time management tips for restaurant operators that actually work

Last Updated On January 17, 2020 / Written By Michelle Jaco

Time Management Tips for Restaurant Operators That Actually Work

By implementing effective time management techniques, restaurateurs will greatly improve operational functions, increasing overall productivity. Here are the top tips that actually work.

Time management plays a pivotal role in the overall success of a restaurant, both in terms of customer satisfaction and cost reduction. So, if you have ever operated a restaurant, then you know the countless challenges that come with managing the day-to-day operations. A larger part of this depends on how you schedule these countless tasks and how efficiently you manage your resources.

With so many important tasks, such as inventory tracking and ordering, kitchen staffing, shift keeping, etc., it is critical for management to develop excellent time management skills that will ensure that the business stays afloat and ultimately thrives.

With the power of technology at our helm, it would be wise to utilize such a resource in order to not only boost efficiency but also help minimize the amount of time dedicated to each task.

As Golda Meir so eloquently put it, “I must Govern the Clock, not be governed by it.” No matter the profession or area of the industry you are in, one could argue time is, in fact, of the essence.

So, you need to gain control over your time and that is only possible by developing highly advanced time management skills. Let us now look into some effective time management tips for restaurant managers - and even owners - to help manage time more productively.

Get Rid of Generic Time Management Tools

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For effective time management, you need to start by eliminating the generic time management tools that you have become accustomed to using. The main problem with these dated tools is that they are meant to apply to the masses and lack the customization capabilities that would otherwise be effectively utilized.

As a restaurateur, you seldom experience the luxury of working on a set schedule every day; instead, your schedule likely fluctuates and consistency is hardly ever a daily occurrence.

An ever-changing schedule requires a more advanced and flexible time management tool that lets you enter new tasks while on-the-go.

However, the key to efficient time management is to choose an advanced tool that is custom-designed to overcome the challenges in the food and restaurant industry.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

Stay Organized & Prioritize

At least 9 out of every 10 restaurants in the US employ less than fifty people on their team, made up of hosts, servers, bussers, and cooks mainly.

If you run one of those 9 restaurants, then you know how critical it is for you to manage multiple tasks efficiently, which can be a challenge in itself because proper communication and time management play pivotal roles in the success of each project.

So, you need to know exactly how much time you are required to spend on each task. The best approach would be to have a system that lets you classify your tasks based on its importance, which would definitely help you stay more organized.

No matter how hard you work, time is a commodity and it’s limited, so it’s imperative that you put it to good use. You need a time management tool that lets you configure tasks by priority and sends alerts accordingly.

For example, let’s say that your number one priority for the week is to monitor inventory and restock perishables. Therefore, unrelated tasks, like accounting and sales forecasting should be done at a later time.

By establishing ahead of time what you need to prioritize, you can always shift focus on the most important tasks.

Locate, then Automate

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First, locate your problem areas.

Like most aspects of life, people tend to do what they are most good at well and most likely at an accelerated rate. Conversely, the areas where people struggle most tend to be more time-consuming.

The same concept applies when running a restaurant.

Assigning your chef to take the lead in managing inventory makes sense because he/she deals with recipes and ingredients on a regular basis, whereas putting that responsibility on a host/hostess may prove to be more of a challenging task for them.

So while assigning tasks, it is imperative that you assign it to the most competent resource.

After identifying the problem areas, turn to automation to ease and expedite your practices. You have limited time and multiple tasks that need your attention, so as a restaurateur, you need to pinpoint tasks that consume much of your time and cascade them.

You can do this by doing a pen and paper self-assessment and noting down the time spent on each task. Do this for a week and you would know exactly where you are losing time. Always assign such tasks to someone else, but with a time limit so that the rest of his or her work schedule isn’t affected.

Alternatively, you can rely on technology to automate certain tedious tasks such as scheduling shifts.

Build the Right Team and Schedule Them

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The hiring process in most small and mid-sized restaurants is more need-based rather than skill-based. That is largely due to the high turnover rate in the industry, which can be attributed to the decline in efficiency and resulting in a number of employees being let go.

To tackle this problem, we recommend two measures of action.

Firstly, you need to hire the right people for the job. The “right people” should be made up of associates who are ready and willing to learn.

When individuals possess this type of mindset, they will be more adaptable and inclined to take on the assigned responsibilities. It is also important that in a leadership role, management ensures that they are clear when giving instructions, informing employees of what is expected from them.

Secondly, it is important to schedule employees accordingly while also avoiding employee burnout.

This can only be achieved by tracking the number of hours each staff member is working per shift. Attempting to complete this step manually can prove to be challenging, which is why we also recommend utilizing scheduling software.

