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Restaurant Operations Guide Part 1

Restaurant Operations Guide - Part 1

Go in depth into restaurant operations, from management, to process, to hiring restaurant staff, training them & a guide to re-opening your restaurant successfully.

Operations
Employees

Take Control of Your Restaurant Operations

Seamless functioning of a restaurant or any business is all about good teamwork. All the functions are inter-connected, such as the kitchen staff is dependent on the food ticket issued by the serving and order taking staff to timely and accurately execute food orders. Efficient restaurant operations are like a musical orchestra which needs to be well planned, practised, perfected and impeccably synchronised. One thing falls out of place and the whole music gets ruined.

 

As per a report published on CNBC, 60% of restaurants cease operations within the first year of opening and 80% of them shut down within 5 years. This is a clear indicator of the high failure rate of the restaurant business. In most cases the failures have to do with operational inefficiencies like understaffing, poor inventory control, and food waste - systemic problems that restaurant owners and managers tend to overlook in the rush of firefighting daily issues like a faulty oven or sudden menu change. As a result of this, the management of restaurant operations, which is vital for the health of the company, is neglected.

 

I am reminded of a popular saying, "In the restaurant business, there will always be chaos".

 

That’s natural given the many variables those in the business have to deal with. In order to ace operational efficiency, we first need to identify the key reasons that lead to the failure of most restaurants. So, what are the key factors?

  • Pilferage and thefts done by the staff
  • Poor location and high rentals
  • Poor customer experience
  • Inexperienced owners
  • Mismanagement of staff
  • Poor allocation and under-utilisation of resources
  • Complex menu leading to confused customers and high-operational costs
  • Next to no involvement of the owner
  • Lack of maintaining regular reports and analysis 
  • No marketing plan and promotional activities

 Now that we have identified the major cause of failures, let's delve into what ‘restaurant operations’ is all about and what areas should you focus on.

 

Operations in restaurants: what they entail

“Restaurant operations include everything from staff scheduling to inventory management.” This is crucial to your restaurant's long-term growth because inefficiencies may not appear as a problem every day, but can quickly become chronic. 

A few examples of operational inefficiencies can be:

  • Labor costs can spiral over time if you don't maintain a proper staffing schedule. 
  • Inventory control problems can lead to food waste levels that can affect your margins on a monthly basis. 
  • High turnover and poor teamwork can result from ineffective hiring practices. 

This makes having an effective management strategy for restaurant operations in place crucial. 

Restaurant operations involve a variety of activities such as preparing food, cleaning, purchasing raw materials, accounting and reporting. Front and back office activities combine to form restaurant operations. In addition to planning how to make your restaurant more efficient, a restaurant manager or owner must interact with the team and customers. This can be achieved by having well-defined and enforced restaurant operations. Restaurant owners and franchisees should be flexible and open to making modifications to their business model if the need arises. Being relevant is important for a business. Howard Johnson, the iconic fast-food chain that failed, is a classic example of how things can go wrong. It used to be the largest restaurant chain in the US, but as fast-food chains, like McDonald's, came on the scene, its business model of serving pre-prepared quality meals went out of style.

 

Day-to-day operational areas that need your attention

When we think about restaurant operations many day-to-day operations come to our mind. However, many proven benefits come with restaurant management systems, in the following areas:

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

  • Better financial management:  Having a robust financial plan in place is imperative for any business to be successful. As a franchisor, always work towards improving profitability and increasing revenues, or your costs will spiral out of control. Review your finances as and when you expand your business. Planning for a multiple location franchise and a single location franchise will differ. However, the following areas will always need efficient financial planning and standard set procedures:  
  • Fix food prices: Food and labor are two major costs in the restaurant industry. As a rule of thumb, a restaurant should ensure its prime costs are less than 60% of revenues. The prime costs of most failed restaurants exceeded this amount. Vitoria Station, a popular nationwide chain failed due to its high food costs resulting from selling prime ribs. It is a case study that is widely talked about.

Whether you're setting up a wine-by-the-glass program or deciding on the beer pricing for bars, you need to know your costs to determine the right markup. You will be able to make adjustments to your menu for higher profits when you have a tool that calculates the profit margins and inventory levels.

  • Reduce labor costs: Labor is the other major operating cost. Increasing menu prices is typically how restaurants react but in recent years many chains are looking for solutions in technology. McDonald’s has started testing AI-based voice recognition software to automate drive-thru orders at its Chicago stores. Casual dining chain TGI Friday opted for a new restaurant kitchen and bar prototype design which helped reduce labor requirements by thousands of hours year over year in select locations. 

Restaurant owners must keep service standards, employee needs, and labor laws while optimising labor. One way to do this is by leveraging sales forecasting. Sales projections for the future are made based on historical sales data from similar time periods. Integrating POS and scheduling software makes this a data-driven process and helps frame informed decisions. 

  • Prevent employee theft: Theft is a major issue in the restaurant industry. 75% of inventory shortages and about 4% of restaurant sales are caused by employee theft, amounting to between $3-6billion per year. About 75% of employees steal from their workplace at least once, if not repeatedly. Employee theft is of five types:
  1. Food and inventory: Snacking on food outside the shift, giving meals to friends and family, taking food home, or stealing food from the delivery truck are all examples of food theft.
  2. Check out: This includes stealing cash, voiding orders, improperly ringing up items, or holding back sales.
  3. Accounting fraud: These frauds are hard to detect and can adversely impact your business. In this case, the fraudulent activity can include manipulating voids, canceling checks, skimming cash, reporting earnings under the table, or opening fictitious accounts payable. 
  4. Intellectual property: Proprietary recipes, ingredient lists, methods of cooking, and branding are part of this. 
  5. Time: This affects a restaurant’s efficiency and profit. Unscheduled breaks, doctored timesheets, leaving early or coming in late, and phone calls count as time theft. 

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

Track inventory: To remain profitable, it is important to monitor ingredient costs and update menus. This will ensure less food loss, happy customers, and better profits. According to this report on single-location full-service restaurants in the US, 67% of costs are directly related to wages and purchases. 

With an inventory management system, you can also control your franchise’s pulse remotely, 24/7. It is possible to ensure that your restaurant does not waste food by having the right amount of inventory. One of the best examples of optimal inventory management has to be McDonald's. Regarded to have one of the best vendor management systems, McDonald’s has a system in place to ensure daily communication, constant availability of raw materials, accurate demand forecasting, and proper storage.

With a restaurant POS system, franchise owners and restaurant owners can keep track of inventory, receive alerts on items that need to be restocked, and items that have expired. This gives you the data to better plan your inventory moving forward. Read more on the benefits of a POS system for inventory management here. 

VENDORS

Vendor management:  Restaurants rely on multiple suppliers for their supplies. Supplies are procured daily, and some on a weekly or monthly basis. Keeping track of supplies from multiple vendors can be stressful but there are tools that help keep track of where the food will come from, time of arrival, as well the person in charge of handling the shipments.  

FOOD STORAGE AND HYGIENE

Health and safety:  Food safety compliance affects business profits in a big way. High footfall, CSAT ratings, and favourable reviews all depend on food hygiene ratings. Health and safety have become an even bigger concern after the pandemic. The restaurant industry is gearing up for this with a greater focus on launching better programs to ensure food safety management and supplier approval. 

Restaurants must have a plan in place for receiving and storing food. The shift manager must be aware of the process for getting needed inventory into the restaurant, and be well informed on where the food is coming from, when inventory shipments will arrive, and who is responsible for moving the inventory to the right storage and preservation space when it arrives. All employees must also be briefed on all storage matters. A good example of a process is to store perishables behind any older deliveries to ensure the restaurant follows the first-in, first-out inventory method. Leveraging emerging technologies to create a safer and more accountable food system is under focus. This means a shift from using paper-based, manual systems to digital technologies to help trace the source of contaminated food within hours, even minutes. 

