Learn more about how to manage a restaurant business successfully.
5 Steps to Optimizing Your Restaurant Management System

Managing kitchen operations is critical—and not as hard as you think.

Down time is dead time. While maximum productivity is a key concern for any business, it is critical for restaurant owners and managers. In a service business reliant on customer experience, small inefficiencies have a ripple effect. In a restaurant business, success lies in helping employees be more efficient in their work by providing them with the right tools and covering a range of related bases geared to delivering on your brand promise.

“[Your restaurant] should be a well-oiled machine,” says former restaurant worker Laura MacLeod, founder of From the Inside Out, a consultancy that helps businesses facilitate communication and productivity. Average operating costs for a restaurant can increase efficiency. These five restaurant management tips and ideas can help you optimize your operations and get more things in your restaurant done.

Step One: Use the right tools for your kitchen operations.

Using the wrong restaurant equipment or worn-out cooking tools may result to potential issues for your restaurant, such as decrease in employee productivity and more importantly, increase in injuries that may possibly leave the restaurant open to legal risk.

“You must consider the cost of workers’ time,” says Carolina Bautista-Brown, marketing manager, food supply business, at 3M. If you’re using cleaning solutions or hand pads that don’t remove grease well or that cause workers to take longer to clean the griddle or finish proper floor care at the end of the night, you’re not only frustrating your staff, you’re adding to your payroll costs, she says. Invest in efficient supplies that help your employees do their jobs well, leading to decreased turnover and happy employees that interact better with customers.

Step Two: Take stock of your commercial kitchen

Sometimes, simply having no stock of a product or supply can derail efficiency and lose customers. MacLeod notes that it may be as simple as running out of go-to coffee cups. Think about the time that the staff would spend looking for supplies, only to find out that inventory has run out and the restaurant can’t sell the food or beverage as planned. Not only do you waste time, but you also lose a sale—and possible future orders from that customer, she says.

Consider investing in durable products that last longer, Bautista-Brown says. Products like scouring pads can be reused more frequently, reducing waste and replacement costs. This will take less space to store and are less likely to break down, which may risk food contamination.

Step Three: Create systems for restocking kitchen products

Create systems to ensure that the ingredients, supplies and other goods you need to run your restaurant are always on hand, says Bautista-Brown. Establish clear re-order levels based on the time it takes suppliers to replenish what you need. Consider creating a list of items that should be checked and a system of follow-through to be sure that orders are made in a timely fashion. Assign responsibility to a staff member to oversee these inventory checks.

Systems can increase efficiency in virtually every area of your restaurant. Creating systems for seating, taking reservations, handling customer complaints and other tasks can help you streamline them and ensure that, no matter who is handling the issue, customers can expect a consistent experience, MacLeod says.

Step Four: Thoroughly train restaurant employees

In many restaurants, training is done in a casual manner, asserts MacLeod. Usually, a new server shadows an experienced one for a few days or a week before they work on their own. But even an experienced server may forget to train the new employee in all of the restaurant’s systems. A thorough training approach can also help with engaging millennial employees.

This is where a training manual or, at least, a checklist is useful. By documenting the areas in which a server needs to be trained, the restaurant can ensure that the new employee is knowledgeable of all existing practices and policies that make up the brand experience. As customers increasingly demand to be delighted by their visit, this comprehensive approach can be invaluable, she says.

Step Five: Keep communication open

With changes in equipment or supplies, menu items or company policies, communication with your staff is essential, MacLeod says. Making changes without alerting employees can make them feel less engaged and affect their interactions with customers. Conversely, keeping lines of communication open can lead to breakthrough ideas and better ways of doing things.

Improving productivity bolsters your restaurant’s customer experience and its bottom line. Make the right moves to support your employees and watch their efficiency and engagement soar.

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