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Joshua Weatherwax

Boost Efficiency: Best Practices in Restaurant Operations

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The best practices in restaurant operations are a lot like spinning plates. You need to manage multiple things at the same time and mistakes can lead to broken plates. But, done right, it can amaze those around you!

There are many ways to get better at operations. Whether you're an experienced restaurateur, just writing your first restaurant business plan, or learning how to open a bar. The cost to open a bar or restaurant is high, but refining operations can help offset costs. From learning about online ordering software, to setting up a loyalty program, to increasing your sales with even better customer service, there is so much you can do.

For small business owners with stellar existing customers to those of you opening your restaurant or starting a restaurant for the first time, there's a lot to consider. The world of food service involves a variety of work to be done and perfected. You even have to figure out a restaurant profit and loss statement.

Read on to learn more about restaurant operations, how to create a strong operations plan, and some tips on improving your current operations.

What Does Restaurant Operations Mean?

Restaurant operations entail all aspects of managing the day-to-day of a restaurant.

This includes:

  • Purchasing. One of the biggest responsibilities of a restaurant owner or bar manager duties is to order enough inventory to meet demand. This means buying ingredients for the dishes on the menu and a full bar liquor list. A smart manager also uses restaurant technology to their advantage when ordering. A tool like BlueCart eCommerce can make all the difference. It's an all-in-one ecommerce platform that connects food suppliers with buyers and makes ordering even easier.
  • Pricing. Establishing prices that achieve the maximum profit margin is a vital part of restaurant operations. Whether you're setting your restaurant wine markup, establishing a wine by the glass program, or doing beer pricing for bars, it's important to make educated decisions. Knowing your costs will let you determine the right markup. Luckily, the BinWise Pro Smartview Report calculates the profit margin, inventory levels, and more for each item on the menu down to their ingredients. This lets you better plan and adjust your menu for maximum profit.
  • Preparation and service. Leading the back and front of house teams is another big part of restaurant operations. You need to create standardized recipes, monitor food quality, track inventory usage, and ensure customer satisfaction. This comes down to an engaged leader with the ability to react to any crises as they happen.
  • Cleanup. An unclean restaurant is likely to become a failing restaurant. Ensuring cleanliness is an important part of restaurant operations. Providing your staff with a restaurant kitchen cleaning checklist and ordering the best restaurant cleaning supplies are great ways to ensure your standards are upheld. Read our bar and restaurant cleaning guide for more information.

Operating a Restaurant Business

The most important thing when operating a restaurant business is to implement a strong operating system and procedures. This means you need to have a training program in place for your staff. You'll also need written guides for the many tasks involved in operating the restaurant. Creating a bar training manual is a great first step.

You should also provide your bartenders with a bartender duties checklist and a bar cleaning checklist, so they know their responsibilities. You can further help them by using a perpetual inventory system like BinWise Pro. This will save up to 85% of their time spent taking inventory and let them focus on customer service.

Operational Efficiency in Restaurants

Efficiency is one of the most important aspects of restaurant operations. Every minute spent on tasks that don't increase revenue is a wasted minute. Avoid getting bogged down in minute details by training your staff to handle most small issues. You can also hire or promote someone to handle most bar manager duties.

Best Practices in Restaurant Operations

Not all restaurants can be operated in the same way. Each restaurant has a distinctive style and customer base that has different needs. However, there are a few best practices that can help any restaurant or bar manager.

They are:

  • Keep it simple. Many restaurants can become bogged down by an inflated menu, overstaffed front of house, and confusing market positioning. Try to keep your menu small, regardless of what types of menu you use. Only use the staff you need and focus on meeting customer needs. Also, try to understand your customers and use restaurant marketing or a food LTO that appeals to them.
  • Build a structure. Consistency is key for restaurant operations. Standard procedures and guidelines should be enforced and quality should be checked every day. Create a guide for bar SOP so everyone knows the correct things to do. Then, routinely ensure that staff is adhering to these guides and get their input on any changes that should be made.
  • Stay on top of costs. This means you need to avoid waste and inventory shrinkage whenever possible. Review your liquor cost, food cost, prime cost, labor cost, and overhead expenses regularly. If any seem to be rising, you should look at the areas where you can reduce cost in a restaurant and save money. You should also look into menu engineering so you can increase revenue and offset these costs.
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Restaurant Improvement Ideas: Suggestions For Business Improvement

Many established restaurants can become overburdened with their legacy operations plans. Regularly reviewing and adjusting these plans should help. Restaurant operations involve many elements and a change in just one can have a positive impact on all others.

Read on for some tips on how to improve your operations.

10 Ways to Improve Your Business Operations

Improving business operations is the primary goal of a good restaurant manager or owner. This may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be.

Here are the ten best ways to improve your business operations:

  1. Adjust your business plan. Your restaurant business plan should be seen as a guide, not a strict game plan. As you run your restaurant, you'll realize there were many things you didn't consider when writing it. Adjust it as needed so it can continue to be useful. No one expects you to know where do bars get their alcohol off the bat.
  2. Build customer relationships. Your customers can make or break your business. Listen to them to understand their needs and wants so you can serve them better. This will pay dividends and can build long-term support from your community.
  3. Improve weaknesses. If you were operating at peak efficiency you wouldn't need this list. Your restaurant's weaknesses are visible, you just need to choose to resolve them. This may be a particular menu item underselling or a staff member that doesn't have enough training.
  4. Measure restaurant performance. Take an honest look at how your restaurant is performing and make cuts or adjustments to achieve your goals. If you truly want to increase restaurant sales, you need to understand where you're coming up short.
  5. Engage your staff. Your staff each have their own unique challenges and understanding of your restaurant. Regularly seek their feedback and you'll learn things you'd otherwise miss. Maybe there's a chance to teach your staff how to upsell and grow profits. Communication is key.
  6. Reduce food waste. Wasted food is a major drain on restaurants as the margin is already small. Keeping your menu short and establishing a par level for your ingredients can keep you from throwing away money. This is a key responsibility for the different types of chefs who work in the restaurant.
  7. Embrace technology. Technology can lower costs, increase customer satisfaction, and save time. Whether you invest in a qr code menu or use an inventory management system like BinWise Pro, you can see major savings.
  8. Create a hierarchy. Establishing roles and responsibilities can avoid confusion and allow each staff member to master their role. Hire bar staff, assign team leads, and place yourself at the top to ensure your business is run properly.
  9. Improve marketing. Marketing isn't just ads anymore. Using bar promotions like some new happy hour ideas or investing in restaurant SEO can help a lot. Start with some small efforts and try to match your efforts to your customers.
  10. Tinker with prices. Pricing should always be monitored and evaluated to maximize profit. Using BinWise Pro can give you insight into each dish or drinks margins and let you know if you should increase or decrease prices. Using psychological pricing can also help.
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Restaurant Operations: Do You Have a License to Operate That Restaurant?

Managing the many disparate aspects of a restaurant takes a lot of hard work. By following our tips above and focusing on keeping costs low, you can grow your business and increase profits.

You should also make sure you understand the various accounting principles of running a restaurant. This includes knowing how to use a restaurant balance sheet, calculating prime cost, performing a swot analysis for restaurant improvements, and more. Check out a restaurant swot analysis example for ideas on how to do one. You can also check out some of the best restaurant management books for more guidance.

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