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Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures: What They Are and How to Enforce Them...

You might operate a few convenience stores. Alternatively, you may run hundreds of restaurant locations. In either case, you know what needs to get done and how to do it right to make your business work.

Still, how do you make sure your management and staff are equally competent? The answer is to establish and enforce restaurant standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Keep reading to learn more about what restaurant standard operating procedures are and how to enforce them.

How to Run a Restaurant

You need standard operating procedures to meet today’s challenges and run a restaurant effectively.

Standard operating procedures aren’t complex—they’re simply instructions. They show workers how to complete specific tasks and jobs.

Restaurants, convenience stores, and retail chains all use SOPs. These restaurant procedures and policies bring consistency to operations.

SOPs might include everything from handwashing to daily opening and closing procedures. They may also include how cooks should prepare food.

These instructions enable workers to run your restaurant with quality and efficiency—even when you’re not around. More importantly, SOPs enable you to shape a consistent customer experience.

Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures

When you provide management and staff members with standard operating procedures, everyone can do their jobs better. More importantly, you can keep your customers happier.

For instance, you can provide your store manager with SOPs about daily store cleaning procedures. With this information, they’ll feel more confident they can do their work correctly. This information will also enable your manager to maintain a healthy space that looks good.

If you operate many locations, standard operating procedures will also help your managers meet the expectations of district managers. Similarly, SOPs enable restaurant executives to manage locations more effectively.

Typical Restaurant SOPs

You can make your restaurant’s standard operating procedures as specific as you wish. Again, standard operating procedures can include detailed instructions about how employees are to wash their hands. However, SOPs can also include more task-oriented work.

For example, you might create a standard operating procedure that includes restaurant checklists such as 14 steps highlighting how to shut down the make line at the end of the day. More importantly, SOPs enable you to standardize these kinds of tasks across multiple locations.

Of course, all restaurants are different. Still, there are some standard operating procedures that most businesses share.

Let’s have a look at a few of those SOP tasks.

Gearing up for Business

SOPs for many restaurants might include food safety procedures for preparing, serving, and storing food. They may cover all the steps to ensure that food is prepared and held safely.

These restaurant procedures and policies might also include the tasks employees must complete to open and close your restaurant. This kind of SOP will ensure that your restaurant looks right and is ready for business the next day.

Most restaurants will also develop restaurant checklists for standard operating procedures like pre-rush readiness. This kind of SOP outlines specific tasks workers should complete before an expected rush.

This clear direction enables a more successful operation. It allows restaurants to maximize time and sales.

Managing Resources

Restaurant operators also use SOPs to maintain product quality. For instance, you may have expectations about how your food should look when it’s presented to your customers. Part of your SOP might require managers to photograph prepared dishes to show compliance.

Inventory audits are also usually included in restaurant operating procedures. For example, some stock depletes faster than others. SOPs enable you to standardize your expectations for product replenishment.

Restaurants also develop SOPs to manage shift changes. For instance, the instructions might highlight what task workers must complete before turning over tables to a new shift. This kind of instruction helps set up incoming staff members for a successful day.

Establishing Your Signature Taste

Restaurants also use SOPs to outline standard recipes and food preparation practices. This part of your standard operating procedure should also contain food safety guidelines.

These guidelines are critical for keeping your customers safe. They should also include rules for how to prepare specific dishes.

For instance, suppose you wanted to develop SOPs for soups. Some restaurants require that employees cool soups to 135-degrees before serving them to customers.

You may also have standard operating procedures for your bar if your restaurant serves alcohol. Here, your SOPs would vary based on the menu developed by the head chef.

Defining Service Standards

It’s essential that you develop SOPs for customer service. This instruction would inform managers and workers when and exactly how you want customers to receive service.

Properly handling your customers will help you to keep their loyalty. Over time, it will also help you to increase sales.

For instance, it’s important for customers to feel comfortable as soon as they enter your restaurant. With this in mind, you might develop an SOP that specifies the time limits for greeting and seating customers.

Other Restaurant Procedures to Consider

You can also develop restaurant standard operating procedures for employee onboarding and training. For example, your SOP could outline the training, videos, and paperwork that managers should present to new hires. It might also outline instructions for the steps for performing each task.

It can prove challenging to develop a comprehensive set of standard operating procedures. However, holding managers and employees accountable for SOPs can prove even more challenging.

Enforcing Standard Operating Procedures

For decades, restaurant operators have faced a persistent challenge. It can prove difficult to know what work gets done at multiple locations.

Furthermore, it can prove challenging to ensure that all locations continually follow standard operating procedures. The key to overcoming these hurdles is accountability.

In part, holding managers and employees accountable for specific tasks makes them feel responsible for doing things right. Today, however, you have the luxury of tools that can help you to verify whether work gets done.

