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How to Create a Simple, Effective Restaurant Workflow

When we say “workflow,” what do we mean exactly? In simple terms, we're talking about the procedures you put in place in your restaurant. These can have a wide range of applications, because obviously the workflows in your kitchen are going to be different from those within the dining room.

However, all good workflows have two things in common: they’re efficient and they’re predictable.

For efficiency’s sake, if the procedures you put in place aren’t streamlining your tasks and reducing time to completion then they’re probably creating more problems than they’re solving. And if they aren’t predictable and intuitive, then your employees are going to have a hard time learning and practicing them every day. If they’re not simple and streamlined, then things get missed.

Here are the 5 things that a restaurant general manager should do to make your workflows as smooth and effective as possible.

1. Beat Your Staff to the Restaurant

Even if it’s just by a few minutes, being there first goes such a long way not only in preparing for the day but earning the trust and respect of your team. If you get a night drop for your cash, get your banking set up first thing and make sure the registers are fully stocked. Double check the nightly closing checklist and make sure everything is ready for the day.

2. Review the Employee Schedule

Who’s coming in today and for which roles? It’s super important to do this every morning. When you think about all of the tasks that have to be completed that day, plan for who specifically is going to do each of them. Create a simple grid that’s easy for your employees to follow. You may have days when Jake’s the pizza guy and Scott's the dishwasher and everyone knows it. 

Additionally, doing this first thing helps you know when they're supposed to show up because certain things need to happen at a certain time every day. For example, if you run a pizza shop, then you may have a system where all of the dough for the day has to be prepared by 9:00am if you want to have it ready for lunch.

3. Review Your Event Schedule

We’ve all been in that situation where we’ve scrambled to put together parties and events last minute, right? Don’t let it happen again! Take a look at your schedule and check if there are any parties or catering events coming up that you need to prepare for. Is there a big reservation coming that evening? Make sure your team knows and is prepared!

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4. Prepare the Kitchen

Take a look at your kitchen prep for the day and review it with your team members who are responsible for it. Or, if you’re managing a small restaurant, you may be directly responsible for this as well. One rule of thumb we like is to prep 25% more food than needed for a normal shift. 

Doing this would allow us to never have much carry over. It would quickly be gone the next shift. But the real key is to be ready for a normal day plus a little bit more. A successful restaurant is ready for the day before they open so you can focus on the customers when they’re in. 

5. Walk Around the Building 


This is an easy one, but no less important than the others. Take a walk around the dining room, the entranceway, the parking lot--everything the customer sees. If you’ve got an overflowing trash bin outside, take care of it. If the entranceway is muddy, get it mopped. Make sure the customer experiences a clean, satisfying dining outing.

Remember, keep your workflows simple and follow them every day. None of these will help you very much if you’re not keeping up with them every day, week after week. Only when you stick with them do you start to see results from your staff, your customers, and the success of your restaurant

MUST READ: Guide to Successful Restaurant Management and Staff Retention

Everyone in the restaurant industry is dealing with high employee turnover rates.

Everyone in the restaurant industry is dealing with high employee turnover rates. Some may be facing this problem more than others
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