The five Ws in Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures

The five Ws in Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures

Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) should be available to staff for them to provide and maintain high quality products and services to customers. An effective SOP should have a direction and structure encompassing the five “W’s”:

a)      WHO will perform the task?

b)      WHAT reference or materials should they use?

c)      WHERE the task will take place. (for example; in the kitchen, greeting area, etc.)

d)      WHEN the task shall be performed.

e)      WHY is it important for the restaurant staff to carry the task in certain ways?

Restaurant SOP will allow staff to understand the expectations and can hold them accountable for any unsatisfactory performance. Written SOP is a standardized process, providing step-by-step guidance that provides consistency regardless which employee performs the task.

Front of the House Standards

Even before a guest enters your establishment they observe your signage, the cleanliness of your parking lot, the cleanliness of your entrance windows and doors. You set the stage for guest expectations for a positive experience when they see cleanliness and order on the way in. The next observation they get is the staff member who greets them.  Who do you want to be greeted by? Hopefully someone smiling, attentive and in a proper uniform is who you want. Keep in mind that a uniform is just that, a mode of dress that keeps your staff “uniform” in appearance so that guests do not have to guess who is working there.

After your guest is seated they should be treated to a clean seat, table, table ware, menus and any adjacent window or shelf should also be clean dust free.

Back of the House Standards

Uniforms or code of dress is also important to instill cleanliness and a team atmosphere in the kitchen. Cleanliness and personal hygiene are of paramount importance in the kitchen. Preparation of menu items all need to be spelled out to provide consistency. Next, you will want to find a POS system for your small restaurant. The POS system you chose should have all the features you need to be integrated into one system. This will allow you to manage your inventory and streamline your daily operations. Proper food handling ensures that no bad food leaves the kitchen and helps reduce waste and food cost.

Training for Success

Every major sports team puts an emphasis on training. Quality food service operations train as well. You must invest the time to properly train new hires and re-train longer term employees to maintain a high level of standards. Training instills self-confidence in your employee. A better trained employee is more efficient and this will translate to better service for your guests.  Even managers need to re-train from time to time to prevent them from getting into too much of a routine.

Monitor your Staff Daily

One of the most obvious functions of management is to monitor the staff to see that they are adhering to the SOP that they have been trained for. People tend to take shortcuts over time and that can jeopardize your standards. Proper monitoring and coaching is a way to bring your staff back to proper service or behavior levels.

Preparing the SOP for Your Restaurant

You can find examples of restaurant standard operating procedures online or, if you have enlisted the help of a restaurant consulting services, he or she can provide you with a plan customized for your operation. Keep your policies and procedures as brief as possible while cover the most important aspects of each position. A properly designed and implemented SOP will prevent an employee from ever saying, “I didn’t know”.

When employees know what they are supposed to do, how they are supposed to do the job, how to dress and how to behave then the entire operation runs smoother. A set of standards and procedures should be written for each operation and location of your restaurant before you hire the first employee.

About the Author

CFO Business Growth Solutions, LLC provides Nationwide Restaurant Accounting, Restaurant Bookkeeping Services, Menu Engineering, POS Business Intelligence, Menu Writing and CFO Restaurant Consulting Services.  For more information go to


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