Ever wonder how you can conquer email and get back to running your business? This article covers that and more!
Email is a significant component of working in the 21st century. It was initially designed as a tool, and then later adopted by the business industry.
Email is an extremely powerful tool that connects people and businesses all over the world. With all its powerful benefits, it can still become the thorn in a restaurant owner’s side by diverting the precious resources of time and energy.
This post covers some great tactics to manage email as a professional restaurant executive better and get back the precious time and energy needed in the challenging restaurant industry.
Table of Contents
Divide and Conquer – Separate Personal and Professional
The thought of managing two email inboxes can seem downright overwhelming.
When you realize that you could be missing important personal and business correspondence, you may just have a heart attack. So, air on the side of caution and divide and conquer.
Set up one email, a free Gmail, for your personal correspondence. Use this for personal shopping, email subscriptions you enjoy reading, friends’ emails, and more. This ensures two things; one you are in the personal mindset when responding, as business email is not personal email, and personal email is not work email. Secondly, it ensures that your work inbox is easy to conquer, no longer are you wading through this inbox to get to the meat of your daily schedule or searching through emails to address fires.
Though a balance between work life and personal rarely occurs, separating the two in a digital format ensures you can focus on the priorities of each when they need to be addressed. No longer are they colliding when they should be separate mental approaches.
Delegate Customer Service – To another employee or Inbox
It’s funny as, when we first start a business, usually there is only one email inbox, and it goes directly to the business owner.
As things grow and expand, they inherently get more complicated. Items like accounting get delegated to the bookkeeper, food orders to the chef, bar orders to the bar manager, and so on. Surprisingly that info@ or support@ emails continues to come to the same old email inbox.
This makes a world of email management nearly impossible. Don’t fret, you as the business owner have some choices. Option one, delegate this info@ or support@ email to a separate inbox and another person entirely. Option two, for those that may not have a large headcount, set up a third-party software like Zendesk or Intercom. No longer is this an email inbox to be managed, this is a customer support center, to help you optimize your business. Setup specific automatic responses, for example, what are you Friday hours, the system like this can help you autoreply quickly. Then train an employee to respond to these from an app or computer as they respond to voicemails at the beginning of their shift.
The key concept here is to delegate, get the useless and monotonous activities off your plate. Remember, your time is valuable; running a restaurant, bar, or café is a challenging feat. Done correctly, it can be nearly impossible, so save yourself the daily 30 minutes, so you can allocate this time to activities that drive the business forward at a high level.
Start From Zero – Claim Digital Bankruptcy and Start Fresh
This is one of the few times this blog will talk about bankruptcy in a good light. I prefer to avoid the word in its entirety, but sometimes email bankruptcy is the only real solution to get you out of the red into the green (accounting pun there).
Here’s how I declare email bankruptcy: I have a list of about thirty people who I email with regularly and who are my most important email relationships. I use two web services, Gist and Etacts, to tell me who these people are. Both are useful. I then do gmail searches on their names and make sure that I have no unread and unarchived emails from them. It would be great if one or both of these services could auto-generate a gmail search on all thirty addresses for me. It would be even better if gmail had this feature built into the service.
Once I have made sure I’ve read and answered all emails from my thirty most important email relationships, I select all and hit archive. It is a tremendously satisfying feeling.Email Bankruptcy AVC.com
Those web services he referenced are a bit dated as his posts originate from 2010. Here are some newer services to help you with your needs: Mailstrom
There may be a few missed items after purging the inbox, but the reality of it is that the mental clarity and lifted weight of moving forward will always outweigh the cons of email bankruptcy. It is time you became the business executive you needed to be and took control of your inbox.
Email like a CEO – Short and Sweet
Fortune 500 CEOs are notorious for sending short and concise email responses; most importantly, these emails always know how to get their point across in a timely and efficient manager.
Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are known to be on the extreme end of this spectrum, utilizing emails with as little as the feared question mark ‘?’. You may not need to go to these extremes, but a short and sweet email that accomplishes its goal allows you to move onto the next task without wasting time with pleasantries.
In a business where the restaurant owner is the head chef, CFO, COO, head of HR, and much more, time is valuable. Even if it is a simple update from a shift leader or manager, your point can be made in a handful of sentences at most. Just refer to this quote from Guardian Kids Bikes co-founder and CEO Brian Riley about his Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban, “He usually gets his point across in a sentence, sometimes a few words,” Riley explains for Inc. “I think the most he’s ever written us was probably like three or four sentences.” So focus on being as efficient as possible, this will ensure your teams and partners start to communicate with you more succinctly as well, as who really wants a 5-page email?
The key here is to be short and sweet with your email. Let your team and colleagues know that just because you reply shortly doesn’t mean you have no interest; it simply means you have hundreds of emails to go through.
Practice emailing like a CEO. It will push you and your team to be more productive and focus on the bigger picture, the picture of running a highly successful and profitable restaurant, bar, or café.
Turn off Email Notifications – Manage Your Email, Don’t Let it Manage You
Ding, ding, ding! We get notifications all day, every day, from a plethora of applications. Nowadays, one cannot even make a phone call without seeing 20+ notifications when we open our cell phone. The key to managing your email is to simply turn off these notifications. No longer will your email run the day, you shall run your email.
The key here is understanding that every time we get an email notification, it takes roughly a minute to refocus, this could be on the desktop of a handheld device as Loughborough University found in their research. So simply restructure your day to own email. There are few different approaches; one is to time block and hour in the morning and evening to go through email. This is popular in the time blocking community, which is another post for another day. The second approach is to schedule 5 to 8 minutes every hour to jump into your email.
The two different approaches appeal to two different types of email management ideologies. Some people like to appear as though they are ‘always-on,’ while others want to focus on their in-person or over the phone interactions. Each is suited to certain restaurant owners and managers, and you should find what works for you.
Business runs on email, while communication is critical for a successful business, email can ruin productivity if not tamed. So tame your email, focus on the priorities that move your business forward, and get out of the email weeds.
Bringing It All Together and Mastering Business Email
At the end of the day, an email is a powerful tool, simply that. Do not let email become anything more than a simple business tool. Learn how to run email, no longer letting it run you and get back to running your restaurant, bar, or café.