The 6 fundamentals of restaurant management

The 6 fundamentals of restaurant management

La effective restaurant management it is balancing many different groups and processes in one smooth operation. The costs of food, inventory tracking, staff scheduling, food production, customer service and merchandising are all part of the management de restaurants. Here's a look at how to run a restaurant in six steps, along with tips and advice from experienced restaurateurs.

Since administration of a restaurant depends on tracking every aspect of its operación And tie it all to your bottom line, you really should consider using a restaurant point of sale (POS) system. Lightspeed Restaurant POS tracks ingredient inventory for foods sold, streamlines orders between kitchen and servers, and provides a variety of detailed reports so you can closely monitor operations and costs.

1. Create a menu with food costs in mind

The correct management The restaurant begins with understanding the costs of the menu. Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Your restaurant menu plays a decisive role in the communication from your brand to customers. The types of food you sell, their prices, and even the way your menu is presented - each aspect affects your customers' overall impression of your restaurant. Naturally for many restaurants management off the menu is job number one.

However, when it comes to good management de restaurants, your menu is more than just a list of the foods you sell. “Profitability should drive every menu decision you make,” says Allison Bethell, who has owned and manages a variety of restaurants and bars.

Develop your standard menu

According to Bethell, the first step in planning how to run a restaurant is to create a standard menu from a profit point of view. "Ideally, the restaurant owner, manager, and chef should develop this together," she says. “For startups, it's really important that at least one of these money takers strategic have experience in food costs and preparation to ensure that the menu is profitable. "

Bethell says the team at administration of the restaurant should:

  • Decide on the types of food the restaurant will offer.
  • Create ingredient lists for each menu item.
  • Calculate the average costs for each menu item
  • Create recipes and preparation processes for each menu item.
  • Price of menu items only after knowing actual ingredient costs and preparation times

She reminds managers to include "spicy" ingredients like salt and seasonings in food and mixers and garnishes in drinks.

“It's easy to miss the little 'dash' ingredients, but their cost of 'a sprinkle here and a splash there' adds up over time,” says Bethell, “so you need to include these costs in every menu item, even if it's just pennies. "

When pricing your menu items, Bethell recommends following these general average food cost rules to make sure you leave enough room for profit:

  • 25 percent for casual dining: If a menu item has a total food cost of $ 4, the menu price for that item must be $ 15.95 or more
  • 35 percent for fancy meals: If a menu item has a total food cost of $ 8, the menu price for that item must be $ 22.95 or more

Once your menu is set up, Bethell has another tip. "The research shows that a reader's eye naturally rests about one-third of the menu page. Therefore, when you design and print your menu, special dishes or more expensive and profitable dishes should appear at this place on your menu. It's also smart to use callout boxes or highlight text in this area of ​​your menu to get attention. "

You can find a large selection of ready-to-use menu designs on the websites of companies that offer design and printing services for it, or create your own look using free and simple online design tools.

Make the most of the specials

According to Bethell, specials are a great way for the administration of restaurants maximize profits and keep the menu updated and fresh for repeat customers.

“We create drink specials that use liquor that we have in bulk or that we find for sale,” he says, and the same applies to food specials. “If we get a discount offer on a fresh food like salmon, we buy more than we need for regular menu sales. Then we create a variety of salmon-based specials in addition to our regular salmon menu items. This allows us to maximize our profits on fresh food offerings, as well as selling through fresh stocks before they go bad. "

Remember that drinks make money

 "Liquor sales are always more profitable than food sales," says Bethell, "and mixed drinks are generally more profitable than beer and wine." He recommends including wine pairings, craft beers, and even mixed drinks on the menu to increase profitability. She also adds, “Restaurant management should train waiters to make these suggestions when taking food orders. It really helps if they understand and can explain the nuances behind the pairings, especially in a fine-dining operation. "

2.Always take care of the cost of operating your meals

The main reason restaurants fail is not looking at real costs over time, food costs in particular. "Creating your menu with food costs in mind is the first step," says Bethell, "but regularly reviewing actual food costs over time is the only way to know what you're really spending for food."

Reviewing actual food costs also helps administration the restaurant to detect excess waste and even theft, says Bethell. “If you know the average cost of ingredients included in meals, then you know the number of meals you can prepare with your current inventory. If you run out of ingredients before preparing the expected number of meals from available stocks, you know you have a waste or theft problem. ”

So, be sure to keep track of running food costs as part of your administration of weekly or even daily restaurants. Here's the basic formula for keeping track of average food costs over a sales period, such as a day, weekend, or week:

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(Initial inventory + new purchases) - Final inventory = cost of goods sold (COGS)

COGS (I.e. Number of meals sold = Average cost per meal

Let's see how this works using the inventory and sales numbers of a burger joint that sells a variety of hamburger baskets:

  • Tracking food-for-food costs is a key ingredient in good restaurant management.

