A few changes to your existing systems can make a big difference in the way you operate and help increase your profits. Implementing systems will help increase the productivity of your waiting staff and can go a long way to breathing new life into your restaurant. Let’s take a look at what your front-of-house staff should master to increase productivity.

Waiting staff should be able to recite the menu

A patron asks a question about one of the items on your menu and – oh the horror – your waiter reaches for the menu to answer it. Front-of-house staff should be able to recite each item on your menu if they were woken up in the middle of the night. Not only does extensive menu knowledge increase customer service, it also saves valuable time in processing orders. Set up a menu training session to ensure that every front-of-house member knows each food item with its selection of side orders and alternatives off by heart. Do quick refresher sessions throughout the year and every time you make a change or introduce a new item or entire menu. Letting your waiters sample every item on the menu means they will be able to make personal recommendations and have more knowledge of each meal.

Optimal time management is a necessity

As clichéd as it might sound, time really is money in your restaurant. It’s a simple recipe: the more productive your front-of-house staff is at serving patrons and turning tables, the better your ROI will be. So it’s crucial to ensure that your front-of-house staff is equipped and trained to effectively manage their tables, turn orders and close bills as quickly as possible. Also, never let time go wasted – especially when service is slow. Front-of-house staff can allocate this time to other tasks that are usually neglected such as refilling sauces and organising menus.

Front-of-house staff must multitask

As much as we have been warned of the consequences of multitasking, there are some professions where juggling more than one thing at a time is unavoidable. Hospitality, of course, is one of those industries. When juggling more than one table at a time, waiting staff need to effectively compensate to keep all the balls in the air. A trip to the kitchen should never be under-utilised – there are always patrons who need their tables cleared, so no waiter should enter back of house empty-handed.

Staff should master the art of upselling items

Front-of-house staff are responsible for more than taking and delivering orders – they need to excite the patrons. So much so that they want to order more and spend more money in your establishment. With a little charm, staff can increase profits without increasing their efforts. Upselling is a powerful tool, which – if used correctly – can yield great benefits. It’s crucial to train your staff to delicately suggest items rather than being persistent. They have to be smart about upselling and make the item they suggest seem appealing enough for the patrons to budge, like a great wine to complement a dish or entrées to accompany their cocktails. Every extra item they manage to place on the bill means more money in your (and their) pockets.

A system to anticipate common requests

Front-of-house productivity rests on the staff’s ability to be one step ahead at all times, especially when it comes to patrons’ requests. The more a waiter can pre-empt the needs of a table, the more productive they will be. They can refill drinks before they’re three-quarters empty, bring additional spices and sauces to the table before the meals arrive, and additional silverware and water for the table. You can devise a standard system to determine when to see to the table, or let each waiter create their own – whatever is more effective and suited to your unique restaurant.

These are just a few ways in which you can increase front-of-house productivity in your establishment. As with most things in the modern world, technology can further bolster efficiency. Pilot’s Point of Sale solution is designed with you, the restaurateur, in mind, and provides you with the tools to reach ultimate levels of productivity throughout your establishment.

Find out how valuable data can give your restaurant the competitive edge by downloading the definitive 21st-century restaurant playbook, our free guide to using restaurant data effectively.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst