The world of the restaurateur is fast-paced and filled with challenges. Learn the ins and outs of restaurant operations management with this helpful guide.
The world of the restaurateur is fast-paced and filled with challenges. It isn’t enough to create an unmatched dining experience, you also need to possess savvy business sense, be a team manager, and refine your customer service skills – perhaps all in a single night.
Of course, the demands will vary from each restaurant but you will always need to practice flexibility to be successful in this fiercely competitive industry. The needs of a takeaway will differ from those of a dine-in establishment, for example, but an operations manager is critical to the success of both.
Keep reading to discover how to boost your restaurant operations management and lead your establishment towards continued success.
What is Restaurant Operations Management and Why Is It Important?
Restaurant operations focus on the daily running of a restaurant and everything that this entails. The role of an operations manager is the linchpin that supports the wider team in delivering a quality service, all while ensuring that problems are resolved effectively.
A successful manager helps make sure that customers and staff have a positive and consistent experience that reflects the business as a whole. Many will use an operational risk management process hierarchy to guide decision-making and ensure reliable results.
Some of the tasks an operations manager undertakes include:
- Team management: Help organize the team, including chefs, wait staff, and cleaning staff, and ensure proper staffing levels while maintaining morale. Train staff in specific protocols, such as food safety and customer service.
- Food preparation: Work with the kitchen to deliver high-quality meals consistently. This includes portion control, using safe cooking practices, and maintaining hygiene demands for staff and equipment.
- Inventory management: Monitor stock levels of products and ensure that chefs have access to required items by ordering fresh stock and maintaining inventory.
- Payroll and finance control: Ensure staff are paid for their time, track the revenue of the premises, and work to deliver profitability over time.
- Fielding customer feedback: Assist staff in dealing with any customer complaints through conflict resolution and executive decisions. Respond to reviews and work to generate positive brand perception.
The above list is not exhaustive, as the role itself will be unique to each restaurant and the way it operates, but it should serve as a broad indication of what the role often entails. It’s clear just how crucial an operations manager is to the successful running of a restaurant.
And while, of course, a restaurant owner can follow more generic tips for managing businesses, the demands of this industry are rather unique. So what can you do to keep all these plates spinning?
Tips To Streamline Your Restaurant Operations
It simply isn’t possible to handle all of the above without assistance from your wider team and technology in tandem. The difference between using these assets effectively and ignoring them will be the difference between a flourishing establishment and one that fails to remain profitable.
Maintain Great Communications
A restaurant has so many moving parts and individuals involved that communication is quite possibly the most important factor to consider. Always think about the message being put forward, whether this is communications with your team and suppliers sent via technology such as Vonage virtual faxing, or social media messaging apps and tools for customers to engage with.
The way you represent your business, in fact, will have a long-lasting impact on your success. Every detail counts – from the style of your menu to your decor, from the colors of your logo to your website name.
Speaking of the latter, it’s particularly important to tailor this to your local customer base. So, for example, a restaurant based in the UK could use a UK domain name to attract local customers, one based in Anguilla could use an AI domain name, and so on.
This truth applies to all forms of business but is key for restaurants as your profitability relies on loyalty and repeat custom – which, generally, come from local audiences who have the possibility to visit your establishment often.
Team involvement is also essential when it comes to maintaining great communication. If you recognize team members who engage with customers exceptionally well, consider offering them additional duties that include managing certain aspects of customer communications.
You could even use a call center service company to equip your restaurant with a professional customer service portal that can reduce the load on your team and help field complaints and suggestions in a structured, traceable manner.
Focus on the Customer
Above all, your customers will decide if your restaurant survives or thrives. They are your single source of revenue and the business model relies on volume of trade to generate profit. However, there are different categories of customers – some will stick with you for years, while others may only visit once.
This is a big challenge for any business and will rely on effective marketing backed by a value proposition that competitors can’t offer to keep your tables full. Many restaurants will employ a number of marketing and incentive-based strategies to draw in customers and keep them coming back for more.
Consider, for example, running promotions to help bring in traffic during mid-week periods or at lunchtime. Design a loyalty scheme that offers free meals or discounts after repeat visits. Reward social engagement with free menu items for tagging your restaurant. There are so many fun and creative ways to create a buzz and get people excited to dine with you, so don’t neglect this key step.
Set Clear Protocols to Follow
Consistent service relies on tried and tested protocols in place. Staff need to know how to respond to a range of situations that will inevitably arise during a service, and clear guidelines are the simplest and most effective way to do this.
Protocols can cover several aspects of a restaurant, but should be in place for:
- Food preparation: Guidance on how to prepare various food items to a consistent level of quality.
- Hygiene and food safety guidance: Strict food safety regulation information to ensure the safe handling and cooking of foodstuffs, as well as managing customer allergies, intolerances, or lifestyle choices.
- Equipment cleaning and maintenance: Required steps to clean and maintain equipment before and after service.
- Customer engagement steps: Teaching staff how to greet and seat customers, along with how they engage throughout their visit. Providing guidance on how to field complaints and when to escalate to senior staff.
- Seating plan priorities: Guidance on where to seat customers first to best showcase the restaurant to footfall passing by.
- Staff behavior and appearance: Guidance on how all staff should behave when on-site, along with any required clothing or appearance protocols.
There will undoubtedly be more guidelines that can be put in place, though the above will give you a solid base to work from without overwhelming new employees or creating an uproar when the rules are implemented.
The food industry is tightly regulated, so it is absolutely vital that all kitchen-related protocols are not only in place but actively followed every single day by your kitchen team.
Manage Important Data Effectively
Despite being a people-focused industry, the hospitality sector also produces enormous amounts of data. Think about the sheer volumes of different meals being ordered, and which alcoholic drinks are most picked.
Real-world data can help restaurant operations managers in a number of ways, including:
- Understanding the best times for business and staff accordingly
- Learning where you are losing money and finding a solution through reduced operations or by generating more business in quiet periods
- Better responding to customer feedback
- Figuring out whether a call outbound marketing campaign generated business
- Monitoring stock levels automatically as orders are processed and preparing automated stock requests based on demand.
There are several trustworthy solutions to data management and insight gathering, which is an important tool in managing your restaurant. We recommend a tool that uses the Hadoop file systems as the backend, ensuring it is capable of handling multiple large datasets simultaneously. Read this guide if you’re wondering “what is HDFS Hadoop?” and how it can support you with data collection.
Invest in Your Team
Above all the technological support, your greatest asset will always be your team. They serve the customers, they cook the food, and they help to create an unmatched dining experience for every customer that visits.
Hospitality requires passion and dedication to excellence, so you should always be on the lookout for employees who go above and beyond during their shifts, and reward them appropriately. Think about additional duties that can be taken on to help train and develop them, as well as build loyalty and morale for the team, and let your staff showcase initiative and feedback to improve operations.
Your staff will often have unique insights into where the business could improve that comes from their hands-on experience, so don’t ignore it when they offer their opinion.
The Next Steps
With the information provided, you will hopefully have a good idea of how to manage your restaurant’s operations effectively. Whether you’re stepping into the role for the first time or have managed a restaurant for a decade, there is always room to improve how it functions.
A restaurant needs to constantly evolve to meet the changing needs of its customers, and your management style should reflect that. Be ready to switch it up when something isn’t working, don’t shy away from making bold decisions if it means your business won’t stagnate, and listen to your staff and your loyal customers to help define the decisions you make.