It’s three in the afternoon on a Friday. The dinner rush starts in a few hours. You’re short staffed and doing your best to cover your stations because one of your prep cooks said he’d be half an hour late almost an hour ago. You’ve got two twelve tops scheduled, one of the dishwashers is broken, the produce delivery was missing a few cases of zucchini, and from the smell of it, the new guy is starting to burn a steak.
In the fast paced world of the restaurant industry, you always have to expect the unexpected.
Or as Matt Slezak, head chef at BLT Steakhouse in Charlotte, NC says, “it’s like being on a sinking ship full of holes, and every time you plug one up, another one bursts open.”
The ability to adapt and improvise is critical. Knowing what to expect and how to react can give you the edge you need to succeed. One wrong move can leave you with a frustrated employee, a bad review, or an imbalance in the books.
We’ll discuss a few of the factors that can create chaos in the kitchen, and touch on one simple way you can help put out the fires.
Figuratively, of course.
Supply and Demand
You can’t cook what you don’t have. Restaurants are still feeling the hurt from supply chain shortages and delays. Even a small disruption in a delivery can have a major impact on the menu.
Kitchens with small budgets have to balance their stock and buy supplies when needed. Chain restaurants and big name brands often have the capital to retain a backstock, but even they are not invincible from supply shortages.
As Slezak puts it, “If I come in at one o’clock and the produce doesn’t come till three and zucchini is missing from the truck, I could have stopped at the store on my way in to pick up some had I known. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with perishable goods, I can’t just order fifty pounds at the beginning of the month and use it all month long. You have to be really strategic when dealing with perishables and making sure you always have fresh product.”
You need to be able to quickly and easily inform your staff of these changes in the supply. At the very least, your staff needs to know the amount of ingredients on hand, but if supplies are in really short quantities, the menu may need to be updated as well. As these changes occur, it can be difficult to effectively relay that information in real time.
But a few well placed digital screens around strategic areas of your restaurant can support your employee communication efforts. Through the power of digital signage, you keep your staff informed effectively, quickly, and consistently.
Simply put, digital signage refers to electronic visual display technology like LCD screens that display high-definition content to your audience. Typically when we think of digital signage in the restaurant industry, we see it in terms of front-of-house communications with guests, such as digital menu boards. It’s important not to overlook how digital signage can also serve crucial back-of-house needs, as well. With the right hardware and software, you can effectively communicate to your back-of-house staff while updating your content as quickly and as often as needed.
When you use a professional provider of digital signage solutions, you get access to content management systems that allow you to easily update your content. Keeping your back-of-house staff informed of changes in real time can eliminate the waste of precious time and resources due to miscommunication.
A professional digital signage provider can also work with you to determine the right number and placement of screens for your business. Commercial grade screens are made to last longer and operate more efficiently than most retail monitors. They are built to withstand the heat and hectic environment of the kitchen.
One of the great advantages of digital signage is the flexibility it provides when it comes to the amount of content you can display and share to your staff. In addition to sharing important communications regarding inventory shortages and menu changes, digital solutions can also display a wide range of information relevant to your staff such as:
- Safety & Sanitation - Sanitation is still top of mind to today’s diners. Make sure all current rules and regulations are on display and being properly followed.
- Reservations & Events - Display the number of reservations, private parties, or special events planned for the day. Update as more tables are added or canceled.
- Employee call outs - With staffing shortages still plaguing many restaurants, covering every position for a shift can be a balancing act. Keep your staff informed of schedules and call outs to help the other employees react accordingly.
- Prep Lists & Menus - Prepare your staff for the day by displaying the prep list for the menu to ensure accuracy. If your menu fluctuates throughout the day or week, you can share that information as well.
- Delivery Status - Keep an accurate delivery status on display. Share what’s been ordered, what is en route, and what isn’t available.
- Team Appreciation - Celebrate, motivate, and encourage your staff with uplifting and inspiring messages.
A Simple Solution
The frequent last-minute changes of the restaurant industry come with a long list of challenges. Keep your staff informed completely and effectively by investing in digital signage solutions. With the ability to easily update and manage content, your restaurant can navigate any of the dynamic challenges that come your way.