If you own a food business such as a restaurant it can be difficult (some may say impossible) to find the time to take a single day off, much less an entire week of vacation. When owners finally pull themselves away from work, they find themselves thinking about their business, what needs to be done, and everything that might be slipping through the cracks without their supervision. Longterm this is not a healthy way to run a business or run your personal life.
Today’s post outlines how one food entrepreneur was able to finally get his time back and be able to finally take a proper vacation after two years of 12+ hour days operating a food truck / restaurant. Staking a claim on time won’t be easy and there will be numerous problems that will pop up in an effort to steal days set aside for yourself. Still if you are able to give yourself a break and relax every once and while, it will benefits your overall health and allow you to avoid business burnout.
Can You Take a Vacation?
“I’m going on vacation outside the country for 3 weeks with my wife,” I told my friend Case.
Case, who also owns a restaurant, looked at me like I was from outer space.
Case started his restaurant more than 3 years ago and had yet to take more than a day off at a time. If Case isn’t at his restaurant every day things would quickly go off the rails.
Supplies don’t get reordered. Catering doesn’t get booked. Things begin to be missed.
Of course, I found myself in the exact same situation just a couple years prior with my own business.
Back when I had only one food truck, I worked 16 hour days / 6 days per week for two years straight…
Here’s what my typical day looked like during that time…
Emails and calls in the early morning. On the truck in the afternoon until evening for service, and closed out the books late into the night.
Then I went to sleep and started it all over again the next day.
Even if you’re making good money, I think you’ll agree that putting in 16 hours a day, 6 days a week is not sustainable forever.
You need some help!
It wasn’t until my mentor Josh showed me why and how to build a team that everything changed in my business for the better…
A team allowed me to:
- Attend multiple catering events at the same time and generate more revenue.
- Focus my effort on growing the business instead of cooking food, serving customers, driving a food truck.
- Go on vacations with my wife and take a much needed break!
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re just starting out you’ll need to wear a lot of different hats in those early days. But you don’t wear these hats forever!
You need to build your business with the mindset that eventually you’ll passing the daily responsibilities to team members.
Building a team is the only way you can transition from being a solo profitable operator to owning an asset that you can pass along to someone else.
One of the areas we will be focus inside my mentoring program is team building. It’s a critical skill you need to learn whether you plan to start a restaurant, food truck, or catering business.
What Team Member You Should Hire First
Even if you’re still in the early stages of planning your business this is the right time to start identify who to hire and when to hire team members first if you want to grow.
There is debate among the business community who the first hire first for your business should be. Being a restaurant owner, I understand the heavy expense business owners pay and the mental challenges of making that first critical hire. As a result, I don’t recommend hiring an expensive manager or highly trained chef first.
Hire someone that’s a good worker that can be trained to complete low-level and routine tasks that you do not want to spend your time doing. This goal of this role is to complete routine tasks on your behalf like prepping food in the morning, washing dishes, or sanitizing the kitchen.
The Dreaded First Hire.
This first hire is important for a couple reasons. First, you’ll get some routine but time consuming tasks taken off your plate. Second, you’ll learn to delegate tasks, provide clear instructions, and be a leader. All important skills for a restaurant owner!
After you’ve successfully hired your first set of lower-wage employees, it’s time to find 1 – 2 rockstar managers that will be able to oversee your business while you’re gone. You’ll need these managers to have a high-level understanding of all aspects of your restaurant operation so they can direct other employees.
If you’re fortunate, you may discover someone with leadership abilities that you can train and promote from within your restaurant. While this can be a great way to incentivize and encourage other employees to excel, it’s wise to also look for external hires with experience if you’re hiring a first manager.
Bottom line, you need to work hard to be successful in the food truck, restaurant or catering business. But you should be able to take a vacation every once and awhile too! Building a team by hiring is the only way to accomplish this goal.
If you’re able to take some time off you’ll feel better, but it will also allow your business to finally grow. Don’t be the bottle-neck in your business by trying to do everything yourself. Focusing on building a team and reaping the benefits of your hard work.