You’ve read your entire “Restaurant Owner Instruction Manual” right?
Who are we kidding? That’s a fantasy. Most of us got into this business on a wing and a prayer… and sheer willpower.

So, for your own sanity and from my personal experience as a restaurant owner for over 26 years, I felt compelled to create this list.

These aren’t meant to scare you but to remind you how much you’re loved and needed. Owning a restaurant and providing a place for people to go to celebrate life is an intricate part of our society as human beings.

1. Owning a restaurant isn’t a job. It’s part of who you are. You have to love serving other people to own a restaurant. You work to see the smiles on their faces; you’re nourishing someone’s body and soul. You create memories. It’s not a job; it’s part of who you are. Restaurants are the cornerstone of our society. You’ve chosen a worthy career.

2. Nobody cares more about your restaurant than you do. Employees and customers don’t have the same commitment; they have their own things to care about. You put in your blood, sweat, and tears. You might’ve put up your house. You might’ve put up your kid’s college fund. You might’ve made a lot of sacrifices. You might be going through a tough time right now. But remember, nobody cares more about your restaurant than you do.

3. You will always be a restaurant owner. Everybody wants to rub elbows with the owner of the restaurant. Everybody wants preferential treatment. Use it as a marketing tool. Through social media, videos, and emails, let people get to know you personally.

4. You will never be able to eat out and not analyze everything. You can learn different things and steal and deploy them in your own restaurants; it can be very distracting. So, when you go out, try to relax and enjoy yourself, but let people know you’ll probably analyze everything in the place.

5. Your suppliers will lie to you. Find the good ones and hold on to them, especially local suppliers with good reps. Salespeople are in it for themselves. You want people that view you and your business as a partnership. And when you find them, they’ll save your butt plenty of times. Suppliers that you can count on to make your life easier and make your business more profitable. Treat them with respect; treat them as a partner.

6. Employees will lie to you too. And if they’re lying to you, they’re lying to your customers, they’re lying to the other employees. You want people you can trust who will respect you, your business, and your customers because your business is your livelihood; it’s your life. Find the good ones and hold on to those. If you have an employee that’s a problem, get rid of them, FAST. Always be in a constant state of looking for good employees. There is nothing more contagious than a toxic employee. It will destroy your culture.

7. Nine to five, Monday through Friday, does not apply to you. Your busiest times are the weekends, nights, and holidays. There are restaurant owners who have figured out how to work 20-25 hours a week because they have the systems in place, but 99% of restaurant owners do not.
If you like being there on Friday and Saturday because running the floor and meeting and greeting customers is fun, great. Do that. But if you don’t enjoy it or frequently miss out on important family and friend events, figure it out and hire somebody to manage. Learn to delegate. Create systems to solve issues without your input. You run the business; it shouldn’t run you.

8. You will miss most of the holidays because of your restaurant. Those are money days. Find a way to rotate with managers or bring your family to celebrate at the restaurant with you. Celebrate the day before the day or the weekend after. Don’t miss out on family events because of the business, find a creative way to keep connected.

9. Your restaurant isn’t your life. You need to have a life outside of your restaurant. Take a day off a week to recharge, and turn that phone off. They’ll figure it out. You probably have people right now who would excel when given the opportunity to be in charge. Let go of at least one day a week. You will be a more successful restaurant owner and be happier, healthier, and live longer.

10. Owning a restaurant is one of the hardest things you will ever do. If you can figure out how to make it by owning a restaurant with all those employees, with the economy, the number of customers you serve, with the fluctuating costs of food and supplies… you win.

Pat yourself on the back, and take stock of your accomplishments. If you’re making a profit, you’re doing better than 90 percent of the independent restaurants today. They’re just surviving; they’re just getting by. If you’re making a profit and successful, you can do anything.

If you can be successful in owning a restaurant, you can do anything in life.

Isn’t that a nice thought? You’re a warrior of your business, community, and family. You are appreciated. Keep fighting the good fight, and we will continue to help you create the restaurant of your dreams.

If you need help turning your restaurant into a profit machine that supports the lifestyle you deserve, then jump on a quick DFY Strategy Marketing Session with a DFY Restaurant Marketing Expert. The first one is FREE. A $297 value. Let us identify where your gaps are in getting more new customers and filling those empty seats.

Michael Thibault

Known as β€œThe Done For You Marketing Guy for Restaurants.” International Speaker on Restaurant Marketing. Published contributing author of 4 Marketing Books. Industry expert on Google Searches and Review Sites. Recovering Independent Restaurant Owner and Caterer of over 21 years. And, all-around good guy.