A big factor in your restaurant’s success is quality control. Do the dishes on your menu all taste the way they should? Is the kitchen and dining room cleanliness always in tip-top shape? Do your customers get the same service, experience and quality of food every time they dine at your restaurant?
While these questions are without a doubt important, what’s more important is that you don’t lock yourself in to thinking of restaurant quality control as another item on the business checklist of things you only need to address every quarter.
Quality control is an ongoing, everyday effort, and it’s not a responsibility left solely for the restaurant manager and/or owner to take care of.
Since we’re big believers in there always being room for improvement, here’s how you can improve your restaurant quality control and why you should start thinking of it as a full-team effort:
Start Thinking of Quality Control as Value Control
As we mentioned above, quality control can feel very “item-on-the-checklist,” and it’s a term that blends in to corporate jargon, which makes the whole idea of quality control seem more like an obligatory practice than something you strive to maintain and improve every single day.
So let’s explore the word quality for a second. A few exchangeable words for quality include excellence, superiority, worth, and value. You can choose whatever term resonates most with you, but for the sake of completing this task, we’re going to shift thinking of quality control as value control.
Now instead of simply evaluating the quality of your restaurant’s output (food, wait service, cleanliness, etc.), you can begin to view quality control through the lens of how you’re providing value to your customers in every sense of the word.
How do you make your potential customers feel valued before they’ve even made the decision to dine at your restaurant?
How do you create a valuable experience for them from the second they walk through the door to the minute they leave?
How about the days after they’ve visited your restaurant?
See, monitoring the value you provide for your customers still counts as quality control, but now you’re looking at it from all angles, not just the quality diners receive once they’ve decided to spend money with you. You have to give them value before they ever spend a dime; that’s what will set your restaurant apart from the many others diners could choose for their meal.
Hire Well and Empower Your Employees
One of the most crucial details in creating a business culture of quality and value is bringing in great people who are capable of and are committed to providing top-notch value on to your team.
Of course, we’re not here to advise you on how you handle your hiring process or how much to pay your employees, but know that the old adage, “you get what you pay for” applies to your team.
Take the time to vet out stellar applicants and give them ample reason to want to be a part of your team. We all know that lackluster workers with little drive to go above and beyond are easy to come by, so when excellent candidates come your way, know that they’re probably in higher demand. If you don’t provide them with fair opportunities, compensation, or treatment, they might join you for awhile, but they’ll be looking to find work elsewhere soon enough.
Also, empowering your employees to make decisions without always having to check with management first, as well as giving them permission to make their voice heard, will not only help keep turnover rate down, but you’ll also be spreading the responsibility of quality control.
For example, train your servers extensively on the menu and let them know that if they go to pick up their table’s meal and notice the plate isn’t up to par, it’s okay to ask the kitchen staff for a re-plate.
Mistakes happen and quality will dip every now and then, but if your team is encouraged to keep each other in check and they’re continually coached on how to handle various scenarios, you’ll see the value and quality your restaurant provides continue to soar along with your sales.
Separate Quality Control from Cost
Yes, the true essence of quality control can come at a price. Whether it’s comping someone’s meal or purchasing better cleaning products, don’t look at quality control as a cost, look at it as an investment.
Place your priority on providing value and quality to your customers first and foremost, and the profits will follow. There’s no need to be concerned with looking for every possible way to cut down costs if it could mean sacrificing quality.
That’s not to say cost should be neglected, we know the whole goal of a business is to be in the green, but understand that poor quality control will cost you sales, so in the end, having a quality control mindset that isn’t so concerned with cost will allow you to make the decisions that best benefit your customers.
So, as you can see, having stellar quality control expands beyond your kitchen, it’s something that must remain a top priority for every single member of your team, which brings us to our next and final section:
Why Quality Control is a Full-Team Effort
The people who are best tuned-in to how each area of your restaurant will run most efficiently and will produce the best result are the people who work in that area.
That means the servers will have some of the best ideas regarding organizing serving sections and techniques for making additional sales at the table with drinks, appetizers or desserts, and the hostesses will probably have the best ideas for handling long wait lists and reservations.
When evaluating common customer grievances that are voiced on Yelp!, on your restaurant’s Facebook page, or in person, look to the people who work in that area of your restaurant to help guide you to the best quality control solution.
All in all, the best way to ensure top quality standards are being met across your entire restaurant is to mobilize your entire team from front of house, to the marketing department, to the busboys, to the sous chefs, and everyone in between. Train them extensively, empower them to make decisions and speak up, and involve them in some of your decision-making processes that they could contribute to. After all, you hired them for their talent. Let them show you what they can do.
It’s important to remember that with all of the technology we have these days, word of mouth is still the number one form of marketing. And even if just one part of your team isn’t firing on all cylinders when it comes to quality control, you could be blowing your chance at getting a potential customer through the door, getting a current customer to return, or having that customer spread the word about their poor experience at your restaurant.
Give them a reason to spread the word about their great experience and why they want to come back.