We are going to do a deep dive into the concept of restaurant shift readiness. Shift readiness is making sure that your restaurant is 100% ready for each meal period from a: cleanliness, stock (FOH/BOH), food taste, freshness, and safety perspective so that you can make the most of your sales opportunity each shift in every location.
Shift readiness is one of the most expensive labor periods for every restaurant and shift readiness activities are undertaken by every restaurant in the country. Getting it right is super important from a sales and profitability perspective.
We are going to go deeper and define shift readiness as the restaurant management philosophy that it is, break it down tactically, and explain how you can achieve it.
One of our clients, Darrin White, said this the other day around Shift Readiness:
We want to be habitually brilliant at the basics. If we do…. we will blow the competition out of the water.
Shift readiness is a restaurant management philosophy that understands how operations decisions affect profitability, accounts for the perishable nature of the meal period, has an absolute focus on maximizing guest satisfaction and sales on a shift-by-shift location-by-location basis.
Shift readiness is more than just a bunch of tasks that you do each day it is management philosophy that guides your decision making and prioritizes your actions to achieve operations success.
Perishable Meal Periods
The hospitality product by definition is a perishable product. There is only one January 10th, 2018 lunch ever in any single location, in the entire history of the world there will never be another. Every day our meal periods expire, like brown lettuce, to never generate us another penny of revenue.
If you only get 1 shot at every meal period, you have to maximize your guest satisfaction, sales, and profits each shift. This is a different way of thinking, good enough just won’t cut it when you only have 1 chance to get it done. Perishability adds a level of urgency to your thinking.
Here is some quick math to illustrate how important every meal period is to your restaurant’s success.
- There are 13 – 28-day accounting periods a year.
- That means that for any period there are on 56 lunch and dinner meal periods.
- Average restaurant profit margin is between 5 to 15%.
- Most restaurants are closer to 5% but for our math, we’ll use 10%
You only have 6 meals periods a month to turn a profit. No do-overs and no second chances!
This equation assumes that all meal periods are equal, which they probably aren’t, but that is ok. The point is, that only a few meal periods a month are going to generate all of your profits for that period. 50 of the lunch and dinners are just going to pay for your costs.
Most importantly – you don’t know which 6 meal periods are going to be the profit generators. Nor are you guaranteed 6 profit generating meal periods, as a matter of fact, you only get the 6 profit generating meal periods if you crush the other 50.
If this doesn’t create some urgency to focus all of your efforts on maximizing each shift opportunity, you are in the wrong business.
You must use this urgency, this perishability, as a motivational battle cry to your managers and your teams. Have we done enough, are we perfect, are we 100% ready? Because if we aren’t then we are going to squander this opportunity and then it’s gone forever.
Every meal period where you fail, where speed of service suffers, where your guest satisfaction is low, where the restaurant isn’t running great, can actually put you in a hole that you then have to dig out of.
Operations Decisions Affect Profitability
Operations are the running of the business, the selling and delivering of food to our customers, they are how we generate sales and profits.
How you operate, the decisions that you and your team are making every day affects your sales, costs, and profits. A lot of the time your team is making decisions that affect your profits and you don’t even know they are making them.
This is the no-accountability trap that so many have all fallen into. We train our teams on how to do their jobs, we have checklists and procedures posted on the wall or on a clipboard in the office, but nobody is using them.
94% of restaurant managers we surveyed said that their teams weren’t following their procedures.
If you aren’t holding your team accountable for following your shift readiness procedures every single shift, then you are allowing your team to decide how to run your business and how much money you should make. Not to rub it in, but your team that isn’t compensated by restaurant profitability, that will go across the street if your business slows down, the same team that has a 73% chance of turning over in the near future is in control of your livelihood when you don’t hold them accountable to working your way.
The profitability equation breaks down like this:
Sales – Costs (labor, food, & fixed) = profits
For this analysis, we can ignore fixed costs because a lot of that is out of the restaurant manager’s control. We are also not going to spend a ton of time diving into controlling food and labor costs as those concepts are pretty well known. We are going to focus most of our conversation on how operations affect sales.
