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  • John Reese

Improve All Processes

Getting back on track with Restaurant Reboot, it’s now time to revisit all processes. Time to toss out any not being followed, streamline those that are being used, and add those where the addition of a clear process would improve business. There’s nothing quite as thrilling as a little discussion around process! Yes, I know. I can feel the eye rolls as I sit here writing on a lovely Thanksgiving Monday with the sun shining and the air crisp!



I am not a systems nerd pushing business owners to create thick binders of Standard Operating Procedures that will sit on the shelf collecting dust. What I do strongly advocate is that operators apply discipline in making the business Smarter, Simpler, and more Effective. If I had a bumper sticker, it would shout SIMPLIFY EVERYTHING to everyone on my tail. Of course, simple is not easy; it acts counter to our entrepreneurial spirit and nature for adding layers of complexity.


Many large institutional operations rely, quite necessarily, on having binders of SOPs for every function and piece of equipment. The idea is that employees are provided key resources to use when needed, that consistency, quality, and efficiency are provided for, and that occupational health and safety are adhered to. This is all great, especially when you have a large head office team working on pumping these SOPs out. But what about the smaller operator who may lack the knowledge, experience, and time to develop such things?


Your business must have somewhere between six and twelve Foundational Processes that are developed to ensure success. Sound processes for key functions in your business are vital as they provide the structure and means for formalizing and entrenching the foundations of your operations.


Depending on the nature of your business, your key processes will include:


· Human Resource Process

· Sales, Marketing, and Promotions Process

· Financial Process

· Administrative Process

· Three-to-five key Operational and Production Processes

· Health, Hygiene, and Safety Process

· Anything else that you believe to be foundational in nature


What does an effective process look like? It must easy to understand, available for quick reference, straightforward to teach, measurable, and repeatable. Most importantly, everyone must follow all processes, or they will be of little value. This requires commitment and discipline from managers and employees alike.


Begin by building out the core 20% of the process, the absolute essentials that must be adhered to. If that 20% outlines the truly important steps, and if the key elements are drilled into your team and reinforced, you will achieve 80% compliance. This is far better than having an SOP built out 100% and followed 20% of the time. Don’t get bogged down reaching for perfection, it does not exist.


If a process is too complex, you lose the user’s ability to follow it. Sure, we want to ‘dummy proof’ our businesses; but by overdoing SOPs and making them harder to follow, we act against our best intentions to achieve the high levels of compliance we need. Tricky business this, and somewhat counterintuitive.

Take the time now to review your core processes and improve, streamline, finetune. And remember, your employees will have the greatest insight into how they operate in their roles. Before you start building a given process, go back to basics and gather requirements from the users of that process. The end result will be a set of simple processes that will be effective and adhered to. Then repeat, repeat, and repeat again until it all sinks in. The end result will be improved operational efficiency and effectiveness, all of which will show up on your bottom line.

Until next time!

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