In the foodservice and hospitality industry, excellent customer service comes above all else. In light of our extended labor shortages, it may be tempting to adopt a “do the best you can” mentality. But even with fewer workers, the focus must remain the same: quality food, service, and cleanliness for the best customer experience.
The good news is, despite this challenge and the extra work it entails, collectively, the industry is rising to the occasion. According to a recent Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) article, “Doing more with less has become a mantra for the industry.”
And, “Dr. Ben Chapman, department head of Agricultural and Human Sciences, said operators appear to be keeping food safety top of mind even as they find ways to operate more efficiently and with fewer workers. ‘Just having fewer staff doesn’t equate to having more food safety issues,’ he said.” According to Dr. Chapman, it comes to management—this on the coattails of recent post about management driving your company culture, assuming that your manager is committed to leadership as a management style. (For tips on training your GM, visit this post here.)
Though some statistics have shown a slight bump in the restaurant labor pool, the industry is still reeling from the consequences of pandemic restrictions and work culture. Restaurants are benefiting from a commitment to even better service and attention to detail, as demanded by the younger generations, even as their teams are lighter than pre-pandemic numbers.
The best fix for maintaining food safety standards and customer service, according to Dr. Chapman, is menu management. “As restaurants have grappled with labor challenges, many have eliminated some items from their menus, which can reduce some of the burden on staff and ensure they have time to fulfill their responsibilities when it comes to food safety practices, Chapman said. ‘If they are too busy, they have more chance of making mistakes.’”
Menu engineering is the first step to adjusting most anything in your restaurant. Losing money on certain items? Menu engineering. Needing to operate on a smaller staff? Menu engineering. Concerned about quality control? Menu engineering. By reducing items and emphasizing what customers desire, you can better manage your restaurant operations—leaving space for general managers to actually lead instead of micro-manage.
Richard Weil, principal and owner of National Restaurant Consultants (NRC), explains, “The menu engineering process, while it can be lengthy, is one of the most beneficial projects a foodservicce operation can undergo. It has been our experience at NRC, that a minimum of 1.5%-3% COGS improvement opportunity is found in nearly every operation.”
If your restaurant is in need of staff training or menu engineering, consider working with a restaurant consultant on our team. Our decades of expertise combine leadership training with a careful menu engineer’s eye to make the most out of your restaurant business and your team.