In this example, knowing the average cost per meal, in this case, $ 2.74 per basket, allows the restaurant manager to:

  • Submit Feedback Set Profitable Sales Prices: Using the 25 percent food cost rule for casual dining, food cost baskets of $ 2.74 should sell for at least $ 10.95
  • Predict the number of meals: If the cabin has $ 100 in food inventory, you can expect to make 36 meals
  • Waste or theft issues: If the cabin inventory shows that you can make 36 meals but run out of hamburger ingredients after making 28 baskets, there is probably a waste or theft problem that restaurant management should investigate

How to track sales revenue and food costs

Tracking sales, inventory numbers, and food costs can be done manually or using the inventory and sales management tools that most restaurant point of sale (POS) systems provide.

"For manual sales, inventory, and cost tracking, restaurant managers can combine cash register records with an inventory spreadsheet that tracks food quantities and purchases," says Bethell. "But a restaurant POS system makes all of this so much easier, plus it provides up-to-date numbers and really detailed reports."

In fact, a system like Lightspeed Restaurant POS allows restaurant managers to track menu costs by recipe, even down to the ingredient level. Plus, you can review real-time sales totals, meal orders, and meal costs at any time with the click of a button.

Consider your other costs of managing restaurants

When planning how to run a restaurant, your bottom line is everything and you should follow it closely, says Bethell. "The total count of sales and tickets should be part of any restaurant's daily closing procedures, ”she says. "Beyond that, you also need to keep track of all your operating costs closely."

In addition to keeping an eye on food costs, Bethell recommends that restaurant management pay close attention to overall costs and reduce overspending whenever possible:

  • Payroll costs: generally the restaurant's second highest operating cost, after lunch; smart scheduling can help you minimize your payroll costs
  • Property costs: This includes rent or mortgage payments, plus any property and maintenance taxes; Be smart about choosing a space and don't overcommit to a large space or long lease with a new release
  • Insurance: Property, business liability, liquor, health and workers compensation insurance adds to your overall operating costs; be sure to review and compare rates each year
  • Upgrades and Equipment - Set aside funds to cover equipment repairs and replacements so these issues don't surprise you
  • Utilities: Electricity, water, gas and Internet costs can add up, and some such as heating or air conditioning may increase due to seasonal temperatures; plan for these fluctuations or consider flat-rate billing to avoid cash flow problems due to large bills
  • Licenses: Food handling permits, liquor licenses, construction permits, and related permits must be kept up to date; license costs are much lower than paying a fine or being closed for not having the proper permit
  • Marketing: Some marketing and advertising media like radio, local magazines, or newspapers can be more expensive than social media or email marketing, but sometimes that money is well spent; look at your marketing dollars but also use the most effective means for your brand and customers
  • Taxes: don't forget your taxes! - Sales, payroll, local property taxes, and state and federal income taxes must be reported and paid on time to avoid costly fees and other headaches

3. Manage your inventory closely

Since food costs are the primary cost in any restaurant management plan, it is critical that you have a robust inventory management process in place to track food inventory down to ingredient level. “You always need to know what inventory ingredients you have on hand, how much it costs, and how many meals you can make with it,” says Bethell.

Know your ingredient and menu needs

Any restaurant, large or small, must have a master inventory list that describes each ingredient that is included in the menu items. This helps you keep track of food-for-meal costs and ensures that both your fresh and dry ingredient orders are timely and accurate.

Chef Michael Bargas of the Houston Art Institute's culinary school says correct inventory starts with ordering the right ingredients. Bargas recommends using product specification sheets that clearly identify all the necessary information about the items in your inventory and using these “specification sheets” when ordering.

"A specification sheet helps communicate the correct information about an ingredient to its supplier," says Bargas. “He also clearly describes the ingredients for his kitchen staff, who are the ones who will use them in recipes,” he says.

Small limited menu operations may work with manual or spreadsheet-based ingredient specification sheets and master inventory lists, but larger establishments benefit greatly from using a POS system with specific inventory management for restaurants like Lightspeed Restaurant POS.

POS inventory systems allow you to create a master inventory list with detailed ingredient items, and then link each ingredient to specific menu items.

Know how much inventory you have and need each day

You can't prepare and serve what you don't have on hand, but you also don't want to over-order inventory, especially perishables. "Par" is the restaurant industry term for the inventory required to meet daily demand. Accurate inventory checks and sales forecasting are restaurant management tools that keep stock levels on par with daily sales.

"A restaurant should have a big focus on expected sales levels," says Bargas. "If I have a good idea of ​​how many meals will be sold on a given day, I can forecast my needs and buy the right amount of food."

However, running out of inventory is also something to watch, according to chef Tommy Child and culinary instructor Vennessa Garner of the culinary school at the Houston Institute of Art.

