- Start with the Right Training
- Implement Employee Productivity Reports
- Determine and Leverage the Strengths of Employees
- Cross-training for a Truly Diverse Staff
- Consult Employees on Ways to Improve Work Efficiency
- Keep Inventory Levels Sufficient
An efficient restaurant staff is one that knows how to increase productivity at peak hours, can meet the demands of a robust kitchen and do it all without impacting quality. Restaurant employee training is key when maximizing labor productivity.
It starts from the executive chef down.
In today’s fast-paced world, efficiency is worth investing in to keep customers happy, boost sales per labor hour and improve staff performance. But how can restaurants start improving their labor productivity?
Training is key to efficiency. For example, if Bill just started working at the restaurant on Tuesday, he may not be the best choice for Friday and Saturday rush hours because he will slow down productivity. Instead, managers and executive chefs should assign the most efficient employees for these busy shifts.
Bill may become very efficient in time, but he needs to be trained first. Restaurants should spend the extra few hours for:
Training employees on their roles
Allowing employees to learn their roles in the kitchen
Restaurants that throw someone like Bill into a fast-paced night may find that his inexperience slows the entire team down. Restaurant trainings are essential if you want to be able to keep efficiency at high levels.
Managers and chefs should work together to develop training so that every team member knows their role sufficiently.
The management team can also help by creating employee productivity reports. These are often questioned by staff because many factors are at play. What the reports do is try and determine the output of an employee, and this can be done by:
Calculating total output ($3,000 in sales in one night)
Determining total input (5 hours of employee work as a team)
Dividing total output by total input
Using the above example, the employees were able to generate $600 per hour of work as a team. If you wanted to calculate the productivity of employees, as a general collective, you would divide total output of $3,000 by the number of employees working.
Let's assume you have five people in the kitchen and five wait staff.
This would be calculated by $3,000 / 10, or $300 per employee on the night. Although this is a general way to determine productivity, managers will be able to compare one team to another and learn why one team is more efficient than another.
What's important to note is that foot traffic for a restaurant will also be a major factor that needs consideration.
If Tuesdays are slow, you cannot compare Tuesday’s productivity to Friday’s because staff cannot be held accountable for lack of foot traffic in a restaurant. Employee productivity reports are not 100% embraced by managers because they do lack the individual element needed to make sure every employee is working to improve work efficiency.
Team members should undergo restaurant staff training where they learn the ins-and-outs of the kitchen, but it’s up to the managers and trainers to analyze where the employee excels. One employee may excel as a line cook, or one may make one dish much faster than another employee. One of the wait staff may have an impeccable memory, so this staff member is best suited for large groups of people.
But there’s another benefit to helping leverage the strength of employees: cross-training. Employees can help train others on their strengths, working internally to be able to strengthen staff. Cross-training should also be conducted by the business as often as possible.
Improved efficiency requires proper cross-training. There should be no weak cogs in your restaurant’s operation. Let's assume that a line cook calls out. Even if everyone is efficient at work, productivity will drop. Training restaurant staff through cross-training may allow an owner to call a hostess to help with the line cook duties.
When cross-trained properly, it will allow:
Hostesses to take on the role of a server
Cooks to take on the role of a hostess or server
Kitchen workers to take on a myriad of responsibilities
Efficiency will also be boosted because all staff members will know how to increase work efficiency because they have experience in all positions. The hostess will have a better idea of how to assign tables when he or she has been a server in the past.
Employees, those who are in the kitchen or acting as servers, will know the best ways to improve efficiency. It's these employees that have the experience needed to determine what can really be done to increase efficiency.
Managers should be sitting down with employees or holding a meeting where employees can stress their concerns and discuss how to improve efficiency.
The manager should:
Log all of the recommendations
Determine which recommendations are most viable
Implement recommendations by which will be most efficient
Employers should also learn not only how to train staff, but how to create a sense of teamwork within the workplace. Productivity improvement ideas from staff members is a good start, but these ideas can be better implemented by management that isn’t afraid to “get their hands dirty.”
Workers feel a sense of teamwork and bonding when managers will come into the kitchen and take on tasks to ensure the restaurant is running efficiently. Even owners have been known to go into the kitchen and take over the role of a line cook or any other position to help staff members keep orders running smoothly. This is very beneficial for the business because it will help staff members work harder and respect higher ups in the company.
One of the ways to improve efficiency is to ensure that all team members have the tools, training and ingredients that they need to run efficiently. Technology must be incorporated that will allow for optimal ingredient levels at all time.
When a server comes to give an order to the kitchen staff but the order cannot be filled because the last of an ingredient was just used, it will waste the time of the server, the person taking the order and also lower customer satisfaction.
Point-of-sale systems are one way that restaurants are being more efficient. These systems will manage inventory systems, allowing for inventory to be accounted for from the moment it’s brought in the door to the moment a customer pays for a dish. Hours of time wasted rechecking inventory levels can be saved when managers are better able to understand their inventory levels in real-time.
Technology should be implemented whenever possible to improve efficiency. You can connect servers with a tablet that allows for orders to be sent directly to the kitchen staff. When an order is ready, the server can be notified to go pick up the food. Wasted time spent walking back and forth to the kitchen or yelling orders will be eliminated.
Average labor productivity should be considered, and it’s important to understand which factors improve employee output. It’s often the small tweaks that lead to a boost in efficiency.
Sit down with staff members, consider their suggestions, train staff members, leverage the strength of team members and consider all technologies that may be able to boost the efficiency of your restaurant. Over time, implement changes that will boost communication of the staff and keep inventory levels in a sufficient state.
And if efficiency levels are maxed out, more employees may need to be hired in a bustling restaurant where staff members cannot keep up with the customers demands.