Restaurant Management Techniques: Interview with Graeme Baxter, Potbelly

From hiring to menu design, restaurant managers have a lot on their plate. To help make the most of your time in the kitchen, we sat down with Potbelly Sandwich Shop manager Graeme Baxter to see how he keeps things running smoothly.

Here are a few restaurant management techniques that can help you do the same.

Prepare for the unexpected

In the restaurant industry, no two days are alike. Knowing who to go to for help is an important part of dealing with just about any situation – even the ones you don’t see coming.

“Some of the most common challenges we face include supply chain issues – namely dealing with vendors when products aren’t dropped off in a timely fashion,” says Baxter. “Equipment failure is another big one. Everything will break at some point. The key is figuring out how to work around something until it’s repaired.”

Provide your front- and back-of-house staff with contact information for vendors and equipment suppliers. Having a phone number or email address on hand will cut down on the time it takes to identify and solve a problem.

Also, consider training staff members on what to do when an issue can’t be fixed right away. Say, for example, a repairman isn’t able to make it out to your restaurant until the following afternoon. Teaching your staff how to work without an extra oven or stovetop will help ensure your restaurant stays on track in the meantime.

Invest in restaurant technology

Interested in making your restaurant more efficient? Restaurant technology may be able to help. From online reservation sites to third-party ordering software, restaurant technology can free up time spent writing down reservations and taking orders.

For Baxter, restaurant technology is already making a difference. “The Grubhub platform, specifically the order tablet, does an awesome job of getting us orders in a timely manner. And the faster we process orders, the more time we have to improve other areas of the restaurant like the customer experience.”

Hire for character, train for skill

It’s no secret front- and back-of-house staff members play an important role in your restaurant’s success. But when it comes to recruiting and hiring the right candidates for your restaurant, things can get a little trickier.

Baxter advises bringing on employees who embody your restaurant’s culture saying, “It really comes down to selecting the right talent – people who match our values and traits. You can always teach someone how to properly use all of the tools you have, but you can’t teach character.”

Develop a list of values you’d like your restaurant to be known for. By referring to the list during the hiring process, you’ll be able to more accurately gauge whether a candidate will fit in with your restaurant.

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