Guide To Streamlining Restaurant Operations


How to Set Kitchen Goals

When it comes to running a modern, professional kitchen, there is always room for improvement and growth. To do this, set goals and make sure that you meet them for your kitchen and the restaurant as a whole. When you’re ready to start creating your goals, the best thing to do is to look at pain points in your kitchen. Do you frequently get complaints about the food wait time? Are meals constantly being sent back for being prepared incorrectly? Those are pain points that — with planning — can be fixed.

The best way to go about setting your goals is to follow the S.M.A.R.T philosophy, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. When you make goals based on this process, you can better narrow down what you want to work on in a quantifiable and time-based way. Some areas that you might want to focus your goals on could be kitchen quality, service quality, or overall restaurant quality. Wherever you find that your restaurant needs help, you can make goals to turn the situation around.

Kitchen KPIs

Salata
Salata salad bar designed by The Kitchen Spot Expert Restaurant Services, Inc. of Arlington, TX

KPIs stands for key performance indicators, and they are a good way to measure how effectively your kitchen is running. There are a few core areas that you can establish KPIs to help streamline your restaurant operations.

Speed

When patrons visit a restaurant, they expect high-quality food to come out quickly. To make this possible, ensure that your kitchen staff is able to produce meals in a timely manner. That means evaluating what types of foods you cook, and how long their preparation takes, so that you can set realistic speed KPIs.

Some recommendations to help increase speed are to preheat everything as you arrive in the kitchen to ensure everything is hot and ready once you’re ready to cook. Additionally, take time to prep all of your ingredients efficiently so that you don’t have to slow down while you’re actually cooking to recut a vegetable or prep something you forgot at the prep stage.

Consistency

Every chef or cook in your kitchen must be dedicated to delivering consistent standards across every item on the menu. If a customer orders a meal on Tuesday and comes back Sunday to order the same thing, they are going to expect the food will taste just as good as the first time.

One way to help with consistency is to keep your menu simple.Some restaurants suffer from having too many items on their menu. This means that the chefs have to cook many different things on any given day, which can result in subpar meals across the board. On the other hand, if you curate a pared down, concise menu, cooks making the same meals every day perfect those dishes and consistently deliver an outstanding dish.

Quality

When it comes to quality food, you need quality ingredients. Ensure that the kitchen is stocked with fresh, high-quality items to give your cooks and chefs a good head start to prepare their meals.

Another way to enhance the quality of your food is to invest in proper cooking equipment. While heating up food in a microwave is pretty normal in a home kitchen, it doesn’t have a place in the modern, professional kitchen. You can find the best kitchen essentials to increase restaurant operations at The Kitchen Spot.

Service Quality

Delicious food alone is not going to keep your restaurant afloat. Your service team is the face of the restaurant and if their service is poor, they can repel customers for good. The best thing you can do is set service standards, goals, and KPIs to determine a process for providing the best service.

Hosts

Hosts should be properly trained on how to greet and seat guests when they arrive at your restaurant. You could use a digital layout of the seating so that hosts can easily see what tables are available and quickly seat the customers.

Servers

Your servers should be fully knowledgeable about the restaurant menu and willing to discuss each option should customers have any questions about what to order. Additionally, if you invest in a point-of-sale (POS) system, it will make communication between the servers and the kitchen staff easier and more streamlined, thus improving overall restaurant operations.

Special Upsells

Restaurateurs expect to generate a profitable income, and one way to do this is to offer daily, weekly, or monthly specials that contain a slight upcharge. If you go this route, train your servers on how to a strategically upsell without making your customers feel pressured. This can also work if you don’t have regular specials since menu items are priced differently, meaning your employees can still recommend higher-priced items to bring in more revenue.

Sanitation

A clean kitchen is an efficient kitchen. Your back-of-house staff should be following daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning schedules to ensure there are no contaminants in contact with food, and that space is clear for efficient production. Make it a goal for employees to follow these schedules and for you to routinely check their work. Cleanliness and health safety must be critically important to every employee.

Daily

Some daily tasks should include disinfecting all prep surfaces, washing all pots, pans, and utensils as well as cleaning all major appliances that were used, such as the grill, range, or fryer.

Weekly

Weekly cleaning is a good time tackling big jobs for items you use daily but can’t deep clean every time. Weekly cleaning includes washing and sanitizing freezers and walk-ins, de-liming skins and faucets, or deep cleaning the oven.

Monthly

Most tasks that should be done monthly are usually done for safety reasons. These include emptying grease traps, scrubbing the walls and ceilings to remove grease buildup, washing vent hoods, and more.

Managing Service Speed, Quality, and Consistency

Once you have set some goals and standards for your restaurant, you must ensure that you reach those goals and maintain your standards. When it comes to managing service speed, quality, and consistency in front and back of house, there are a few things to keep in mind.

How to Maximize Table Turnover

If the first thing your guests are greeted with is a long wait for an available table, their overall experience is immediately diminished. While a short wait is usually forgiven, there are some things that your staff can do to make the process faster.

Some options could include having certain items such as silverware prepared in advance or bringing the final check out quickly to limit delays when customers are ready to leave.

