News (english) 21/03 – Why SOPs?

Standard Operating Procedures

– When you start planning of getting a restaurant off the ground and running it, you will most certainly spent time designing outstanding menu items, coming up with ideas for a remarkable atmosphere for your restaurant environment, and thinking about how you want your service staff to spawn an unforgettable guest experience. You probably also learned a thing or two about budgeting, fittings, equipment and procurement, and how to spruce up your menu.

But it is possible that in the middle of the rush of the opening of a restaurant, you did not take the time to formulate and bring to paper how you want things to be done.

In case that event has not happen yet, take a couple of days and establish your SOPs, (Standard Operating Procedures). You will appreciate the steady uniformity within all fields of your business, from effective purchasing to uphold a higher guest satisfaction. And most importantly, it will require much less effort than ever to thoroughly train your staff.

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What are restaurant standard operating procedures?

Often referred to by the abbreviation SOP, a Standard Operating Procedure is exactly what it seems to be. A regulated, uniformed procedure for an individual task in a restaurant.

Your employees are executing SOPs on a daily basis, all the time. When your hostess greets guests, usher them to their reserved table and hand over the menu, they follow a policy that ensures every guest feels a warm welcome, and that shows off your particular character of hospitality.

Every time your chef grills a steak in the kitchen with green peppercorns in a gravy, enrich it with crème fraiche and a dash of French brandy, and bake a potato with sour cream as side dish – that is an SOP at work, too.

It is your restaurant’s specific way of how to prepare a pepper steak so it looks and tastes exactly as you want it to. SOPs help your restaurant run like a swiss watch.

It does not make any sense to take the effort to bring everything to paper as long as it gets dusty lying in a drawer. You must spread the word. SOP’s require both, a substantial documentation as well as great communication and they will have to be implemented and your staff trained accordingly. Rather than just train your employees and assume the everybody knows what and how to do. Miscommunications can happen any time especially in a high volume restaurant. Well-documented SOPs, will be the solid span of your training program.

With a well organized operation you buy yourself free time. If you have got detailed, significant, distinct systems in place, you have the freedom to do the work you always wanted to do before you started your own restaurant.
Be a host, small talk with guests, enjoy cooking at times, and bid your guests farewell after a memorable dinner.

Standard operating procedures are important because they allow you to summarize your intentions and standards for each and every element of your operation and determine every shift runs as flaw- and effortless as possible. Your employees will acknowledge the mutual communication, because the worst thing that can happen is to make many attempts to work out the correct procedure of how to do something in the middle of the busy dinner time on Saturday night.

What can SOPs do for your restaurant?

So many times I hear sentences like I want a particular task done in a particular way, but a lot of my staff members either do not do it that way or they do not know how to do it.

Here is the challenge: most of the time it comes from the lack of training and the fact the the SOPs are not put in practice or underused. If your standards and expectations have not been clearly stated, it is easy for things to go pear-shaped.

Create consistency

It is really useful to have SOP’s in place, even for simple tasks as the service of a Cappuccino. Next to the more complex procedure of the making of a Cappuccino it seems to be easy to serve it.

But how? It comes in a high glass with a long stemmed spoon! But there are still a lot of conciderations:

  • Serve it on a saucer
  • Serve it on a tray
  • Carry with your hand
  • Place it on a napkin
  • Place it with a saucer
  • Put the spoon next to the glass
  • In which direction would the spoon point
  • Put the spoon into the glass
  • Serve it with a straw

Whatever works best for your operation is entirely up to you. The only thing you have to do is to make sure that every employee is aware of the procedure you prefer — and assure that every method is written down. When your expectations are documented, there will be no mess, no misunderstanding, and you will immediately see more consistency throughout all areas of your operation.

Do not forget to involve your employees when writing SOPs!

Write it as a book or individual single page SOPs – assemble task by task and position by position. Either ways it is comfortable and reasonable to make it available on a digital system.

What else can SOPs do for you?
  • Reduce food and beverage cost
  • Decrease waste
  • Improve quality
  • Increase Guest satisfaction
  • Learning by doing
  • Easier problem solving
  • Free some time for you to manage your business
  • Lower staff cost
  • Simplify staff training

To be continued …

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