Restaurant quality control is one of the top secrets of the biggest names in the food and hospitality industry. Disciplined Quality Assurance practices have enabled many food companies to build a stellar reputation, raise their customer satisfaction ratings, and massively grow their revenues.
However, while restaurant owners are aware of the importance of quality assurance, most are unsure how to implement these measures in their establishments.
In this article, we cover the benefits of implementing quality assurance checks in your food establishment. For restaurants with control measures, we also discuss how you can improve your effectiveness and staff productivity.
What is Restaurant Quality Control?
Restaurant quality control is a process that guarantees consistent, top-tier service across all departments in an eatery. Quality control in restaurants affects several areas, including food presentation, storage, ingredient quality, food safety practices, staff and environmental hygiene, and premise decoration/maintenance.
For restaurateurs, having a structured quality assurance system is vital for maintaining consistency and retaining customers. Furthermore, this practice comes in handy in the event of an external audit by your local or state health department.
Why Top Restaurants Incorporate Quality Assurance Practices
For years, the restaurant industry has been one of the largest and most diverse employers of labor. For example, in the United States, 49% of food service employees are from minority groups. This means that a typical eatery has a workforce with individuals having different educational, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. The top eateries understand how this heterogeneity can impact customer satisfaction ratings, hence the need for strong quality management practices in restaurants.
The impact of restaurant QA on the profitability of leading businesses in this industry cannot be overstated. Here are some reasons why this practice separates the best from the rest.
Builds Brand Reputation
For restaurateurs, the first hurdle is to attract new visitors. However, that’s just the beginning. Next, and arguably even more critical, is guest retention. That’s why, according to reports released by the National Restaurant Association, 70% of eateries now offer a loyalty program to their customers in 2023. Considering that this figure is up by 13% from the previous year, it means that most businesses are highly focused on keeping guests happy and getting them to revisit often.
While loyalty programs are a brilliant incentive for retaining guests, they may not achieve the anticipated impact if your food business is not known for delivering tasty meals and top service. Restaurant quality assurance is a sure-fire way to organically build your eatery’s reputation. The best marketing strategy is to provide stellar service consistently, and incorporating this measure ensures you can accomplish this task.
Guarantees Customer Safety
Beyond its impact on a company’s bottom line and reputation, restaurant quality control helps guarantee that your guests are safe. One of the challenges with operating an eatery is ensuring that food is handled correctly and the environment is sanitized.
Since the pandemic, visitors have become extra vigilant about healthcare practices in restaurants, and companies are now using checklists such as the Allergen Checks, Canteen Hygiene Inspection, and the Restaurant Deep Cleaning Daily Inspection. These step-by-step guidelines help to ensure that customers are protected from the harmful effects of germs and contamination.
Optimizes Running Costs
Every restaurant manager understands the importance of properly allocating limited resources for maximum results. Quality control in restaurants helps guarantee that every investment into your business yields a minimum standard of results. Whether it’s increased staff numbers, new kitchen equipment, or improved decor, you can rest assured that it will meet your brand standards and represent value for money.
Boosts Customer Satisfaction Ratings
Quality management in restaurants sees to it that your ingredients are always fresh, meals are well-prepared, customer service is top-notch, and your decor is alluring. These aspects of service are vital to guest satisfaction, and getting them right can guarantee you the best ratings. Because there are over 138,000 full-service restaurants in the U.S. for clients to choose from, the competition is ever-growing, and visitor standards are getting higher. Nevertheless, you can set and maintain your benchmark based on contemporary best practices by adopting strict restaurant quality standards.
Critical Areas of Restaurant Quality Control
Understanding the need for implementing quality control measures is essential. However, restaurateurs must also be aware of the critical aspects of service to focus on in drafting quality assurance standards for their food service business. Although no segment of an eatery’s routine operations can be considered irrelevant, there are some key areas that must not be ignored when designing your restaurant checklists.
The quality of your food is directly connected to the efficiency of your supplier. It is critical to examine if your suppliers meet your required quality standards, for example with specific checks for Food Receiving.
Additionally, you should verify that your suppliers have the correct quality controls in place on their end. Do they take the necessary measures to guarantee that your food items and other essential products are up to standard? You may find it helpful to use checklists, such as the Supplier Audit Checklist for Food Industry, Food Supplier Audit Checklist, and Supplier Quality System Audit Checklist, that can simplify this process and guarantee the best outcomes.
Food Storage Procedures
Improper storage of food products can lead to loss of profits and customers. Regardless of the condition of your products when they arrive from the supplier, failure to adequately preserve these items will have a detrimental effect on your overall customer ratings. Therefore, it is vital to have quality standards to ensure correct food storage.
