Restaurant Service Standards: 4 Ways to Get the Best From Your Staff

By: David Scott Peters

4 Minute Read

Jan 25, 2017

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restaurant service standards

You play a very important role in your restaurant - a role no one else can play. That’s the role of the owner.

As the owner - right or wrong - your management team and line employees must follow your standards. Additionally, you must follow up with your staff to make sure your standards are being followed.

Managing your restaurant staff can get overwhelming when your business takes off. You find yourself asking these questions

  • How do you set the restaurant service standards in your restaurant?
  • How can you make sure restaurant service standards are being met?
  • How do you ensure the process is working?
  • How can you do everything required without micromanaging your restaurant management team?

Believe it or not, it's easy! You simply define your standards, use systems, follow up, and have a willingness to hold your management team accountable. Upon following these four steps, you'll come to a better owner, communicator, and restaurateur.

1) Document Your Standards

Whether it is plate presentation, cleanliness, customer service, or anything else that goes on in your restaurant, you must document your standards. As a restaurant owner, if you don't clearly communicate what your standards are, you can’t expect your team to read your mind. That won’t work.

If you want to make your standards 100% clear, walk your restaurant and write down everything that drives you nuts when it’s not done to standards. You can even go so far as to use photos to clearly communicate your expectations, like plate presentation or table setting. Work all of your standards into all collateral you use to communicate to your staff, including management checklists, front-of-house and back-of-house checklists, and all position training materials.

2) Implement Systems

I teach restaurant owners how to use food, beverage, and labor systems for a more efficient and profitable restaurant. Daily paperwork, recipe costing cards, purchase allotment, and labor allotment are just a few examples. Heck, even checklists count as a systems.

Once you have your systems in place, put together a training program and/or system for you to remember to follow up and check that your standards are being trained and executed.

3) Follow Up

This and the next step are the two most important steps. Even if you document, train, and are in your restaurant every day, you need to follow up with your staff when it comes to the standards you have put in place.

If you don’t follow up to see that everyone is doing their job to your standards, you’ve gained nothing but a lot of worthless paperwork. Checking to see that your management team and line employees are doing things the way you want them done for every aspect of the business is critical to your restaurant’s success.

4) Hold Your Managers Accountable

Restaurant owners can easily hold a line employee accountable. If a line employee messes up, owners - for the most part - find it easy to write them up and possibly fire them because they are not performing to the set standards. But when a manager makes a mistake, he or she is given chance after chance after chance, and often nothing more than a heart-to-heart conversation ever takes place.

This is not the right way to do things. All staff members - including your restaurant's managers - should be written up just like anyone else in your organization. In fact, I might say even more so than line employees. Your management team is supposed to run the operation the same way you would when you are not there. In times like these, they are the leaders. If they set bad examples, your line employees will lower their performance standards to meet what you allow from management.

Instead, if a manager does not meet expectations and needs to be written up, do so. You will find out very quickly if that manager wants their job or not. If they do, they will probably never be written up ever again. If they don’t, they will either quit quickly or get written up again soon after hoping you will fire them. Either way, you will know pretty quickly and will have set the tone that you are serious about your standards being met.

How Do You Set Restaurant Service Standards?

These are the four steps you need to follow to set the standards – and make sure they’re being met – in your restaurant. If you don't clearly document your expectations, take the initiative to implement these systems, follow up with your staff, and hold your team leaders accountable, these standards will never be set or enforced.

For the sake of your restaurant's future, take the time to plan and implement the standards that will help your staff thrive.

What restaurant service standards do you have in place at your restaurant? Let us know in the comments below!

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