When we talk about labor costs in regards to shift readiness we really want to focus on making sure that the employees that you are paying for are working as efficiently and accurately as possible to achieve your shift readiness goals.
Because of the high turnover in the industry, we also want to focus on minimizing initial onboarding and training time by really focus on must know skills vs. nice to have info and to improve training productivity to get employees generating revenue faster. Check out our blog on increasing productivity here.
When we look at food cost specifically in regards to shift readiness we want to make sure we are practicing FIFO, proper portion control (make sure people are using the right size scoops and spoons and not just grabbing any utensils), and that we are stocking stations to PAR to keep ticket times low.
The single most important thing you can do before each meal period is to taste the food before you serve it to guests to ensure that it is delicious and safe, this will reduce comps and lower food costs.
So much of the shift readiness discussion we are going to be having is how proper shift readiness can positively affect your ability to generate sales and how poor shift readiness can hurt sales.
A restaurant is a lot like a factory, we have meal periods where we are producing goods and selling them. One of the biggest factors for success is that we maximize customer throughput, or speed of service, during the meal period.
Another way to phrase that is we want to serve as many people as we can every meal period and anything that slows down our ability to take their orders, deliver their food, and get them out of the restaurant to make room for the next guest is costing us sales and profits.
Let’s look at a couple of common examples and how poor shift readiness affects sales and customer satisfaction.
When you look at these scenarios, you should immediately see a few patterns:
- Each one of these scenarios negatively affects customer satisfaction and speed of service.
- Every one of these issues was 100% avoidable
These are the types of scenarios that you run into all the time in good enough restaurants but rarely see in great restaurants. None of them are horrible, no one got a finger in their chili, but they erode customer satisfaction and lower sales and profits, it’s death by 1000 cuts.
Are these kinds of scenarios playing out in your restaurants?
How to be Shift Ready Every Shift
The good news is that any restaurant can be 100% shift ready, the key is to hold your teams, at all levels, accountable to work your systems. This was very hard to do in the past but technology has jumped forward, and it is now possible to provide everyone all the data they need to do their jobs, effectively manage and coach right from their phone.
The systems you have already created, the checklists, the procedures, the training will all work and deliver the intended readiness if you can hold people accountable in real-time to using them.
There isn’t a magic bullet to being successful, it is a relentless focus on the basics, of controlling what you can control such as coaching, and inspecting what you expect that is going to deliver the results that you want.
Maximize Customer Satisfaction, Sales, and Profits
It all comes down to this. Every meal period is a new opportunity to take exceptional care of guests, generate sales and profits. The only way you can maximize this opportunity is to be 100% ready to go before customers come into the building.
Making sure that the restaurant is clean and inviting, that you are fully stocked at every station both FOH/BOH so that when you are in the rush you never have to slow down service. Most importantly, that your food is tasty, safe, fresh, and prepared to the recipe.
If you do all these things every shift in every location and your people are friendly and happy to be there. Then your customers are going to get exactly what they expected to get and turn into repeat customers.
The best marketing you can do is deliver on your brand promise in every interaction with your customers.
That is how you organically grow your guest satisfaction, sales and profits. Scroll up and read our case study and be blown away at how much running better operations and being shift ready can do for your business.
Shift readiness is a restaurant management philosophy that understands that every meal period is perishable and that you have to treat it with urgency and respect if you want to be successful, that you/your employee’s operations decisions affect customer’s satisfaction, sales, and profits.
It knows that the only way you can be a profitable restaurant is to maximize every meal period opportunity. It holds ownership responsible to implement the tools that will hold your team accountable for following your systems consistently across all your locations on a shift-by-shift basis.
Every day, in every restaurant, you and your team make a conscious decision to do get 100% shift ready for that meal period and maximize your opportunity or not.
Great restaurants are systematized operations and focus on readiness and service every shift, and good enough restaurants don’t.