Developing effective FOH and BOH systems

By Doug Radkey

The more any restaurant depends on the owner’s day in-day out involvement in the operational details of the restaurant, the greater the risk of failure. Starting and operating a successful restaurant or bar relies heavily on having the right systems in place, allowing the venue and its hired team to work as a cohesive unit.

Having the correct systems in place will create consistency, develop operating capital, enhance your team morale, and build business value while positioning your concept for future growth opportunities.

Below are some basic systems each venue should have in place (and can easily implement if they don’t) to allow the owner some freedom to work on the business and not in the business.

Operating systems

HR Management | Create a paper trail for all employees and keep them organized in print form with a digital backup. This would include application forms, emergency contact information, warning notices, copies of any incident reports, plus any staff incentive programs and quarterly staff performance reviews, which should be recorded every three to four months.

Inventory Management | The average restaurant and bar can see three to four per cent of revenue lost to theft or mismanagement of inventory, especially in high ticket items such as alcohol, proteins, and day-to-day supplies. Ensure there is an auditable system in place (digital or paper) at your venue for all inventory in addition to what is referred to as a Top 10 – your 10 most expensive items. These items must be recorded and accounted for each operating day to help monitor your bottom line.

Team Communications | How often are you holding individual reviews and team meetings? Do you hold pre-shift meetings? How do your employees communicate with one another, especially between front-of-house and back-of-house during service? Get into the habit of holding daily shift meetings, monthly team meetings, and quarterly staff reviews. Take it up a notch and consider adding in special training days at a brewery, winery, or a local farm every couple of months, so they can learn, communicate with customers, and train new staff about your offered menu items first hand.

Financial Systems | How often do you review monthly, quarterly, or yearly budgets? How often do you complete a sales mix analysis and review your menu, suppliers, and costs? When you complete your staff schedules, do you complete a roster analysis that measures sales per labour hour and RevPASH (Revenue Per Available Seat Hour) for example? This easily available data will ultimately save time, control costs, and generate further gross profit!

FOH and BOH systems

Chef Shift Checklist | This important checklist will keep the leader of the kitchen organized with what needs to be completed in the morning, afternoon, and evening. It should also provide an area to project daily sales, record the number of reservations, the day’s labour cost for the kitchen, the previous day’s food waste, and what needs to be ordered each day.

Manager Checklist | Similar to the chef checklist, general managers and bar managers should have a similar mindset and list of daily tasks, daily financial goals, and daily staff costs, etc. If a chef, manager, or supervisor is sick or on an extended leave, another team member can step in and understand exactly what needs to be completed, to ensure consistency in your operations.

Kitchen & Bar Prep List | This is a crucial system to ensure your venue minimizes waste. A daily prep list should include all required ingredients, the portion sizes, shelf life, quantity on-hand, and the amount to prep based on both the minimum and maximum you’ve produced and sold on that specific day of the week (in relation to any waste) over the past three months. This must go hand-in-hand with printed sales reports to visualize trends, maximize efficiency, reduce waste, and improve production times.

Line Cook & Server Checklist | The lists don’t stop at management. All team member (FOH & BOH) positions should have a checklist to hold staff accountable, engaged, and working towards a series of set goals for each day of the week.

Quality Control Measures | It is important to track the number of occurrences related to food quality, service problems, and drink related issues. Find trends in temperatures, timing, presentation, and other forms of customer feedback. Put a dollar figure beside each occurrence, discuss with your team, and take immediate action.

It takes effort, honesty, training, reviews, and accountability by the entire team to ensure these basic systems work and are implemented on a daily basis. It may look like more ‘work’ up front, and there are many more systems to suggest, but these will provide the results you need to begin leading a successful operation, starting tomorrow!

About the author:

Doug Radkey is the principal owner of Key Restaurant Group, a global restaurant/bar start-up development agency based in Ontario. Being in the food and beverage industry for over 17 years has allowed him to become a leading voice in the development of feasibility studies, unique concepts, business plans, marketing plans, memorable menus, guest experiences, and financial management systems. Continue the conversation with Doug on Twitter @KeyRestaurants, on Facebook @DougRadkey, on Linkedin, or by visiting

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