Besides serving amazing food, the success of your restaurant relies on operations running smoothly. As a restaurant owner or manager, you must keep a close eye on how you and your team manage the daily processes. Getting these right is how you provide an excellent diner experience and enhance day-to-day efficiency, resulting in increased profit.
Restaurant operations management is a broad term that covers many different tasks and processes. This guide will cover everything you need to know about operations management in the restaurant industry and how to improve it.
What is Restaurant Operations Management?
Restaurant operations management refers to how you oversee all the day-to-day tasks necessary for keeping your eatery up and running. This includes everything from managing inventory to coordinating staff, controlling financials, and everything in between.
Restaurant owners have their hands full with many different tasks and operational areas to focus on. A proper restaurant operations management strategy ensures everything works well together, so your business runs like a well-oiled machine. This means bridging the gap between the front and back-of-house operations to deliver a great diner experience.
Get these right, and you should boost your overall covers and restaurant sales.
What is the Goal of Operations Management?
Operations management aims to improve efficiency and ensure there are no problem areas in a restaurant’s day-to-day running. Ultimately, well-managed operations result in a more productive and profitable business.
Restaurant managers implement successful operations strategies to enhance various areas of the entire business. This includes:
- Maintaining optimal inventory levels and inventory usage
- Ensuring food safety best practices
- Keeping a high standard of food quality
- Focusing on customer satisfaction
- Maintaining the financial health of the restaurant
- Streamlining the prep process
- Improving the restaurant training program for new employees
- Managing restaurant staff
- Controlling inventory costs and implementing cost savings to improve the restaurant's profit margin
How to Improve Restaurant Operations Management
Because there are countless processes involved in running your establishment, there are many areas that you can focus on to improve operations. Streamlining overall efficiency takes time and effort, but it will make a big difference to the overall success of your eatery.
Here are some of the main areas to focus on to improve restaurant operations management:
1. Carefully Manage Food Inventory
Maintaining food inventory is top of the list of critical tasks to oversee. The aim here is to reduce food waste while ensuring ingredients stay fresh. Good inventory management ensures you’ve always got enough supplies without being over-provisioned.
Restaurant inventory is closely related to a restaurant’s cash flow. By maintaining ideal stock levels at all times, you don’t overspend on inventory that takes too long to sell. You also ensure you always have enough of the necessary stock to maximize sales.
Getting this right can increase revenue and avoid waste. Diners are happy with a stocked menu while food wastage is reduced. In turn, you can maintain healthy profit margins and cash flow.
2. Carefully Manage Food Cost
A key way to improve your restaurant operations is to optimize food costs. To do this, reduce food waste and ensure your restaurant uses the best suppliers. It’s also vital to plan menus strategically so that you don’t have to keep any unnecessary ingredients that don’t have a high demand.
A good strategy is to understand how your actual food costing compares to theoretical food costing. There could be a big difference based on fluctuating portions or too many mistakes in the kitchen. Having recipe costing cards for each dish will help you determine what food costs should be versus what they actually are.
Once you have an overview of this, you can identify areas for improvement. This could be in back-of-house training and menu controls. Food cost issues could also arise due to purchasing from the wrong suppliers. If food costs rise, this might be due to theft.
3. Increase Team Efficiency
As the restaurant manager, you’re one of the many key positions required to actively run the restaurant. Besides you, your team also has an essential part to play in streamlining restaurant operations. It’s your job to ensure there are enough people in the right roles to maintain operational efficiency without overspending on labor.
To get this right, you need to understand trends in sales and demand. This lets you set your restaurant up with the perfect number of staff for each service. The last thing you want is to pay people who don’t have a job to do. At the same time, you also don’t want to be short on staff members, which will detract from the diner experience.
Your POS system should offer plenty of historical sales data that you can use to make accurate sales forecasts. Keeping a close eye on this will help you understand when you need more staff and when you can cut down.
