While the pandemic has affected every business decision restaurant operations managers have made in the past year, it’s never too early to look beyond the current crisis and think about what challenges you’ll soon face – if not already. Here are five of the biggest challenges facing restaurant operations managers, along with some ideas for how to best meet them.
As of February 2020, the restaurant industry was the second largest private employer in the U.S., with over 60% of adults and 70% of millennials having worked in the restaurant industry at some point, and 1 in 3 Americans getting their first job experience in a restaurant. However, getting and retaining good employees is an ongoing challenge for today’s industry. Ways to decrease turnover include flexible scheduling and developing both mentoring programs and feedback mechanisms. These help employees feel valued.
Instituting these programs becomes much easier when you add a digital, mobile audit solution to your restaurant operations. When your management team and employees are all connected through the same mobile system, managers are able to maintain and encourage communication with their employees. Feedback from employees provides a different perspective that can often help create positive change. Involving them in efforts to improve productivity will increase their engagement and loyalty to the company, especially if new processes based on their insights help make their jobs easier.
Employee training has become more complicated in the pandemic era, when remote training has been prioritized. Much like your retention program, your employee training program becomes a lot less complicated when you house it in a digital, mobile solution. Today’s average employee is used to learning in a digital, video format; today’s audit apps streamline training tasks, shifting the emphasis from memorizing procedures to online learning modules that include short videos, slide shows, and mobile-accessible online quizzes.
The key to optimizing your training program is developing online onboarding for each position across your organization, then training employees to handle the problems they’ll see most frequently. You uncover these opportunities for improvement through aggregated audit data, which can be used to develop refresher courses on the skills and techniques proven to maximize productivity. This also better positions managers to help employees learn to proactively identify and solve problems on site.
3. Slim Profit Margins
Making money in the restaurant industry has never been easy, but it’s become even more complicated in the COVID era. Many restaurant operations managers are looking for ways to do more with less, including developing a menu that decreases the total number of ingredients while placing high-margin items front and center and adding new income streams through DIY meal kits, expanded catering options, or offering branded products for retail sale.
Expanding some aspects of your operations while simultaneously limiting others places a heavy responsibility on your operational checklists. Are dishes correctly portioned, or packaged so as to arrive hot after delivery? Are your kits and other retail offerings going out properly branded? A digital restaurant kitchen checklist app makes it quick and easy for employees to keep up with all procedures and checklists; they can fill them out with a few swipes and taps, even adding product photos to confirm line checks, for instance.
Digital apps also support those who oversee these checklists by consolidating all checklist and audit data from every shift and every location into one dashboard in real time. Anyone who needs to check up on a checklist can do so at any time from their phone. When remedial action plans are needed, the digital format makes the plans not only easy to create and assign, but quick to complete, including automatic task reminders and completion notifications.
4. Evolving Customer Expectations
Speaking of action plans, what is their purpose, beyond safety and compliance? It’s to develop and maintain the consistent level of service and quality that your customers expect from every location in your chain. Making guests comfortable and ensuring a good experience is more complicated in 2021 than it used to be, but it certainly isn’t any less important to the success of your business.
Through the digital checklist app, you can emphasize customer service and branding in your online training. Then, as the completed checklists, audits and procedures are recorded on the dashboard, you can use that clear summary to identify and take action on any issues that arise before they become serious. This paves the way for all your locations to develop and maintain the high-quality, consistent customer experience that encourages repeat business.
But that’s not all. The best audit apps offer enterprise-wide analytics reports that make it easy to identify best practices in one successful location so they can be recreated in others. It becomes much easier to bring individual locations in line with brand and operational standards, while at the same time identifying previously hidden opportunities.
Adopting the latest technologies is both necessary and confusing in today’s restaurant industry. Restaurant operations managers must consider adopting and maximizing technological advances such as mobile ordering, order tracking, self-service check-out, fully integrated POS and kitchen queue systems, advanced loyalty programs – and, of course, restaurant audit apps. The one thing all these solutions have in common is their ability to increase agility within restaurant operations, which is essential to preparing for a challenging future.
The best checklist solution for your restaurant operations should be easy and cost-efficient to deploy, simple for everyone in your organization to use, and easy to update. MeazureUp is a digital solution that gets all your restaurant kitchen checklists off of paper and into a cloud-based, mobile format. All forms and all details relating to every checklist are saved together and easily accessible by anyone in your organization with a smartphone. The second any action is taken, it is automatically stamped with the time, location and employee name, which eliminates the possibility of pencil whipping, builds in accountability for each employee, and ensures the right actions are taken on time, every time.
Where to Start
Restaurant operations managers must remember that we’re still just beginning with the “new normal.” No one knows what next year or even next week will bring — but your operations must be ready to adapt. In the interim, you must run your business with efficiency and with care for your employees. To learn more about how MeazureUp can help your restaurant adapt and thrive, contact us today.