There is a restaurant industry labor shortage occurring in North America right now, and many restaurant owners and operators are scrambling to stay fully staffed and operational. If you aren’t able to offer competitive wages and benefits, then you may need to look into other solutions, like increasing your efficiency so you can continue to operate with fewer labor hours.
In my experience, one of the best ways to increase restaurant efficiency is to examine and overhaul your menu. If you have a big menu or one that requires a great deal of prep and significant training in the kitchen, try cutting it down to only your best sellers. Follow the steps below to design a menu that works better for your restaurant.
1. Time how long it takes to prepare each dish
Start by finding out which processes and menu items take the most labor time. If a menu item is slow just because it spends a lot of time in the oven, that isn’t a problem. But if a dish requires your head chef to personally prepare it, and this takes him or her 10 minutes each time, you may need to re-evaluate how much it is costing you.
What menu items use the same prepped ingredients, and which ones have “one-offs'' that need to be prepped separately? Consider how much extra time it costs to prepare the ingredients for that one-off menu item. Does it yield enough revenue to make up for the really long preparation process?
Also remember to ask your staff members about the processes they use for preparing menu items, and where the time sinks are. Your employees spend more time on these specific tasks than you--as their manager--do, and will have a different perspective.
Once you’ve charted how long each menu item takes to prepare (from prepping ingredients to serving it), scan the list for any menu items that take significantly longer to prepare than others and consider removing those items from your menu.
For the menu items you keep, work to standardize them so they are quick to prepare and always prepared the same way.
2. Determine your best sellers and high-profit items
Now that you know how long each menu item takes to prepare, recalculate your labor cost for each item. Then use your new cost per item to determine your high-profit items. Those are the menu items that you want to sell more of, and they should appear more prominently on your menu.
3. Re-organize your menu to make it easy for customers to scan and order (in person, online, and on the phone)
Do you often have customers come up to the counter to order, only to have them stand there for five minutes analyzing everything on your menu? That means it’s not scannable or easy to read.
This could be a problem you see at the front counter, but it could also be happening when someone calls in with a take-out or delivery order, or when the customer is seated at a table and servers have to go back to check on them several times.
The best solution is to look into menu best practices and redesign your menu for quick scanning.
4. Work with your POS vendor to optimize order entry so your cashiers spend less time per order
The longer it takes an employee to enter an order, the more it takes them away from doing something else. Once you’ve cut down your menu, work with your point of sale provider to reorganize the order entry screen.
Having a smaller menu with fewer options will stop your team from spending time searching. You can also take it a step further by using a POS that directs ordering with prompts to allow even new employees to enter an order with lots of customizations without constantly moving between screens.
Customizations can include:
- value meals with a choice of main, side, and drink
- crust types or sizes in a pizzeria
- side selection in a QSR.
Simplifying your menu isn't the only method to increase efficiency in your restaurant. Next week, I’ll be discussing all the ways restaurant owners are making up for labor shortages in the free webinar Doing More with Less: Dealing with a Labor Shortage. I’ll be asking Greg Thomas, owner of Mama Roni’s Pizza, how he creates efficiencies in their restaurants.
Posted on Wed, Jun 30, 2021 @ 07:06 AM.
Updated on July 13, 2021 @ 8:59 PM PST.