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.


Take Control of Your Restaurant Operations

Seamless functioning of  restaurant operations 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  failures happen due to restaurant operations 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.

Restaurant operations

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 restaurant operations management, 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.

Restaurant Operations Management: 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 a  restaurant workflow operations process crucial for effective restaurant operations.

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:


  • 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. 


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. 


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.  


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. 


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.


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.


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.

restaurant operations

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 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


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


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


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 operations

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.

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