With this type of application, employees’ hours worked are tracked automatically. The best types of systems even notify management during the scheduling process when an employee is reaching overtime status.

With all that being said, probably the best feature of these scheduling apps is that they can be accessed and utilized on a mobile device, making it convenient and easy to use while on-the-go.

By applying both of these recommendations, you can save preserve your precious time that would otherwise be lost in resolving disputes, rescheduling shifts, or making a series of calls to find replacement shifts.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

Schedule Purchases

Placing the right orders and ensuring prompt deliveries from suppliers play a critical role in running a restaurant. Any error in order management and order scheduling can have a direct impact on order fulfillment.

The entire process of checking product catalogs, placing orders, and tracking deliveries through phone calls and emails could consume a lot of your workday.

Instead, you could easily save a lot of your time by using a mobile application to schedule and track your purchases. By doing that, you can conveniently oversee your suppliers, skim through their most updated product catalogs, schedule orders, and also keep track of deliveries.

Minimize Calls, Maximize Productivity

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As a restaurant operator, you know the enormous amount of time you need to spend communicating with suppliers and making the right buying decisions. You can easily save up all of that time without hurting your business by finding ways to communicate non-verbally.

There are mobile applications and scheduling tools that allow users to skim through various offers from suppliers in product catalogs and do not require that a single phone call be made to place an order. All you need to do is tap on your mobile phone and check each supplier for product availability and its prices. You can then pick the one offering the best price.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

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Unless you have mastered the art of time management, running a restaurant can be overwhelming. This is especially true when the last-minute time-off requests come pouring in and you need to frantically determine how you will keep all of your shifts covered, while also appeasing as many PTO requests as possible.

Finding replacements and making revisions to the existing schedule are time-consuming tasks and can often ruin any time management plan that you may have already set in place.

However, when you make use of a time management application that allows you to reschedule shifts and find who is available at an accelerated rate.

Communication, if applied effectively, can help save enormous amounts of time, which is otherwise lost making calls or sending emails when trying to resolve a scheduling issue or error.

It is important to stay connected with your employees when it comes to scheduling.

Applications that facilitate internal communication between coworkers and management and allow everyone to communicate on a single platform, making it more convenient for everyone to track the current week’s schedule, swap shifts, and request days off.

Once you start using it, you’d be surprised by how much time is saved just by simply changing the mode of communication.

Simplify Shift Management

The most challenging and time-consuming task that most restaurant operators dread is to plan the workweek for their employees and to keep track of the number of hours that they put in.

Because restaurants experience peak traffic hours during specific times of day, you need to ensure that you have their most efficient staff working during those times.

It’s also important to keep in mind that when scheduling during peak seasons can also have an adverse effect on the functioning of your business if done improperly.

Utilizing available technology like scheduling applications can forecast your busy days and times and then automate the scheduling process to equip your shift times with the best members available.

Unless you have mastered the art of time management, running a restaurant can be overwhelming. This is especially true when the last-minute time-off requests come pouring in and you need to frantically determine how you will keep all of your shifts covered, while also appeasing as many PTO requests as possible.

Finding replacements and making revisions to the existing schedule are time-consuming tasks and can often ruin any time management plan that you may have already set in place.

However, when you make use of a time management application that allows you to reschedule shifts and find who is available at an accelerated rate.


Implement the 15-Minute Rule

As you operate a restaurant, your time management skills may be put to test as there are always those last-minute urgencies that could mess up your schedule. While these urgencies are likely to creep up from time to time, you may still be able to keep up with your schedule by making use of the 15-minute rule.

This 15-minute rule requires you to always allow yourself a gap of at least fifteen minutes in-between every couple of hours, just to accommodate those surprises that may arise. By doing this, you make your schedule more flexible and accommodating.

You can also save time by cutting down on the number of meetings that can occur on a regular basis.

While some meetings are extremely important to maintain transparency within any organization, there are those that can be eliminated. Often, in meetings, one thing leads to another and as a result, you and everyone else lose out on time. So, instead of having those regular meetings, consider keeping the communication brief.

You could always restrict the discussions to those concerned. For example, if you are worried about wastage of inventories, have a quick word with the Chef and the Storage Manager. That would considerably help save your time as well as that of others.


Final Takeaway

As a Restaurateur, it is inherently evident that you must manage your time - as well as that of your employees - as effectively as possible.

By deviating from time-consuming tasks and automating your operation processes, you can achieve the mastery of time management.

Therefore, it is recommended that you make use of employee scheduling applications to manage this Herculean task. Doing that not only helps you make better use of your time, but it also helps you stay more organized to better prepare you for the challenges that often come with managing a restaurant.



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