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    How to Improve Restaurant Operations: 6 Management Tips to Increase Productivity, Revenue, and More

    You surely work hard. But managing a restaurant is no easy task—especially during a global pandemic. Change has become constant and sudden. And, in many industries, productivity has been at an all-time low.

    But you're not just going to give up, are you? Nope!

    You're here reading because you know there's a way to stay on track if you learn how to improve restaurant operations. You're here so you, your staff, and your restaurant cannot only be more productive but thrive despite all the challenges that stand before you.

    And, for that, we admire you! So, in this blog post, we're sharing 6 restaurant management tips to help you increase productivity, revenue, and more.

    But before we jump into those tips, we want to make sure you know exactly why these tips are worth your time. So, let's start by discussing...

    Why It’s Important to Improve Restaurant Operations

    You may be spending valuable time and money on things that don't actually help your restaurant. But this isn’t really your fault. Since the start of the pandemic, it has become difficult to know what's worth investing in and what's not.

    Unfortunately, if you take a haphazard approach to figure this all out, you might find yourself in a lot of trouble. The National Restaurant Association reports that, in 2020, more than 110,000 eating and drinking businesses shut down for good by December 1 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. On top of that, the restaurant industry as a whole lost around $240 million in sales! 

    So, you don't have money or time to waste. If you're going to make sure your restaurant thrives, you need to learn how to be a better restaurant manager now. And you need to become resilient, agile, and capable of leading your staff to become the same.

    How? That’s what we’re here to show you! 

    6 Restaurant Management Tips to Increase Productivity, Revenue, and More

    #1 Be Flexible with Your Staff

    You know that the ongoing pandemic has been stressful for everyone. And that added stress is one of the main reasons why many restaurants across the country are finding it hard to hire and retain new staff.

    So, first things first, you need to make your restaurant an attractive place to work. Because you can't really be productive or make more revenue if you're short-staffed, can you? And, for that, flexibility is key. But what do we mean?

    Well, your employees’ lives have changed. And, to manage those changes, some need shorter shifts. Some need schedules that adapt to their unique circumstances. Some just need to know you care that they’re also trying to manage their lives outside of work during these difficult times. 

    If you can offer them any of those things, do it. According to Hoang Nguyen, Director of Client Services at Menufy and owner of Bánhwich Café, this strategy helped his restaurant not only retain employees throughout the pandemic but also attract quality new applicants. 

    #2 Adapt Your Business Model to Fit Customer Behavior

    The conventional way of dining-in is over—at least for now. And your restaurant needs to adapt to the “new normal” as soon as possible. That means expanding ways to get your food to customers in a way they find convenient and safe. 

    Here are some ideas: 

    • If you haven’t already, make sure your customers can order online from all of the third-party apps (e.g. DoorDash, UberEats, Yelp, etc.)
    • Adopt contactless ordering and payment technologies onsite  
    • Create something similar to a drive-thru for easy, contactless pickup orders 

    Need an example? Look at the fine dining restaurant Canlis in Seattle. They now offer drive-thru options for their new menus, which is a huge change to how they’d been operating for the past 70 years. And it paid off. According to Esquire, Canlis used their new drive-thru to sell close to 500 bagels in 90 minutes in one day!

    #3 Simplify Your Menu

    Long, extensive menus provide customers with options. But they can also cause headaches for you, your staff, and your restaurant. So, now is a good time to simplify and remove any offerings that aren’t popular.

    Why do this? How can a long menu cause headaches? 

    Well, for one, long menus are harder for your staff to master. This is especially true when attempting to successfully onboard new hires. On top of that, simplifying your menu can help to reduce waste, save costs on inventory, and lower time spent taking orders. 

    A case study from Aaron Allen & Associates on burger chains in the US found that when McDonald’s increased their menu offerings back in 2017, the speed of their drive-thru service decreased by 13%. Not ideal—and that was before Covid! With the current rise of drive-thru sales, slower service can have a significant impact on your sales. So, don’t take the risk.

    Use data from your Point-of-Sales system to identify your top-selling items. Ensure you have a constant supply of the ingredients required for those items. And then start strategically cutting things from your menu until it’s simple and attractive to customers, your staff, and your restaurant’s bottom line.

    #4 Monitor Your Inventory Using Data 

    Building on the last point, efficient inventory management is key to preventing food waste, lowering costs, and maintaining sales of your most popular items. So, optimize your system for inventory management by using and analyzing data. 

    But how? It’s simple. 

    Use your Point-of-Sales data to forecast your sales and plan ahead for the inventory you’ll need. Don’t neglect this just because data analysis may not be your strong suit. If needed, hire someone or assign this task to an employee with the necessary skills. It’s too important to miss. 

    According to FoodPrint, approximately 4 -10% of food purchased by the restaurant went to waste even before making it to a consumer’s plate. That’s not only a waste of food and money. It’s also a waste of time ordering, stocking, and disposing of things you don’t need.

    #5 Master the Art of Upselling

    As you may know, upselling is a way of trying to sell your customers a product similar or complementary to the one they ordered. This is a basic business strategy. But are you using it strategically?

    Going back to your Point-of-Sales system, find data on which of your offerings are frequently purchased together. But don’t just use what you find to upsell “add-ons” for online orders. Make sure your staff also knows how to upsell for dine-in and takeout orders. 

    McDonald’s is the pioneer and a success story of upselling. Cashiers know to ask the customer if they want to include things like fries and a drink even if the customer doesn’t explicitly ask for it. This little bit of extra effort goes a long way! 

    #6 Listen to Your Customers and Your Employees

    You know the saying: the customer is always right. And this holds a lot of truth. Because, ultimately, your restaurant exists to serve customers. But your employees’ thoughts and ideas can be just as important to help identify blind spots. So, collect and leverage feedback from both parties. 

    By surveying customers and employees, you can find useful information on things like:

    • What issues are negatively affecting the customer experience 
    • How employees respond to customers’ frustrations and complaints 
    • What problems customers and staff have with using new technology 
    • What would make an attractive customer loyalty program
    • Which items can be added or removed from your menu 

    Even better, when you implement changes based on their responses, customers and employees become happy to know you value their opinions.

    For customers, this type of attention can lead to stellar online reviews, restaurant loyalty, and brand advocacy. And for employees, it can lead to higher levels of employee engagement, productivity, and retention.

    Key Takeaways

    Ambitious restaurant managers are sometimes hard to find. But you're clearly one of them because you know that learning how to improve restaurant operations needs to be a top priority! 

    We hope the restaurant management tips we've shared here help you move in that direction. As a quick reminder, those tips are:

    1. Be flexible with your staff
    2. Adapt your business model to fit customer behavior 
    3. Simplify your menu
    4. Monitor your inventory using data 
    5. Master the art of upselling 
    6. Listen to your customers and your employees 

    Sounds good? Great! Just one more bonus tip

    Hire smartly! Because we all know a bad hire can make any of the tips we’ve shared nearly impossible to get right. Learn how Workstream can help you find and hire quality candidates today.


    Workstream is a hiring platform that helps employers get 4x the number of qualified applicants. The world's most trusted brands use Workstream to optimize job board postings, automate screening and interview scheduling, communicate via text message, and streamline the onboarding/training process. See what all the buzz is about by scheduling a demo or email us!

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