How to Improve Restaurant Operations: 9 Proven Strategies

How to Improve Restaurant Operations: 9 Proven Strategies
7shifts Staff

By 7shifts Staff

Every manager aims for maximum operational efficiency in their restaurants, but achieving this isn't easy, with the industry's success rate recorded at only 20%.

Improving your restaurant operations to succeed in this highly competitive industry means serving quality food and providing excellent customer service while minimizing waste, reducing costs, and keeping your employees engaged.

This is where developing a comprehensive restaurant operations plan comes in. This action plan should detail how your establishment will function at full capacity from opening until closing—and ensure you adhere to it consistently.

To help you out, we've created an in-depth guide that will assist you in running a successful restaurant with streamlined operations and increased productivity. 

How to improve restaurant operations

Managers oversee many operational tasks daily, including monitoring the kitchen’s food preparation, managing records, ensuring the dining area is clean, and releasing the employees’ payroll on time.

This is why 62% of managers feel burnt out, especially on days leading to peak seasons. 

If you’re looking to improve restaurant operations, focus on the following:

  • Building lasting relationships with your team

  • Creating optimized staff schedules

  • Creating a restaurant operations manual

  • Using restaurant operations and management software

  • Analyzing restaurant operations data

  • Strictly following health and safety standards

  • Streamlining your bookkeeping process

  • Tracking your inventory

  • Prioritizing your customers

We've laid out how these techniques can help you run your restaurant operations as smoothly as possible.

Build lasting relationships with your team

Improving your restaurant operations involves simplifying your tasks and paying attention to and prioritizing the people you work with. The professional relationship you build with your staff affects their overall job satisfaction more than opportunity, compensation, and their daily tasks combined. 

People don't leave jobs; they leave bosses.

When employees have good rapport with their supervisors and managers, they’re more likely to stick with them — even during rough times when it’s easy to abandon ship. According to our recent employee engagement study, nearly half of all employees who told us they've left a restaurant job before said they did so due to difficult management.

Likewise, having a bad relationship with their supervisors can drive even the most hardworking and dedicated employees out the door, regardless of the benefits and compensation package you offer. 

As Carl Stephens, a known Maritime HR Strategist, puts it: "There will always be employers paying more than you, but if you don't have a great working environment, then it makes the decision of leaving even easier for the employee."

Say thank you more often to show your team that you appreciate their significant contributions to your business. 

64% of employees say more recognition or feedback would increase their engagement, highlighting how important it is for employees to hear their efforts are recognized and their hard work acknowledged. 

You can also give employee discounts, which can be extended to immediate family, paid time off, and bonuses. 

Create optimized staff schedules

Using the most recent data gathered by 7shifts, the restaurant industry's turnover rate is a whopping 62%. Optimizing staff schedules is essential to ensure that restaurant operations are not hampered by understaffing. 

It is also helpful in tracking labor costs and ensuring your establishment complies with labor laws (e.g., properly tracking employee schedules and paying them for all hours rendered, including overtime). 

These claims are further supported by the industry study we conducted with Pita Way—their Director of Operations, Holly Megges, shared that she used to draft everything on her iPad daily to schedule their 108 employees' shifts. 

It wasn't until they used 7shifts that they were able to optimize shift scheduling and swapping, which reduced their labor cost percentage from 32% to 23%. This also allowed their employees to request time off easily and receive important announcements without swapping from one software to another.

Create a restaurant operations manual

A restaurant operations manual ensures that your business procedures are well-documented, concise, and readily available for your employees' reference. This is important, especially if you're training and hiring new employees. 

If you rely on word-of-mouth, your new employees can miss the essential practices, important systems, and proper etiquette you aim to promote when dealing with customers. It is also useful in helping your employees make efficient decisions without regularly asking their supervisors for reassurance.

As Work Stream, the leading HR platform for the hourly workforce, said, "Your manual can’t predict the future. But it can provide a reference on what steps employees should take when unexpected situations occur due to weather emergencies, changes to health guidelines, or difficult customers."

With a clear set of procedures written, your employees can take the necessary action in case problems arise. 

Use restaurant operations and management software

With many things going on daily at your restaurant, using restaurant operations and management software that can assist you in running your business with ease is a must.

Look for a tool specifically tailored to the restaurant industry so you don’t have to deal with features you don’t need

A custom solution tailored to your restaurant’s will also help eliminate redundancies and bottlenecks that can slow your operations down, saving you time and money and increasing productivity.

Instead of working with various separate tools for accounting, inventory tracking and management, issuing invoices, scheduling shifts, and processing payroll, 7shifts can provide you with all these features.

The best thing about our tool is that it can easily be integrated with other software, so you don't have to spend much time maintaining your subscriptions to different tools or waste valuable time switching between them. 

You also wouldn't have to transfer your data manually since you can easily export and integrate them seamlessly into your POS, payroll, hiring, training, and delivery systems.

Analyze restaurant operations data

Analyzing your restaurant operations data will give you insight into what areas need improvement and which areas you can increase, expand, and profit from. This will help you make informed decisions and improve your operations. 

For instance, while doing your data review, you notice that one of the items on your menu is no longer profitable. You can decide whether to adjust its price or tailor your recipe by looking for alternatives to some of your ingredients to make profits from that order. 

It can also help you know when to look for a new vendor to supply you with the same quality ingredients at a more affordable price. 

Aside from these options, you can counter the rising food costs by making some of your ingredients optional add-ons, like cheese on burgers. 

