Keeping operations humming behind the scenes in a restaurant is no walk in the park. Supplies have to be carefully monitored to ensure no shortfalls. Staff schedules have to be regulated to ensure production flow is smooth, customers are served well, and your employees are not overworked. And books have to be kept in check to ensure all the bustle is not in vain. At the same time, you have to be sure that your establishment is operating within the rules and regulations set by the city, state, and federal authorities.
Keeping tabs on all these moving parts may seem possible only to one with more tentacles than an octopus. But you can manage your establishment efficiently as an ordinary human being, and here are some ideas to help you achieve this:
Set the Ground Rules
It is crucial to set standards for your restaurant that your staff adheres to, whether they are customer-facing or in the backroom. Enforcing these regulations is vital so that you’re always in compliance with the guidelines laid down by the FDA and other authorities. It is also important for the quality of food and service your customers receive.
Personal hygiene and grooming standards must be high. Your employees should, for instance, always appear in clean uniforms and have their hair kept back in a ponytail or a cap. Time management rules should be clearly communicated to everyone. Staff should come in a few minutes before their shift starts, so they have time to don their uniforms/aprons, put on their name tags, and other such preparations before getting started. While on duty, phones should be off for better focus. Coming to work with a cold or any other communicable illness should be a complete no-no.
Despite all the guidelines in place, it’s essential to find ways to keep your workers motivated. Besides treating them with consideration and respect, it is best to offer incentives for excellent performance and hard work. These could be monetary gifts or rewards in kind.
Perfect Your Scheduling Process
Your ground rules should also cover the scheduling of work, including instances when employees request days off. For one, any such requests should be made well in advance—at least a day or two earlier. But you should have an annual leave calendar to allow everyone a few days off work, even if this is not an expressed labor law requirement. A functional scheduling process will keep your staff well-rested and motivated, instead of fatigued and disengaged.
Promote Communication Between Staff Members
Negative customer experiences, more often than not, have their root in communication breakdowns between restaurant staff. Therefore, there should be rules dictating how staff communicate with each other, especially how customer-facing staff communicates with kitchen staff. This is where communication lapses tend to be costly. Frequent meetings between the two cadres are a great way of forestalling any potential conflicts.
Information should also flow in a concise, timely manner from administration staff to the waitstaff and chefs. When reservations or special requests are made, this information should be relayed in good time to avoid embarrassing conflicts.
It’s equally important to put in place clear channels through which they can channel grievances. An open-door policy is a great way to get operational staff to open about personal challenges that may be affecting the quality of their output.
Install Digital Displays in the Kitchen
A great way of eliminating errors in the communication between your kitchen staff and servers, as well as speeding up the processing of customer orders is by digitizing the ordering. Instead of a server taking down customer orders and relaying them manually to the kitchen, customers can key them into a device that beams the information straight to the kitchen.
Kitchen displays that connect to restaurant POS systems eliminate potential mistakes in order-taking and allow orders to be processed in a more controlled way. When their requests are executed to perfection, the chances of your guests making repeat visits and recommending your establishment are higher.
Use Software to Manage Your Inventory
Just as there are systems to manage order processing, there are systems to manage back-office operations, including inventory. Most modern POS systems integrate with inventory management modules so that the link between orders and levels of the stock is clear. This will help curb wastage or dead stock.
Analyze the Data
A restaurant can obtain customer and operations data in many ways, but the data isn’t helpful if you don’t know what to do with it. For consumer data, you can look at order trends on your POS software or identify patterns by looking at how followers interact with you on social media.
In terms of operations, you should be analyzing employee scheduling and behavior as well as inventory trends and equipment performance. If you’re willing to put the work, identifying commonalities or even unusualities will result in data-driven decisions to better your business.
Innovation saves the day, but…
In today’s cut-throat restaurateur environment, innovations such as an integrated POS can give you a real edge over competing outlets. That’s not to say the human touch has no place in today’s restaurant. There is no substitute for eye contact and a smile.