2 ways to keep standards from dropping in the restaurant business

Restaurants can either be a cash cow or a black hole. It all depends on how the business is being run.

Restaurants owners that do well, and have been running their business for at least 2 years, face two critical problems.

How can I expand this to other places and maintain the same standards of quality at all of my outlets?

How do I solve the problem of that employee who’s too valuable to fire

In a previous post we looked at problems faced by (Sri Lankan) restaurants and how to fix them.

This post is an extension of that. We look at 2 ways to maintain the mojo once the kinks have been worked out in the business.

1) Standardize

A business is the repetition of a set of tasks and procedures. The best businesses out there does this exactly the same, each and every time.

Take any business coach/consultant worth his salt, and one thing you’d hear from all of them is this: Your business should be predictable and consistent.

Standardizing your business tasks and processes is how you achieve predictability and consistency.

From the time the restaurant (or any business for that matter) is opened and till it closes for the day, most of the work done in it are the same. Day in, day out.

Sweeping the floors. Cleaning the tables. Inspecting the ingredients, waiting on customers, going over the books, placing orders with suppliers, are all repeating tasks.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Now, if you’re like most small business owners, then things are pretty much done on habit. But the fruits of standardizing a business is in documenting each and every task and procedure that’s carried out in it. Don’t expect to do an all nighter and write down everything in one go.

Start small. For example, document how and when the cleaning should take place. Your janitor might have a pattern to their work that works best. Observe and document it in the cleaning SOP.

Then, you might want to create a sales SOP, detailing how to wait on the customers by writing a script. You can do some digging to find out which script works best and document it so that all the waiters follow that. Every time.

Gradually tackle the larger, complex procedures.

Using visual maps, like flowcharts, works best.

Contact us for more details on documentation solutions for your business/restaurant.


If you have the resources, you might consider hiring a consulting firm that does this sort of work and save you the time and effort.

Looking to get SOPs done for your own business? Find out more on documentation solutions for your business/restaurant.

2) Systemize

Now that you’ve identified the tasks and procedures that make up your restaurant (or business), it’s time to systemize.

“the Entrepreneurial Model has less to do with what’s done in a business and more to do with how it’s done. The commodity isn’t what’s important—the way it’s delivered is.”

Michael Gerber, The E-Myth

Systems is to standardization like the skeleton is to the muscles of the body. You need both if you’re to get things done.

The biggest mistake business owners do is to create a situation where the restaurant is person-dependent as opposed to being systems-dependent.

Here’s a story to help illustrate this:

Dan is the owner of Foodie, a successful restaurant. He loves what he does and has a great team. It’s like a big family. Except for one employee, John.

If Dan is the father of the family, John’s the mother. Employee of the month for the past 6 months. The customers love him. He’s also able to whip the other employees into action. Very charismatic fellow, this John.

There’s one problem though. One a few occasions, John had blocked some of Dan’s ideas to implement in the restaurant.

Dan wanted to install fingerprint readers, so payroll could be streamlined. But John, pulling the strings of the rest of the team, vetoed it.

Another time, Dan wanted to restructure the shifts of the staff. That was shot down also.

The restaurant wasn’t as lively if John decided to take a day off.

Dan felt like he was at the mercy of John.

A few of Dan’s friends had suggested Michael, a consultant, as a solution to be free of John.

Michael was brought in to turn foodie into a systems-dependent restaurant (i.e., create an Operations Manual). And free Dan from John’s mercy.

So, Michael got to work. He observed and documented all the tasks and procedures of the restaurant.

Then he created the systems each of these tasks fit into.

After that, he created job roles and responsibilities and assigned the tasks and procedures to each role. This way, everyone was clear on Who does What, When, and How.

Finally, Michael created a company structure to give an idea of who reports to whom and who’s responsible for what.

Michael also trained Dan on how to use the Operations Manual and also showed Dan how to train his staff using this.

Dan then hired a new employee, Sam, and got to work on training the entire staff.

Little by little, John began losing his grip on the other employees, since everyone was being trained to a standard. Things would be the same, even if John threatened to leave, or take some of the employees with him.

A few months later, John was still there. But thanks to the Operations Manual Dan was able to get back control of his restaurant.

Dan can now, using his Operations Manual, make sure that the standards of his restaurant don’t drop should anyone decide to leave. He can also copy paste everything to a new outlet, running just like the original.

He could even sell (or franchise) the business, if he wishes.

Create a system for your business that works so perfectly that other people want one just like it. Create it in such a way that when you sell it, it will provide you with the life you want.”

-Michael Gerber

We help you solve the problems you have from that employee who’s too valuable to fire. Check out how we can help your business transition from being person-dependent to systems-dependent. Or contact us for if you want what we have to offer.

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