First of All, What is Restaurant Burnout?
It’s probably exactly what you think it is. Your work day has gone on a little too long, and you still have to trudge through the evening commute, cutting the lawn and feeding the kids. If this routine has you exhausted after the end of that one night, then imagine your energy levels at the end of the week! The spark that kept your energy ablaze is gone. The same feeling can apply directly to owning your own restaurant or bar. The stresses of day-to-day restaurant management can take their toll on you. Outside of poor job satisfaction and negative health effects, heightened levels of stress can cause you to lose interest in the industry altogether. You get fed up with dealing with nasty customers just as much as you’re tired of dealing with taxes.
The restaurant industry has a way of sucking you dry if you let it. It’s a bipolar business, with high highs and punishingly low lows. The direct result of this is job burnout, which is the emotional exhaustion and cynicism that comes from working in a career for an extended period. Symptoms of burnout can include fatigue, poor motivation, irritability, sleep disorders, loss of empathy, depression and physical ailments such as headaches and backaches. To avoid eventually being overwhelmed to your limit, here are some tips, tricks and healthy mentalities to keep at the front of your mind.
Manage Your Stress
This is more of a life skill than a restaurant owner skill. The hectic, fast-paced environment within a restaurant isn’t always the most calming. Just the same, it’s not easy to simply tell a person that they’re too stressed out and should take it easy. It may be a painful jab at your ego, but your health shouldn’t ever be compromised because of a fragile ego. Whether it be a string of customer complaints or a negligent employee, it can mostly wait. A bit of stress is a good thing; it helps you to keep on task and to work harder. Anytime you feel overwhelmed, however, you should take a pause and examine your situation. Whatever is causing you to stress out (unless it’s dire) shouldn’t be affecting you so negatively. Work to move past the negativity and instead focus on solutions to the problems that give you the most stress.
Take It a Little Less Personally
Of course, it’s your restaurant! That doesn’t mean you have to treat it like your newborn baby. Business is business, regardless of how close you are the business in question. Step outside of yourself for a moment when a customer starts to rub you the wrong way. Remember that whatever that customer is saying then, regardless of how true or how hurtful it is, is only the one opinion. At the end of the day, the restaurant/bar is totally and completely yours! Constructive criticism is great, so do your best to listen to what the people are saying and accommodate to the best of your ability. Use their harsh words to your advantage and learn from your shortcomings. Don’t get bummed out, and certainly don’t quit. You’d be surprised at just how much you can accomplish with positivity and a willingness to lend an ear.
Push Past Burnout Point
If you believe in your business, then don’t let it crash and burn because of a bad attitude. It was your dream at some point to have your restaurant. You put so much time and effort into making that dream into a reality, that it becomes difficult to push through the hard times. Keep the dream alive by giving yourself the time of day. For instance, create a daily schedule and allow yourself to take breaks regularly. Treat yourself to your favorite dish or a nice drink at the end of a tough night. Have the right people around you to use as a lifeline or when you simply need to unload. These may seem like little changes when you’re considering completely getting rid of your entire restaurant. Even the small things, however, make a big difference to your overall experience as an owner.
Brush Off the Things You Can’t Control
No, this doesn’t mean to ignore certain responsibilities. Put simply, there’s a lot of cogs working together to make a fully-functional restaurant run on a day-to-day. There are items of worry that are within your power to control. Your staff, for example, is nearly always going to be a source of stress, and the management will come to you when there are issues that they themselves cannot handle. However, Don’t let things that are out of your control compound your stress. If your supplier, however, cannot make a delivery for a non-essential product until the next week, then don’t sweat it too hard! Let it bygones be bygones and make whatever menu adjustments you need to make. Your customers are complaining about your establishment being in a “bad neighborhood?” Say what you need to to make them happy, but you’re not going to change the neighborhood perception all by yourself.