How to Use a Manager's Log

It is a paradox of this business that communication is so important but there’s often not enough time to communicate. As managers, we need to be on the same page with our colleagues about so many facets of this business. However, too many restaurants feature managers going in different directions based on incomplete and mismanaged communication.

The list of items that may need communication in a given day is endless, but examples include:

  • How the previous shift went
  • Items that were 86’d
  • Employee issues/concerns
  • Guest needs for upcoming service
  • Future repairs needed
  • Supplies that need to be ordered

Anyone in the restaurant business for any length of time knows that this list can be endless. In most cases, a manager’s log is the best tool for communicating a lot of information in a short amount of time to multiple managers. In a business that pulls managers in a thousand different directions, it is essential that there be a single source to document and record important information that needs to be communicated to all managers.

For some reason, many restaurants fail to use a manager’s log properly or don’t use one at all. Here are a few reasons why rededicating your management team to using a log makes sense.

Create a History

There are several tools managers use to document the daily history of the business, such as sales reports, profit/loss reports, and inventory sheets. The manager’s log provides a convenient place in which to record a variety of information that can be referred to for the weeks, months or years ahead.

This compendium of facts, issues, and concerns makes it easier for managers to prepare for shifts. For example, recording staffing issues and mistakes helps managers internalize lessons and apply them in the future. This is especially important for holidays and seasonal environments where staffing needs may fluctuate.

Individual pieces of information may not seem important to document, but can add up to a better understanding of the needs of the restaurant over time. Examples might include:

  • Weather information
  • Daily checklists
  • Employee performance issues/concerns
  • Bar sales

This adds up to helping cultivate a management team that is more frequently on the same page in terms of preparing the restaurant for success.

The Management Meeting

The management meeting may be the most important hour of the week in many restaurants. Weekly meetings are critical for forecasting and preparing the business for success. For this reason, they shouldn’t be about getting everyone up to speed. They should be a about turning the clock forward and anticipating the needs of the business for the coming week, month, or period.

The manager’s log facilitates this forward-thinking perspective. It enables the entire management team to be aware of many current issues and provides a platform upon which they can be discussed further. This type of active, daily communication helps managers tackle challenges with brainstorming and planning. It’s always a good idea to bring the manager’s log to the meeting, and ask each manger to be up to speed on issues that have been communicated.


Few businesses can succeed without benchmarks. They are critical in the restaurant business, where the regular grind of service and preparation can wear anyone down. Benchmarks should be set and planned for routinely. They can cover a variety of issues, including:

  • Revenue goals
  • Service goals
  • Food cost percentages
  • Positive customer feedback

Big-picture benchmarks tend to get lost in the shuffle of day-to-day service and food quality concerns. Don’t hesitate to incorporate performance standards and results into your log on a daily basis.

Alternative Ideas

Some people are not writers and some managers have tried manager logs in the past without success. In this case, it might be helpful to attach space on a daily sales report to record specific details of a shift, such as those mentioned above. Recording the details of a shift or day should be a minimum requirement of any manager who works in the context of a team.

Communication is critical to any business environment. However, it is essential in this business, in which countless issues, concerns, suggestions, or questions can pop up at anytime. The manager’s log tackles this fact of life in the restaurant world and can smooth out the rough edges of daily operations.