Dining excellence: How to improve restaurant operations

Editorial Team

9 min read
Female chef plating meal

Beyond delicious food, attractive ambiance, and excellent service, strategic restaurant operations are what help keep an eatery in business. Some areas of operational management can include staffing, front-of-house and back-of-house management, supply chain logistics, reservation systems, and customer service strategies, all of which impact the guest experience.

There are simple ways to improve each of these areas, such as using a reliable restaurant point-of-sale system. Read on for more ways to enhance restaurant operations and improve your business.

Front-of-house management

Roles of front-of-house staff

Your front-of-house staff are the people who have direct interactions with customers. They provide the first impression of your business and help ensure customers get the service they deserve when they come into your restaurant.

Front-of-house roles and responsibilities include:

  • Host: Welcomes diners, manages reservations, seats customers, coordinates with servers on table availability
  • Server: Greets diners at tables, takes orders, delivers food, attends to guests
  • Manager: Manages hosts and servers, resolves customer issues, supports exemplary service and effective communication with customers

Great front-of-house performance starts with proper training. It may be helpful to have new hires shadow a variety of front-of-house employees, so they get a better understanding of how all the roles work together. A new hire handbook that outlines each role and responsibilities can also be a good reference guide.

Restaurant managers should also frequently check in with those they manage about how employees are adapting to their roles and to quickly address any issues. According to Gallup research, managers determine 70% of the variance in team engagement. Hire managers with excellent communication, problem-solving, and relationship-building skills to improve the teamwork among your employees.

Another way to improve your front-of-house staff performance is to use your restaurant POS to access insights, such as employee sales, tip percentages, and other data. Identify your top performers and talk to them about the strategies they use to deliver excellent customer service. You can promote your top performers to training positions, where they train new servers, and promote their sales and customer service techniques to your entire restaurant staff.

Restaurant ambiance and atmosphere

Restaurant design matters to many diners, especially the more upscale a restaurant is. According to research by Coyle Hospitality Group, restaurant atmosphere was the second-most important factor guests considered when recommending a fine dining restaurant, after food.

Everything from the restaurant layout, to music and lighting, can impact the guest experience. To create a positive first impression, use these tips:

  • Think about your customer demographic and what kind of atmosphere would make them feel most welcome. Use that to influence restaurant design, furniture, lighting, and music.
  • Prioritize a clean restaurant. Cleanliness impacts the restaurant atmosphere, as a recent study by P&G Professional found 93% of Americans think it’s important to see a visibly clean restaurant when they’re dining.
  • Create a functional floor plan. Make sure it’s easy for hosts and servers to move among tables efficiently, especially  when delivering food.

You can also use your restaurant’s ambiance to help spread the word about your business. For example, some restaurants will create a photo opportunity within the restaurant, such as a phrase lit up on a wall near the entrance or a beautiful backdrop that’s easy to stand in front of. This gives diners who use social media an attention-grabbing spot to shoot photos or videos for social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok.

Staff who see diners taking photos can encourage guests to tag the restaurant on their social media channels. You can then engage with and/or repost guest content on your restaurant’s social media channels to help increase your brand reach.

Back-of-house management

Kitchen operations

It’s important to have a well-organized and efficient restaurant kitchen layout so your back-of-house staff can access what they need, easily communicate with each other, and prepare food orders quickly and accurately. Kitchen staff roles may include diverse titles such as prep cook, sous chef, and executive chef. In your kitchen design, envision where each station will be, so that it’s easier for your team to work well together and access the tools and ingredients they need quickly.

In addition to layout, facilitating clear and speedy communication between the front-of-house and back-of-house is key for restaurant kitchen efficiency. A POS system that has built-in inventory management features can help your staff quickly identify when you need to 86 certain menu items due to shortages. It can also trigger automatic inventory ordering, so you don’t run out of ingredients in the first place.

Quality control and consistency

With more transparency into restaurant operations due to customer review sites, it’s important to deliver a consistent experience for every customer, which also includes the quality of food that’s going out. Create a thorough training program for kitchen staff so they feel confident using the tools and ingredients available in the kitchen.

Using standard operating procedures for restaurants can also help you improve the quality and consistency of what your kitchen is preparing. Regular audits and inspections into kitchen operations can help ensure staff are using consistent food preparation methods. Using a food expeditor, or expo, during busy times can also help you ensure order quality before meals go out to tables.

