The Secret to Time Management

My goal is the teach restaurant owners and managers like you, to focus on Eight Basic Fundamentals that lead to a better life and financial independence..

Today we are going to talk about the WHO, WHAT and WHERE of time management.

These simple ideas will help you Build a Better Restaurant and achieve your goals…


Thing #1 is to decide WHAT you want to do - where you want to go. You must start with a goal. This year is 2019, it is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, let’s use that as an example. In 1961, President John Kennedy said the following to congress,

“The US should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a Man on the Moon and returning Him safely to the Earth."

Now that is a clear and concise goal. The objective is simple and understandable.

It has the objective and the time limit in which to achieve the goal. Let’s break it down.

  • President Kennedy told us who should do it – the US.

  • He gave us a deadline - before the decade is out

  • He gave us the goal – land a man on the moon.

  • He gave us another very important point – return him safely to the earth.

That is what great leaders do - they give us clear and concise goals.

You Must have a Clear & Concise Goal.

What is your goal? Does your restaurant have a clear and concise goal? Or are you just wandering around in the wilderness trying to find your way?

Are you just following the herd or do you have a clear and concise goal?

And most importantly, do your people know what the goal is?

Do your people know and understand the mission?

Or are they just following you around?

Or even worse, are they just coming and going each day, doing what they feel like doing, when they feel like doing it?

Hey, don’t laugh, that is how 80% of all restaurants in America operate and that is why most restaurants go out of business in the first five years, they simply don’t have a clear and concise goal, mission or objective.

Think about that, if you are following the heard and your people are following you?

When will you achieve your goal?

When will you accomplish your mission?

Baseball Hall of Famer, Yogi Berra put it best. “If you don’t know where you’re going you might end up someplace else”

The key to success is having a GOAL and sharing it with your people so they can help you bring it to life. America didn’t just set the goal to send a man to the moon and go on vacation. America set the goal, and dedicated 4% of the entire federal budget (that's a lot of money) to make it happen, they created NASA, and hired thousands of brilliant dedicated people to achieve the goal.

You Must Share Your Goal with Your People.

The goal became the DREAM of the people who were charged to make it happen, the people became mesmerized by the goal - and they found a way to make it happen.

You must remind your people what the goal is - every day and night.

Here’s a cool thing - Every night when the people who were working at NASA on the moon project went home, they looked up in the sky and saw their goal right in front of them, they saw the moon, shining brightly in the sky, calling out - come and land on me…They were mesmerized by the lunar pull from the moon.

Do you have your goal boldly posted where you and every team member can see it every day?

This brings us to STEP TWO:

Now that we have our goal in our sight, let’s talk about Time Management. Pay attention to this because it is really quite profound. OK are you listening? The greatest time management tool of all time is to work on the most important thing first.

Work on the most important thing first.

This means that if our goal is to go to the moon, we need to develop a plan with action steps that will help us achieve the mission.

We start with a simple question. What does it look like when it is 100% done and perfect?

  • Then, we reverse engineer the process to create the action steps required.

  • Then, we put the action steps in order. Step #1, #2, #3, #4 until we have all the steps.

  • Then, we go to work on STEP ONE until we figure it out and perfect it.

  • Then, we move on to step two.

The brilliance of this plan is that – you will always be working on the most important thing - AND if you do the same thing with your people – THEY will also be working on the most important thing all the time too.This sounds very simple because it is.

Let’s move this to a restaurant example, Imagine we want to build a restaurant that serves the World’s BEST Spaghetti and meatballs. We want to create the best spaghetti and meatball dining experience in the World.

  • The FIRST thing we must do is set The Goal and place it in an overt place where we - and every member of our team will see it every day.

  • Step #2 - Hire the management team, the GM, the FOHM, and the Chef, then we work with them to bring the goal, the dream to life…

  • Step #3 - Work with each manager to create the action steps that will lead their team to the target.

  • The GM will design and build the business system.

  • The FOHM will design and build the customer service system.

  • The Chef will design and build the kitchen and production system.

