A restaurant table with wine glasses, valuing the importance of restaurant SOPs

Restaurants, like any other business, need Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs, to create a model of order and professionalism so that they might be efficient, trustworthy, and frankly, reliable.  Any restaurant knows that it is in safe hands if it has a wall or even a corkboard where a list is displayed that explains in easy-to-parse technical terms the procedures to keep said restaurant running. Let’s dig into how it is that SOPs can boost, so to say, a restaurant’s reputation, success, and productivity.

First, let’s explain what an SOP is. An SOP “is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out routine operations.”  Businesses use these instructions to ensure their employees know how to fulfill necessary responsibilities.  Specifically, SOPs consist of instructions establishing what the task involves, and how exactly employees are expected to perform the task.

Now that you know what an SOP is, we’ll explain what makes a restaurant SOP different from other SOPs.

What Do You Mean, “Restaurant SOPs”?

Picture an untidy workstation. Dishes may be piled over each other. Perhaps there are stains in areas where there should not be stains. Moreover, there could be lots of unwashed hands and poor hygiene conduct. Work stations with poor care leave a lot to be desired.  A restaurant needs restaurant SOPs to prevent such terrible work conditions if it wants to be successful and stay in business. Restaurant SOPs include rules and instructions for food safety, equipment preparation, cleaning, anything that makes for a stable, put-together restaurant.  A more specific example is a set of guidelines on how to properly care for and maintain kitchen equipment.

Through the instructions they contain, restaurant SOPs establish systems and guidance that help ensure the many tasks involved in serving customers and running the restaurant are performed properly.  They keep everything organized and give workers the information they need to do their jobs.  Furthermore, workers can draw on these instructions for clarification if they are confused about an aspect of their tasks.  This will also reduce the likelihood of mistakes being made, which could cost a restaurant resources, customers, and reputation.

How Else do Restaurant SOPs Help?

In addition to increasing efficiency, hygiene, and organization, restaurant SOPs also offer other benefits.  One of these is a boost to the restaurant’s reputation and business, as people are more likely to come to a restaurant that is efficient and put-together.  By using SOPs in this way, even a fairly obscure restaurant can quickly become widely known for excellent service.  Furthermore, a restaurant that is a model of efficiency and organization is more likely to draw potential new employees, as people are more willing to work somewhere that is organized and has good working conditions.

The use of SOPs can also bring about greater communication and cooperation between workers.  When everyone understands what they are supposed to do and how to describe their tasks to others, it becomes easier to coordinate their efforts.  In this way, employees make their work go more smoothly and ensure that they do not interfere with one another.  These SOPs also improve the process of training new employees, who can refer back to these documents for guidance.

So… What if I Don’t Have SOPs?

Without restaurant SOPs, there comes the risk of disorganization, that polysyllabic “no-no” word that connotes a job done poorly.  This, in turn, leads to bad working conditions, miscommunication between workers, poor customer service, and ultimately a loss of business.  However, SOPs can bring about a special kind of harmony and usher a restaurant into greater public standing.  A restaurant can accomplish this in a couple of ways, the most important of them being that the restaurant gains more customers. Keeping people feeling satisfied goes a long way to keeping them interested in whatever it is a restaurant is serving.

In addition, SOPs aren’t just important for making a restaurant successful – they are necessary for keeping one open.  There are laws which require a restaurant to have SOPs that enforce proper standards of food safety and hygiene in order to stay open.  These SOPs also need to comply with the specific mandates and details of such laws.

Neglecting the use of SOPs can also lead to genuine safety hazards in terms of not only food safety and health, but also physical health.  Restaurants commonly make use of fire and sharp utensils such as knives when preparing food, which can easily lead to injuries if employees do not know how to properly use them.  Therefore, restaurants need such documents in order to ensure the safety of both their employees and their customers.

What Do I Do Then?

Well, in the interest of promoting your restaurant, the first thing to do is to get a list of restaurant SOPs going, right away. As this post has illustrated, organization is of the utmost importance and being lax about it does not bode well for customer satisfaction.  Therefore, you need a list to organize your efforts and to make sure you have an SOP for each process involved in running the restaurant.

You should also consider what your particular restaurant specializes in, in terms of food preparation, customer service, recipes, etc.  Not every restaurant performs the same services the same way, so tailor your SOPs to incorporate your restaurant’s specific practices.  In addition, take into account what your employees say about how they perform their responsibilities.  This will give you a better idea of what these tasks are like, and therefore what your SOPs should include.

What Else Should I Know About Restaurant SOPs?

SOPs are certainly useful, but only if workers have consistent access to them.  Looking at an SOP once is not enough to implement its instructions into a worker’s routine.  Make sure to document the instructions, so your employees can look over them again if necessary.  After implementing the SOPs, you should also take the time to make sure your workers understand the instructions.

While you should make your SOPs reasonably detailed and clear on how you want things done, they do not necessarily have to be set in stone.  Making the instructions too strict and inflexible will make it difficult for your employees to adapt if you need to modify the SOPs.  Instead, it is best if you leave some room for your employees to interpret the instructions creatively.

Having SOPs in mind means that the product no longer only consists of the meal: it is also the service.  A restaurant that uses SOPs must work to provide customers with the best possible service.  This means serving the food reasonably quickly, keeping the dining area clean, promptly seating customers, and more.  If customers can trust that an establishment follows only the highest standards, then they will become frequent visitors.  More than that, they become loyal to a brand of absolute top quality.

Who Can Help With Restaurant SOPs?

Technical writers are a good go-to for these types of projects; it is, in essence, their bread and butter.  Technical writers specialize in both writing documents that include complicated or detailed information, such as SOPs, and in reinterpreting these documents so that they are clear and understandable, which would be necessary for employees to comprehend the numerous steps involved in the SOPs.  They can create highly detailed and easy-to-understand SOPs that tell restaurant workers what they need to do. If you want excellent SOPs while keeping your employees focused on their other tasks, then it might also be a good idea to hire out and get an outside perspective.

We have teams of consultants ready to produce a complete line of documentation for you. Perhaps you may only need a single technical writer for a brief project. Either way, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. At Essential Data Corporation, we guarantee the quality of our work. Contact us today to get started. (800) 221-0093 or sales@edc.us

Written by Will Boswell