Are you struggling to keep up with the fast-paced demands of the restaurant industry? As a restaurant owner or manager, you know that every second counts when it comes to delivering exceptional customer experience. To achieve that, it’s crucial to optimize your restaurant’s operations, and that’s where restaurant efficiency solutions come in. In this article, we'll explore how to leverage three pillars of productivity: People, Processes and Technology (PPT) to achieve a more productive and efficient restaurant and provide actionable tips and strategies that you can implement today. So, whether you're looking to reduce costs, increase profitability, or simply deliver better customer experiences, read on to discover how restaurant efficiency solutions can transform your business.
Restaurant efficiency solutions refer to the different strategies your business can utilize, with the aim of improving operational efficiency, reducing your waste, and maximizing your output. To implement restaurant efficiency solutions, managers can analyze restaurant operations to identify areas that need improvement, and then develop and implement solutions to address these areas. Implementing effective restaurant efficiency solutions ensures that the establishment runs like a well-oiled machine, increasing your profit margins and providing a better experience for your customers.
Here are some benefits of implementing restaurant efficiency solutions:
While the benefits are many-fold, restaurant efficiency or productivity is a very broad term, and as a restaurant owner or manager, it can be overwhelming to know where to start when it comes to improving your restaurant's productivity. Thus, we break down productivity into three essential pillars: process, people and technology (PPT) to provide a structured approach to help you identify and address areas for improvement in your restaurant. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of factors that contribute to restaurant efficiency, you can focus on optimizing each pillar individually and holistically, leading to a more productive and efficient restaurant overall.
In the restaurant industry, streamlining workflows and improving operational processes are crucial to maximizing efficiency and productivity. By optimizing your restaurant's processes, you can reduce wait times, improve order accuracy, and ultimately provide a better experience for your customers. Here are some practical tips and tricks for optimizing your restaurant's processes:
1. Identify and Document Processes
Observe the processes in your restaurant and talk to your employees to get a detailed view of how things are done at your restaurant, from taking orders to preparing food. Document each process in detail, including inputs, outputs, and steps involved.
2. Analyze the Processes, Register and Prioritize Issues
Classify each process as value-adding or non-value adding and remove non-value adding processes. From the perspective of a kitchen worker, certain tasks that break the workflow can be perceived as very annoying and even tedious at times. These inefficient tasks can cause employees to feel less motivated and can induce more stress. Since the hospitality industry is known to be a notoriously stressful work environment, removing these inefficiencies is a great place to start. However, more often than not, it may not be that straightforward, because a process may not directly add value but cannot be removed either due to regulatory requirements or relation with other processes. For instance, a restaurant may have a policy of checking customer ID's for age verification when serving alcohol. This process does not add any value to the customer experience and may even be perceived as an inconvenience by some customers. However, it is necessary for compliance with local laws and regulations. In such cases, we have to dig deeper, identify issues within the processes and address them to improve the processes.
Talk to your staff and other relevant stakeholders involved to identify issues that arise during each process, like long wait times or incorrect orders. List these issues out and assess how much they impact you in terms of time, money, or customer satisfaction. This can be measured in a quantitative manner, or instance impact can be calculated by multiplying the frequency of an occurrence multiplied by the cost incurred because of it. It may not always be possible to assign an exact monetary value to the impact of an issue, and in that case, they can be rated low to high or on a scale of 1-5 based on judgment and experience.
It may also not be possible to solve every issue there is, because it may require too big of an investment. Which is why the issues then should be prioritized. Oftentimes, the issues within processes follow the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule, as in 20% of issues contribute to 80% if the costs. Thus, prioritize the issues to solve based on their impact, and also use your judgement here to assess which ones are urgent and more feasible to solve.
3. Optimize processes
Once you know which issues to fix first, pinpoint the root cause of the identified issue. An easy technique for this is the “Five-Whys” technique, where you ask “why” an issue occurs multiple times (usually five times is sufficient) until you get to the root cause. For example, a restaurant may be facing issues with delivery orders: they are frequently arriving late. You start by asking, why are the delivery orders arriving late? Because the delivery drivers are taking longer than expected to complete their routes. Then you ask, why are the delivery drivers taking longer than expected? Because they are encountering traffic on their routes. Why are the drivers encountering traffic on their routes? Because the delivery routes are not optimized for traffic flow. This way, by asking “why” repeatedly, you reach the root cause of a problem.