 “First-in, first-out inventory, called FIFO, is the process of administration of inventory that restaurants use, especially for fresh ingredients, ”says Bethell. "This translates to newer produce, meat, dairy and other perishable goods going to the back of the shelf and using the oldest stock first to avoid spoilage and waste."

Regular counting procedures for Inventory help you manage levels for and avoid over-ordering, especially in fresh foods. "A daily inventory check tour allows you to order food based on immediate need," says Bargas. "However, you need to do a monthly count of everything in stock to see usage trends from month to month."

A small operation can track inventory and inventory quantities manually or in spreadsheets, but a POS system does it all much faster and with much more precision. Point-of-sale systems track ingredient usage in real time, plus you can print available inventory sheets to check stock counts.

Using a restaurant POS system, as you order and receive food from vendors, your inventory counts are constantly updated. Plus, ingredient counts adjust as meals are ordered, so you always know what's on hand. You can even set low inventory notifications to know when it's time to reorder to make sure you don't fall short.

4. Create your operating procedures and training manuals

Planning how to manage a restaurant It begins with clear processes that define and guide the daily tasks involved in food production, customer service, and facility maintenance.

"Without processes and procedures, it's difficult to set expectations, train staff, and manage the overall food production and service process," says Bethell. "The FOH processes that drive the activities of the dining room and bar staff differ a lot from the back kitchen (BOH) processes," he says, "but both are equally important." .

Small operations, such as hamburgers and food trucks, may require only a few procedures that all staff adhere to, such as opening and closing procedures. Large establishments generally need procedures tailored to specific operating areas and functions such as food preparation stations, food storage, and service procedures.

Small or large, most restaurants can benefit from having:

  • Opening and Closing Procedures - From turning lights on when opening to turning off the grill at night, opening and closing procedures ensure every step is handled correctly
  • Inventory verification procedures: regulate when and how often inventory counts
  • Food Storage Procedures - Correct food storage rules and procedures are critical to your restaurant's reputation and degree of health inspection
  • Food Preparation, Cooking, and Plating Procedures - The kitchen is an assembly line, and these procedures ensure that every meal on plates looks and tastes great.
  • Bar Storage Procedures - Good replenishment procedures help to store liquor properly based on your permission, allowing you to quickly serve drinks and keep your customers happy
  • Service procedures: from greeting customers as they sit down to how glasses are refilled and dishes are served, service procedures cover all aspects of waiters' interaction with customers
  • Transportation Procedures: Cleaning tables quickly is a must and these procedures ensure it is as unobtrusive as possible
  • Cleaning Procedures: From kitchen disinfection at the end of the day to cleaning the dining room throughout the day, good cleaning procedures keep your FOH space attractive and BOH safe for food production.
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Professional restaurateur Tara Sullivan emphasizes that procedures are the soul of good restaurant management and the secret behind the success of many large operations.

"If you look at all the big corporate restaurants, they all have one thing in common: There are rules and they all stick to them," says Sullivan. "Everything is documented, and they run regular reports and analysis to make sure everything is running efficiently."

In fact, once you have described the processes and procedures that define the operation of your restaurant, it is a good idea to bring them together into two working documents:

  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) - This is the master copy of your processes and procedures for each area of ​​your operation; Include in this summary all regulatory, health or licensing procedures that your operation must follow in order for your SOP document to be complete
  • Staff Training Manuals: This can be a single manual or specific BOH / FOH manuals, depending on the size and demands of your operation; Include all human resources related documents in your training manuals, such as an employee manual, to give employees a single point of reference for all employment related information

Having SOPs and staff training manuals in place makes your next step, which is to train staff, much easier.

5. Train staff and manage schedules

Staff training and retention are among the top challenges facing most restaurant operations. According to Bethell, that's not a surprise. "Most restaurant positions are part-time with minimum wage," she says. "For many workers like students or night help, it is simply a scale job, not a career commitment."

Management issues like poor scheduling, incomplete training, or favoritism often lead staff to quit unexpectedly, leaving management to fill in the gaps. "But. Effective training, combined with clear processes and efficient scheduling, can help you retain good employees, ”she says.

Create a staff training program

No restaurant operation is too small for a training program. If you are not sure how to put one together, start with the procedures covered above and combine them into a staff training manual. Once you set up procedures to cover operational tasks in your operation, you can use these procedures as checklists to train your staff.

Also, consider letting the bright stars of your staff take on training responsibilities or at least allow new employees to follow or support your best employees. This frees up time for you and your managers and helps new staff enter the workflow more quickly. A simple training checklist like the one below can help guide the process, track the progress of your new employee, and ensure that all key training points are covered.

Training checklists help restaurant management track the progress of each new employee. Image Source:

If you use a POS system like Lightspeed Restaurant POS, you can even give new employees a limited access login to create practice and self-training orders in the system without saving actual data.

