“Anything worth doing, is worth paying someone else to do.”

This is one of my favorite quotes. Maybe because I’m the one who made it up.

It could also be that I love this quote because it deals with another major reason for failure in the restaurant world, and really, in every industry. Most managers don’t know how to delegate. That is a simple, but true, observation from years of seeing managers and owners struggle to scratch out a profit (or more commonly not make a profit), while losing their personal lives to their businesses.

I messed up by not listing this as one of the biggest reasons restaurants fail in one of my best posts, The biggest mistakes restaurants make, and why they have a high failure rate. Yep, big oversight on my part.

I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories about 60, 80 or even 120 hour weeks restaurant owners are forced to work. They’re married to their businesses, and have to be there from open to close. They have to make sacrifices if they want to succeed, they can’t have hobbies or spend time with families. Their restaurants wreck their marriages and ruin their lives.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. While I freely admit that long hours and no free time are the norm for independent restaurant owners, I also maintain that this scenario usually does not yield a successful, profitable restaurant. Profitable restaurants are run by owners and managers that know how to delegate. If it were mandatory for owners to be in their restaurants all the time to make them successful, multi-store chains wouldn’t exist. In reality, they thrive. Every one of those multi-store chains started out as one restaurant. Every single one of them. The difference between them, and the majority of restaurants out there, is that the people who owned them realized that they couldn’t do everything themselves if they wanted to be successful. They needed to create systems to make sure the work got done, and got done the same way every time, whether it was by them or by someone they paid to do it. Only by freeing themselves from the everyday rigors of running a restaurant were these entrepreneurs able to grow.

If you’re a restaurant owner, or a future restaurant owner, I want you to ask yourself a few questions.

  • “If I am washing dishes, who is watching the till?”
  • “If I’m cooking the food, who is building relationships with my customers?”
  • “If I am filling in for servers, who is spreading the story of my restaurant?”

You can’t spend your time performing tasks you can pay other people to do, and still have time to build your business. As an owner, marketing is the most important job you have. You have to have your time cleared to build relationships with your customers whether it’s by shaking hands, or by designing new service techniques that reinforce your unique selling point. Your time needs to be spent concentrating on ways to build communication and emotional bonds with your customers, not making the family’s “secret tomato sauce”.

If you are spending your time performing everyday tasks in your restaurant that other people could be trained to do, you are likely in the group of struggling restaurateurs that work long hours, have no social life, and are barely making a profit.

Learn to delegate. Build systems to do the things you do, so you can concentrate on the one thing that actually makes you money in your business, marketing.

Anything worth doing, is worth paying someone else to do.