If you’re a restaurant operator, you’ve faced some big challenges — sourcing, inflation, labor shortages, wage hikes, not to mention all of the other issues that came with the COVID pandemic. In the meantime, small inefficiencies — inefficient use of time, energy, and resources — are adding up and taking a toll on your bottom line.
Whether you’re trying to keep your head above water or keep your business growing, identifying and eliminating your restaurant’s largest inefficiencies are essential to your success.
The complexities usually associated with purchasing take on a whole new level of difficulty in the restaurant industry. Products often come from different vendors (frozen versus produce, for example), food spoilage is a constant challenge, your inventory is at the whim of customer choices, even the most basic ingredients and supplies might be unavailable, and there simply isn’t a lot of room to store everything you need.
Research from the Green Restaurant Association shows a single restaurant can create 25,000- 75,000 pounds of food waste per year. As such, many restaurateurs struggle with ordering properly and often order too much food, leading to food waste and higher expenses. The alternative is too little food — leading to emergency food delivery, missed sales, or angry customers. Either result has implications that extend far beyond your bottom line.
Inefficient Use of Labor
Labor costs are one of your largest expenses, and if they are not adequately monitored, they will easily become your largest inefficiency as well. However, when looking at solutions to solve labor costs, it isn’t always as simple as cutting staff hours. Sometimes it’s easier to eat excess labor expenses if you’re getting value for the spend.
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Inefficient use of space
An inefficient layout to your restaurant can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Reorganizing your layout allows your staff to operate more efficiently and better serve your customers.
Drive efficiencies in your business
Automate your back-of-house tasks
The most important step you can take to eliminate your restaurant’s largest inefficiencies is to automate back-of-house tasks. When time-consuming, labor-intensive, and dangerous tasks are automated, your employees are safer and more productive, and you’re able to keep your mind on more important things.
Keep point-of-sale tools updated
This one may seem obvious, but many managers forget how quickly these need to be updated themselves. Establish a plan with your team to update at a predetermined pace and then see that everyone holds to it. It’s the best way to ensure no necessary change slips through your fingers.
Remove obstacles to access locations
Your server access stations are mobile workshops that separate the back of your house from the floor. Make sure they are in a position to do just that. While these areas naturally should be kept out of sight as much as possible, an isolated location is useless. Place your access stations in areas where your servers have the most traffic, and don’t be afraid to put up a partition if you feel a station could be an eyesore.
Optimize your kitchen layout
While the general shape of your kitchen is predetermined, how you place your tools along that line may not be. Consolidating like-minded areas is an easy way to reduce staff need. If you have multiple areas that don’t see a ton of action even on the busiest nights, put them together and you’ll be able to staff them with a single employee.
From ordering to food preparation and the entire guest experience, the restaurant industry is filled with thousands of tasks — and each has the potential to be noticeably inefficient. Reducing or eliminating these inefficiencies as they appear along the path is a powerful way to improve your bottom line and keep you successful in this ever-changing, highly competitive market.