  • Step #4 - Each team leader or department manager must hire their staff - the cooks, waiters and bartenders, AND make sure EVERYBODY knows exactly why they are here and what the mission is…

  • Step #5 – Each manager must train their team to execute their part of the mission perfectly every time.

  • Step #6 – The Owner must get their individual teams all focused and moving in the same direction. All the teams must coordinate their efforts and deliver the perfect spaghetti and meatball experience every night, over and over - for the next ten to twenty years.

When we have the goal and we know what the action steps are that lead to the goal, we go to work on thing #1 until it is perfect. Then, we go to work on thing #2, until it is perfect, then we move on to #3, and so on… until we have the best spaghetti and meat-a ball joint in the World.

Let’s imagine your restaurant has been open for a few years and you don’t have a clear goal. Here’s what you do… You just go through the steps above with your managers and get them all pointing in the same direction. Then, they do the same thing with their individual teams.

Let’s move on to STEP THREE:

The management concepts of the decade.

Do you… Work ON your restaurant, or do you - Work IN your restaurant

Most successful restaurant owners do some variation of both. Here’s what that means.

As the owner of the restaurant and an entrepreneur I try to spend 80% of my time working ON the restaurants and 20% of my time working IN the restaurants. This means I work on the strategic stuff like goal setting, long term planning, marketing and budgeting most of the time and get down into the daily operation of accounting, cooking, running food, bussing tables, washing dishes and cleaning bathrooms, some of the time.

Personally, My ratio of working IN and ON the restaurant varies greatly depending on many factors. For example if I lose a key manager, I have to fill the role until I get an adequate replacement trained. Sometimes, there are new menus or big events that require me to roll up my sleeves and pitch in. This is always great for morale because the troops love to see the boss do some real work. But, this should be the exception, not the rule.

When a restaurant first opens (it is like a new born baby) the owner must be very hands on, as they figure things out and build the system. Then, when the system is documented, the owner can back off and let the managers and staff run the restaurant. Then, the owner should to shift their focus from working IN the restaurant to working ON the strategic aspects of the business.

Let’s move on the managers, because their role is quite different.

The leader is the entrepreneur, the job of the entrepreneur is to create the vision and work with the managers to bring that vision to life. Managers duties are different, their primary job is to execute. The Chef, The FOHM, and the GM should spend 80% of their time working IN the restaurant and 20% of their time working ON the restaurant. This means that they must focus on the daily operation of the business most of the time and spend some of the time working ON big picture stuff, such as planning and growing the business.

Here’s what that means.

Every manager has two types of responsibilities

  1. Operational responsibilities - are basically the managers and shift leader check lists, the things that happen every day, inside the restaurant.

  2. Projects - are the things that managers do in addition to their operational duties. This is when they work on the action steps that lead to the goal. The best and most effective managers make sure their people know exactly what the mission is AND what their role is in achieving the mission.

In addition to their daily operational duties managers must move the ball forward, they must start with action step #1 and work on it until it is 100% complete. Then, they move on to action step #2 and so on until they have the best restaurant in the World.

Please pay attention to this, bad managers have a million excuses as to why they can’t get their projects done. Bad managers constantly complain about how over worked they are and how they are just too busy to get their projects done.

On the other hand, we have good managers who always get their projects done on time – and find a way to move the ball forward. Personally, I keep the managers who run great operations AND get their important projects done and move the ball forward.

But – here is the key point…

You must have a clear and concise goal. You must communicate that goal with your people.

Your people are not mind readers, they need direction and that direction must come from you! You must work with your managers to make sure that they UNDERSTAND THE GOAL and understand WHAT their priorities and projects are - and you must also be very clear as to make sure they know WHEN their projects must be completed,

Your people need a CLEAR and CONCISE goal that has a REAL DEADLINE.

STEP FOUR: Let’s take a look at another time management concept that will help you spend your time wisely. This is about WHERE you spend your time.

There are four ways to spend your time.

