Operating a restaurant is not for the faint of heart. There are always 1000 things to do at the same time, and you can never take your eye off the ball. Still, there is hope! It can be a fun and very rewarding business to be in if you find the right tools and learn how to use them. Some of these tools are old school #2-pencil-and-a-clipboard systems and some are powerful software solutions that can free up your time and tighten up your operations.
#1 – Scheduling Software
Labor management is one of the most time-consuming tasks of a restaurant manager. The new generation of scheduling software simplifies the process and makes it more user friendly for staff and managers. The best software helps you build and use schedule templates based on projected sales, stores staff members’ availability, and allows for permission based shift-swapping. You can print out a schedule to hang on the wall and easily text or email the entire staff at the same time. Employees can use an app to check their schedule or request time off. With integration into your POS system you can prevent early clock-ins, and get a picture of scheduled vs actual labor to better manage your labor costs.
#2 – Table Management and Reservation Software
Whether or not you take reservations, using a software system to track your tables will help you to fill and turn tables more efficiently increasing revenue for your restaurant. You can gather customer data for marketing campaigns. You’ll be able to provide better service by tracking what your regulars (or quasi-regulars) like all in one place. Many programs let you sell advance tickets to special events such as wine tastings or chef dinners.
#3 – Social Media Management Software
Having a strong social media presence is key for restaurant marketing. There are so many sites and places to post that it’s difficult to keep track of where you’ve posted what and when, let alone how to keep doing it in a consistent way that will build your following. Using a scheduling platform, you can log into all of your accounts and schedule posts well in advance on every social media site. You can also use the built-in analytics to evaluate how your posts are doing and make changes to your strategy to improve your reach and engagement.
#4 – Line Check Form
One of our favorite clipboard systems, the line check lists every item on the line needed for service in order from one end of the line to the other. It should include the proper holding temperature and quality guidelines. Before every meal period a manager should go down the entire list, tasting every item as they go, checking temperatures, and noting anything that is out of place or not up to quality standards. This is the easiest and best way to ensure consistent food quality and safety every single day. The line check prevents any surprises in the middle of service, like that time the new prep cook used sugar instead of salt in the marinara. You catch all the mistakes and have time to fix them before you even start service.
#5 – Theoretical Cost Analysis
You may know what your actual food cost is, but do you know what it should be? The theoretical cost analysis combines your food cost, menu prices, and actual sales data pulled from your POS system to calculate exactly what your food cost should be. If you’ve been working on your kitchen manager to bring down food cost to 27%, but your menu is designed to deliver 29% you are barking up the wrong tree. The theoretical cost analysis is the gateway to engineering your menu to increase profit, as it helps you identify your most profitable and most popular items, as well as the poor performers that need to be fixed up, or moved off the menu. If you don’t do this step, you will never control your food cost or your profits.