Use Technology to Make SOP Enforcement Easier

Savvy restaurant operators have moved away from pen and paper or maintaining massive digests for distributing standard operating procedures. Instead, they’re taking advantage of modern technology.

Now, owners, managers, and field teams can manage stores using their mobile devices. This technology enables them to review key tasks and restaurant procedures at will. More importantly, it enables restaurant leadership to make sure that important tasks get completed every day.

Digital checklists are easier for teams to complete on time. Also, the resulting information is immediately available for owners, managers, and operational leaders to view from anywhere.

Holding Your Staff Accountable

With technology, you can schedule and automatically assign your restaurant operating procedures. For example, a VP of operations might customize digital forms. These forms would then get scheduled and assigned to people as often as needed.

This information might include closing checklists. The VP might send this kind of SOP to store managers each day.

SOPs could also include internal food safety audits. Store leadership may assign this kind of task monthly.

This capability ensures that managers and employees know exactly what needs to get done and when. More importantly, it holds them accountable for doing it.

Show the Way Toward Success

Digitally managing your SOPs gives you another advantage. You can easily attach photo proof to your forms.

This capability enables you to share exactly how to do a good job. For instance, you might include pictures to show staff the outside of a clean store. You can also highlight exactly what makes it look good.

Suppose you want to assign product quality checks. In that case, you can attach a photo of what a high-quality product should look like before presenting it to customers.

Take Advantage of Automation

Automation is another benefit of technology. For example, exceptional restaurant management operations software enables you to automate SOP compliance.

Imagine that an employee didn’t complete a task correctly. The first step toward fixing the problem is identifying it.

However, it’s just as important to make sure that management addresses the issue. When this kind of problem arises, you can easily assign a follow-up task.

Imagine that you ran out of stock of a food item. You could assign a manager with the task of restocking that item by a specific date.

Alternatively, you might find that the temperature of a walk-in freezer is too high. In that case, one of your managers can receive an automated alert, enabling them to fix the problem at once.

Make Use of Data

Still, today’s restaurant management software offers even more benefits. It enables you to take advantage of the resulting data.

Capable restaurant management software can save you from spending hours poring through outdated information on Excel documents. It can help you to make sense of key data in real-time.

With technology, you can instantly identify your restaurant’s most pressing issues. It also allows you to find the most important information quickly.

For example, a certain region might leave too much cash in registers overnight. With technology, you can fix this kind of problem quickly and reduce operational risks.

Getting Started With SOPs

Staff members shouldn’t have to guess about what they should do. Ideally, you’ll want to develop restaurant standard operating procedures to streamline every process of your venue.

A restaurant is a business that must run like a well-oiled machine. You can achieve this outcome with SOPs.

As you develop your SOPs, it’s critical to make sure that they comply with all industry regulations. However, also important to adapt these procedures to meet your restaurant’s signature style.

Putting SOPs Into Practice

It’s important to recognize the transition that will take place as you introduce SOPs to your staff. During this time, you must maintain an open line of communication.

It’s helpful to have regular staff meetings as you roll out your SOPs. During these meetings, you can ensure that everyone knows and understands the new rules. You can also ensure that everyone is clear about their responsibilities.

However, you must also trust your employees. Allow them to take ownership of their jobs.

At the same time, you must establish trust with your employees. You also want to encourage them to ask questions as needed.

Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures Aren’t New

For many years, restaurant operators have relied on paper checklists and field management teams. These are the resources restaurant owners have used to enforce SOPs, and they’ve worked to a degree.

The old ways of doing things aren’t entirely ineffective. Still, there’s little to no accountability using this kind of manual system. It’s also impossible to quickly roll out changes using manual standard operating procedure practices.

Even using phone calls, texts, and emails isn’t enough to get the job done. It’s still impossible to know whether team members are following through with their tasks using these tools.

Innovation in Managing SOPs

As a result, more of today’s restaurant operators are investing in new technology and processes. They help operators to address the challenges presented by manual SOP management.

The right restaurant management software can help you to roll out new SOPs more effectively. It can also empower you to make sure that managers and employees are held accountable for getting things done.

Hopefully, our brief guide has given you a better understanding of restaurant standard operating procedures. Still, how do you find the right software to make managing SOPs fast and easy?

Fortunately, we have the perfect solution.

Get It All Done With One Platform

At FreshCheq, we’re experienced operators. We understand how difficult it can prove to create and enforce restaurant standard operating procedures and food safety policies. It’s our mission to make food safety and restaurant management easier.


FreshCheq is a restaurant management solution made by restaurant operators for restaurant operators. We invite you to see the difference our software makes.

Please feel free to request a free demo today.

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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