How To Reduce Restaurant Time Waste

How To Reduce Restaurant Time Waste
Will Harmon

By Will Harmon

As a restaurant manager or operator, you are the driving force in productivity –  leading your staff and keeping customers happy. However, productivity is more easily trained than managed.  Many restaurant operators juggle multiple locations, and adding managers adds another link in the chain of command to manage. Staff productivity plays the largest role in restaurant revenue, which is why it’s so important to invest in your recruiting and hiring strategies, finding like-minded individuals to move your restaurant forward while minimizing time waste.

Keeping your staff busy and happy is guaranteed to provide the feeling of fulfillment many operators in the foodservice industry don’t think about. If you’re hiring just to fill an open position, an opportunity is missed to build your perfect workforce to drive revenue.

In a survey by Toast, 46% of restaurateurs listed hiring, training, and retaining staff as their biggest challenge.  Unfortunately for restaurant owners, this line of work is largely perceived as a means to an end profession. Restaurant employees typically apply to make some money to pay the bills while they pursue higher education or other ventures. This leads to the abnormally high turnover rate most operators experience today.

Productivity for Servers

Problem: Restaurant staff taking short personal breaks

It’s vital to minimize the amount of time sinks available in day-to-day tasks in your restaurant.  A busy staff means productive staff, which is good for business. According to Forbes, 50% of employees waste parts of their day on their phones. Texting or browsing for just a moment here and there add up throughout the day. There will always be a customer on the receiving end of that waste of time.  

Solution: Training from hands-on management

The results and repercussions of a disconnected restaurant staff are glaringly apparent.  It’s important to educate your staff about the correlation between productivity and profit. There will always be something your staff can do to enhance a patron’s dining experience. In fact, 70% of Americans said they were willing to spend more money when they believe they were provided with excellent customer service. On the other end of that spectrum, 91% of customers who are unhappy with your service will not do business with you again.

Spending less time on the phone and more time with your customers is a win-win for your restaurant and employees. Customers on average will order more menu items, resulting in a larger bill for the restaurant and a larger tip for the employee. This may seem obvious, but keeping an open communication channel between management and staff is a great way to reinforce the importance of an active staff.  

Problem: Excessive mingling

This is a prevalent issue in restaurants, especially ones that offer full bar service.  It’s important to note that spending time with your guests is very valuable and crucial to creating recurrent patrons. A “totally satisfied” customer contributes 2.6 times as much revenue as a customer who was somewhat satisfied, which means giving your customers the appropriate attention and service goes a long way for profit.

The problem here requires a degree of critical thinking.  It’s about walking the fine line between making your customers feel valued and blowing off customers who are waiting to be helped.  

Solution: Implement the 30 second rule

30 seconds is all it takes for your customers to feel engaged.  Breaking down chats into short segments allows your staff (especially bartenders) to quickly navigate through customers who haven’t been helped yet and circle back to build relationships until more customers arrive.  

You can also familiarize yourself with staff management software solutions at your disposal.  There are a handful of scheduling/staff management tools, like 7shifts, proven to cut labor costs and provide more rigid guidelines for your restaurant staff.

You’ll notice the solutions trickle down from management and proper training. Any restaurant operator’s best tool for a productive restaurant is their management strategy, but managers aren’t immune to the effects of wasted time either.  

Productivity for Managers

Problem: The self-coaching manager

I conducted an interview with a restaurant staff member who put 5 years of hard work into providing excellent food service. During this interview, some light was shed onto an often-overlooked time sink, management.  A common trend they noticed over the last 5 years is the effect that an incapable manager can have on a restaurant.  Without tangible guidelines put in place, your restaurant staff will often default to doing the minimum because they lack the knowledge in regards to what excellent service means for the establishment.

One major area of improvement we noticed when it came to management: menu costing research.

The Solution: Adopt tech solutions to automate back of house tasks

Costing your menu can be incredibly time consuming. Especially with buyers juggling 300+ ingredients each week, it can be difficult to stay on top of deals and prices. With the slim margins, there is tremendous pressure to pour through each of your supplier’s catalogues in an attempt to alter your menu items to make sure you don’t order when prices are high.  

Luckily for restaurant managers, several tech solutions exist to cure this headache.  For example, BlueCart, an online and mobile ordering/inventory management platform for the hospitality industry. It offers restaurants the opportunity to gain an insight into their on-hand inventory and the ability to see deals/specials offered by your suppliers so you’re always ordering what will net you the most profit at the end of the day.  

Predictive technology measures your on-hand inventory and alerts you when it dips below par levels. These simple tools allow restaurant managers to spend less time researching back of house formalities and more time training staff to become powerhouses of customer engagement, and ultimately, your biggest source of revenue.


Will Harmon is a marketing associate at BlueCart, an online and mobile ordering, inventory, and operations platform for the hospitality industry.  When he’s not busy being a social media guru and creating content, you can find him learning about procurement practices and up and coming restaurant trends.

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Will Harmon
Will Harmon

Will Harmon is an associate at BlueCart, an ordering, inventory, and operations platform for the hospitality industry. He loves learning about procurement practices and the latest restaurant trends.