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Your operations management must be geared towards customer happiness. Excellent customer service ensures customer loyalty. Negative feedback about your restaurant can put people off from even trying your food. This makes it important to have a strategy that is dedicated to pleasing your customers. Ensure refunds are made promptly and that a mechanism kicks in every time a guest is unsatisfied. Customer service includes monitoring your restaurant or franchise's social media presence.  Take action when necessary to improve your brand's online reputation by monitoring how customers perceive your brand. Subway, the global restaurant chain, uses Delightree, a great tool for businesses that operate under a franchise model.

 

SERVICE MODEL 

There are different categories of restaurant's and the service model varies according to their concept. Though this may sound pretty straightforward, in reality the process is extremely variable and based on the restaurant's concept. A fine-dine full-service restaurant emphasises  on a certain level of formality and professionalism. However, a casual small-town neighbourhood café will have a more informal service level. Most fast-food chains like ‘Burger King’ will have a self-service model.

The service model will even differ at the same restaurant for takeout and delivery orders. Service level is one of the most critical aspects of a restaurant’s operations. It can make or break your business. It is therefore important to outline the service model steps for all order types in a restaurant and make sure the staff is familiar with them. This will make it easy to spot opportunities for improving operations in the service process.

 

HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Managing and keeping your staff happy is a challenge in the restaurant industry, more so in a franchise model. The overall turnover rate in the restaurants and accommodations industry was 74.9% in 2018 according to this report. This makes HR management important. With the right tools, you can attract the best talent and retain them. 

  • Hiring: Put a strategy that helps attract the top talent. Restaurants can use hiring software, offer a referral bonus program, to employees to incentivise peer-driven applications, or hold walk-in interviews to source promising applicants. 
  • Onboarding: This will vary according to a restaurant's size. Smaller, independent restaurants may prefer to work one-on-one with new hires using the employee handbook. Larger restaurants typically have a training program for new recruits. Having a documented training manual ensures a universal, yet customisable onboarding process.
  • Scheduling: Improper scheduling of employees can lead to longer waits for customers and overworked employees. That’s why many restaurant owners and managers depend on scheduling software to ensure the restaurant is optimally staffed at all times. One great way to stay connected with your employees in remote locations is with Delightree Rooms. You can send images, voice recordings, docs, and get urgent tasks completed.

 

Scale your restaurant business with the right tools

If you are a restaurant owner looking to scale your business, the right tools can make this a relatively easier process. There are specific features you should consider.

  1. Multiple outlet management: Managing one restaurant is hard enough, but managing a chain is even more challenging. It is crucial that you select a POS system that provides information about all your outlets on one screen.  Adding an outlet should also be simple. You can standardise how your menus look, various processes, etc., with a restaurant POS like Delightree. 
  2. Operationalise the supply chain: A good restaurant POS system can manage all the processes that keep a restaurant running efficiently. This is important for franchises and chains that operate multiple locations and suppliers.  If, for instance, you get your chicken wings from a few vendors for one of your outlets, you ought to have a separate list of these vendors, their raw materials, along with their quantities and prices, in one database. 
  3. Franchise management: A POS can help you grow your franchise. When you become a franchise owner, you receive instructions regarding how to operate your outlet. POS software will assist with calculating royalties, contract management, billing, and transaction management. A restaurant POS standardises everything. 
  4. Reporting: Before expanding your franchise, it is important to review past sales reports to identify areas for growth as well as gaps. Technology can help you gauge important information like customer footfalls, total sales, peak hours, etc. This can help you make better decisions on ways to expand your business. 


Click here to find out how Delightree can help you achieve these goals. 


The restaurant industry has been swept into the digital age by the pandemic. Robotics, e-commerce, and digital food-management tools are being used on production floors, while robots are taking over the hospitality and cooking duties at restaurants. McDonald's, for instance, is testing robotic fryers to streamline operations and speed up service. The restaurant industry is increasingly looking towards innovative technology so customers can order quickly, abide by social distancing guidelines, and remain safe and healthy. 

With today's rapidly changing business environment, putting an operations management system in place is crucial for the efficient running of your business. The right software can also contribute to customer satisfaction and greater profitability.


Restaurant Operations Team: Roles and Best Hires

“Black Rock Coffee Bar” or better known as BRC is a fast growing and attractive player in the drive-up caffeine game with a presence across 80 locations in western United States. Started in 2007 as a family business owned by “Jeff Hernandez” and “Daniel Brand”, it is now one of the fastest growing drive-thru coffee franchises in the United States. There are many lessons to be learnt from BRC’s success story. Despite having a significant growth in a decade the business is still owned by the original owners. 

According to Josh Pike, CEO, BRC, as a brand, has “a deep focus on employees, customers and community.” It is this focus that has helped BRC develop a culture that stands for the development of its employees and local communities.

Within 10 years of opening their flagship store, Black Rock Coffee Bar had a presence in more than 40 locations. In the next five years, they almost doubled in size with 70 locations and now have 80 locations as of August, 2021. As a business they are definitely doing something right. Black Rock has been able to grow this big and aggressively because of their employee franchisee program.

Most of the Black Rock Coffee Bars franchisees are owned by the cafe’s ex-baristas. These are the people who earlier worked inside a Black Rock Coffee kiosk, pulling espresso shots and mixing smoothies. The company gave these employees the opportunity to invest in, co-own, and operate a new Black Rock Coffee kiosk. These are people who were well-versed with the company's day-to-day practices, business operations, and culture. 

The success of BRC is a perfect example of how hiring and partnering with the right people for various roles is extremely important for the success of a restaurant and franchise business. However, finding the perfect candidate to fill up a job position is often easier said than done. Whether it is a family business, franchise owned restaurant, an ice-cream/yoghurt parlour, bakery or a café, one of the most important tenets of running a successful restaurant business is hiring great staff.

A restaurant is like a puzzle. If you can’t find the right parts for each position, you won’t be able to achieve success.”

When it comes to franchise business owners finding the right talent is equally important. Bob Middleton owns franchise businesses of multiple food chains like Little Caesars, Jersey Mike's Subs, Sonic Drive-In, and Del Taco. As per Middleton’s experience “you cannot be an expert in everything.” He believes that every brand has its own culture, identity, ethos and DNA. Jersey Mike Sub’s and Del Taco are two totally different products with a different kind of positioning. As someone, owning both franchises, Middleton prefers to employ two different people to manage the respective franchises for both to be successful.

We have established one fact very well by now, whether it is a franchise or a family run restaurant hiring and partnering with the right people can only ensure its success. But, in order to hire the right kind of people you first need to understand the various job positions in a restaurant business. Most restaurant owners fail to understand the difference between a head chef and a kitchen manager and wonder why their business is not running well. It is only when they are well informed about the different restaurant positions will they be able to build the right team.

So let’s get down to finding answers to the following questions:

  • How many departments are there in a restaurant?
  • What are the different staff roles?
  • How to hire the right employees?
  • How to manage your staff?



Departments in a restaurant

Restaurants are typically divided into two areas of operation – Front of House (FOH) and Back of House (BOH). FOH refers to areas of the restaurant customers have access to, mainly comprising the dining area, bar, and open areas like the patio, waiting lobby, etc open for guests. BOH refers to the back end of the restaurant like kitchen, storage spaces, etc. Only the restaurant staff has access to BOH areas. A restaurant owner needs to hire staff for both these areas of operations.

Different job positions in a restaurant

Many fast food chains like McDonald’s have installed efficient self-ordering kiosks and have managed to work with very small staff. However, depending on a restaurant’s business model  and size one may need to hire more or less people across different positions. 