  1. Working IN the Business

  2. Working ON the Business

  3. Wasting Time

  4. Self-Destruction

Working IN the Business: This is when we do the manual labor that the business requires. Answering the phone, taking reservations, seating guests, bussing tables, cooking food, making drinks, washing dishes, putting away groceries and doing the daily accounting. These things are very important and vital to success, But when we spend too much time IN the operation, we lose the big picture focus and the ship can off course. Because these things happen every day and are pretty easy to do, we must hire and train our people to do these important things. The better we train your people, the better the restaurant will run.

Then there is Working ON the Business:

This is about strategic planning, building a business plan, a marketing plan, and great systems - the big picture stuff that keeps the team moving forward toward the goal. This is about giving your people the answers they need to help you win.

Third we have Time Wasters: These are frivolous things such as piddling around on facebook and watching TV that lead to nothing. These also include crazy things like when your personal life leaks into your business life with calls from bill collectors or the psycho ex-girlfriend or boyfriend who just stopped by to ruin your day.

Then Fourth, are the Self Destructive Behaviors: These are things such as smoking cigarettes or smoking ganja sticks, excess drinking, doing drugs and whoring about… These activities will suck the life blood right out of you and put you and your restaurant into an early grave.

The trick is to spend the proper balance between working IN the restaurant and working ON the restaurant. I cannot tell you what that balance is, but you do need to figure it out.

The one thing I do know is that Time Wasters and Self Destructive behaviors will kill you and your restaurant much fasterthan your competition ever will.


You Must have a Clear & Concise Goal.

You Must Share Your Goal with Your People.

Your people need a CLEAR and CONCISE goal that has a REAL DEADLINE.

You must remind your people what the goal is - every day and night.

You and Your People Must Work on the most important thing first.

The best way to improve your time management is to work on the Most Important Thing First, and you will do that by –

  • Knowing WHERE you are trying to go

  • Knowing WHAT the action steps are that lead to the target

  • Knowing WHO is supposed to do WHAT

  • AND - getting every team members headed in the same direction – toward the goal.

Here’s an interesting final point.

Most of the time when I set a BIG goal, I usually have NO idea how to do the things that will be required to accomplish the goal. It’s not like I am a genius, I am just like you, a restaurant owner who is trying to get a little better every day… The truth is that we are usually winging it, making it up as we go - Right? That’s the way it is when we are charting a new course, there is no real playbook to follow, we have to be comfortable, being very un-comfortable. Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.

Think about NASA and the goal to go to put a man on the moon and return him safely back to the Earth. Nobody had any idea how they were going to accomplish that goal, they just put their heads and their hearts into the mission and you know what – They figured it out… They found a way to win…

Think of all the great innovation that has come from the space program, it’s the same thing with your restaurant, when you stretch to do something new – you learn something new – AND that new stuff will help you grow…

It’s the same exact thing for you…

You and your people must figure it out, you must find a way to do the impossible thing…

The world is changing faster and faster every day and every year…

Here’s a word we don’t hear very often anymore it’s called self-reliant.

Self-Reliance means that YOU must accept responsibility for your life and your business. You and your people must be self-reliant and own the outcome and do everything possible to find ways to improve and move the ball forward toward the goal – every single day from now on.

Nike has a cool new saying – There is NO Finish Line… I like that. Because that’s the real un-varnished truth isn’t it? Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and there is no finish line…

I hope these ideas help you build a better restaurant…

My Name is Peter Harman, I am the Food Guru. My goal is to start a restaurant revolution where every restaurant owner in America has the information they need to create financial freedom and live the life of their dreams.

I have written a book called Restauranting 101, it focuses on Eight Basic Fundamentals that will propel your restaurant into the top 5% of all restaurants. Restauranting 101 has the power to change your life and it's available on Amazon today. I encourage you to read it, and if you really like it, be sure to buy a few extra copies for your key people. These eight basic fundamentals have helped me and my teams accomplish amazing things,

I’m sure it will help you and your people too.

If you have any questions or comments or an idea for a future podcast, please send me an email at

I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for listening

Now I want you to get out there and – share your personal plan for greatness with all your people so they can help you accomplish them…!

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