Aug 5, 2022
Restaurant SOPs: Why are they important?

Vacations and good meals are more than what meets the eye. People are making memories they will cherish forever. Customers remember your restaurant not just for good food. They remember it for the service, ambience, and the overall experience they had. You are in the business of converting someone’s dreams into a reality my friend! It is therefore important to have set processes in place to deliver delightful experiences every time.

Restaurants must consistently follow their processes in order to meet the targeted standards for food, service and environment. It is the consistency in delivering quality, service and environment that enables a restaurant to stay ahead of its competition. But how does one ensure consistency?

SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) can prove to be a powerful tool for restaurants in maintaining consistency and delivering stellar experiences every time. Having a robust restaurant SOP goes a long way in making your restaurant business a success.

What is SOP?

Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs, are written processes which define a standardized way of doing day-to-day operations. A restaurant has many SOPs, from washing the dishes to flipping burgers and everything else in between. 

Your front-of-office staff for example, follows a script when greeting and welcoming guests, which exhibits your specific brand of hospitality. Similarly, the back-of-office staff in food chains like McDonald’s build a burger in the kitchen following an SOP so as to maintain consistency in taste, look, and packaging across all its outlets. SOPs help restaurants function like a well-oiled machine.

However, SOPs should be well-documented and implemented through proper communication and training, or else they are ineffective. Well-documented SOPs coupled with a detailed training manual make a solid backbone to your training program.

Why do SOPs matter for restaurants?

SOPs enable restaurant owners to clearly outline their expectations and standards for various jobs with regard to the day-to-day restaurant operations. It is a proactive step towards ensuring a smooth transition of duties from one shift to another. Your staff will thank you for having an SOP because there’s nothing worse than trying to figure out the right way to do something in the middle of a busy weekend brunch.

An SOP can do a lot more good for your restaurant than you can imagine. Curious to know about them? Read on.

  • It brings consistency in the way things are done

We often hear restaurant managers giving staff instructions on how a certain task needs to be done. However, more  often than not, tasks are done the way they should be. Let me explain with an example here. Lizy and Mary are responsible for setting up flowers on guest tables every morning. Lizy puts a bunch of 5 roses on every table she sets up and Mary puts up a bunch of 3. This is a classic case of improper training and underused SOPs. In the absence of well-defined SOPs, such mistakes are bound to happen. This also shows how SOPs are of great help even for tasks that may seem insignificant.

SOPs are the secret behind a consistent experience and taste across giant food chains such as McDonald’s, Subway, Domino’s, Starbucks, and many more such food franchises.

SOPs offer an effective  way to document the smallest  of details as well as the  method of doing the job and communicate them to your employees. It leaves no room for any confusion or miscommunication, and brings consistency throughout your restaurant. An app such as Delightree is a great way to keep things in order. As a restaurant owner, you can create several one-page SOPs and give access to the same to the concerned staff.

  • Helps reduce food wastage and improves food taste

What is it that is common at any  any Starbucks outlet across the US? You get the same coffee taste, the same quantity, and the same quality across outlets. Also, knowing the exact proportions for brewing a hot cuppa minimizes wastage in the form of overstocking supplies etc. 

Restaurant food waste can be classified as pre-consumer food waste and post-consumer food waste. Pre-consumer food wastage is essentially unused raw materials due to a lack of proper storage. Post-consumer food wastage refers to left-over food that a guest could not consume. This could be due to huge food portions or bad taste etc. SOPs can help curtail both kinds of food wastage. Starbucks, for example, has an SOP in place on how the coffee has to be made, and what quantity needs to be served which makes sure their coffee has the same consistency and rich flavour across any outlet. This also helps baristas inestimating how many coffees can be made from a single jar of coffee beans, so they know how much coffee beans to stock and when to stock it. SOPs do play a significant role in eliminating food wastage and ensuring food always tastes fresh and yummy.

  • A great way to identify and fix issues

As your business evolves, so should your processes. But an already broken and inconsistent process cannot be fixed. However, if there is a process in place, then identifying and fixing an issue is much faster and easier. or example, as per your SOP, this is how your server greets a guest:

 “Hey, welcome to [restaurant name]. How can I help you today? Would you like to have a drink?” 

However, your employees give you feedback that not all guests are comfortable with a drink offer right away. They would rather be comfortable with a greeting minus the offer to drink. Changing the greeting SOP and communicating the same to your employees can be done quickly.

  • Aids in managing staff effectively and helps managers focus on more important tasks

SOPs simplify the duty manager's job. The consistency and direction SOPs bring to processes significantly reduce errors in day to day operations. Managers are able to focus on important tasks such as designing and implementing incentive programs, conducting regular feedback sessions with team members, and studying new management models, all of which translate to a happier and satisfied team. In short, managers no longer need to micromanage their teams.

  • A great way to cross-train employees

A restaurant always needs more hands for smooth execution of tasks. It is one industry where the show must go on. You can’t close the bar or not serve your signature pasta if your bartender or Italian chef is on leave. If you have an SOP for all your signature bar drinks, your front-of-office staff or one of the kitchen staff can keep the party rolling in case your bartender is on  sick leave. SOPs are also an effective tool to conduct cross-training programs for your staff. Cross-training helps employees acquire new skills, boost their career growth and you always have a back-up.

SOPs are not about putting in a rigid set of laws. It is about standardizing the way you do things and simplifying life for both your employees and yourself. However, be flexible and open to change. Employees deal with guests first-hand, so take their feedback from time to time and make changes to SOPs as and when necessary. Most importantly, communicate well with your staff. It is a great idea to involve your star performers and old employees when designing your SOPs.

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