It’s important for restaurant managers and owners to be able to pinpoint where things need to improve in their restaurant. Often, when the food, the service, or the atmosphere suffers inexplicably, it’s a case of inconsistency.
This has probably been apparent to you as a restaurant guest yourself! You decide to make a second (or third or fourth) visit to a restaurant because you loved something about your first experience. Maybe it was a particularly delicious dish, or a great cocktail you ordered, or the service was particularly stellar. But then on a repeat visit, the consistency just wasn’t there.
Whatever enticed you about the restaurant the first time around wasn’t up to snuff. Suddenly you aren’t sure that you want to come back a third time because you can’t be sure the next time will get it right, either. In essence, inconsistencies can lose your restaurant the trust of your customers, and could lose your repeat visits.
The good news is there are ways to improve on your areas of inconsistency. By practicing better processes in your restaurant, you can make each guest’s experience more consistently excellent.
Above all, the biggest fighter against inconsistency is having proper procedures and processes documented. This is a key step toward the goal of consistency in every aspect of the restaurant operation that many owners simply skip out on. Just “operating” without a set of written responsibilities, accountabilities, and processes will inevitably lead to downfall in both efficient performance and customer satisfaction. Things that should be thoroughly documented include:
- Set shifts
- The organizational chart, including knowing who is the “boss”
- Job responsibilities
- Daily checklists
- Station components
Arising directly out of having proper procedures is the need to implement them through training. If you give your staff the time and attention to nail down exactly how things should be done in your restaurant, mistakes will slim down as well.
Training isn’t just drilling their responsibilities into their heads, but giving them the confidence to do their jobs well each and every shift. If they have the confidence that they know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it, there will be less chances of inconsistent work.
You should offer in-depth training when they are first hired onto your staff, but don’t stop there! Make sure to schedule occasional training refreshers throughout the year for all your staff. That way, if things have changed in your shift or employees are simply confused about a particular aspect of their job that wasn’t properly defined, you can take questions and everyone can get on the same page.
When it comes to the ambiance of your front-of-the-house (as well as the cleanliness of your business as a whole), being consistent in your cleaning regime is so important. Making sure to have a specific list of cleaning duties for each shift — and having that list followed to the letter — will help ensure no one aspect of cleaning goes ignored. Guests can tell when aspects of your restaurant — from the menus to the tables to that ceiling fan — haven’t been cleaned.
Another aspect it’s easy to fall behind on in your restaurant is maintenance. Too many managers take “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” a little too literally and assume they don’t want to do anything for their equipment unless it’s breaking down already. But if you’re able to keep up with a maintenance schedule for the various equipment in your kitchen, from oven to your HVAC system, there’s a much better chance of them running consistently smoothly and not breaking down on your unexpectedly.
Maintenance goes for the front of the house as well. Ensuring your furniture, plates, silverware, flooring and dining room ventilation is kept up both makes sure the guests enjoy their meal and makes sure you don’t have to replace them over and over.
If you don’t have properly set recipes for each of your dishes, you’re going to have problems with portion control. If your cooking staff is left to guess what constitutes a portion for any one dish, you’re going to have major inconsistencies between plates.
This could mean running out of steak in the middle of the shift because one of your cooks has been slicing it too thick. It could mean guests who only got a half of the sautéed veggies they should have for their sides. It could mean a cocktail not tasting right because they used half the liquor they were supposed to and too much of the bitters. Yes, some of this can get fixed with proper training with proper training of your staff, but if you don’t have the set recipes to begin with, their training will be flawed.
And while your kitchen staff won’t be checking the recipes during every single shift, having them written down and on hand at your establishment means they can turn to the recipe if there’s ever any question about the dish. This saves valuable time and ensures mistakes aren’t made. And if a server is asked a dietary question about one of the dishes, being able to go to the set recipe (and be confident your cooks are following it to the letter) can be a helpful way to get your guests the info they’re requiring.
If your staff is still struggling, it might not be the training that’s the problem — you might be making the food and service too complicated. Even the most seasoned restaurant worker can only do so much to keep up with an overly complex and inefficient recipe or serving set up. Not only does this give your guests a less than perfect experience, but it can also frustrate and wear out your staff. If your staff is consistently being inconsistent, you should start looking at these processes. Simplify where it makes sense to simplify.
Once you’ve developed that sense of consistency, there are four impressively strong ways to increase your restaurant sales. Download our free eBook “The Only 4 Ways to Increase Restaurant Sales” for more details.