There are many job positions to be filled in a restaurant such as managers, cooks, servers, bus persons, dishwashers, hosts and bartenders. They all have a specific function and contribute in their own way to restaurant operations. In a new set-up some of the duties will cross over from one category to another to keep costs under control. The manager may double as the host for example. 


However, at any given point in time the payroll costs, including the owners salary and that of managers, should not be more than 25 to 35 percent of the total gross sales. If payroll costs exceed 35 per cent of gross sales, one should look for ways to either cut those costs or increase sales.

In order to hire the right staff for the efficient operations of business, it is imperative to have a thorough understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each of these roles. Let’s delve into understanding the different roles and what they it entail:

GENERAL MANAGEMENT ROLES

General Manager (FOH staff)

One of the most important positions for a restaurant. A general manager is like the eyes and ears to a restaurant business owner when it comes to day-to-day operations. General managers are responsible for hiring/firing employees for other positions, training programs, PR and marketing, process optimisation, etc. They are the next-in-command to the owner.  

Skills required:

  • Excellent communication and organisational skills
  • Good leadership skills
  • Ability to handle pressure
  • Good at solving problems and settling disputes
  • Solid experience of the industry
  • Presence of mind
  • Education in hospitality management

Assistant Manager (FOH staff)

Assistant managers are next-in-line to the manager and responsible for helping the general manager with the execution of their day-to-day tasks. They handle most of the day-to-day paperwork, training programs, brainstorming activities, and help with the decision-making processes, etc. They keep a track of the incoming orders, hire and manage employees, regulate billing, take care of table reservations, and more.

Skills required:

  • Excellent communication and organisational skills
  • Good leadership skills
  • Ability to handle pressure
  • Good at solving problems and settling disputes
  • Solid experience of the industry
  • Presence of mind
  • Education in hospitality management

 

Food & Beverage Manager (FOH staff)

F&B managers are usually employed in hotels rather than restaurants or fine-dine places having a full-service bar. Many restaurants also recruit ‘bar managers’.  An F & B manager is responsible for inventory management (both bar and kitchen supplies), monitoring the compliance in the bar and the kitchen with local health requirements and codes, defining menu items and the overall operations within the restaurant. Tasks like staff scheduling. 

Skills required:

  • Excellent organisational and planning skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Team player
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Relevant managerial experience

 The use of technology can increase the overall operational efficiency and ease tasks like creating staff schedules. Like how Andy’s Frozen Custard implemented a scheduling software and improved their operational efficiency. Previously,Andy’s manager's time spent on creating schedules drastically reduced after the software implementation. Earlier, the scheduling was done using spreadsheets and the average time for schedule creation was 2 hours. But with software even a junior manager can now create the schedule in less than an hour. Service providers like Delightree have solutions and checklists in place to simplify such routine tasks.


Kitchen Manager (BOH staff)

As the name suggests the kitchen manager is in-charge of the seamless functioning of the  kitchen. The duties comprise hiring and firing personnel, process management and optimisation, inventory management, etc. It is the kitchen manager’s responsibility to have  a cohesive unit that works as a team and has one main goal – to achieve high customer satisfaction.

Skills required:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Relevant management experience
  • People management
  • Leadership qualities


KITCHEN ROLES

 

Executive Chef (BOH staff)

A good executive chef is the lifeline of a restaurant business. Besides the ambience and service, one of the most important ingredients of success in a restaurant is the food. A good executive chef helps you plan a stellar menu. They play an instrumental role in improving the overall service and tailor the food concept according to a restaurant’s needs. They keep a vigilant eye on all cooking processes – starting from the preparation of food to the way it is served.

Skills required:

  • Appropriate culinary education or degree
  • Relevant experience
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Proactive
  • Leadership skills
  • Team player

Sous Chef (BOH staff)

Sous chef is the second most important position in the kitchen, after the executive chef. They are the right-hand to the main man in the kitchen. It is the sous chef that takes charge of the kitchen in the absence of the executive chef. Sous chefs must have experience and similar skill sets as the executive chefs.

Skills required:

  • Appropriate culinary education or degree
  • Relevant experience
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Proactive
  • Leadership skills
  • Team player

Pastry Chef (BOH staff)

Desserts are the heart of a good meal. A good and experienced pastry chef is an important role to fill in if you own a bakery or a breakfast café, fine dine or a casual café. Pastry chefs bring life into the sweet treats on your menu. They are in-charge of developing signature dessert recipes and preparing desserts such as cookies, cakes, souffles, crepes, mousses, etc. If you own a multi-cuisine restaurant where desserts do not take centre stage and your executive and sous chef have some experience in pastry making, you may skip hiring a pastry chef.

Skills required:

  • Appropriate pastry education
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Ability to work under pressure

Line Cook (BOH staff)

A very important position in a bigger restaurant set-up. The line cooks are the ones who handle various tasks to streamline the work of other cooks and chefs. A line cook’s duties involve taking care of one or multiple areas of the kitchen, thus ensuring seamless and efficient work organisation.

Skills required:

  • Good team player
  • Dynamic and efficient 
  • Organised and focused
  • Relevant experience in a commercial kitchen

Fast Food Cook (BOH staff)

Fast food cooks are required if you are running in a quick-service restaurant set up like a KFC or McDonald’s. It was good old Colonel Saunders who saw the commercial potential of the Scottish origins deep-fried cooking methods in the 1930’s when he started pressure-frying chicken breaded in his secret spices at his service station in Corbin, Kentucky. He paved the way for Kentucky Fried and became a pioneer of sorts for all the other fried chickens to come. This is how the fast food cook position came into being. In 2021 fast food cooks have to work under pressure and be able to prepare orders as quickly as possible. They should be hands-on with kitchen equipment such as grills, deep fryers, sandwich makers, ovens, etc.

Skills required:

  • Deft team player
  • Good communication skills
  • Quick and efficient at work
  • Proactive

Short Order Cook (BOH staff)

Quite a self-explanatory name, short order cooks are responsible for handling small orders for breakfasts or brunches. They help with the preparation of salads, sandwiches, burgers or other types of light food that does not require significant time to prepare.  

Skills required:

  • Good communication skills
  • Relevant kitchen experience
  • Quick and efficient at work
  • Proactive

Prep cook (BOH staff)

Prep cooks are not directly involved in the cooking processes, but they play an instrumental role in ensuring that a dish is quickly served. The prep cook position is typical for fine dining restaurants. Their duties involve the initial preparation of the ingredients needed for the menu items. Prep cooks play an important role in places where there is a high inflow of orders and chefs need to deliver as quickly as possible. With each ingredient already prepared by the prep staff, meals can be cooked easily and in a timely manner. A classic example being, buffets and live food counters in 5-star hotels.

Skills required:

  • Quick and efficient at work
  • Good communication skills
  • Fast learners
  • Proactive
  • Team player

 

CUSTOMER FACING ROLES

Sommelier (FOH staff)

A fine dining or a restaurant, where wine is a focal point of the whole experience, hiring a sommelier becomes non-negotiable. The duties involve purchasing wine, creating a fine wine list, offering consulting to customers or servers about the different types of wine and suggesting suitable food and wine pairings.

Skills required:

  • Formal education in wine making techniques
  • Certified wine-taster
  • Relevant experience
  • Good organisational and communication skills
  • Pleasing and presentable personality


Server (FOH staff)

Serving staff or servers are the flag bearers of your restaurant's image. A good server should have the skill to turn around a not so pleasant customer experience into a great one. Being the face of the restaurant, they are responsible not only for taking orders and sending them to the kitchen and bar staff. They have to ensure to take personal care of each and every customer that visits the restaurant. A server should be attentive and be able to gage when they are needed. They should be sensible enough to not bother customers every 2 minutes nor should they keep a customer from waiting too long for the bill or to place an order. Good servers should know the balance between both and take care of the customers accordingly.

