An attribute of entrepreneurs that is under appreciated and too often neglected is being observant. Without it, you miss out on so much. You can learn from these observations to fix problems that may seem minor and thus avoid major problems down the road. It’s important to take the time to look around at your surroundings and the people within. Take notice. Especially if you’re a restaurateur as it’s a fast-paced business with lots of details.

“I’ll be watching you”

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police

Make the effort

Things move fast in the restaurant business and there are so many specifics. Watch your staff carry out their duties and interact when necessary. If you don’t approve of something they do, say it right away. Nip it in the bud. And be consistent.

Observe your customers as they enter your establishment, during their stay, and when they leave. Their mannerisms speak volumes. Appreciate the vibe of the room you’re trying to establish. Your head should be on a swivel.

Looking cool while performing the job as manager.

With experience, you’ll slow things down and be able to grasp even the finer details. A subtle approach in the dining room or bar is necessary so your patrons don’t notice. If a firmer hand is required, do it out of the public’s view. Staff issues should always be hidden from your customers.

It’s management’s job to observe

Don’t make this appear creepy.

I was fortunate to employ some excellent servers. Watching them perform their duties, I marvelled at their skills and aptitude. They made it look easy and added to the escapism of the dining experience. I didn’t have to hover and could be attentive to other aspects of a busy restaurant.

I’ve noticed so many servers make the mistake of walking through their section with their head straight forward focusing on one task. Instead, they should be subtlety scanning their section’s tables each time they walk through, noting if anyone requires their attention.

Efficiency allows a server to provide better service without appearing rushed. Glancing at each table nonchalantly will eliminate doubling-back to provide that missing fork, which the server should note without being told. Don’t waste moves!

Don’t limit this to just your restaurant

Dining out allows you to observe other restaurants in action and is a wealth of ideas that include both what you like and don’t like. Noting procedures you can use with some fine-tuning can match your specific goals in your own restaurant. Remember, the restaurant industry is in perpetual change.

Behind the scenes

As a restaurateur I would watch the serviceman repairing equipment. I wanted to know the how and the why. I didn’t need to be an expert, but being a jack-of-all-trades was advantageous. It saved time and money in the long run.

Didn’t I say to be subtle?

Hence, asking questions like “How does this work?” or “What caused this malfunction?” provided me with insight. Then trouble-shooting the problem myself and saving on a service call or eliminating future problems entirely were my outcomes. Some servicemen didn’t like me “hanging” around while they worked. Too bad. It’s my expense and I’m the customer. I always treated them professionally. It’s reciprocal.

Take this knowledge home

While working as a bureaucrat and having the IT department maintain and upgrade my technology needs, I would also watch and ask questions. I was able to apply what I learned at work to fixing personal IT issues at home. Valuable lessons.

The restaurant world is moving fast, and goings-on are missed that should be noticed. Being observant and aware is beneficial at any time. Especially if it’s your business you’re protecting from preventable costs and ensuring quality.