Supply chain logistics

Sourcing high-quality ingredients

Food quality is the number one reason why diners recommend a restaurant, according to Coyle Hospitality Group. To get better ingredients at better prices, it’s important to build effective relationships with suppliers.

Your kitchen staff and ingredient intake team should also check ingredients to ensure quality and consistency. If you notice frequent quality issues with a certain supplier, finding one that’s more reliable can help you enhance the overall value of your menu items.

Inventory management and reducing food waste

Food waste can become a big expense for restaurants that don’t have proper inventory management. You can use your restaurant POS tool for accurate inventory tracking and easier ordering of supplies, so you stay stocked with what you need and can see data that reveals inventory insights.

As we covered in our food and nutrition literacy guide for restaurants, you can also optimize costs by implementing strategies to minimize waste at restaurants. These might include:

  • Tracking sales trends to avoid over-ordering
  • Adjusting a menu to decrease the total amount of ingredients you’re using, so there are fewer ingredients to manage
  • Using leftover items, such as vegetable peelings, to create stocks and soups
  • Creating daily specials that include need-to-use ingredients

Another way to reduce food waste is to look at plates when diners are finished. If you notice certain menu items typically aren’t finished, you can reduce portion sizes and save money in the process.

Restaurant sustainability practices

Sustainability is important to more diners today than ever before. Research from Restaurant Dive found 56% of diners want restaurants to promote eco-friendly strategies more, while 43% of diners would pay more to a restaurant that prioritizes sustainability.

Some ways to practice and highlight sustainability efforts in a restaurant include:

  • Sourcing ingredients and supplies from local vendors to decrease an environmental footprint and transportation requirements
  • Using eco-friendly packaging for to-go boxes and leftovers packaging
  • Collecting data on your restaurant’s waste reduction strategies. Communicate achievements on the restaurant’s website and in marketing campaigns, such as social media
  • Including sustainability as part of your restaurant vision and mission
  • Featuring several vegetarian and plant-based menu items

If your restaurant wants to get involved with community outreach and philanthropy, you can also focus on supporting causes with a sustainability focus. Diners who are considering various options may choose one with a clear sustainability focus over another.

Reservation systems

Another part of improving restaurant operations is to streamline the restaurant reservation system and make it more efficient. A restaurant reservation system can help with enhancing the customer experience by:

  • Making it easy to book a table
  • Allowing customers to modify reservations
  • Giving front-of-house staff, especially hosts, clarity into open tables for walk-in customers
  • Optimizing table turnover with better scheduling and planning

With the right restaurant POS, you can integrate various online booking platforms, mobile applications, and technology directly in your system, so both external customers and your restaurant staff can access the same information. This makes it simple for customers to book your open tables and for your staff to manage seating diners and wait times in the restaurant.

Customer service strategies

Anyone who interacts with customers should be trained on the importance of a customer-centric approach. According to Coyle Hospitality Group research, staff attitude impacts at least one-third of diners’ likelihood to recommend a restaurant, so staff-customer interactions can play a big role in your operational success.

To improve restaurant operations in how you interact with customers, train staff to:

  • Greet diners in a friendly manner
  • Be knowledgeable about the restaurant, so they can provide accurate answers to questions
  • Know when to escalate issues or contact management to get additional information
  • Handle customer complaints and take feedback effectively
  • Drive sales and customer loyalty through personalization methods and by recommending loyalty programs and customer rewards

First-time customers are more likely to turn into repeat customers when they’re treated well by your staff. Employees should strive to create memorable experiences by greeting customers by name based on reservations, by recommending complementary dishes based on customers’ preferences, and by exuding a positive and friendly attitude throughout all customer interactions.

Running your restaurant is easier with the right tools

Technology can help you run your restaurant more efficiently, which makes it easier for your staff to do their jobs more effectively and accurately. This improves the dining experience for customers, which can lead to more diners becoming loyal and repeat customers who refer your business to others.

Your restaurant POS can help you improve operational efficiency. With restaurant POS technology, you can use features such as:

  • Table mapping
  • Order firing to the kitchen display system
  • Payment acceptance
  • Online ordering
  • Employee management
  • Sales tracking and insights

Whatever type of restaurant you have, from quick service, to food truck, to formal dining, Clover restaurant POS solutions can help.

Why wait? Get started with a Clover POS system today to elevate your business.

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