Skills required:

  • Sharp memory
  • Quick and efficient at work
  • Good soft skills and communication skills
  • Pleasing personality
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Easy-going person 
  • Professional attitude
  • Empathetic and willing to help
  • Relevant experience
  • Qualification in hospitality management

Runner (FOH staff)

Most full-service restaurants with a large seating capacity and a big menu hire runners to assist the servers. A runner's job involves getting the meal from the kitchen, once it is ready, and serving it to the customer as soon as possible. 

Skills required:

  • Quick and efficient at work
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Knowledge of basic cleaning chores

Busser/Bus person (FOH staff)

Bus person refers to the table cleaning and preparation personnel. Once a guest vacates a, it’s the busser’s responsibility to clean it and prepare it for the next set of guests. Servers delegate less complex and time-consuming tasks such as providing additional utensils, serving butter, bread or water, filling empty cups, etc. to the bussers.

Skills required:

  • Quick and efficient working manners
  • Team player

Host/Hostess (FOH staff)

The host/hostess is the first point of contact  for a customer. They are the one’s basis upon which your guests form first impressions of a restaurant and its service. Remember, “First impression in the last impression.” Therefore hiring the right person for the job is crucial for a restaurant owner.  It is the host/hostess who meets and greets  the customers and escorts them to their respective table. They are the ones who assist with any initial information or questions that a guest may have. Hosts are also responsible for answering the phone and making reservations.

Skills required:

  • Highly organized and meticulous
  • Well-groomed, excellent soft-skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Cheerful and easy-going person

Bartender (FOH staff)

A good drink is an integral part of a good dining experience. A bartender plays a very important role in today’s dining scenario. Hiring an experienced bartender becomes important as a good bartender makes a world of difference in customer experience satisfaction. A bartender will not only be sitting behind the bar, isolated from the crowd, he will be taking orders and interacting with the customers too. 

Skills required:

  • Good communication skills
  • Relevant experience with various types of beverages
  • Deep knowledge of various kind of liquors and alcohol
  • Well-versed with the local liquor serving rules and regulations
  • Cheerful and easy-going person
  • Ability to work under stress
  • Professional attitude 
  • Focused on customer satisfaction
  • Honest

Drive-thru Operator (FOH staff)

The drive-thru format was first started in the US back in the 1930’s. The first McDonald's drive-through was created in 1975 in Sierra Vista, Arizona, near Fort Huachuca, a military installation, to serve military members who were not permitted to get out of their cars off-post while wearing fatigues. As per Wikipedia, drive-throughs account for 70 percent of McDonald's business in the US. The average drive through order is fulfilled in under three and one half minutes. This explains how important drive-thru operators are for fast food operators.  They are the ones responsible for taking and processing orders, cash operations, and food delivery through the window of the drive-thru restaurant. The job  requires a good fit to be able to deliver quick and efficient service with minimum waiting times.

Skills required:

  • Good with numbers and handling cash
  • Good work ethics
  • Multi-tasker
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to handle pressure

 

Cashier (FOH staff)

Cashiers and drive-thru operators have pretty much the same set of responsibilities, the only difference being cashiers are employed in self-service restaurants and drive-thru operators on the drive-thru window of food chains .

Skills required:

  • Good with numbers and handling cash
  • Good work ethics
  • Multi-tasker
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to handle pressure

 

OTHER SUPPORT ROLES

Barback (BOH staff)

Barbacks are assistants to the bartender. Besides being responsible for a number of miscellaneous tasks, their primary responsibility is to make sure that the bartender has everything needed to handle his job in a quick and efficient manner. Their other responsibilities include maintaining the required quantity of liquor bottles, tracking inventory (coffee, sugar, fruits, etc.), restocking the bar with ice, changing kegs, etc.

Skills required:

  • Good communication skills
  • Proactive
  • Team player
  • Multitasker
  • Can-do attitude
  • Organised and meticulous
  • Honest

 

 Barista (FOH staff)

A Barista is a job position typically required in a small bakery or a fast-food restaurant. Most bakeries and breakfast cafes will have beverages like coffee, tea, smoothies, etc on the menu. A barista’s job is to listen to customers carefully and process their orders in a timely manner.

Skills required:

  • Good communication skills
  • Sharp memory
  • Good listener
  • Ability to handle pressure
  • Pleasing personality
  • Quick and organised working ethics


Dishwasher (BOH staff)

  • Dishwashers are the unsung heroes of a well-managed restaurant. People who do not have formal training in the hospitality sector and still wish to work in a restaurant kitchen start from here. It is a great opportunity to enter a restaurant kitchen and slowly, but steadily, learn about cooking from the main chefs. Their responsibilities include thoroughly wash plates, cups, silverware, cooking utensils, pots and pans, utilise cleaning machinery like sprayers to ensure dishes are properly cleaned, dry cleaned utensils, plates, glassware and more and place them in designated areas, mop or sweep floors in the kitchen, help load and unload deliveries, and adhere to hygiene and cleanliness regulations.

Skills required:

  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently
  • Knowledge of health and safety codes
  • Knowledge on how to operate commercial dishwashers
  • Effective communication and time management skills

Now that we have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the various job positions, let us now move on to understanding a very important aspect. 


How to hire the right employees?


Hiring restaurant staff is as complicated as one can imagine. Finding the right people to do the job is important as  these are the people who will help you build a brand and goodwill. It is therefore important to focus on a few things when hiring staff for your restaurant.  

  • Step 1: Have a clear understanding of how many people you need to hire.
  • Step 2: Let your friends, family and business associates know that you are hiring.
  • Step 3: Screen good quality resumes based on past experience, skill set, salary etc. 
  • Step 4:  Conduct interviews, observe the body language, dressing, attitude and approach of the candidates. It is important to understand their aspirations and thought process and ensure they align with yours. 
  • Step 5. Hire good resources, do not cut corners. A restaurant team should be a  combination of old and young employees. 

However, non-conventional hiring strategies work very well too. Take the case of Greyston Bakery for example. New York’s first registered Benefits Corporation, Greyston has always supported its employees and Yonkers community in innovative ways. By adapting the “open hiring model” they have been able to:

  • Keep their hiring cost at $1900 which is much lower than the industry average of $4500.
  • Achieve 9% higher employee retention than the industry average.

Managing your restaurant staff

Managing and retaining good quality staff is the biggest challenge these days. Let’s understand ways you to maintain a productive work environment:

  • Clearly define the roles and functions: Seamless operations are possible when you and your restaurant staff are on the same page. It is important to define individual roles and responsibilities at the beginning to avoid any confusion later. 
  • Maintain staff data: All employees data must be maintained and their leaves and attendance properly  recorded and tracked. This helps monitor individual performance and sort out the issues in a timely fashion. 
  • Know your employees: As a business owner, know your employees well and utilise their strengths. Have an open and transparent communication channel, be empathetic to their problems.
  • Employee engagement: Keep your restaurant staff engaged and rotate tasks to avoid monotony. Provide your staff with meal discounts on special days, customised goodies like sippers, t-shirts, and more. This is also a good way to promote your brand.

 

When hiring apart from experience and qualifications look for skills like self-motivated individuals with a willingness to learn and adapt.

Creating Restaurant Staff Training Manual

The official Bureau of Labor Statistics turnover rate for the restaurant sector was 81.9% for the 2015–2017 period. Industry estimates, however, put the figure closer to 150%. The case of Panera Bread, a chain of bakery-cafés and fast-casual restaurants, makes the nature of the problem clear. Over 100% of workers leave this chain every year, according to one report. Sounds statistically impossible but the figure reflects the reality of the restaurant industry in the United States.

