a standard practice for companies that are managing multiple locations.
Limit Your Availability
A company will only grow if managers are self-sufficient and can perform any and every task required for smooth operations. Often times, when a company gets to the point of three to five venues, the owner struggles with letting go of the day-to-day tasks and effectively delegating to the managers. These operators compulsively feel that the need to step in to fix every little problem that their managers could probably handle themselves. However, because the owner makes him- or herself available for every little problem, the manager learns to simply call the owner every time a problem comes up and lets him handle it. This creates tremendous frustration and limits growth.
How can you develop fully self-sufficient leaders who solve problems instead of dumping them on your plate? The harsh reality operators in this scenario don’t want to hear is this: Your presence is likely what is holding your managers back from becoming self-sufficient, reliable and fully responsible. Managers are much like children, and there will come a time when you have to boot them out of the house and see them make it on their own. That means you will have to watch them fail from time to time, and do things in their own way. This is an absolute nightmare for operators with controlling personalities but it is essential to learn when managing multiple venues.
When your goal is to create independent managers you must adopt a new view of management and what your role is ultimately as an owner. Whereas before the owner’s role started out being in the trenches and fighting with the troops, in order to grow an owner must transition into more of a mentoring role, encouraging independence and self-reliance among the staff.
Unannounced, random audits of performance are a regular part of maintaining high operating standards as a company grows. Chop Steakhouse & Bar, a national restaurant chain with locations throughout Canada, ACE audits have become things of legend. The company regularly sends in secret shoppers that are fully versed in the standards of service, cleanliness, typical food and drink quality, and every other little thing you can think of. These audits keep their managers prepared and constantly on top of their game. When an owner’s visit is announced, managers can take extra steps to prepare for it. However, secret shoppers create an entirely new dynamic, one that ensures operating standards can be maintained despite the physical presence of the owner.