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How To Write Restaurant Shift Notes (Template Included)

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Tessa ZuluagaAuthor

“Dear diary,

Today the barback no-showed, we ran out of croutons, and sold 14 specials. I’m hoping shift change goes over smoother tomorrow.

Best,

Toasty Cafe Manager”

Okay, maybe you’re not writing about your daily shifts in your diary. But you should be recording what goes on every day in an end-of-shift report. Restaurant shift notes function as a logbook for your management team. They enable your restaurant managers to stay in the loop, while also providing them with a past log to help prepare for future shifts.

In this article we’re going to break down what shift notes are, why you should be using them, and provide some templates your team members can use.

Ready? Let’s get into it.

What are restaurant shift notes?

Restaurant shift notes are an ongoing log that includes important updates, details, and data from every shift. These are notes that your daily opening and closing (depending on whether you have a morning shift or not) managers are required to log. The point is to log everything that happened in one shift.

Why are restaurant shift notes important?

Restaurant shift notes are important for two main reasons:

1. Communication - Some restaurants have two managers while others have eight. Regardless of the size of your restaurant, strong communication can make all the difference. Shift notes are logs each manager is expected to review at their shift start. This way, they know what’s going on and can effectively relay information to the staff in the pre-shift meeting.

2. Documentation - This log enables you to make the next shift better by seeing where mistakes might have been made in the past. For example, if on the 4th of July the year before you overstaffed the restaurant you can learn from that and make changes for this year. This is especially nice for tracking inventory and knowing when you might have to order a little more than usual.

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How do you write a daily shift report?

What program you choose to log your shift notes is up to you. However, here are some popular formats restaurants have success with:

  • Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets - Add your shift notes template to an ongoing spreadsheet that all management has access to. Make sure this can be easily shared and always gets saved.

  • Microsoft Word/Google Docs - Add your shift notes templates to an ongoing document that all management has access to. Make sure this can be easily shared and always gets saved.

  • Shiftforce - This is a communication app to streamline your team communication and create and assign tasks all within our program. 

What should you include in your shift notes?

There are a few important details to include in all your shift notes.

  • Reporting - After you print out your daily shift report, add all data to your shift notes. This should include information like sales, tips, compensations, and labor costs. This should be the easiest part because your POS system should already have all this information ready for you.

  • Employee trends - Unfortunately, keeping track of misconduct from staff members is part of a restaurant manager’s job. When a member of your restaurant staff gets written up, shows up late, or misses a shift schedule it’s important you log it. Likewise, it’s also a great practice to include wins among your staff. For example, your log might say something like: “Toasty server got written up for a uniform violation. But, Toasty bartender set a record for sales on the back bar on a Thursday night.” A successful restaurant celebrates wins to increase employee retention!

  • Menu insights - As previously mentioned, shift notes can be an effective tool for keeping track of inventory and menu patterns. Logging information on what specials sold well, what menu items have been reoccurring stars (high profitability, high popularity), and which items aren’t selling at all. This is a great tool for your back of house staff that need to track patterns for menu creation.

  • Weather patterns - We know that the weather impacts restaurants. So including details on what the weather was like can be useful for future purposes. For example, some restaurants get absolutely swamped during snow storms and others have no reason to stay open in the first place. Being able to predict how your restaurant business will perform is a huge plus of shift notes.

  • Holiday details - Similar to the weather, restaurants’ sales vary during holidays. Logging information on holiday specials, sales, and staffing can help better plan for future holidays!

For more information and ideas, check out this article on 7 creative ways to use your restaurant manager's daily logbook.

Restaurant shift notes template

To stay organized, it’s best to have a shift report template so your managers don’t forget to add details. Consider the following form templates.

Date:

Opening manager:

Closing manager:

Food sales:

Liquor sales:

Beer sales:

Wine sales:

Total gross sales:

Total discounts/compensations:

Net sales:

Total tips:

Total cash in bank:

Staff notes:

Kitchen notes:

86s:

Specialty notes:

Misc:

Manager sign-off:


Or if you choose to include your sales report as an attachment you can use a simpler template like this:

Date:

Manager name:

Staff notes:

Kitchen notes:

86s:

Specialty notes:

Misc:

Want to learn about using a manager’s logbook with Toast?

If you’re a Toast customer, check out this article to get started using the manager logbook.

If you're not already a customer, request a demo of Toast to learn about the manager logbook feature, as well as the customer database and other features that'll help you improve restaurant operations and wow your employees.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.