One of the reasons for high employee turnover is insufficient training, according to some studies. New restaurant hires struggle to cope with work pressures and this translates into low morale and higher resignation rates. One study found that 62% of restaurant employees would consider leaving a company over a lack of training.

Restaurant staff training, therefore, is one of the best investments restaurant owners can make. A manual lays down the rules and regulations that ought to be followed and makes employees feel connected to the brand. 

Think of a restaurant staff training manual as a guide for new hires to refer to for an understanding of the basic working guidelines. It should have information about etiquette, safety policies, dress code, and language and also cover various areas of service and procedures. This way every customer receives the same quality of service. In some ways, a manual is like an investment in the restaurant’s future.

Staff training manual - why it matters

  • Ensures consistency: A staff training manual brings a certain level of standardisation to the training process. Many restaurant employees are students or people who work a variety of jobs that can result in inconsistencies in the standard of service. A training manual helps set a minimum benchmark.
  • Prevents confusion: A manual spells out the duties of every job profile and team member. This prevents any conflict or confusion. In case of a doubt, the manager can refer to the manual to resolve the problem. 
  • Onboarding tool: New restaurant employees can refer to the manual for any doubts regarding etiquette or dress code without any confusion. It can also help speed up the employee training process by giving new hires a ready reference.
  • Resource tool:  Employees can refer to the manual for clear instructions on how to handle machinery. This prevents misuse or accidents. 
  • Reduces staff turnover: Taking the time to train new hires makes them feel respected and valued. This also makes them feel more invested in the business and less likely to leave. 
  • Enhanced customer service: Employees who are well trained and informed about the restaurant’s style, concept, and history can offer a more comprehensive experience for customers. 
  • Overall efficiency: Training employees improves efficiency levels. Staff members, from servers to cooks work in a systematic way and things get done better. 
  • Better management relationship: A proper training program can help develop a positive relationship between staff and management. 

Tips to create an effective staff training manual

Tell your restaurant’s story

Sharing the restaurant’s journey helps build a personal connection with employees especially when they are onboarding. This should include:

  • History: Some details like how the idea of the restaurant was born and the core values of the organisation should be communicated. 
  • Core values: Every brand has certain core values and this must be communicated to the employees so the brand image is maintained. 
  • Mission statement:  This is a short sentence that explains what a restaurant does and why. It reminds employees of the vision they are meant to uphold. Take McDonald’s mission statement which covers the core aspects of its services - customer experience, quality food, and affordability. 
  • Guest experience: Guest experience is central to any brand’s mission statement and core values. Customer service is a reflection of the organisation's culture. Ignore this and you risk lawsuits and lost revenue. It’s important to talk about ways to handle unhappy customers and include diversity training. 

Take the PR crisis that hit Starbucks in 2018 after two African American customers visiting a Philadelphia location were wrongfully arrested. In response, the multinational coffee chain closed 8,000 of their locations to conduct a crash course in racial sensitivity with over 175,000 employees. This cost the Starbucks chain millions, apart from the cost of the lawsuit that followed. Many major companies started investing in diversity training for their employees after this. 

Outline company policies

It is important to put company policies in writing and give all employees a copy they can refer to so they are all on the same page as the management. The policy should include:

  • Schedules: This should include details like how the manager decides shifts, how employees can find out about their shifts, along break rules clearly outlined.
  • Time off requests: Clarify the rules regarding requests for time offs. Employees should be informed how much in advance they have to put in a request for time off. This prevents confusion and understaffing.
  • What to wear: Dress codes within restaurants usually vary depending on the roles so it is important to clarify which code applies to which employee. Rules regarding body piercing, nails, hair, etc should also be mentioned. 
  • Raises: A section on the procedure regarding starting pay and pay raise timeline based on tenure should be mentioned. 
  • Etiquette: Policies regarding shift meals and drinking alcohol on restaurant premises should be clarified. 

Hygiene Policies

Hygiene policies have never been more important than they are now in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are meant to ensure diners' safety and reassure them that your interests are at heart.

  • Hygiene policies should be stated clearly and in detail for everyone to understand. 
  • Both general hygiene policies, as well as those specific to COVID-19, should be explained.
  • Information about government hygiene rules and standards should be given.


Essential abilities and skills

All restaurant employees should possess certain skills to ensure smooth operations. 

  • Menu:  Not every employee will directly handle food service, but it's critical for all employees to have a sense of what's available in case guests need the information. 
  • Know the POS system: This is a single point of access where all employees can view transactions and order information. Even employees who don't have direct access to the POS system should be able to use it. To better understand the POS system read this guide.
  • Restaurant seating plan and layout: To prevent confusion over seating and order, it is important for staff to know where the tables are located and the number of each table. This will help improve customer service.

Role-specific skills

All employees should learn the above skills when they start at your restaurant, however, each role will require different skills. All new employees should know exactly what skills to hone when they start. Specific skill sets required for each of the following roles should be mentioned in the handbook. These will be explained in detail later in the article. 

  • Hosts
  • Servers
  • Bartenders
  • Cooks
  • Bussers
  • Cashiers

Restaurant training manual types

Many restaurants print a training manual for each position to highlight the specific procedures for that position. However, some franchise restaurants - typically fast-casual or quick-service restaurants - prefer to distribute all-inclusive manuals to ensure restaurant employees have the range of skills required.

Restaurant training manual for specific positions

Host training manual

A restaurant host plays an integral role in ensuring every customer has a positive experience. If there is no clear training and organisation, customers may not get seated when and where they are supposed to, leading to confusion and complaints. The host training manual should cover the following:

  • Host job duties
  • Goodbyes and greetings
  • The waiting list
  • Phone procedures
  • Uniforms/dress code
  • Customer complaints: how to handle them
  • Guidelines for proper etiquette
  • Knowledge of menus
  • Methods of payment
  • Performance standards
  • Lost and found
  • Tips
  • Promotions
  • Opening and closing procedures
  • Table number system
  • Bookings

Server training manual

Customer service in your restaurant is largely dependent on the server. You can think of the server as the face of the establishment. They make sure customers get what they order, enjoy the experience, and come back again. This is why a restaurant server training manual is usually one of the most comprehensive. The manual typically covers the following:

  • Server duties
  • Uniforms and dress code
  • Scripts for servers to introduce themselves at tables.
  • How to upsell: Servers should be given tips on how to encourage customers to order appetisers, desserts, etc.
  • Knowledge of the menu
  • Safety policies
  • Etiquette guidelines
  • Taking orders
  • Methods of payment
  • Restaurant layout and table numbers
  • Customer complaints: how to handle them
  • Policy on alcohol
  • Performance standards
  • Lost and found
  • Tips
  • Gift cards, coupons, and discounts
  • How to open/close a restaurant
  • Reservations

Busser training manual

Bussers are often overlooked by restaurant owners and managers but their work can be noticed by attentive or regular customers. A dirty table, for example, tells customers that cleanliness is not a priority. Little things like these add up and create a bad dining experience. That’s why a busser training manual should be comprehensive and include:

  • Etiquette in dining rooms
  • Hygiene
  • Uniform and dress code
  • Table number system
  • Performance standards
  • How to open/close the restaurant

Cashier training manual

A skilled restaurant cashier knows how to handle money, operate the cash register and computer system, and deal with customers. Like servers, cashiers make an impression on fast-food guests. They need to ensure the correct change is given to the customer for each order. The following information should be included:

  • Policies for customer service
  • Handling customer complaints
  • Menu knowledge
  • Payment methods 
  • Performance standards
  • Overview of computer systems
  • Lost and found
  • Tips
  • Gift cards, coupons, and discounts
  • Opening/closing procedures

Bartender training manual

One of the most important factors to determine a bar's success are great bartenders. That’s why they also need the most training. Even experienced bartenders need training specific to every bar's procedures and policies. Another important role in the bar is that of a bar back who supports the bartender and ensures they have all they need to do their job efficiently. Following is a list of basic topics that should be covered in a bar staff training manual:

  • Drink recipes
  • POS system and cash handling 
  • Cleaning and sanitation
  • Alcohol service guidelines

Additionally, the manual should refer to the duties of bar backs who should be trained in changing kegs, restocking items, cleaning the bar area, cutting garnishes, refilling ice, and dealing with spills and breaks.