Another area that your restaurant quality control checklists should address is the quality of your food ingredients. Good food is arguably the most popular reason why people patronize any eatery, and cooking with ingredients that are in peak condition can ensure that your meals always taste sumptuous. Your quality assurance checks must certify that cooking items are sourced from the most reputable suppliers. Furthermore, they must ascertain that these materials are in their best state at their time of use.
Hygiene and Cleanliness
Poor hygiene standards expose your guests to health risks. Also, you could risk a temporary or permanent shutdown if you’re found guilty of failing to meet the minimum required standards for food service businesses set by your local health department. This is why you must incorporate sanitation checklists addressing employees and food contact surfaces. Examples of such checklists include the Restaurant Deep Cleaning Checks, Daily Bar Cleaning Checklist, Daily Commercial Kitchen Cleaning Checklist, or the Food Safety Hygiene Checklist.
Ambiance and Decor Quality
The ambiance of your dining area is one of the many factors guests will consider when rating your restaurant. Having minimum acceptable standards for decor and furnishing can help tip the scales in your favor in a dog-eat-dog restaurant industry. Quality control in restaurants should take into account the importance of the eatery’s appearance and can be supported with detailed maintenance and cleaning checklists.
Guests will always interact with your employees from the front door to the counter and the tables. No matter their specific roles, all staff must be well-trained to treat clients with extreme courtesy and promptly respond to their requests. Restaurant quality control measures must ensure that your servers, janitors, bartenders, and other employees maintain exceptional customer service across all branches. An excellent way to determine the effectiveness of your quality assurance measures for customer service is with a mystery shopper checklist.
How to Improve Restaurant QA and Increase Workplace Efficiency
Although quality control in restaurants is a new concept to many business owners, many eateries already have quality assurance measures in place. However, these practices can constantly be fine-tuned to yield better results. Here are some steps to maximize the impact of your eatery’s quality control and enable your workers to produce peak output.
Define Brand Standards and SOPs
Brand standards are the bedrock of restaurant quality control. This is especially important when operating across several locations, to ensure a customer experience consistent across all sites. Businesses without well-defined standards can’t implement standard operating procedures or effective quality management protocols. Food service businesses that wish to create or refine their workplace practices must clearly state brand standards that will guide all operational activities. Build clear restaurant standard operating procedures and translate them into easy-to-follow checklists for each role.
Incorporate Top-Rated External Standards
Before you modify your quality assurance measures, you must re-evaluate your brand standards and compare them against the leading names in the hospitality industry. There are many top external standards from reputable organizations that you can comply with using checklists. A typical example of a valuable checklist for compliance with external best practices is the Forbes Standards: Hotel Dining Checklist. Any upgrade in your brand standards will inadvertently lead to better quality control practices across all departments in your business.
Receive Feedback from Customers and Staff
Third parties are always an excellent source of information. Individuals who can provide a fresh perspective on your daily activities can be valuable in identifying areas for improvement in your restaurant’s quality control measures. You can conduct a mystery audit to get honest reviews about your restaurant’s quality of service. Also, you can directly ask your employees to share bottlenecks that affect their efficiency. This step can help you provide bespoke solutions and tailor your quality management activities to your business situation.
Make Staff Training Easy
Ultimately, your employees will be responsible for following your restaurant’s SOPs and ensuring consistent quality of service. A vital part of quality control is ensuring that all staff are adequately trained to understand your brand standards.
Frequent staff training guarantees exceptional performance from new and more experienced employees. However with sometimes high staff turnover, it can be challenging to onboard new joiners. That’s why simple tools like clear daily checklists and self-audits can be a game-changer to ensure consistent quality.
Use an Inspection App for Internal Audits
Finally, you can use technology to embed checklists into your daily operations. Rather than have your staff manually tick items off a paper checklist or work with bulky spreadsheets, they can use an app like the GoAudits Inspection App for daily quality control. This simple step makes it easy for every employee to be part of the quality process and guarantees better, faster results.
GoAudits is also a great app to track restaurant visits by area managers and internal auditors. If your restaurant business boasts several locations, both management and the QA & Food Hygiene teams will love a tool that enables to schedule daily checks, generate instant inspection reports, measure scores, track corrective actions and see all results in one place.
GoAudits has allowed us to spend 95% of our time where it matters – watching the floor and coaching the team, rather than filling forms and preparing reports. Seeing historical data without digging out and comparing past reports, has helped us spot trends & issues. – Jason Hunt, Domino’s
Free Restaurant Quality Control Checklists
Check out our free library of restaurant audit checklists to help you manage quality, food safety and standard operating procedures in your food business. You can customize any of these templates to the specific needs of your business by creating an account on GoAudits.
Want to know more about how food service businesses benefit from GoAudits? Read how this restaurant chain increased audit turnaround by 4x, and how this food safety specialist helps food business ensure remain compliant.