What makes guests keep coming back to a restaurant? Is it expensive silverware, tasty, creative meals, or stunning decor? The answer is all these things and more. Although delicious meals are vital if you want great ratings, building consistency with restaurant standard operating procedures (SOPs) is the key to customer loyalty.
Unfortunately, your eatery cannot maintain a high standard of service without pre-defined guidelines. This article explores how to write restaurant and food service SOPs, and how to use this tool to improve customer and staff experience.
- What are Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)?
- Do you Really Need SOPs for your Food Service business?
- How to create and implement Restaurant SOPs for Improved Customer Satisfaction
- 5 Benefits of Food Service Standard Operating Procedures
- Top 10 Free Restaurant SOP Templates
- SOPs 5x Faster with an Inspection App
What are Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)?
Restaurant standard operating procedures are guidelines for performing everyday tasks in an eatery. These rules extend beyond how food is prepared and handled. Restaurant SOPs cover all aspects of customer service, ranging from food safety practices, to food quality and presentation, staff dressing and personal hygiene and premise cleanliness.
Do you Really Need SOPs for your Food Service business?
If you manage a restaurant business, you would agree that constantly maintaining brand standards can be challenging. This is especially true after hiring new staff or setting up other branches. This is why you need to incorporate a set of written rules that guarantee compliance regardless of the individual performing the task or the location.
According to data from the State of the Restaurant Industry Report for 2023, 47% of restaurant owners expect competition to be tougher than in previous years. So, you must be able to retain your visitors by offering a superior experience at all times and across all your branches. Restaurant quality control and standard operating procedures help to create that uniformity and give your customers a sense of familiarity and security.
How to create and implement Restaurant SOPs for Improved Customer Satisfaction
Restaurant standard operating procedures are critical for businesses that desire to enjoy a high rating among customers. However the specific details of each SOP will vary from one establishment to another. Despite this, there are well-established steps that all restaurants must follow when drafting their standard operating procedures.
Review all Routine Activities
Every restaurant has routine tasks for maintaining brand standards and keeping guests satisfied. If you wish to outline SOPs for your eatery, the first thing to do is review how each activity is performed. For example, you will need to evaluate the entire process for food storage or examine the mandatory regulations for staff personal hygiene and note all the steps involved. This Restaurant Audit Checklist can help you review the different areas of your food business on a regular basis.
Research Industry Best Practices
After reviewing your restaurant’s day-to-day tasks, you must evaluate your operations based on industry best practices. An excellent way to do this is using checklist templates from well-known external standardization bodies such as the International Standardization Organization (ISO) and Leading Quality Assurance (LQA). Several ISO checklists, including the General Cleaning Checks and ISO 9001 Audit Checklist, can help you identify areas for improvement in your service quality delivery.
Consult with Employees for Feedback
Creating a comprehensive operational manual without the participation of staff is challenging. In addition to the feedback you receive from audits using external standards, you must consult with employees across each department when creating a food service SOP. Doing so will help you discover any potential bottlenecks you may have missed and enable you to create a guideline that can be easily implemented and sustained.
Outline the Procedures with a Checklist
Once you have gathered all the necessary information, you can create a checklist to ensure each activity is performed as prescribed. Restaurant checklists are the perfect tool for quality assurance, and they reduce the risk of non-compliance with brand standards. If you don’t wish to write your checklists from scratch, you can download and edit an already-existing template.
Update Procedures Frequently Based on Reputable Standards
Because of the cut-throat nature of the restaurant industry, it’s not enough to create standard operating procedures. You must ensure that they are constantly updated to meet contemporary standards. As businesses continue to evolve and innovate, the benchmark for satisfactory service among guests is bound to keep getting higher. Hence, your establishment must review and make necessary changes to its restaurant SOP templates when required.
Conduct Frequent Staff Training with SOPs
Although having preset standard operating procedures simplifies the workflow for employees, you still need to conduct training to ensure that they are up to speed with your restaurant’s operational manual. Organizing training for existing and new staff with your business’s SOP guidelines is vital for faster onboarding.
5 Benefits of Food Service Standard Operating Procedures
There are many benefits to implementing standard operating procedures in your restaurant. Several businesses in the hospitality sector have experienced massive turnaround by simply making a transition to digital SOPs. A perfect example is Independent Food Company, which runs innovative restaurant concepts. In search of a toolkit to ensure food quality and hygiene, as well as food service standards, this company was able to save hundreds of person-hours, improve inspection scores, and ensure consistency across all their restaurants by establishing SOPs.
Both visitors and staff have much to gain when you opt to use a food service SOP.
Guarantee Consistent Brand Standards
Achieving consistency is possible only if you have strict principles defining how each restaurant’s department operates. Also, for businesses that operate as a franchise or those with multiple branches, standard operating procedures help to provide a framework that guarantees uniformity. With restaurant SOPs, your guests can be assured of the same quality of service at all times, regardless of location.