Schedule staff effectively

Homebase's free scheduling app pairs with Lightspeed Restaurant POS to manage schedules, track hours, tips, and more.

Restaurant scheduling is critical to facilitating daily restaurant management operations. "The challenge," according to Bethell, "is to have enough staff to provide an efficient service, but not over-staff and find yourself paying people to stay with you." Bethell also cautions against excessive trimming due to excessive planning. “If you regularly over-schedule and cut staff, employees will get frustrated and start quitting. Scheduling should be handled carefully and not clustered at the last minute. "

Clearly, programming is a delicate balance, and here's a look at how industry professionals handle it effectively:

  • Use shifts: If your restaurant is open from breakfast to dinner, try running a morning shift, a swing shift (noon), and an afternoon shift to cover service needs throughout the day.
  • Post hours early - try to post times at least five days before the schedule start date so staff can plan other needs like school or babysitting on scheduled shifts
  • Don't play favorites: be fair to yourself personal and spreads shifts between best nights like Friday and Saturday nights and the slowest midday hours when tips aren't as abundant
  • Respect the availability of your staff: if you hired a student knowing they have early classes, don't mistreat them by regularly scheduling shifts during the week
  • Have a firm no-show policy: Being firm in firing staff that not showing up without a completely inevitable reason prevents others from doing the same
  • No falls the same day: A firm same day no falls policy (except in extraordinary circumstances) helps you prevent abuse
  • Dedicate your main servers to private functions: if you have a party room or a reservation for a large group, dedicate one or more of your best servers to this group so they don't divide their time between seasons
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All of the above, ranging from standard operating procedures to good scheduling and personnel management policies, sets clear expectations that Danica Copus, Caffe Umbria's retail district manager, says that "employees respect and even appreciate."

6. Manage growth through marketing channels

With a robust set of restaurant management procedures and processes, a well-trained staff, and a system to track your income and costs, you have set the stage for growth. There are many ways to manage your marketing and advertising efforts. We describe the entire process in our restaurant marketing guide, but here is a quick look at the many marketing avenues available to you:

Your restaurant's website: Each restaurant must have its own website to list menus, specials, events, communicate with repeat and potential customers, and even take orders online.

Loyalty Programs: Point-based and discount loyalty programs incentivize customers to return frequently and are highly effective restaurant management and marketing tools. Some operate independently, while others integrate with various POS systems.

In fact, Copus highly recommends using loyalty programs to connect and grow a customer base. "Loyalty programs are not only a great way to keep repeat customers, but they're also a great way to get new ones," he says. "It's a good conversation tool and people feel more involved in your cafeteria or restaurant." At Caffe Umbria, Copus uses an online rewards program, as well as the old standby resource: a punch card, "and customers love both," he says. "Living in an age where coffee drinks can cost more than $ 5 is a wonderful benefit."

Email Campaigns - Email marketing campaigns are low cost and, well done, highly effective in bringing repeat business to restaurant establishments.

Social networks: Social networks are another of the main marketing tools that restaurants use to reach potential and recurring customers. Facebook and Instagram campaigns can also target very specific geographic locations.

Review Platforms: Platforms like Yelp and Google reviews are also effective in attracting customers through their doors. They also provide you with insight into the customer service experience your restaurant offers and provide you with an opportunity to respond to dissatisfied customers that you might never otherwise hear from. Streamline your comment management process with a digest service like Yext.

Coupon and Offer Marketing Sites: Groupon and similar online coupon marketing and offer sites are powerful traffic generators and are especially helpful in attracting new customers who might not otherwise know about your restaurant.

Traditional Advertising: Local radio, newspapers, and direct mail advertising can still be a good value, as can working to gain coverage through event advertising and other public relations efforts.

The bottom line

A successful restaurant operation is made up of many moving parts and we have mentioned several key factors here: menus, costs, Inventory, processes, personnel and growth. The main conclusion is that learning how to manage a restaurant correctly begins with understanding its costs and observing every detail that affects them, such as inventory and process creation, training, and personnel management.

With a solid operation and trained personnel, you are ready to focus on market your restaurant. However, are you ready for the additional demands that growth can bring?

In microoperations, things like sales, pricing, inventory, and staff activity can be managed manually. But, to really prepare for growth, a POS system like Lightspeed Restaurant POS It is an invaluable tool that gives you insight and control over a variety of operational details like ingredient level inventories, automated purchasing, seat management, staff performance, and comprehensive business reporting. . If you've set the stage for growth, it's time to see how a POS system can take it to the next level.

How do you manage daily tasks in your restaurant? Do the processes drive their operation or handle things differently? Does technology play a role? We'd love to hear your thoughts on running a restaurant in the comment section below.

Author: Krista Fabregas

Original article in English:

I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
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