Then you can address each issue by taking necessary measures such as removing inefficient steps, finding alternative ingredients or tools, automating/streamlining processes with digital technologies, or providing employee training and development opportunities. If you can resolve your biggest pain points in this way, it will show to your team that not only do you care about the operational side of the business, but also in their day-to-day work experience. Make sure that the optimization doesn’t affect customer experience and service quality, complies with regulatory requirements, and doesn’t hamper other interconnected processes.
The next, and perhaps the most critical pillar of a productive and efficient restaurant is your people – the core of your operations. Your staff are a critical component of your restaurant's success, and investing in their training and communication can have a big impact on productivity. In this section, we'll explore two key areas for enhancing your restaurant's efficiency through your people: training and communication.
Proper staff training is not only important but essential. To ensure that your restaurant runs smoothly and successfully, it is vital to invest in training for all your staff, regardless of their role, be it kitchen staff, waitstaff, or management. Many areas of training exist, from basic training in food and beverage service knowledge to more complex training such as leadership and financial management. When you invest in your staff, you're also investing in the growth and success of your business. Proper training can lead to better job performance, increased productivity, and an increase in overall customer satisfaction. By providing your team with the necessary tools and knowledge to excel in their roles, you're setting them up for success and empowering them to deliver exceptional results.
Here are some innovative training strategies which you can employ in your business.
In today's digital age, online training has become increasingly popular and near essential in the restaurant industry. Online training is a cost-effective and convenient way to train your staff, as it allows them to complete their training at their own pace and on their own time. Online training can cover a wide range of topics, from basic food safety and customer service to more specialized training on menu items and kitchen health and safety. The benefits of online training are numerous, including increased productivity, improved job performance, and overall better customer satisfaction.
Gamification involves developing a more fun and engaging way to train your staff while keeping them motivated and entertained. Gamification employs game features & mechanics, such as points, and leaderboards, to turn training into a game-like experience. Gamification can be applied to any training topic. By adding a competitive element to training, you can increase employee engagement and participation, leading to better retention of the material. Gamification is also an effective way to track employee progress and identify areas where additional training may be needed. By incorporating gamification into your training strategy, you can create a more engaging and effective training experience for your staff.
Training your staff should not be a one-time event but rather an ongoing process. Continuous training is essential to keep your staff on their toes, and to stay well informed throughout their employment with new training content, upgraded existing content, and refreshers. By investing in continuous training, you're empowering your staff to grow and develop in their roles, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and employee retention. Additionally, continuous training can help your business stay competitive and adapt to changing market conditions. It's essential to prioritize continuous training as part of your overall business strategy to ensure the long-term success of your restaurant.
Communication is key in any business, especially in the restaurant industry. The goal of improving communication among staff is to speak with a purpose, and to share something of value with others.
As with anything else in life, we need to recognize the challenges and areas of improvement, this can also be applied to communication in restaurants, and its most common challenges. Common communication challenges that staff members may encounter are language barriers, cultural differences, and noise levels.
To overcome language barriers, use simple language and visual aids, speak slowly and clearly, and consider using a translation app if necessary. An example of such an app is Google Translate, and DeepL Translate.
To overcome cultural differences, learn about the other person's culture and communication style, be aware of nonverbal communication differences, and show respect through active listening and avoiding stereotypes.
To overcome noise levels, move to a quieter location, use written communication or nonverbal communication, and speak louder or use a microphone if needed.
Non-verbal cues can be used by members of staff to convey messages more effectively. Examples include eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures.
I would personally often gesture to others in the kitchen using only my head or with my eyes. I would try and convey to a colleague to go somewhere, or to do something based on minimal verbal communication. I would do this by nodding my head, pointing with my body, or just gesturing with my hands or eyes. It isn’t always easy to interpret, but keeping the message very simple and making it obvious to the person that you wish to communicate something with them helps (waving first).