Reduce Adaptation Time for New Staff
Regular training is essential for excellent customer service. However, it may not be enough to guarantee exceptional employee performance. New hires, in particular, may struggle to implement your protocols, and you could risk losing customer loyalty due to fluctuating quality of service. When you incorporate restaurant SOP templates, you reduce the probability of costly errors and make it easier for staff to know what exactly you expect from them.
Discover Areas of Poor Service
Apart from their use as a standardization tool, standard operating procedures for restaurants also provide a metric for evaluation. Since they provide a detailed guide for routine activities, you can easily detect departments failing to meet requirements. Rather than working with assumptions, you can use your SOPs to assess and identify underperforming departments.
Improve Guest Satisfaction Ratings
It’s no secret that restaurants that incorporate meticulously written SOPs have higher customer satisfaction ratings than their counterparts. Furthermore, guests are more likely to recommend your eatery to others when they are confident that you’ll provide top-quality service.
Increase Staff Productivity
From your front desk to kitchen staff and servers, SOPs increase productivity. Creating a document that acts as an operational manual removes the burden of decision-making and allows staff to focus solely on execution and service delivery. So, instead of wasting valuable time wondering how to carry out their responsibilities, employees can streamline their efforts to ensure that guests are comfortable.
Top 10 Free Restaurant SOP Templates
Checklists are one of the best format for implementing SOPs in restaurants. For decades, the leading businesses in this industry have used this tool to manage their numerous branches and enforce quality control. If you want to start incorporating standard operating procedures, here are the top 10 restaurant SOP template checklists you can download for free.
You can also provide these checklists to your employees on a user-friendly SOP app!
Review and optimize restaurant operations with efficiency, from purchasing, receiving, storing, service standards, and more. This checklist is an example of a simple way of outlining SOPs in an accessible format. Rather than a bulky document to be stored in a drawer, all SOPs can be included in one or several digital checklists accessible from any device, including mobile phones.
This checklist is helpful for restaurants seeking to comply with global best practices in safety and hygiene. The Food Safety Hygiene Checklist is comprehensive, comprising up to 179 questions addressing food and environmental safety. It is split into 30 sections, including maintenance, food storage and preparation, staff hygiene, and cooking and reheating.
Restaurants can use the Personal Hygiene Checklist to ensure that every staff is well-groomed and maintains the pre-defined standards for cleanliness. You can use this list to ascertain that your employees are appropriately dressed and healthy.
This checklist can be used to conduct frequent inspections and ensure quality assurance for restaurants with a bar or drinking area. It covers the cleanliness of the small fridge and cold rooms, dishwasher, and refuse bins.
The Bathroom Cleaning SOP Checklist is a short and straightforward inspection guide that can be used to implement standard operating procedures in your restaurant. Cleaning staff in your eatery can incorporate this SOP to ensure that the floor tiles, mirrors, and drainages are always tidy.
Neatness is a vital requirement for restaurants that want to have high ratings. This checklist helps your staff sanitizing all utensils, cooking equipment, sinks, and dishwashers , to comply with acceptable health standards.
A Restaurant Opening checklist can be used before each morning shift to ensure all necessary tasks are carried out before your restaurant opens for business. It encompasses various responsibilities such as switching on the POS system, refilling receipt papers or filing water pitchers.
Similarly, Restaurant Closing Checklist is valuable for ensuring compliance with standard operating procedures for the end of each workday. It can help staff remember tasks such as refilling condiments, restocking essential materials, or sanitizing surfaces.
With this specific kitchen closing checklist, employees can guarantee that all kitchen equipment is unplugged and in good condition before closing for the day. It also ensures that kitchen staff sanitize the fridges, empty the fryers, and sanitize the cooking area at the end of their shifts.
Restaurant managers have an endless list of tasks to keep up with. In addition to unexpected issues to resolve as they arise, there are recurrent tasks and SOPs that a checklist can help remember. It can include a wide range of items such as opening/closing the premises, reviewing payroll, managing the emails and calendar, menu updates, promotion roll outs, adherence to SOPs by specific staff members etc.
Appearance is critical, particularly for employees working in the front desk or as servers. You can download this checklist to enforce your SOPs for employee attire and appearance across all departments.
Restaurants can use the Food Receiving Checklist to log all food items obtained from suppliers and determine if they are in optimal condition. It is comprehensive and addresses issues such as pest infestation, preservation, and expiration of food items.
SOPs 5x Faster with an Inspection App
Restaurants can implement SOPs by using checklists. However, with inspection apps, these checklists can be more accessible to employees. There are multiple ways to improve your business standards by incorporating technology. Rather than engage in a cumbersome process involving paper documentation, your business can utilise an app to enforce compliance with brand standards and remain ahead of its competitors.
The GoAudits Restaurant Inspection App will enable you to implement your standard operating procedures in every location, with every staff member. Create digital SOP checklists, schedule daily checks and self-inspections, see results in real time, spot issues and additional training needs.