Blog | Operations

Put SMART Goals to Work in Your Restaurant Operation

Learn how to set better goals for your business to take your operations to the next level.

Restaurant management is never-ending work, and unfortunately, the industry is experiencing an extended labor shortage. With fewer people available to help run your restaurant, task management can run amok. You probably wear many hats – electrician, plumber, food and liquor compliance, HR, training director and more. Combine that with dealing with daily fire drills, and your planned to-dos are often 86’d.

To get back on track, it’s important to create goals. And not just any goals – ones that are supported by well-defined, written objectives. Just by writing your goals down, studies have shown you are 50% more likely to achieve your goals than people who don’t. And The Manager’s Red Book is the perfect place to keep your goals in one place.

When creating your goals, make sure they are SMART:

• Specific
• Measurable
• Attainable
• Results-focused
• Time-bound


Goals should be simple and clear defined. It should represent the What, Why and How of the SMART model. A goal merely to “lower my food cost” is too vague.

A specific goal includes What, Why and How. Here’s the same goal, but more specific: “Reduce my meat cost by 2% by the end of the August to improve my profit margins by using better tracking methods for returned dishes and training my cooks on prep best practices.”

WhatLower my meat cost by 2%
WhyTo improve my profit margins
HowBy using better tracking methods for returned dishes, eliminating menu items that do not sell well, and training my cooks on prep best practices


If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. It’s important to establish detailed criteria that will allow you to measure progress and let you know when your goal is achieved. In this example, the measurable activity is that your meat costs are reduced by 2% by the end of August.


Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, once said, “A good goal is like strenuous exercise – it makes you stretch.” Stretch goals are great, and it’s good to feel challenged, but it’s important to make sure your goals are attainable. Achievable goals are motivating. But if the target is too aggressive, you’ll run the risk of failure.

In our example, you may want to consider the size of your cooking team and the cost of scheduling labor for training the size of your cooking team and the cost of scheduling labor for training to reduce the cost of meat. Is this an attainable goal or will more changes need to be made?”


Goals should measure outcomes, not activities. It’s great that you are putting into place the “how” of your goal, but achievement of your goal is the result. In this case, when you lower your meat cost by 2% (the What), you have achieved your intended the result.


Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, next month or in three months. If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague, and without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.

Once you have your well-written goals on paper, it’s time to place them into the big picture-the Manager’s Red Book-your playbook. Communication of your goals is just as important, as it makes sure everyone working towards achieving the same results.

Ready to Get SMART?

Take your restaurant operations to the next level by writing it all done in one place. Whatever your goals are, the Manager’s Red Book will put you and your staff on the same page.

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