How to Keep the Kitchen Running During Peak Times

As previously mentioned, a clean, organized kitchen helps the whole kitchen staff be more efficient because they can easily find the ingredients and cooking tools that they need. Additionally, a smaller menu that can quickly be prepared, even in a rush, will ensure that your customers get their food in a timely manner. If you are looking to improve restaurant operations through kitchen organization, you can check out our helpful guide here.

The most important way to keep your kitchen running during the major rushes of the day is to ensure that there is effective communication between all of your kitchen staff. If people can’t talk to each other and work together, they could crumble under the pressure of many orders.

How to Train Servers

There is specific etiquette that is best practice across all restaurants, including being friendly, knowledgeable, and competent. Invest in a server training program so that each new employee is being trained the same way every time.

Additionally, have each server sample every item on the menu so that they have firsthand knowledge and experience with each dish. This will help them make recommendations to customers and speed up the ordering process.

Serving and Hosting Best Practices

Hosts and servers are the faces of your restaurant and they should be trained as such. It is best that each of these employees is trained to work with customers, understands restaurant operations, and knows the menu inside and out.

Communication Practices Between the Front and Back of House

Whether your servers place orders through verbal confirmation, printed tickets, or a POS system, there needs to be a streamlined process of communication between those taking the orders and those cooking them. Both teams need work together to ensure that customers have an enjoyable experience at your restaurant.

Managing Employees and Labor Costs

Figuring out how many employees you need in your restaurant every shift can seem challenging. However, balancing your employee needs with labor costs doesn’t have to be a complicated process. One important thing you can do is to cross-train your employees so that they can help out in any area that consistently becomes understaffed at times.

Additionally, a director of operations could help you break down the numbers and figure out the best way to keep employees and costs even.

How to Reduce Labor Costs

If you have implemented a POS system into your business, you can download additional employee scheduling software. This software can use data from previous pay periods to determine, down to the minute, how many employees you need in every area of the restaurant. This saves you from having too many or too few staff members at any given time.

One of the biggest drains on labor costs is employee turnover. Having to hire and train a new employee actually costs more in the long run than maintaining the staff you currently have. Investing in your employees to make their job into a career will greatly benefit you in the long run.

How to Manage Restaurant Scheduling

Your restaurant needs to be adequately staffed to create an excellent guest experience. To do this, you’ll need to master scheduling as part of your restaurant operations. First, try to schedule shifts as far in advance as you can so that everyone is adequately informed of when they are working.

While your schedule should have structure and you should do your best to make sure the shifts are consistently the same, it is sensible to maintain some flexibility for yourself and your employees. Try to give two days in a row off to let employees adequately rest and allow shift swaps, within reason, to ensure that everyone is happy but still working when they need to.

Managing Inventory and Food Costs

Food is arguably the most important part of any restaurant and, therefore, comprises a large part of your budget. There are many ways that you can focus on to bring down overall food costs and still completely maintain your inventory and food quality.

How to Reduce Food Costs

As previously mentioned, a smaller, more concise menu will help bring food costs down, since there’s no need to buy ingredients that too often go wasted. You should also include a POS system as part of your restaurant operations software because it can track what meals are consistently being ordered and how much you need to reorder during inventory while also being able to automatically fill out basics of your inventory when you need it to.

How to Reduce Restaurant Waste

When your POS system helps monitor your inventory, you’re less likely to over-purchase ingredients and ultimately waste them since you won’t use them in time. Additionally, if you are not storing and rotating your inventory correctly, items will likely spoil and go to waste, thus costing you more money in the long run.

You should also ensure that your employees are properly trained in adequately preparing food. If meals are incorrectly cooked and are sent back, that’s a lot of food that will most likely be thrown away.

How to Manage Inventory

In addition to utilizing your POS system to manage your inventory, you should also have a routine to ensure that every team member knows their role in the process. A restaurant operations director may be the perfect person to head up an inventory routine so that it is an efficient project.

Best Practices for FIFO Inventory Cycling

The first in, first out (FIFO) method ensures that all of your items are getting used in a timely manner before they can spoil. To manage this, place older items in front of newer items so that they are the first thing you grab when reaching for ingredients.

When to Adjust Menu Pricing

Menu items should be priced to reflect your food percentage costs and raw food costs to create an ideal pricing number. If you find that a particular meal is not selling well, it could be priced too high. Try lowering the price a bit to see if it starts to sell. If not, it might be time to remove it from the menu altogether.

On the other hand, you may find that ingredients for your most popular dishes have increased in cost. This means that you will also need to slightly increase the cost of the dish to ensure that it remains profitable for your restaurant.

Managing Restaurant Accounting

How to Write a P&L Statement

A profit and loss statement helps restaurant owners understand their finances better while also highlighting areas that are succeeding or are hurting the business. You should be tracking your goods sold, labor, operating costs, and more to get a clear picture of your profit and loss margins.

Tips for Restaurant Accounting

Like other processes in your restaurant, accounting software can streamline restaurant operations to make things easier for you. The best way to stay on top of your accounting is to make the recording process part of your everyday routine. If accounting seems too overwhelming, don’t hesitate to hire an accountant to help you keep your records in line.

Start Streamlining Today

There are many aspects of restaurant operations that need to be addressed to truly streamline the whole process. Taking action in each area and help make your restaurant run more smoothly and efficiently, making the experience more enjoyable to customers, employees, and you as the owner. If you need more input about streamlining restaurant operations, get in touch with a Kitchen Spot Expert to learn more.