Cooks’ training manual

Food handling and storage is a critical part of the training manual for cooks. Chipotle's E. Coli outbreaks in 2015 are a perfect example of a training failure on the food-handling side of things. The chain had a tough year with over 500 people falling ill after a number of outbreaks at different locations. A federal criminal case was brought against Chipotle and it was sued multiple times. Their response was to close stores across the country for an emergency food safety training session. Chipotle's ongoing training was clearly inadequate. The training manual for prep and line cooks should include:

  • Kitchen area orientation
  • Operating kitchen equipment
  • Cleaning and sanitation
  • Food handling/storage
  • Equipment storage
  • Handling of chemicals
  • Waste disposal
  • Inventory management
  • Position training for the grill, fryer, salad, appetizer, window person, cold and hot stations, dishwasher, etc. 
  • Temperature danger zone
  • Preparation of hot and cold foods
  • Cross-contamination
  • Kitchen opening/closing procedures
  • First in, first-out (FIFO)
  • Refrigeration Layout

Quick service restaurants training manual

Employees at fast-casual, or quick-service restaurants, are often trained in several areas rather than just one. This means they are likely to be trained to operate cash registers, make food, take orders through the drive-thru, and clean.The training manual must include all the information needed to complete any job there like:

  • Descriptions of duties and responsibilities
  • Drive-through position overview
  • Standards for sanitation
  • Procedures for safety
  • An overview of each station (E.g., cooking, racking cash, etc.).
  • Completing the order
  • Packaging of food
  • Ordering process
  • Managing cash
  • Resolving customer complaints
  • Opening/closing procedures
  • Overview of computer systems

Corporate restaurant training manual

Instead of being based in one location, corporate restaurants have outlets all over the country. Franchisees sometimes manage these other locations. The manuals need to be comprehensive, detailed, and uniform due to the multiple locations. This ensures that jobs are performed the same way at each location, ensuring a seamless, organised operation. 

Ace your training with technology

It can be challenging for restaurant owners with multiple locations to ensure a seamless and effective staff training process in person and on paper. Using paper checklists and spreadsheets does not encourage feedback, and it is difficult to determine if a training program has been effective. Also, it's difficult for chains to roll out training programs across multiple time zones. Digital solutions allow organization-wide change to be made quickly and also identify pressing issues at the store level so that training programs can be improved.

Restaurant chains are waking up to the benefits of using technology for training. Modern Market Eatery, with over 30 locations in the United States, is an example. The chain uses mobile platforms to train employees at the workplace and this has helped boost efficiency and productivity. 

Platforms such as Delightree allow restaurants to create an onboarding program and training program once and manage them remotely. Managing operations on a day-to-day basis become easier when changes are communicated across locations. There are dedicated training sessions for teams that include custom demos tailored to store tasks. Customized onboarding programs can be created for each trainee and this is important when training at scale.

Proper training of employees ensures the health and longevity of a restaurant. By spending time on training your employees thoroughly, you ensure to provide an exceptional dining experience for your customers.

Restaurant Reopening Blueprint: Getting Diners Back in the Door

“Nothing goes perfectly, especially when you’re opening a restaurant”. Bobby Flay's quote is relevant even in good times - more so when the restaurant industry starts to reopen in the aftermath of a pandemic. Restaurant owners are looking for safe and responsible ways to reopen and this is a major challenge today given the constantly evolving public health information updates, news, and a changing public opinion. 

Many restaurant owners are trying to figure out exactly what the new rules for reopening are. Guidelines vary state by state but there are some general best practices that should be followed according to the CDC, HACCP, OSHA, and local government authorities. Policy decisions are influenced by local conditions, so staying in touch with local officials is important. Some rules that apply universally to all restaurants reopening are:


  • No sick employees on site 
  • Prevent transmission on-site 
  • Improved cleaning and disinfection to increase safety 
  • Contactless or less touch-points 
  • Takeout/delivery as a preferred option 

Best practices to keep in mind

Dining out has been influenced by COVID-19, so it's crucial to listen to those involved. Nearly 24 percent of people will spend less at restaurants because of lingering fears over the virus and changes in consumer behaviour, according to a Nielsen survey. For restaurants to reassure customers, value, safety, and a quality experience need to be prioritised through the following practices:

  • Ensure health and well-being: Restaurants must show that they care about the health and well-being of employees and customers. Clear policies on employee safety will help as will educating customers about new behaviour expectations.McDonald’s is doing this through a variety of initiatives. It has launched an internal webpage called BeWell@McD dedicated to supporting US employees, a toolkit to help global markets develop resources, and a weekly newsletter in the post-pandemic scenario. 
  • Stay informed: Changing guidance from authorities, reviewing customer feedback, and trying new things means an ever-changing environment. Restaurants must prepare for multiple possible scenarios and keep track of results and metrics. They should stay in touch with their area health inspectors and other legal bodies to stay updated on the latest reforms.
  • Adapt the menu:  A more focused menu will help kitchens better prepare for staffing needs, better inventory management, and help run a more sanitised set-up. The menus of many restaurants have been redesigned to give customers more economical choices, for example, family meals instead of à la carte meals. Several independent restaurants have also begun pre-selling items to plan for capacity and seating.

In its new avatar as Olmstead Trading Post, fine-dining restaurant Olmstead of New York City offers pre-packaged menu items and local produce. Ledger Restaurant and Bar in Salem, Massachusetts, now known as Ledger Basket, offers prepared foods and pantry items. 

  • Separation of areas: Separate entrances should be kept for FOH and BOH employees, and the line between these two areas should be clearly and visibly delineated in many ways, such as different uniform colors, glove colors, aprons, etc. 
  • Safe FOH: Multiple levels of barriers must be maintained in the FOH like a bulletproof FOH system for example. This can be achieved by keeping distance between furniture, digital/disposable menus, and minimal table settings. Such steps will also ensure having a lean service staff.  
  • Be positive: Show that you care about your customers and use regulations to innovate by adopting new technologies. Many restaurants are doing that in interesting ways. Chuck E. Cheese released new online entertainment options to accompany its delivery/carryout options apart from launching afternoon fun breaks on social media channels. Many bakeries are selling cookie decorating kits for parents and children to decorate together. Restaurants are employing performance artists to deliver an experience. You'll find this at Vampire Pizza in Los Angeles where a vampire in full makeup and costume delivers the pizza along with a suspenseful game. 
  • Clear communication: Being open and transparent with employees will boost their productivity.


Steps to Reopening

#1 Getting the Message Out to Diners

Across different areas of restaurants, customers need to be informed about the expectations of customer behaviour and safety norms.  

Check-in/Arrival: This is the earliest opportunity to prepare customers for social distancing.

