One of the best things you can do for your restaurant is to make it more efficient. A restaurant that runs more efficiently will cost less money, generate more revenue, take less effort, and even have a reduced impact on the environment. It’s going to be more successful than its inefficient counterpart, and it will develop a better reputation as well.

The question is, what steps can you take to make a restaurant more efficient?

Identifying Areas of Inefficiency

Your first goal will be identifying the areas in which your restaurant is inefficient. These can manifest in several areas, including:

  •         Wasting energy. First, you could be wasting energy. If you leave the ovens on too long, use old-school incandescent lighting, or occupy too large a space, you could be utilizing far more energy generation resources than are warranted.
  •         Wasting materials. You could also be wasting materials. For example, you could be throwing away too much food because of improper storage or preparation techniques, or you could be creating too much paper waste from the way you serve.
  •         Wasting time. Most businesses suffer from wasting time, whether they realize it or not. They refuse to upgrade to a better kitchen management system, and they don’t have a good sense for how employees can work in the most productive way possible.
  •         Wasting money. You may also be wasting money in your business, spending too much for common materials and resources, or paying for things you don’t really need.

Once you identify a potential problem, you can work proactively with your team to fix it.

Key Strategies for Restaurant Efficiency

These are some of the most important high-level strategies to use when improving your restaurant’s efficiency:

  •         Create a culture that values efficiency. One of your first strategies is creating a work culture that prioritizes efficiency. Make it clear to your employees that you want to run a “tight ship,” with efficiency as an overarching goal. Train your leaders to embody efficiency and teach your employees to work as efficiently as possible. Instruct everyone about the four forms of waste that exist and teach them to be on the lookout for key ways to improve.
  •         Establish an incentive program for employees. Merely knowing about the importance of efficiency may not be enough to encourage your employees to act. To motivate them further, consider establishing an incentive program for employees. Encourage them to make suggestions about ways the business can improve, and reward them for doing so. For example, you could encourage employees to submit new ideas for higher efficiency on index cards and give a $100 cash bonus to the best idea of the month.
  •         Meet with the team often. Host weekly team meetings to get a better feel for how the restaurant is running. Give everyone a chance to speak about what they think is going well (or going poorly) and provide new direction or instructions whenever necessary.
  •         Keep track of waste. If you’re going to solve an inefficiency, you first need to know that the inefficiency exists. That’s why one of your highest priorities should be keeping track of waste in your organization. For example, how much food are you throwing away on a regular basis? How much electricity and natural gas is your restaurant using? How do these metrics compare to the baseline for the industry? Are there easy or convenient ways you could improve these figures?
  •         Make smart upgrades. You can easily improve the energy efficiency of your restaurant by making smart upgrades to appliances and other items that use energy. For example, you can replace the light bulbs in the building with LEDs and you can upgrade the ovens to more energy efficient, modern models.
  •         Adopt the right software. It’s also important to use the right software for your restaurant, including POS software, kitchen management software, and financial management software. Better software will help you stay better organized, and may help you track your costs and income so you can better understand how your business is running. Also, if you’re working with an inefficient or “bad” app, you could end up spending way too much time on it. Easier systems to learn are much more time efficient.  
  •         Measure ROI wherever possible. Your return on investment (ROI) is a measure of how much value you get out of something, whether it’s employee hours spent, marketing dollars spent, or a critical investment (like equipment). Measure and review your ROI wherever possible to get a better sense of each investment’s efficiency.

Improving the efficiency of a restaurant isn’t a one-time process; it’s a strategy you’ll need to follow consistently over the course of months, if not years, if you want to see results. Remain consistent in your values, keep making upgrades, and eventually, your restaurant will be operating at peak efficiency.