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The Restaurateur: Restaurant Management Blog

Tips, tricks and hacks for a more smoothly running restaurant

09 Apr


The 11 Pains of Restaurant Operation

April 9, 2015 | By |

How many ways do you hurt? I’m not talking about your back or that cut on your finger. I’m not even talking about how much your head hurts after you talked to that one employee. I’m talking about the pains of restaurant management. How many different pains can you name?

We’ve come up with our list of the top 11 pains of restaurant management. Do you have any to add?

1.) Chaos

Nothing drains more out of you or costs you as much money as chaos. It results in higher food cost, low morale and ultimately customers who are scared to return. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to solving it. What’s the cause and what steps are required to fix it?

>>Download: Chaos Costs You Money Flyer

2.) Not enough customers

It’s self-evident, that to be successful, you need customers. What can you do to get more people in the door? Marketing works but it takes time, and how do you know what things work and how to prioritize them?

>>Download: More Customers Flyer

3.) Bills are too high

Most restaurants begin with a plan that balances expenses, revenue and profit. The pain comes when things start to change and the balance gets disrupted. Rents go up, beef prices go crazy, and a flood in California turns lettuce into gold. It’s tough to maintain balance.

How to retain your star employees4.) High employee turnover

It’s simply a fact at many restaurants: the staff you have this month may not be the staff you have next month.

>>Download: 5 Things You Can Do Now to Improve Your Labor Situation

5.) Competition

Success breeds competition. If you’re successful, other savvy restaurateurs are going to try to ride your coattails. To stay on top though, you’ve got to be forever pushing to be better.

>>Download: Love Your Customers and Beat Your Competition

6.) Theft

It might be something like taking a longer break or something bigger like walking out the door with a case of meat, but to some degree, theft happens in most restaurants. You’ve got to have safeguards in place or your profit is getting away from you.

7.) Bad data

Of course we see customers coming to us all the time with this pain. It’s hard to manage your restaurant if you don’t know your food cost, labor cost and profit. It’s not something you should just guess at.

8.) Can’t find good people

There’s an adage that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. I think every manager has wondered at one point, where those 20% of workers are! Seriously though, wouldn’t it be great if you could only hire high-performers?

9.) Working too much

I’ve seen studies that show the average restaurant manager works 65 hours a week. That takes a giant bite out of your family time and makes recharging a challenge.

10.) Bad online reviews

You do all this work and make great food. You’ve got a beautiful place and hire good people and then some yahoo writes a bad review. It’s a fact of doing business in the 21st century. You need a plan for addressing the negative reviews and flooding the channel with positive ones.

11.) Lack of profit

How’s your bottom line? Are you doing everything right but still think you should be making more money? Lots of restaurateurs are in that boat!

The 11 pains of restaurant operation>>They say the first step in solving a problem is to identify it. Maybe this article did that for you. The thing to remember is that all of these are solvable — in fact, the links above will take you to some tips to do just that. Over the coming weeks, look for more articles here and more tips to help eliminate some of these pains.

>>We’ve created a fun little poster about the 11 Pains. Click here to download it!


25 Mar


From WhenToManage to PeachWorks

March 25, 2015 | By |

An open letter to customers, partners, and friends 

You may have heard that we recently changed our name from WhenToManage to PeachWorks. Names matter, so this change was not undertaken lightly. We were inspired. Inspired by all the innovations we see happening in the restaurant landscape – and all the innovations that are still to come. Innovations that are being shaped by next-gen technology.

Why did we change our name?  (A name change and a game change!)

Our goal over the past decade has always been to bring you the very best in restaurant software. We are incredibly excited about what we see as the next technology revolution in our new restaurant operating system, Peach. With new and more powerful cloud-based applications that work the way you do, Peach is changing the landscape of restaurant and food service management. Applications that become so seamless, so helpful, and so second nature that restaurant managers will wonder what to do with all the extra time they save – and why it wasn’t always this easy!

We chose this time to change our name – to better reflect this vision and our growth as a company. Creating a true restaurant operating system is the just the beginning of what’s next.

A few introductions …

markvideoOur new name also coincides with a few important organizational changes and new investments.  We welcome Mark Symonds to the team as our new CEO. Mark comes to us with some serious credentials in the software-as-a-service / cloud software arena. As chief product officer, Jeff Schacher, our founder, will focus his considerable expertise on expanding the Peach platform of tools and applications. New investments from Allos Ventures, Huron River Ventures, Arsenal Venture Partners, and Invest Detroit are supporting the scale up of sales, marketing, and product development activities. You can read more details here!

What will never change!

For our customer, partners and friends, our commitment to your success remains our single most important objective.  We thank you for trusting us with your business, and for your continued collaboration and support.

We look forward to showing you what’s new in cloud solutions for recipe and inventory management, POS analytics, and staff scheduling solutions for your restaurant, hospitality, specialty retail and food service operations.

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The fun of ‘name changing’… a quiz.