  • Clear signage: One way is to place signs along the path that guests take to the front door. The font size should be appropriate for the viewing distance, and the words should communicate the social distancing norms.
  • Social media/website communication: Websites and social media materials should provide current information to customers and encourage them to make online reservations, curb-side takeout, and pickup. 
  • Assist customers with tech: Digital ordering and payment tools will help restaurants manage occupancy and ensure procedures are adhered to. 
  • Separation of areas: A six-foot distance should be maintained between the entry, waiting, and dining areas. To prevent crowding at doorways, separate entryways for dine-ins and takeouts.

Entry/Exit Areas: Try to restrict contact and volume in these areas.

  • Slow down entry: Use barriers to slow customers down on the entry path so they can read safety signs. 
  • Place signage: Information about party sizes, masks, etc. should be communicated using images and few words. 
  • Separate entry and exit: To avoid crowding, diners should enter and exit from separate entrances. Encourage bookings, take-outs, etc. 
  • Staff support: Set up staff at strategic locations to guide customers away from dangerous areas by offering masks and protection kits.
  • Touchless entry/exit: Foot handles, wipes, and touchless sanitiser dispensers help ensure minimal contact.

Bars and Eating Areas: Instead of bars, it would be a good idea to offer alcoholic beverages only at tables.

  • Staggered Seating: Diners should sit at least six feet apart. The distance between open and closed tables should be made clear with signs or partitions. Mannequins and stuffed animals ensure social distance at many restaurants. The Inn at Little Washington in the DC Metropolitan area has mannequins in 1940s fashion occupying half the tables.
  • Ventilation: If possible, keep windows and doors open for greater airflow. Maintaining thermal comfort and maximising outdoor air according to the HVAC system can ensure good indoor air quality. 
  • Table arrangements: All communal items, such as menus, cutlery, and condiments, must be replaced with disposable cutlery and containers. In addition to cleaning protocols, table cards should provide safety guidelines.  Servers should wear gloves and masks and maintain a six-foot distance from the table. Menus must be disposable or digital. Children should not be allowed to share coloring or craft materials.  
  • Payment: Alternate payment methods should be utilised using technology. Check covers should be available for each table. 
  • Staff only areas: Place barriers around areas that employees frequent frequently so they are inaccessible to customers.
  • Enhanced cleaning visibility: Visibility of cleaning staff: Guests should be able to distinguish between wait staff and cleaning staff based on their attire. A dedicated cleaning team is recommended to prevent cross-contamination. You can win customer confidence by demonstrating all sanitary tasks completed inside your restaurant. The Delightree app helps you do that with Live COVID Dashboards.

Washrooms: The bathroom needs to be clean on the outside and the inside.

  • Prevent accidental visits: Diners should be prevented from walking into the kitchen or areas with high staff presence while looking for the washroom by signs and barriers.
  • Contactless use: Door kicks, foot handles, touchless faucets, air dryers, and soap dispensers, as well as easy-to-access trash cans and disposable paper towels should be installed. 
  • Maintain logs: Place a cleaning log that customers can see in order to build customer trust. 
  • Trash cans: They should be located next to each door within easy reach.
  • Waiting space: Provide "wait here" signs in the washroom area to avoid crowding. 

Food Preparation Areas: During food preparation, care must be taken. 

  • Clean silverware, dishes, glasses, pots, and pans should be covered. A covered area is needed for hanging glasses.
  • Silverware and glasses should be placed upside down on clean napkins.
  • Napkins and tablecloths should be disposable. Using cloth tablecloths is only permitted if they are changed after each customer.
  • Gloves must be worn when handling food deliveries. 
  • Delivered food should be unpacked outside the kitchen prep area and placed in a sanitised vessel that is temperature-controlled.
  • When stocking deliveries, gloves must be worn. After stocking is completed, they should be discarded. 
  • Prep cooks should use sanitised equipment and use gloves at their prep station. 
  • Cooks at pre-sanitised workstations must wear a mask, gloves, and head covering.
  • Cooking tools should be cleaned and sanitised immediately after cooking. To manage the pace, line cooks can also sanitize tools at the station while they work.
  • Plate the food on sanitised plates before serving.
  • The dishes should be covered with a sanitised plate and then handed to the designated food runner. 
  • Once the food is delivered to the table, the runner should remove the plate cover. 
  • To retrieve empty dishes, the food busser should wait until customers have left. Leftover food should be taken to the designated boxing area and returned to the table by the busser. 
  • Empty plates must be taken to the dishwashing area immediately. 

#2 Protecting Employees

Keeping employees healthy is essential for maintaining a healthy business. For this to happen, restaurateurs and managers must implement the following measures: 

  • Employees with underlying medical conditions or older adults should work in roles that limit their exposure risk, like handling inventory or billing. Rotate or stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in the restaurant at the same time.
  • Telework can contribute to maintaining social distance between colleagues. 
  • Employees should be encouraged to walk, bike, drive, or ride a car to reduce exposure risk.  
  • When traveling to and from work, they should wear face masks and other protection. Hands should be washed when they enter.
  • Every shift, a staff member should handle COVID-19 concerns. All employees must know who and how to contact this person.
  • Put in place flexible sick leave policies and practices so that employees can stay home if they are ill or have to care for someone who is ill. Provide policies for the return to work after a COVID-19 illness. 
  • You should have a backup staff that is well-trained. If possible, train employees virtually on safety procedures. Alternatively, maintain social distancing during training sessions. 
  • Employees should be health checked every day. 
  • Employees should be encouraged to eat healthy, exercise, and share their concerns about their health. 
  • Employees who are sick should only return to work once they have completed home isolation in accordance with CDC guidelines.
  • Whenever employees or customers show signs of illness at work, they should be separated and taken to a health center.
  • Place the restaurant areas that were accessed by the sick person off limits until they are cleaned and disinfected.



#3 Crisis = Innovation = Opportunity

Restaurant owners should have a plan for after the coronavirus, regardless of whether they move indoors or offer only takeout and delivery. Priority should be given to updating operating procedures, reactivating customers to bring them to dining rooms, adapting menus to meet changing preferences and habits, and enhancing delivery capabilities. Restaurants can do all this and provide their customers with a safe dining experience that gives them peace of mind that the establishment is taking every step to keep them healthy by using the right technologies.  

Boosting Front of House Operations with Technology 

Digital Menus: Since COVID-19, digital menus have gained in popularity, despite being around for a while. A mobile device can also be used to browse the current menu and select a dish. Going digital in these times has many advantages, like:

  • Safer to Use: Surface areas can be cleaned after each use so fewer germs live on them. As per National Restaurant Association guidelines all tabletop devices must be sanitised between seatings. 
  • Saves Time:  Changing menu items, changing prices, and promoting specials take just minutes. 
  • Saves Money: Updating a paper or handwritten menu requires hiring an artist every time. A digital menu eliminates this.
  • Flexibility: Have a new special? You can add it on the fly. A QR code offers flexibility in an age of disruptions in the food supply chain. 
  • More Sales: Digital menus lead to better customer interactions and greater sales. Chili's Grill & Bar, for example, installed over 45,000 tablets in its restaurants in 2014 after finding that appetiser and dessert sales increased by 20% in locations with tablets.
  • Brand Unifier: A digital menu provides consistency across brands. It is particularly useful for franchise owners who manage multiple locations. It's easy to update every site with the same menu format in real-time. Digital restaurant platform MENU offers a customised look which helps every brand stand out.  It also offers a complete online ordering and engagement solution for restaurant brands across mobile, kiosks, and the web.  

Table side Ordering System: When restaurants are facing labor shortages, a table side ordering system can help in many ways.

  • Safer: Orders and payments can be processed table side meaning less paper and pens are needed, which harbour germs.
  • Faster: Service speed and order accuracy are also enhanced. This is helpful in the case of customers who are jittery being in a restaurant. 
  • Access to Data: One can access valuable information regarding what kind of orders your customers are placing and what kind of payments they prefer. This helps grow the customer base and strategize new marketing techniques.