4. Improve Reporting and Insights
Data can significantly improve how you run your eatery. But, many establishments rely on manual data entry into spreadsheets. This is a bad strategy, as there is too much room for error. Besides being slow and inefficient, manual processes prevent you from quickly generating reports you can use for decision-making.
Using the right POS or restaurant management software will help you gather your restaurant’s vital information and use it to generate actionable insights. These reports will cover the different areas of your restaurant operations - including finances and bookkeeping, inventory management, staff management, and more. If you’re unsure where to start on this front, read our guide on free restaurant management systems.
Detailed reports of these areas let you identify how certain aspects of your eatery perform over set periods. This enables you to make informed decisions and easily identify areas that need improvement, which can help to improve your overall restaurant management process.
5. Focus On Training and Hiring
You might have excellent restaurant management ideas and systems in place. However, this can all go out the window if you have the wrong employees. To improve restaurant operations, ensure your hiring and training processes are as efficient as possible.
Finding the right employees and properly onboarding them can help you improve your day-to-day. It could result in better inventory use in the kitchen, serving meals more efficiently, maintaining the proper food safety procedures, and more.
It’s crucial to maintain a standardized approach here. This way, all new employees undergo the same training processes and are equipped with all the necessary knowledge. Providing ongoing training through staff meetings will also help to address inefficiencies as you identify them and keep everyone's knowledge up to date.
6. Have a Clear Operations Plan
We know by now that many daily tasks need to happen inside your establishment. This includes opening the restaurant, accepting orders, prepping food, prepping the front-of-house, briefing staff, running a busy service, cleaning up, and ordering for the next day. Each of these tasks requires great attention to detail.
It’s your job to ensure that everything is appropriately delegated and planned. Before you start each day, every team member should know exactly what they will do and how they will do it. If an area of your operations isn’t covered, it could result in stress, panic, and inefficiency during your busy day.
So, start by outlining every aspect of your daily operations. Then, create a standardized procedure for each task and assign each task to someone. When restaurant staff walk through the doors at the beginning of their shift, they should know exactly what they need to do. This way, everyone can work more seamlessly together.
Latest Trends in Restaurant Operations
Restaurants move at a fast pace. Understanding how restaurant operations are changing is essential for maintaining maximum efficiency. Here are some of the biggest restaurant operation trends to know right now. Try to incorporate these trends into your operations plan where it makes sense to do so.
Online Ordering and Deliveries
60% of all US consumers order delivery or takeout at least once per week - it’s an enormous potential market to tap into. If it makes sense for your business model, it’s worth factoring these into your operations plan.
A significant part of this is focusing on online ordering. This could be through your website, or more likely through third-party delivery services like Uber Eats or Grubhub. By using these services and offering deliveries, you can increase your scope of potential customers significantly.
Payments form an essential part of your diner's experience. These days, there are many different ways that consumers can pay for things. To improve restaurant efficiency, you want to ensure you cater to as many payment solutions as possible, making payments a fast and efficient process.
This includes contactless and mobile payments, as well as online payments. It may seem like a small area of restaurant operations, but payments can cause a severe bottleneck in the way your restaurant runs. Try not to rely on a single till area for processing payments, and ensure wait staff can accept payments at the tables.
Nearly three out of four restaurants say they are experiencing a labor shortage. Restaurants rely on their employees, so not having access to enough workers can be a serious issue. While you can’t always find more staff, you can find ways to run your business more efficiently with fewer people.
One of the best ways to address this is to look toward technology. Restaurants can apply tech solutions to automate processes and reduce manual tasks. This includes automating payments and customer communications, offering online QR code ordering, and even implementing automation technology in kitchens.
Keeping your restaurant running smoothly is no easy task. Following the right processes and using the right tools makes this much simpler.
Dig deep to understand each aspect of your daily operations and ensure every area operates as efficiently as possible. Ultimately, it’s key to the success of your restaurant business.
If you plan on branching out to host private dining parties or events at your restaurant, we have just the platform to streamline your operations. Watch a demo of Perfect Venue’s event management software to find out how it can help your team with every aspect of managing the perfect event.