To communicate with your eyes, maintain eye contact to convey interest. Once you have the other person's attention, point with your eyes at what needs attention, e.g., Look at a certain station, ingredient, dish or anything that needs your colleagues’ attention. It's also important to avoid staring or looking at distractions (screens) and to occasionally look away to avoid discomfort.
Using positive facial expressions, like smiling, can convey warmth and friendliness, while negative expressions, like frowning or scowling, can convey negativity or disinterest. Appropriately matching facial expressions to the situation, such as using a serious expression for a serious topic, is also important.
Appropriate hand & eye gestures can be used to convey emphasis or importance. It can create more intensity in situations thus avoiding overuse is a good idea. Overuse of hand & eye gestures can also cause confusion instead of being clearer. Keeping the hand gestures on topic and easily interpretable is recommended.
In the fast-paced environment of a restaurant kitchen, it can be easy to get caught up in the demands of the job and forget about the human element of your fellow team members. However, taking the time to show empathy towards colleagues can not only improve communication but also boost morale and job satisfaction. This can be as simple as recognizing when someone is having an off day and offering support. By recognizing and valuing the humanity of each team member, the kitchen can become a more cohesive and supportive environment, leading to better performance and customer satisfaction. Additionally, being aware of one's own state of mind and knowing that sometimes you aren’t feeling or performing your best is okay, we aren’t always perfect (& arguably never are) and we shouldn’t set unreasonable standards – otherwise we would be closer to robots than humans.
Every action and inaction is a message that you are sending to others, being aware of this fact, and understanding what message you are sending to others is key to proper communication.
The use of technology such as restaurant management software (RMS) and artificial intelligence in the restaurant industry has revolutionized the way restaurants operate, from front-end customer interaction to back-end processes.
On the front-end, technology can be leveraged to streamline a wide array of processes such as customer service, online ordering and delivery, reservation, and POS. AI-powered chatbots can enhance customer experience by providing 24/7 assistance, while delivery platforms can optimize delivery routes and predict delivery times. QSRs and fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King and many others are leveraging self-ordering kiosks to expedite and enhance the in-store ordering experience for customers. It can also reduce costs and the complexity of the ordering process. Companies such as OpenTable have crafted solutions to optimize the reservation process. POS systems and restaurant management solutions are one of the biggest areas where technology has been leveraged to streamline restaurant operations.
In addition to front-end use cases, technology can be used to streamline back-end processes such as inventory management, marketing, process systemization, and employee training. By using AI to predict demand and optimize inventory levels, restaurants can significantly reduce waste. Technology has enabled restaurants to reach the right customers with the right message and offers on the right platforms with personalized, targeted marketing and promotion efforts. Another crucial process which technology can help restaurants to optimize is staffing and scheduling. There are software tools available, such as 7shifts, that integrate AI to create efficient and compliant schedules.
Technology is the component that can optimize the other two productivity pillars - processes and people - in a holistic and balanced way. It can be leveraged to automate tasks, reducing errors and improving efficiency. AI, as leveraged by companies like spoon.tech, can also be used to systemize restaurant processes and create gamified training content for employees to learn, thereby enabling restaurants to develop a capable workforce and empower people.
To successfully implement any technology in a restaurant, it's important to identify specific business needs that must be addressed and choose the right technology for those needs. Adequate training should be provided to staff to ensure effective use of the new technology, and staff should be involved in the implementation process to ensure buy-in and support.
In conclusion, if you want to improve upon your restaurant efficiency solutions, you should focus on streamlining your establishment, by improving staff training, and enhancing communication amongst staff. Start implementing these solutions today and watch your restaurant’s efficiency improve.
If you're looking to improve your restaurant business, and to level up your staff with advanced features, spoon.tech can help. To get in touch with us, you can: fill out our contact form, alternatively, you can call us via phone at (+43 670 655 56 82) Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi, I'm Audri, a Master's student in Digital Economy at Vienna University of Economics and Business, and an enthusiast of the food and hospitality sector. Digital transformation in the hospitality sector is an intersection of my practice and passion, and I love to write on that topic. Let's connect on LinkedIn to chat more!