You serve great food and love doing it! Creating fantastic dishes and the environment in which people can enjoy them is a passion of yours. But, as you’ve no doubt learned, there’s so much more to restaurant operations than dishing out great food.
What are restaurant operations? It is all the activities that help you turn raw ingredients into scintillating dishes served up to hungry customers. And preferably doing so at a profit! To be sure, food preparation is a key element of good restaurant operations management, it’s what gets diners to come in and come back. But, there’s more to restaurant operations than food.
Restaurant operations are as much about managing people, time, inventory, money and other resources. All these things both add to your expenses and add value to the food and service that you are providing. This is a competitive industry! Margins are often small and there is no shortage of competition.
Streamlining restaurant operations by maximizing efficiency is a great way to stay ahead. By cutting waste and making sure all your resources are being put to their best use you can keep your doors open and your customers can keep enjoying the food you make.
What are a few of the key elements of restaurant operations management? How can you improve what you’re doing?
1. Keep it simple
You may be able to prepare a lot of good dishes but should you offer up on your menu everything you know how to make? There is nothing wrong with variety. But, too many options can be frustrating for customers. It can add to your bottom line by increasing expenses from wasted time and resources. Simplifying your menu has many benefits that will improve your restaurant’s operations. To name a few:
Fewer menu items makes quality easier
It can enable you and your kitchen staff to focus on a small number of dishes. This small number of dishes can be made to virtual perfection with enough practice!
A smaller inventory means higher efficiency
You can keep a smaller inventory of ingredients on hand. When you do, your inventory will be used faster. This will reduce expenses from purchasing and spoilage.
An uncomplicated menu makes things simple
A smaller, more specialized menu can be tied to the ambiance of the dining experience. If done well, it can also be incorporated into your marketing and advertising. Consider, as an example, In-N-Out Burger. This chain of restaurants has made itself famous with its simplicity. They offer up a very small number of menu items that have a reputation for high quality.
2. Take care of your people
The first interactions that your customers are likely to have with your restaurant will be with the host and the wait staff. For good or ill these staff members are going to be the face and first impression of your restaurant to diners. They need to make a good impression! If diners have any issues or questions, it will be your host and wait staff who will be asked those questions. It’s vital for good restaurant operations that your staff members know and feel confident in what they are doing! This also extends to people who don’t interact with diners!
Dial in your onboarding procedures
Have a standardized onboarding process. This extends beyond having new hires watch training videos and fill out a W2. Your staff should be as familiar with the restaurant as possible. They should know the menu inside and out. They should know what menu items will conform to certain dietary restrictions. If your clientele cares about such things, they should know where ingredients are sourced from. Everything that they know will make them a better resource for your customers.
Never stop coaching! Servicing customers in a busy restaurant can be a high stress job. It requires time and people management skills. Never stop training your staff! Be sure to provide positive reinforcement and constructive criticism. Provide opportunities for them to learn new things. They’ll be better at their jobs and that will help them to provide a better experience for your diners.
Maintain a clear chain of command
Have a hierarchy. Your staff should not only know what their jobs are, but they should know who they can reach out to for support. Having clear lines of supervision and communication can help your staff to maximize their time and labor. It will also help them to address issues as they arise and ensure good experiences for customers.
3. Take care of your stuff
Like any business, you want to keep costs down. And like any business, a very good way of doing that is by keeping a minimal inventory and reducing waste. A good restaurant operations manager will keep a close eye on inventory. They will continually tweak how much is kept on hand to ensure that every dollar spent on purchasing inventory is maximized. They’ll also keep a close eye on the equipment and facilities. The building and everything inside of it needs to be clean and working at all times!
Keep the menu simple
This is an area of restaurant operations where a simple menu will pay dividends! Having a small menu of items will enable you to more precisely estimate how much inventory you need to make those items. Continually preparing those few items will provide insights on how to reduce any waste in the process.
Keep the restaurant clean
Keep the place clean, organized and maintained. Importantly, this will meet legal requirements for cleanliness. It will also create a more pleasant environment for your staff and customers. Keeping your restaurant clean and organized and its facilities maintained will enable you to keep better track of what is on hand and prevent invasion of your facility by inventory eating pests.
Keep appliances running smoothly
Keeping equipment well-maintained will also pay off. An oven or grill breaking down during the lunch rush can be a disaster. A freezer or refrigerator going on the fritz overnight could cost you a lot of money in spoiled inventory! Small investments of time and money made regularly on cleanliness and maintenance can save you large amounts of time and money later!
4. Take care of your data
No matter how small your restaurant is, it can generate a lot of useful data. So what? Well, that data can be put to use in making your restaurant operations more efficient, cost effective and profitable! Collecting data, analyzing it and then using it to craft new workplace policies, procedures and menus as well as refining existing ones is crucial!
Keep a close eye on the books
We understand, you got into this business to make good food and create enjoyable dining experiences for your customers. You don’t want to spend a lot of time scrolling through spreadsheets and accounting software. But, a good restaurant operations manager needs to keep a close eye on details. Things like cash flow, payroll, purchasing, inventory, sales receipts, and other administrative details. It’s the only way they can know what issues need addressing and what processes are working and can be made to work even better.
Keep track of what you’re selling and buying
Knowing which menu items move the fastest can help you refine your purchasing and inventory control. It can also give you some insights into what your customers like the most and help you refine your marketing and advertising campaigns.
Get the right technology
Don’t be afraid to experiment with new technology. New technology can make the dining experience easier for your customers and staff. Technology enables you to capture data. Data can be analyzed. Analyzed data can give you some insights into how your restaurant is functioning!
Understand your customers
Get to know your customers. You and your well-trained staff should already be getting to know your customers and their tastes. Supplementing that human touch with technology can help you to understand with more precision what your customers like. It can help you learn what things that they might enjoy but aren’t buying that could be upsold to them. And it helps you better understand who they are as a demographic.
Tying it all together
Managing a successful restaurant is a big job! There is a lot of hard work, it can sometimes be a little intimidating and it is certainly not for the faint of heart. But the rewards are considerable.
Restaurant management software can help you manage all these elements. You can use it to tie them together in a way that allows you to maximize the efficiency of your operation and enhance the experiences of your customers. We have software applications that can help you. Our suite of applications can keep track of purchasing and inventory, help you manage and develop your staff and help you collect and analyze data generated by your operations.