Just for fun, check out our quiz. Can you match these well known food-industry brands to their original names? You can download the Quiz by clicking here.



Hello Name Tag

12 Mar


Beating your Competition

March 12, 2015 | By |

You’d think we were sneaking a drink from our parent’s liquor cabinet. Shhhh! That’s the way most people talk about their competition. We lower our voice. Quick! Who’s listening? We sure wouldn’t want our competitors to know we’re talking about them!

It’s funny really. If there wasn’t competition, your business would probably be closed by now. If you’re in a town without any other restaurants, you’re either in a very small town or there are no customers. Either answer isn’t good for your business. Competition draws in customers and should bring out the best in everyone — just like Avis, we try harder.

So how should we think about our competitors? Is it OK to want to beat them?

A while back I spoke with Alex Sokol Blosser about competition. His family owns one of Sokol BlosserOregon’s oldest and most successful wineries. The funny thing about the wine business is that his neighbors are also his competitors. They don’t just do business side-by-side, but they live side-by-side. Their kids go to the same school and they shop in the same market. You really might expect at least a little animosity between competitors but Alex told me that some of his closest friends were his neighbors. The feeling on their Dundee, Oregon hillside was that success brought more success and he was rooting for his neighbors to do well. He said they share equipment and help each other out when things break.

In 2005, Andy Ricker opened up Pok Pok on Portland’s SE Division Street. Except for another Thai place across the street, Division was a culinary dead zone. Pok Pok is now world famous, PokPok PortlandAndy has a James Beard Award and was nominated this year for the Outstanding Chef award. Pok Pok expanded and now has locations in New York and LA with more to come. Pok Pok dominates that Division Street neighborhood but you know, that old Thai restaurant across the street is still there and doing just fine. They’re no longer alone though. Pok Pok’s success has changed that whole neighborhood so that now it’s packed with restaurants. A rising tide lifts all the boats.

“I have been up against tough competition my whole life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.”   — Walt Disney

There are two ways you can grow your business. You either need to take customers from your competitors or do what I call, “grow the pie.” Taking customers is a pretty straightforward concept. Either you’ll do that with your better food, better service or lower prices. Growing the pie though can pay bigger and have longer lasting dividends.

For Domino’s Pizza, growing the pie began in 1961 near Ann Arbor, Michigan. Up until then, if Domino's Pizzayou wanted pizza you either had to make it yourself or go to a pizza parlor. With a coupon, you might convince someone to try your pizza but for the most part, all the local pizza places were competing for the same customers. Then DomiNick’s Pizza (now Domino’s) changed everything by offering delivery. With it, they removed a barrier between customers and DominNick’s pizzas. Of course, all of the other pizza places in town quickly followed so not only did DomiNick’s sell more pizzas but overall pizza consumption went up. They knew they’d be copied but they didn’t worry about that. They were making the pie bigger, which made their slice of the pie bigger.

Another way to grow the pie is to create a whole new pie. It used to be that if you went to a gourmet coffee shop, you could get a muffin or cookie to go with your drink. If you went to a bakery, they might sell you a cup of regular coffee. Panera came along and combined the two, expanding both the definition of a bakery and a coffee shop. They created a whole new category and it set them up for unlimited success.

There are a million examples of companies leveraging competition to be more successful. Embrace your competition. Talk about them. Talk to them. Be their friend…and beat them!

We’ve prepared a flyer with six tips for how you can get a leg up on your competition. You can download it by clicking here.




Disney, W. (n.d.). I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along… – Walt Disney at BrainyQuote. Retrieved from

Domino’s. (2015). Our History – Domino’s Pizza. Retrieved from

Domino’s® is a registered trademark of Domino’s, Inc.


15 Oct


Hiring and Retaining Stars

October 15, 2014 | By |

Among the biggest challenges every restaurateur faces is turnover. You’re not just competing for customers but good employees as well. A good server or skilled cook can have a dramatic impact on your profits, so how do you attract and retain top talent?

The first thing to understand is that it isn’t just about salary. Yes, money is important but it’s actually not a great motivator. Frederick Herzberg wrote that “the most effective way to motivate work behavior is by focusing on how people feel about their work itself.” (Katzenbach, Khan, 2010)

Don’t believe it? Think about members of the Navy Seals, Green Berets and Army Rangers. They’re poorly paid but are probably the most highly motivated people in the world. Why is that? For them, the biggest motivator is pride and their emotional connection to their team.

Can you tap into that for your restaurant?

Creating an emotional connection between your employees and the business won’t happen by accident. You need to have a well thought out plan, and you can start today.

Emotional connections begin when employees admire their leader. Are you admirable? By that I mean, are you modeling the behavior of an admirable leader? Some things to think about are the hours you work and being in the trenches with your employees.

Years ago I worked in a printing plant with 300 employees. The general manager was the best leader I ever worked for. He knew every employee’s name and could step into any job in the plant, regardless of how dirty it was. He sure had everyone’s respect.

