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Restaurant Owners Can Take Vacations Too—Here’s How

As a restaurant owner, can you ever truly switch off?

You know your restaurant inside-out. When someone isn’t sure how to handle a difficult customer or what to do about an ingredient shortage, they come to you. It can seem impossible to take a vacation without constantly checking in on your team. 

What if there’s an unexpected event? What if the chef shows up drunk, the boiler explodes, or the fridge breaks down? If you’re not there to sort it out, it could turn into a business-ending disaster. 

But if you never take time away, you risk overworking yourself. Burnout is real. And it can lead to serious problems, like mental health issues, high blood pressure, and trouble sleeping

The reality is, it’s hard to step away. But a two-week vacation without constant calls with your staff is possible — you just have to put in the groundwork.

We dove into the strategies restaurant owners can use to take vacations where they actually switch off. 

In this article, we cover:

  • How to prepare for a two-week vacation
  • How to equip your team to run the place without you
  • Tools that will give you peace of mind to relax while you’re away 

By the end, you’ll be able to overcome your deepest fears that everything will fall apart and take a holiday where you don’t have to check your phone every five minutes.

How to Take a Vacation and Actually Switch Off

You want to be able to step away without impacting the success of the business. The worry is that if you’re not there managing the place you won’t be able to: 

  • Maintain excellent customer experience
  • Keep up hygiene and safety standards
  • Keep orders flowing and revenue growing

Let’s explore the tips, tactics, and tools to keep these core business functions optimized while you’re not there, leaving you with the peace of mind to take a real vacation where you can truly relax. 

Put in the Groundwork

You’re going to have to put in extra work before and after your vacation if you want to enjoy your time off. You’ll need to ensure the person in charge has everything they need and minimize any reasons for them to contact you.

A few things you can do to set your manager up for success:

  • Make sure there’s a clear structure in place and everyone knows their responsibilities.
  • Get your staff schedules out to everyone ahead of time so you have a chance to deal with any adjustments.
  • Have extra help on hand in case your manager needs to draft someone in at the last minute.
  • Inform your suppliers that you’ll be unavailable and your manager will be the point of contact.
  • Make sure your manager has access to all your systems and necessary passwords.

Build Repeatable Systems

Write out procedures for your core restaurant management tasks that anyone can follow. Get the information out of your head and onto paper so your team members don’t have to remember a million different things. They can just follow the procedure and be held accountable to the system that’s in place.

Anything you can think of that could arise should have a firm procedure written down, including:

  • Opening — List everything that needs to be done to open the restaurant, from the tiniest detail— like how to fold napkins and polish glasses—to essential points like how to unlock the building and turn off the alarm.
  • Closing — Make sure whoever’s closing knows how important security is. List the steps to shut down and secure the restaurant after closing.
  • Emergencies — Your team needs to know what to do in case of an emergency, how to evacuate the building and account for staff, and who to call. 
  • Cleaning — Make a list of all the cleaning jobs that need to be done each day and each week.
  • Dealing with Complaints — Lay out the steps to follow when dealing with customer complaints: what to offer, when to escalate a complaint, and how to log the issue.

Get the Timing Right

Many of your biggest worries can be minimized by choosing the best time to take your vacation. 

Analyze restaurant data to figure out the best times to go away. By looking at sales trends, you can see when the restaurant is likely to be quietest so it’s easier for your team to cope without you. This is likely to be after a busy season when you most need a break.

Make sure your best people are going to be there too. Ensure your trusty manager, who’ll be in charge while you’re away, is well-rested before you leave. Make them aware that they may have to pick up extra shifts and will handle added responsibility during your break. 

Set Boundaries

Switching off entirely is the dream. You don’t want to dip into your emails at lunchtime only to end up spending a whole afternoon dealing with issues.

You’ll likely want to check in a couple of times during the one or two weeks you’re off. If so, set clear boundaries before you go. The amount of contact you decide to allow depends on your situation. 

If you have a rock-solid head chef and general manager in place, you might check in once a week. But if you have a less experienced team running the place, you may need to make a daily call.

Whatever your situation, make a clear set of boundaries and stick to it. 

Here are some measures you might want to put in place:

  • Only check email once a day.
  • Turn off notifications.
  • Have one point of contact at the restaurant.
  • Don’t look at work-related things after lunch.
  • Set an hour aside every other day to check in with your manager.

Having these limited points of contact will help you avoid constantly checking your phone or being unnecessarily disturbed by your team.

Empower Your Team

One of the biggest hurdles to taking time off is letting go and trusting your team. It can be difficult to fully disengage, especially if you’ve been let down by staff in the past. 

You’re going to have to trust your team and give them the best shot at achieving success in your absence. 

Here’s how: 

  • Give Staff Responsibility Try having your sous chef to make purchase orders or trusting your manager to handle scheduling decisions. You might be surprised at how well people step up to the plate when they are put in charge of an important part of the business. 
  • Hold Individuals Accountable — Be clear on your expectations and set goals so that you can measure the success and failure on your return. For example, set a revenue goal for the week or a target food cost percentage for your kitchen team to aim for.
  • Provide the Best Tools — Empower your team with the right tools to give them the best chance of success. Restaurant management software automates a lot of previously manual tasks like stock counts, food cost calculations, and staff scheduling. The time saved will help your manager stay on top of their added responsibilities while you’re away. 

Make Checking In More Efficient

A strong analytics tool will make it easier for your manager to stay on top of things in your absence. It also allows you to quickly check on key metrics from anywhere, giving you peace of mind. 

If you implement a restaurant management system that stores and processes all of your data — from sales figures and food costing numbers to staff schedules and cleaning audits — you can quickly access the insights you need. If it uses real-time data, you’ll get an especially accurate snapshot of the health of restaurant operations.

This lessens the risk of spending too much of your vacation digging around for the needed data. And it allows you to make quick decisions to course-correct from a distance, if you feel it’s necessary.

Trust Your Team, Relax, and Recharge

It takes work to take a vacation as a restaurant owner. But with the right preparation, procedures, and dedicated staff, you can minimize the risk of your worst fears being realized. 

Proper delegation, clear communication, and trust in your team’s capabilities are the keys to enjoying worry-free time off. Empower your manager to take charge and ensure the smooth running of the establishment in your absence. And provide the right tech tools to keep an eye on things from anywhere.

Remember, the goal of a vacation is to relax and recharge. So make the most of it. When you return, you’ll be in a better place mentally and physically to continue steering your restaurant to greater heights.

Take time off with peace of mind using HungerRush.

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