7 Steps to Improve Restaurant Operations

If you’re experiencing life in the fast lane, and never seem to be able to slow down, the following checklist will help refocus the restaurant’s course. Each step should take five to ten minutes of your time, but end up saving countless hours in return:

  1. Mission:

    Return to the root of why you’re in this business. What’s the ultimate outcome? If the restaurant were to close down today, what need would be unmet in the market place? If you were to sell the restaurant today, why would somebody purchase it? Would you get your asking price? What value are you building within the business of your business. “Start With Why” of what your seeking to achieve, and then polish the why of the business. Do these two conflict or compliment each other?

    Spread the word. Make the mission clear to everybody. When we team understand why on a team, what our personal purpose is, why it matters, they’re we’re more likely to play to win. With the mission and the why supporting the purpose of the restaurant, there’s a layer of authority and guideance which supports you when you are not around. That’s essential to secure the success of your ultimate outcome.

    Distil the misstion into one or two easily repeatable sentences. Be sure they evoke a positive emotion. Here’s more on developing a meaningful mission statement.

  2. Goals:

    With the mission established, how will anybody know if the mission is achievable? Goals tell the story of what’s possible. So what’s possible? Is it getting your TripAdvisor ranking to be #1? One could say there’s alot of value in that. So how did you get there? Tell the story of how it happened to your team. They’ll be inspired. Get the goals on paper, align them with the “why”, and start thinking about the resources needed to make these goals attainable. Be sure that these goals also have deadlines. Goals without dates are only fancy wishes.

  3. Clarity:

    Divide the goals into areas of responsibility- and this goes for ownership and upper management. The freedom that comes with not having a “boss” often makes it too easy to become our own employee. Decide who is going to be responsible for each goal by the specified deadline. Short of resources? Can the goals be divided and distributed into mini-tasks? Look for that rising star on your team. Give them a few bread-crumb tasks. See what they do with what you’ve asked of them. The desire to increase is human nature, and delegating small, forward moving tasks to the right people can create a sense of ownership and purpose. New leaders will emerge that you can count on. A business that can operate without the presence of top leaderships or ownership  means it’s ready for a new stage of growth- be it new locations, acquisitions or partnerships.

  4. Triage:

    Identify one significant obstical that requires immediate attention. Then find somebody to get it taken care of. DO NOT do it yourself. If you don’t know somebody that can resolve this issue, find a resource and don’t take no for an answer. Having your mission, and your why, should help to see opportunities that may not have been previously clear. Getting our hands-off of our hands-on style is both terrifying and liberating. Once we learn it can be done, an entirely new course for growth emerges.

  5. Let go:

    Identify something that is “essential” to the restaurant’s mission, staff member, brand, history, etc… but that has also become either a burden or is simply neutral. That is, it’s there but isn’t really contributing to the mission. Is it that one “world famous” dish? Is it your mom’s recipe that the restaurant was founded upon? Are there food or beverage products that never sell which take up space? Is it a system that’s been in place forever but it’s still used because the person that put it in place won’t use anything else? Maybe the hard choice is both need to go. Whatever is not contributing to the mission, and step two does not have this item in it’s scope, it’s time to cut it loose. Be thoughtful, but also be ruthless.

  6. Actions:

    After putting the mission into motion with new goals, a redistribution of actions should follow. Is there something you started doing that was supposed to be “temporary” but has somehow gotten stuck on your plate? Are you staying late to do the nightly close out? Is there a talented server that could step up and take on additional responsibility? Should the bartender be doing this? If so, why not? If there’s trust issues, get to the root of why and fix it. Retrain, rehire, reschedule – whatever it takes, it’s time to stop any compromises.

  7. Route Check:

    As these new actions are implemented, how do you know that the established goals are meeting the mission? It’s one thing to set goals, it’s another to gather data that reflects steady progress. Have a system of collecting data (don’t be the one gathering the data!) and make sure accountiblity has been established. When goals are met, be sure means of recognition have real value to those who made a difference.

The power in these steps is that they are bite-size, shareable and repeatable. Ensure some of these small steps take place each week. Share the efforts and results with all team members. Included them in the challenges and progress. Over time, the impact will accumulate. Within a month or two, new ways of thinking will create new habits, develop a result-driven culture, and clarify expectations between staff members, leadership and guests.

When you’re ready, start thinking about influencing your incoming traffic.