On November 4, 2015 I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Dan who is the owner of Saigon Bistro. I interviewed Mr. Dan because this is a project for my Management class. The requiring for this project is that I have to interview an owner/manager/supervisor in my acquaintance and I have to record/describe that conversation. From the interview I have to connect it to the lectures in some way; what did I learn about management—is the focus of this assignment. Saigon Bistro is a restaurant that my family and I are pretty familiar with, that is the place that we choose to eat pretty often on the weekends, therefore I asked Mr. Dan for the opportunity to interview him.
Mr. Dan opened a Vietnamese restaurant with a dream of serving Vietnamese foods to not just the Viet people but also American people. He want the American people to have the opportunity to try out different delicious Vietnamese foods. I asked Mr. Dan, what are the effective habits that he need to develop in order to manage his restaurant? He answered by giving me a list of management skills and habits that he set for himself. Mr. Dan said, restaurant management isn’t for everyone. The frenetic pace and constant pressure can be overwhelming for many people. He believe effective restaurant managers need to balance the needs of staff, customers and the business while dealing with the unforeseen problems that pop up on a daily basis. Mr. Dan tries to be proactive and plan his shift at the beginning of each day. He also have a checklist to keep trach of his daily tasks to help him start each shift on the right foot. As a restaurant owner, he always keep an eye on inventory. It is always wise to take a detailed inventory of product before the day starts. “You do not want to be in the middle of a lunch rush when you realize that you are running low on an ingredients. You can also take inventory at night so that you are ready to place orders in the morning, he said. Scheduling is another important thing in planning, he mentioned. He said, manager need to take note of who is working, when they are working and who is available to work if someone does not show up for his or her shift. He believe effective managers post schedules well enough in advance for employees to receive notice, which enables them to be prepared for the week.
Well, that should be enough with planning, let’s move on with different aspect that I asked Mr. Dan, which is about being consistent with the employees or customer. Mr. Dan answered, with the staff he never play favorites. “I believe the staff needs to know that I approach each situation with the same level of fairness for each and every one of them”. In his perspective, he thinks as soon as the manager lean on favoritism, they will undermine the trust of their staff and mark themselves as unreliable. He strongly thinks that it can be hard to be the “bad guy” but maintaining the same level of consequences for all employees will gain him their respect and confidence in the long run. On the other hand, with the customers, he believe that as soon as the customers walk in the front door their experience is in his hands. As a restaurants
owner it is his job to ensure that the food and service are always consistent.
Does communication important in management? I asked. “Oh YES”, he answered. Effective communication with the staff is absolutely necessary in the chaotic world of the restaurant industry, he continued. Mr. Dan usually have staff meetings at the beginning of each shift to review expectations, or inform his employees of any changes in policy and go over dinner specials. He also tries to give his employees positive feedback and let them know when they are doing a great job. Most importantly, he always give his employees the opportunity to be a part of the discussion. He said “this will make them feel more valued and invested in the restaurant”. Since, he only have 10 employees working for him right now, he treated them as his family.
What do you have to do in order to keep your employees motivated at all time? I asked. Mr. Dan said, “I have to be the first one there and the last one to leave”. He explained that if he want the crew to be punctual he better be the first face they see when they walk in the door. This is just as important at the end of the day. He also added that an effective manager stays until the last employee has completed all side work and is checked out with cash and receipts for the day. Also, having a good understanding of every position in the restaurant so that he can jump in where he is needed. Then Mr. Dan say, “I think by maintain a high-energy and enthusiastic approach to your work I have to set the standard for everyone else to follow suit.
Overall, I have learned so much from the interview. The most important thing I learned from Mr. Dan is “attitude adjustments”. I learned that bringing a negative attitude to the work place is the worst thing you can do for employee morale. “Attitude can be contagious; if you come into work with a dark cloud hanging over you expect it to be a bleak place by shift’s end”, Mr. Dan said. I also asked Mr. Dan how to solve this problem and how to stay positive. Mr. Dan’s advice are—don’t try to focus on the problem, it only brings everyone down with you, focus on reaching a solution for one thing at a time, build positive momentum. He added that, sometimes there are things he does not want to do, but by bringing good attitude to difficult task he would make the crew feel more enjoyable. I also learned that, reacting to a crew member’s mistake with harsh criticism does not help the problem. As a restaurant manager it is the responsibility of the manager to ensure the success of their staff. There is one statement that I really like from Mr. Dan is, “Take responsibility for your mistake and view other slip-ups as opportunities for growth that will make you more effective manager”.
One more thing that I learned from the interview on how to manage the restaurant and be successful is “multi-tasking”. Mr. Dan emphasizes that make sure you never get stuck on one task for too long. Successful managers need to keep on the move, floating form one station to the next. He said, it can sometimes feel like you are needed everywhere at once when managing a restaurant. However, while you may feel the need to solve every issue personally, you need to recognize what tasks can be completed without you. Mr. Dan ‘s advice is to “delegate”—delegating a task also shows that you have confidence in your staff, helping to build their self-esteem and also make the operation more effective overall, he says.
I have told Mr. Dan that in the future I really want to open a Vietnamese restaurant, so is there any tips or advice that he would personally give me? Mr. Dan immediately say “face time is the key” I was confused, then he explained to me that “You are the face of the restaurant. You need to greet and interact with at least 50 percent of the customers that come in. no matter how many fires you are putting out behind scenes, remember to make time for customers. They are the reason you have a job”.