Consider taking shifts and showing your employees your mastery of the tasks.

Employee Status
Taking pride in your job is a fundamental motivator. You don’t have to be a Navy Seal to feel like your job makes a difference. When your employees do something that makes a customer’s experience better, thank them. Credible, informal praise, even for regular tasks can go a long ways to making your employees take pride in their work.

Employees will be willing to take a bullet for you if they feel like you would take a bullet for them. Trust your employees with the authority to make decisions in their jobs and then stick up for them if it comes into question.

I remember one night when I was waiting tables. I had a group come in that was angry before they ever walked in. They were verbally abusive to other employees and to customers at other tables. It was so bad that people were leaving. The situation was only getting worse so I finally went to the table and asked them to leave. They demanded to see the manager who overruled me. He ended up buying them their meals and drinks. I doubt the manager won the respect of these customers and he lost a lot of my respect that night.

Growth Plan
Your best employees need a growth plan. They need to see a path that will allow them to move into greater responsibility, respect and earning potential. Sit down with your best employees and be up front with these things. Map out a plan and commit that you will help them achieve their goals.

Download our poster for hiring and retaining star employeesHiring and Retaining Stars
We have developed a poster with 5 things you can do right now to improve your labor situation. The poster is free to download. Just click here.



Katzenbach, J., & Khan, Z. (2010, April 6). Money Is Not The Best Motivator – Forbes. Retrieved from

Howard, H. (2010, December 6). 5 Secrets for Starting and Running a Successful Restaurant Chain | OPEN Forum. Retrieved from

Lemkin, J. (2014, April 23). How to Retain Top Employees: 5 Things to Do Now | Retrieved from

30 Sep


Solving the Absentee Problem

September 30, 2014 | By |

You know the call. The phone rings at a quarter to 5 and immediately you wonder which of your employees it is. Who’s calling in sick tonight?

Do you ever wonder what that’s costing you? You know it costs you in your time and convenience. Will your customers be as happy? Will things run as smoothly? According to Circadian, a workforce solution company, unscheduled absenteeism costs you $3,600, per hourly worker, per year.

Restaurant labor scheduling software

This is a problem worth solving.

Undoubtedly you’ve tried some things. When I started out, I used a pen, paper and a ruler to draw the lines and connect the dots of filling out the schedule. I built all of the employees’ requests for time off into it, making accomodations for their school schedules, second jobs and day care. Inevitably, the schedule I posted was just a starting point. Kim wants Friday off so she trades with Kristi. Darren forgot to ask for Monday night off. The owner’s son’s soccer team is going to come in on Wednesday so I need more people on the floor.

Does your head hurt yet?

Scheduling gets exponentially harder as you add more individuals into the mix. There were times when I felt like my job was more about scheduling than anything else.

One weekend I came up with a solution. I put the schedule into Excel. I set up a bunch of complicated rules and calculations so that I could pretty easily see how many people I needed on each shift. It also meant that rather than make edits to the paper schedule, I could make the change and just print out the revised schedule. You probably know this already but it created as many problems as it solved. The process evolved to where I would agree to Kim’s shift trade, but I wasn’t at my computer, so I’d write it on a scrap of paper and stuff it in my pocket. More than once those scraps of paper made their way into my laundry. Friday night came and I ended up covering for Kim because I had no record of what had happened. Spreadsheets don’t work.

There’s a technology solution that not only will improve your absenteeism problem, but also make your life easier.

Of course I’m in the business of selling WhenToManage’s software. I’d love it if you bought our scheduling solution but the important thing is that you don’t need the scheduling hassle any longer. You need a cloud-based scheduling solution.

In a report out this week from, a review site for employee scheduling technology, they surveyed hourly employees in a range of industries. They found that service industry employees are the most likely group (67%) to use a mobile scheduling app. What appeals to them is that they can use it to request time off, ask for shift trades and pick up additional shifts. More than a third also said that they would appreciate notifications of upcoming shifts.

Two things
First, according to the study, 52% of employees said that they would be less likely to miss a shift because of having a scheduling app. Just implementing a cloud-based scheduling solution could solve the lion’s share of your problem.

Second, the hassle part of scheduling is taken off of your plate. You still need to approve shift changes, but all of stuff that goes into those changes: the negotiation, the complaints, the scraps of paper…gone.

Think this might pay for itself?

WhenToManage has probably the best scheduling solution on the market. There are others but you should check ours out too. Follow this link to learn more: /restaurant-labor-scheduling/

Jim Affeldt is the Director of Operations for Matt Haley Companies, and a user of our scheduling software for several years. He recently did a podcast with our VP of Sales, Walker Thompson. The podcast has been turned into a 10 minute video that you can watch here.

Employee Preferences for Mobile Scheduling IndustryView | 2014. (2014). Retrieved from

Absenteeism Bottom Line. (2005). Retrieved from