In the end, the data you have on hand will only be useful for your restaurant operations if you only know what to do with it. If needed, invest in a system that can help you process the data you collect, or hire a professional who knows exactly how to interpret this data. 

Strictly follow health and safety standards for restaurants

Abiding by the safety standards, especially those mandated by local, state, and federal laws, is essential to the success of your restaurant operations. 

Generally, these standards include employees' hygiene, proper food handling, cleaning and sanitizing of the establishment, pest control, purchasing only from accredited and approved suppliers, and food and safety training.

The proper airflow, adequate ventilation, and cooking food at the right temperatures should also be considered. Strict compliance with these requirements is not optional but mandatory; otherwise, your establishment can face hefty fines or even foreclosure. 


This makes keeping yourself updated on national and local laws a must because ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance. In USA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration outlines specific food service codes and regulations for each state.

Aside from possible legal actions against your establishment, TouchBistro also found out in a study that 70% of customers cite a negative health inspection as the number one reason they won't visit a restaurant.

So, to ensure that your restaurant remains squeaky clean, you can conduct regular inspections and use your city's health code to conduct a surprise inspection of your establishment. Doing so can help you catch any violations and health-related issues so you can correct them before they affect your business.

Having an opening and closing checklist can also ensure that opening and closing staff have a standardized set of clean-up duties they can easily follow. 

Streamline your restaurant's bookkeeping process

Restaurant accounting and bookkeeping are essential parts of operations that can take too long, especially if done manually via spreadsheet entry. For restaurant managers looking to improve their operations, this is one of the tasks that should be streamlined.

Invest in the right accounting software tailored to the restaurant industry, like Quickbooks, Zero, and Freshbooks.

This can help automate tasks like tracking your operational finances, controlling costs, processing payroll, paying taxes, and even making sales forecasts based on historical data.

The good news is that what usually takes hours or even days to finish can be accomplished with the right accounting software in just a few minutes. This can help you save time and give your complete attention to the things that can help your business grow.

Track your restaurant's operational inventory

The smallest miscalculation in your kitchen can affect your restaurant operations and greatly impact your revenue. 

For instance, forgetting to order salmon at your supplier means you won't be able to serve all dishes on your menu that require salmon.

You should track your operational inventory to the ounce to ensure that every supply in your kitchen is well-accounted for—from those that have already been used to those you are currently using and those you plan to use.

It is also essential to note inventory wastage due to theft, spoilage, errors, spillage, and the ingredients in your employees' meals. The best way to do this is using a POS system with an integrated inventory management feature.

Still, it pays to train your staff to do manual inventory count so it can be cross-referenced with your records, and you can be 100% sure that your supplies aren't lacking.

Webstaurant Store, one of the largest online restaurant supply companies, also shared a great tip to help restaurant owners manage their inventory: "Instead of letting excess ingredients go to waste, consider incorporating them into daily specials or creating new menu items. This not only helps to reduce food waste but can also provide a unique and exciting dining experience for your customers."

Prioritize your customers

Regardless of how efficient your operations are, you should reconsider your current strategy if your customers are unhappy. 

Your customer's opinion is so important that according to a study conducted by Harvard Business School, a one-star increase in your restaurant's Yelp rating can mean a 5% to 9% increase in revenue.

Diners are also more likely to spend 31% more at a restaurant with 4 to 5-star reviews, and 43% of customers won't even bother visiting your restaurant if it has a 3 to 3.5-star rating.

As Toast puts it: "Customer reviews provide big data opportunities for your restaurant business. Leveraging customer reviews for insightful data analytics can be a game-changer in such a competitive industry."

This highlights how a huge part of your operations should be dedicated to listening to what your customers say and using that information to improve your food and services. The easiest way to do this is to check what your customers say about your business online.

Have a dedicated team that monitors social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter since these are recognized as some of the top-most-used social media apps

Even better, tap into Reddit communities where users can share their in-depth thoughts and comments to see what people honestly think about your business.

It also pays to create a well-functioning customer support channel so your diners can reach you online without having to go through the hassle of scouring the net for hours to find your details.


Once your employees are well aware of their roles, guided by standards, and trained to accomplish their duties uniformly, your restaurant operations will run efficiently like a well-oiled machine.

The most important step in achieving this is optimizing and streamlining processes that either take too much time or leave no room for mistakes; otherwise, your operations can halt.

Our restaurant management software is the best assistant for ensuring that your restaurant operations run efficiently and effectively. 

Thanks to its ease of integration with over 86 tools and systems, 7shifts can seamlessly integrate with most restaurant systems. The best thing is that you don't have to worry about extracting and manually inputting your data — this tool is built exactly for that (and more.)

From managing your employees’ payroll and taxes, hiring, training, and onboarding new staff, scheduling shifts easily, tip management, and even monitoring your staff’s time in and out so you can ensure that your business is labor compliant, 7shifts hasyou covered. 


What are the main operational functions of a restaurant manager?

A restaurant manager's operational responsibilities include responding effectively to customer complaints, ensuring efficient restaurant operations, upholding excellent customer service standards, and training and hiring qualified staff.

They also set employees' schedules, oversee food preparation, and ensure that the establishment complies with health and safety standards.

Why is improving operational efficiency important?

Aiming for operational efficiency is essential because limiting the time employees spend on inefficient processes and non-value-added activities can, in turn, reduce costs, maximize your establishment's profits, and improve customer satisfaction.

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7shifts Staff
7shifts Staff

7shifts team of writers and experts in the hospitality industry.