You and Me and Restaurant Makes Three
Husband and Wife Restaurant Owners
As discussed in The Family Owned Restaurant, family business are the bedrock of the U.S. economy. Family businesses often start with a husband and wife team trying to make a better life for their families. In many cases, the marriages and the businesses become so intertwined that it becomes hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Starting and running a successful restaurant can be more demanding than having a baby, and often couples do not survive the birth of a restaurant.
In order to ensure both the restaurant and your marriage survive, here are four important items to keep in mind when opening or running a restaurant with your spouse:
Treat the business like a business, not an extension of the home. Draw a distinction and leave work in the business. If both husband and wife are to be partners in the restaurant, having a written partnership agreement is recommended – especially if you plan on having additional business partners. By the time you realize you need an agreement, due to a dispute, it is often too late. You should have a written agreement that includes: the division of ownership; an outline of the amount of, and stipulations for, taking salaries; and how to handle any profits or losses.
Don't assume that the role in the personal relationship translates to the roles in a work relationship. Just as you want to define the partnership agreement, it is advised that couples decide in advance the work roles within the business – which spouse is going to do what. For example, the person who balances your personal checkbook at home might not be the best one to reconcile purchase orders and inventory. And, when defining job roles, if there’s something neither is good at, delegate it to someone else!
Couples we work with find that the key to their success as both a married couple and business partners is to continually communicate their roles and how they can help each other in those roles. In that regard:
Standard operating procedures (SOP’S) should be agreed upon, set and followed. Understanding the task expectations of each role and adhering to the agreed upon SOP’S that meet them, removes the possibility of misunderstandings with couple business owners. Even the small tasks matter: agreeing upon how receipts are filed and the books are balanced; when cash is taken to the bank and who does it; who orders food and beverages and what levels of inventory you plan to keep; and who handles staff scheduling and how are changes to the schedule made are all examples of key items to agree upon in advance.
Support each other and be unified. Present a united front to your employees at all times. As basic as it sounds, do not bicker, fight or have large disagreements in front of your staff. Like another other business partner relationships, you will have disagreements on how to run the business. Remain professional at all times and take those arguments off-site or behind closed doors.
Even though you are spending a lot of time together in the restaurant, you still need to make time for each other. Find a way to have a night together away from the restaurant – even if you end up discussing restaurant business, being in a different environment changes the conversation. And most importantly, try not to go to bed angry. Fighting couples don’t work well together and can have a huge impact on how the business functions.
Remember why you decided to open a restaurant in the first place. You want to plan ahead to be as successful as possible, while ensuring that demands of the restaurant don’t pull apart your marriage!
Don’t know where to begin? Do you know how to put policies and procedures in place to be as successful as possible? www.4qconsult.com can develop customized operational guidelines to meet your needs.
All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2015-2016.
Noelle E. Ifshin
4Q Consulting, LLC
244 5th Avenue, Suite 1430, NY, NY 10001