Do you have manager meetings? Not the passing-in-the-hall quick conversations, but actual sit-down meetings where you focus on moving the business forward? If you are, are they effective? 

Communication in restaurants is key to getting anything done, from cleaning to profitability. The challenge is making sure you get your message across in a manner that everyone understands and can execute what you want done how you want it done. 

To do this right, you must have sit-down manager meetings that focus on moving the business forward. Sit-down meetings are where you get things DONE.

I know what you’re saying to yourself: “David, I meet with my managers almost daily, and we still have this problem.”

When you say that to me, I’m going to tell you very quickly, the “meetings” you’re having with your managers, where you stop them in passing, those are not a manager meeting. And worse, those “meetings” lead to more problems.

A manager meeting is scheduled on a weekly basis. It’s not a five-minute tirade over what didn’t get done at closing the night before. It’s a weekly, scheduled time, set aside to review goals, expectations and challenges and then brainstorm solutions.

It is also mandatory. 

To begin having effective restaurant management team meetings, follow these seven steps: 

1. Plan properly and ahead of time.

2. Make attendance mandatory.

3. Collect info for the meeting and create an agenda in advance.

4. Stay on track. 

5. Facilitate and communicate. 

6. Assign specific actions. 

7. Take notes. 

Step 1–Plan

This is the step where you look at last week’s priorities and goals and audit where they are. Did they get accomplished, did you hit your goals or were there things that happened that delayed results? Take the time to really look at things with a detailed eye. 

Meet with your general manager and communicate the goals for the next week. This is your opportunity to make sure your general manager is on the same page as you. You are also setting the general manager up for success to conduct an effective and efficient managers’ meeting.

Next, create your list of goals for you and your team for the upcoming week. Be specific and clear in the list of what you want done, how you want it done, how well you want it done and more importantly by when. Without deadlines, nothing would get done.

Step 2–Make it mandatory.

If you want to ensure attendance, make sure everyone understands the meeting is mandatory. Do your managers a favor and make sure to switch up the days of the mandatory meeting so that the same employee isn’t coming in on his or her day off. Every. Single. Time. 

You can still set this up on a regular schedule so everyone can plan to attend the meeting,
but rotate the day of the week when you have the meeting. 

Step 3–Create agenda and collect data.

Whether it’s you or your general manager who will create the agenda, use your list of goals for the week, to create the agenda for the meeting. 

Make sure you have your numbers and appropriate reports, such as your prime cost targets, key item report, waste sheets, marketing materials, etc. Have everything ready so when you hand out the agenda, everyone has everything they need to
be successful. 

Step 4–Stay on track. 

Be sure to stick to this agenda. If and when a NEW topic comes up, make sure you determine if it should be tabled until the next meeting or if you need to set up a sidebar meeting after the manager meeting. When you don’t control
the topics, start and stop time, manager meetings go forever. 

Your manager meetings should run 60-90 minutes. Anything longer than 90 minutes creates an environment where your managers get frustrated because they feel you don’t value their time, and they start tuning you out.

Step 5–Facilitate and communicate.

One of the biggest questions I get all the time is, “I’m the owner, shouldn’t I conduct the meeting?” The short answer is NO, unless you fulfill the general manager role as well. Your general manager is going to be held accountable for these goals, so you need to put them in a leadership role and demonstrate that the general manager is the other managers’ direct supervisor.

When conducting the meeting, the general manager should only be talking about 20 percent of the time and clear expectations must be laid out. This is because your managers have come to the meetings knowing what they are responsible for because you have assigned them their duties in step three. They should present to the group on their areas of responsibility. You want every manager engaged and participating in the meeting.

Step 6–Assign specific actions. 

Break down the steps for what needs to be done and who is going to be responsible for each step. Assign deadlines and benchmarks because you want to delegate effectively, helping everyone on the team to be successful. 

Step 7–Take notes. 

Assign someone to take notes and then distribute the notes to everyone. This keeps everyone focused on moving forward. 

If you’re tired of things not getting done, tired of not making the money your restaurant should be making and/or tired of being frustrated daily with everyone’s performance—owner or manager—then you’ll want to follow these seven simple steps.