With today’s fast-paced environment, your customers are expecting quick and polite service. Everybody is busy, and the longer that your customers wait for service, the less likely they are to continue waiting. This expectation means that you and your staff will need to adapt your service to meet changing demands. We’ll help you lay out some best practices for your restaurant to maximize efficiency!
What is Service to You?
Before you can make any improvements to your service, you will need to define what your current environment is and how it would ideally look. Do you have trouble seating customers? Does your kitchen struggle to get food out quickly? Is your bar behind on drink service? These are all things that can slow down your overall service and cause a customer to wait longer than they want. Evaluate your restaurant with your staff so that you can find where there are gaps in productivity.
“Many restaurant owners fail to take the time to chart out what specifically they want their service to look and feel like or invest the funds in creating a solid service program.” – Food Woolf
Documenting what your current service looks like is an essential step in improving. Once you’ve laid out your current situation, it’s time to decide how your ideal service would look. Here are some things to consider when determining your goal service time and customer experience.
- How long should a customer wait to be seated?
- How does your customer order their drinks? How soon should these drinks be delivered to their table?
- Does your staff make menu recommendations? What about pairings with alcohol?
- What should your customer experience during service? What type of atmosphere should they experience?
- How long should it take to deliver food to a table?
- In total, how long should a customer be spending in your restaurant?
- How much money should a customer be spending in your restaurant? Are there opportunities anywhere to increase this?
Discuss this with your business partners and managers and then communicate with your staff. A strongly expressed message can help to set up the service level expectations in your restaurant. You will also need to get your team on board with the mission. Ask them for their feedback on what you’ve laid out. Everyone should feel ownership of the service goals that you set.
Tip: Set up your service mission statement and post it somewhere in an employee area. A visible mission statement will help remind your team of the expectations.
A Well Oiled Machine
When you have your service levels and expectations laid out, you can then decide how to maximize the efficiency in meeting these goals. The first step in maximum productivity and efficiency in your restaurant is to have well-established goals. Now, you can figure out how to step up your productivity and service speed. Check these areas of service to make sure that you’re hitting the mark on your goals.
Get the Tools You Need
A good restaurant can’t prosper without the right equipment! Make sure that your dining room has enough flatware, dinnerware, and tabletop supplies for your customers. The right supplies will help reduce the number of questions to your servers for extra napkins, silverware, or condiments. It’s also important to buy the right materials for your environment. Try melamine dinnerware if you’re looking to reduce breakage in your dining room. Make sure that your servers also have the right food serving supplies to keep your dining room clean and efficient.
Encourage Great Service Every Day
Work in some quarterly goals for your team that they can feel motivated to meet. They’ll be encouraged to continue to improve their service and efficiency. It’s important to check in with your staff frequently and help them work through the challenges that they’re facing; this way they can improve and communicate their struggles as a team. Excellent and efficient service starts with you as the manager/owner. Provide exceptional service to your staff, and they’ll be encouraged to do the same to your customers.
Improve Your Service
Remember that no restaurant is ever perfect or done with achieving the best service. Your restaurant should always evaluate its efficiency and customer experience as expectations are always changing. Keep an eye on trends in consumer behavior, competitors, and the foodservice industry to understand how expectations change. A business that knows their customers can easily meet or exceed their expectations.
Get Inspired by Competition
Something that owners don’t always want to do is admit that their competitors might have some good ideas. Competitors might also have excellent service! Make sure to do some research on your competitors to understand better what they’re providing customers. There may be an area that your competitor is missing that you could fill in. Look at leaders in the industry like Starbucks, Shake Shack, and Chipotle who are known for their customer service.
Looking for More Operations Advice?
We’re here for you. Make sure to check out the Operations Management section of our Resource Center! Learn how to maximize efforts for your labor budget, implement a POS system, and more.
Kelsey Moriarty is a Content Specialist at Central Restaurant Products. Her focus at Central is in the Food Prep and Furniture areas. Kelsey’s background is in technology and marketing with particular experience in SEO and E-Commerce. She enjoys helping customers make better decisions as well as working on her copywriting skills!