Table side technology is perfect for both large chains and smaller restaurants like this report about Calzolaio Pasta Company Wilton, Maine, proves. The restaurant chose TouchBistro POS because it is user-friendly for both BOH and FOH. It's a hybrid system that's both integrated in-house and cloud-based, so customers can place their orders and pay their bills right from their tables.  To help meet orders more quickly and accurately, TouchBistro offers tableside ordering with visual menus. This helps new and seasoned employees answer guest questions correctly, and enter orders with minimal errors. Check out this video for details on how TouchBistro works:

  • Self-serve Kiosks: From fast food to sit-down dining, self-serve kiosks are gaining popularity. Advantages include:
  • Less Crowding: It gives customers a minimal contact way to order and pay for meals. 
  • Reduced Labor Costs: Aside from requiring an employee to clean the kiosks between customers, self-serve kiosks reduce labor costs drastically. 
  • Higher Sales: People order more food from a kiosk than they do from a person. By 2023, the automated kiosks segment is expected to grow to $34 billion. 

Many QSRs use kiosks for other purposes besides processing in-store orders. They are used by some restaurants for curbside pickup. Customers can enter a code via a touchscreen to unlock compartments where orders are stored. In this manner, customers won't have to interact with employees to identify their orders since the name of the order can be found without touching something that's not theirs. Restaurant chains using the serve kiosks include:

  • McDonald’s:  Kiosks at the chain use IoT technology in innovative ways to push certain menu items according to the time of day. In the late evenings and early mornings, breakfast foods and desserts are popular. Table service is provided by McDonald's at locations with kiosks, delivering the food ordered at the kiosk to the table.
  • Subway: As details about the order are being entered, the kiosks at Subway send the information to the employees. Self-service kiosks also help Subway locations become less congested. Kiosks tend to be placed in one location, away from kitchens where food is prepared. This arrangement of kiosks reduces foot traffic, lines, and congestion by limiting the use of the counter for food pickup only. Combined with mobile device charging ports and free WiFi, the kiosks are also part of a larger integrated system as this video shows you -https://studio.dostor.org/upload/libfiles/0/0/136.htm?video=FpF2muktEeA

While facial recognition technology has come under scrutiny for security reasons, many QSRs are using kiosks that remember the customer's face. Pioneers of this concept include Malibu Poke in Dallas, Texas, Caliburger in Pasadena, California, and UFood Grill in Ownings Mills, Maryland. In all three cases, the technology has reduced the ordering time to around 10 seconds. 

Contactless payment systems: The technology has been around for years. Now it is helping to:

  • Reduce person-to-person transactions.
  • Enhance guest safety 
  • Gives restaurants an opportunity to communicate their concern for customer well-being.
  • Electronic Check Presenters:
    - Powered by a built-in credit card processor, customers can handle their own table service checkout. This helps:
    - Reduce labor costs. 
    - Reduce contact.
    - Faster check resolution. 
  • Virtual Gift Cards:
    - Gift card programs help boost revenue and bring in new customers. 
    - Going virtual takes away the need for person-to-person contact.
    - Everything can be conveniently stored on the Cloud.  
  • Guest Engagement Apps: A loyalty program that's easy to redeem from a mobile device will motivate customers to return and increase guest check averages. In addition, businesses can gain valuable insight into customer behaviour, allowing them to focus on what is most effective for maximising ROI and securing repeat business.A restaurant digital platform like Incentivo helps restaurants to acquire new customers, increase visits and loyalty, and increase spending.

Boosting Back of House Operations with Technology 

There are two pillars of food safety protocols: 

  • A clean environment for preparing and serving food
  • Proper food handling practices. 

Cleaning and sanitising the restaurant requires proper and robust training of all employees. It is important that staff practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands often, and sanitise both FOH and BOH workstations.To make sure employees are in good health for work, foodservice operations can use digital wellness checks. This can determine whether employees can continue working and who needs to go home. Proper food handling practices are the second aspect of food safety where technology can help streamline operations, boost profits, and increase employee satisfaction. 

  • Labelling: Operators can print labels with dates, nutritional information, and other customisable information with an automated labeling system. Labeling is essential to ensure proper food safety practices, and staff should also be trained on how to rotate products using the first in, first out (FIFO) method. Employees can generate time-stamped labels to display on shared surfaces after sanitizing tables, counters, kiosks, restrooms, or other surfaces so customers can identify them clearly and see what was cleaned when. The management has easy-to-access digital logs instead of paper files wrangled by pencils.
  • Temperature Monitoring: By monitoring walk-in coolers, freezers, and dry storage areas 24 hours a day, IoT devices can notify managers when temperatures deviate from specified ranges. With a few clicks, operators and even corporate headquarters can see exactly what is going on at each location -- and prevent potential food safety crises.
  • Timers and Temperature-taking Apps: By using a timer app, employees can easily set several timers at once, which frees up space and gives staff more time to perform other tasks, while also ensuring food is served at the right temperature. 
  • Calculated Food Prep: Modern BOH automation solutions can calculate precisely how much food to prepare each day based on historical sales data and inventory levels.
  • Food Recall Management: Most food establishment operators become aware of recalls when customers become ill. Restaurant owners and franchisees now have access to food recall management solutions. Food recall alerts can be promptly sent to them, they can be told what to do in case of a recall, and they can keep digital records in case of an audit. Food recalls can be managed well with a solution like CMX1 and save you stress and time. Its Recall Management System has all stages of recall covered.
  • Centralised Delivery Management: There are restaurant software solutions that can consolidate and centralise delivery requests into one screen when so many food delivery apps are available. Work orders are then printed as stickers for easy identification and handling. This will save employees the stress of having to juggle mobile orders on multiple devices. 
  • Checklists for COVID-19 & Other Regulations: Checklists can be sent by corporate offices to all locations and management can monitor and confirm whether or not COVID-related tasks have been completed. With the Delightree app, restaurant owners and managers can ensure they stay CDC, OSHA, WHO, food safety, and COVID-19 compliant across all locations. 
  • Inventory Management: The proper counting of inventory is also a challenging and time-consuming part of keeping a restaurant profitable. There are now apps and devices that allow you to take an accurate inventory. 
  • Automated Task Management: Having your kitchen staff's task list digitised will allow them to keep track of their responsibilities and accurately track the tasks they've completed. A paper checklist can easily be lost or damaged, but a digital task list can be safely stored for use in the event of an inspection. With an app like Delightree you can automate closing and opening procedures at your restaurant.
  • Employee Onboarding: Whether it's on-the-job training or employee orientation, technology solutions ensure that time is spent better while also ensuring that training information can be accessed anywhere, at any time. 
    - Hiring: Restaurant managers face many challenges, including recruiting and retaining employees. Here, screening software can be helpful as it screens and ranks candidates to help find people with the right skills and experience. 
    - Document Manager: This is useful for managing employee information such as tax forms, schedules, and appraisals. It can also be used to track documents easily. 
    - Training:  Workers can be trained on food safety, COVID-19, and other procedures with apps like Delightree. This ensures employees are up to speed on restaurant inspections. 
    - Scheduling: Managers can generate and distribute a digital weekly schedule to all employees with shift times and positions optimised based on historical staffing patterns and forecasted sales levels. Restaurants using scheduling software have seen labor costs reduced by up to 2%. With the Delightree app, it's easier than ever before to get the right people in the right place at the right time.

COVID-19 may forever change the restaurant industry. But as people get back to normal lives and return to dining rooms, businesses can leverage technology to build customer trust, increase revenue and provide a safe and secure experience.



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