Damages from the misuse of the title “Chef”

By David Scott Peters

www.therestaurantexpert.com

“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can never hurt you!” Remember that advice a caring adult gave you when kids were mean to you when you were growing up? I remember it vividly. And the truth of the matter is, I don’t think that statement is true.

I like to say titles for management don’t matter. Meaning, I don’t care what your title is as a manager (manager, general manager, front of house manager, executive chef, chef, kitchen manager, back of house manager, etc.), it’s what you are responsible for and the authority you have to do your job that matters.

However, I will often contradict myself when it comes to certain titles. If you misuse certain titles, I think it hurts our industry. It can degrade hard working professionals who worked very hard to get where they are today and the whole idea just gets under my skin.

I’m not talking about the “manager” who thinks he should be a “general manager.” No, I am talking specifically about the use of the title “chef.”

Dictionary.com defines the term as “the chief cook, especially in a restaurant or hotel, usually responsible for planning menus, ordering foodstuffs, overseeing food preparation and supervising the kitchen staff.”

That’s what I’m talking about! I believe the term/title chef means “manager” when used in a restaurant or hotel setting. I believe that the title/term chef is a combination of those two definitions. That definition might look like this…

Chef [shef]

Noun

The chief cook, especially in a restaurant or hotel, usually responsible for planning menus, ordering foodstuffs, overseeing food preparation, and supervising the kitchen staff, and is a highly skilled professional who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation.

That definition fits best because it’s not just about making pretty food that tastes amazing. It’s also about making money.

So what should you look for in a chef (or a kitchen manager for that matter)? Take a look at this possible job description to give you an idea:

Job Summary:

The chef sets and achieves the highest standards in the overall operation of the restaurant. In particular, a majority of the chef’s time is spent supervising and directing the operations and workforce, making staffing decisions, ensuring customer satisfaction and product quality, managing the restaurant’s financial performance and marketing the restaurant.

Performance Standards:

  • Follows all company polices.
  • Must be available for all special events and caterings.
  • Ensures all sanitation and safety standards are followed by his or her crew as set forth by the company; maintains a score of 90 percent or better on all sanitation and safety audits.
  • Knows and creates all menu items offered at the restaurant upon approval from owners. Provides build sheets and photographs so all staff can accurately answer menu item questions in regard to preparation methods, ingredients, portion sizes, and side items accompanying the dishes. Sets all specifications for substitutions for items on the menu.
  • Creates specials at least one week ahead of time and properly costs and prices each item.
  • Properly maintains all recipe cards, inventories and ideal to real food cost comparisons. Also maintains a level of inventory that turns over four to six times in one month.
  • Builds menu for catering, from passed appetizers to full sit down on-site and off-site events.
  • Follows ordering procedure standards and properly maintains the purchase allotment daily and its projection at least one month ahead of time.
  • Ensures that proper food and beverage controls are in place to maintain an appropriate level of cost of goods.
  • Ensures that proper labor controls are in place to maintain an appropriate staffing level and labor cost percentage.
  • Encourages and develops a cooperative team environment between the front of house staff and the back of house.
  • Leads by example.

Job Requirements:

  • Must be able to read and communicate in English clearly and effectively.
  • Must be able to lift up to 20 pounds repeatedly throughout shift.
  • Must demonstrate enthusiasm and commitment to guest satisfaction.
  • Must be efficient and accurate with money and figures.
  • Must possess manual ability to manipulate register system and handle/serve food.
  • Must have a valid health card or equivalent.

WOW! That’s a whole lot more than just making petty food that tastes amazing.

I think you can see my point. I have all the respect in the world for line cooks. They play a key role in the restaurant’s success. With that respect in mind, I find it an insult to all the hard working chefs in our industry that develop and train people, manage costs and make pretty amazing tasting food, to degrade what they have accomplished by calling anyone who cooks on the line a chef.

Consider my point the next time you declare someone “chef” in your restaurant.

David Scott Peters TheRestaurantExpert (1)David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at www.therestaurantexpert.com/rdspos.

6 Systems to Use to Avoid Failure

By David Scott Peters

www.therestaurantexpert.com

Many restaurants fail because they simply failed to plan.

How do you avoid failure — small or epic? It’s simple really. You plan for success. You put yourself and your restaurant in a prepared state that can handle anything that is thrown at it.

Planning for success requires the implementation and consistent execution of a list of very specific systems and more importantly, someone inspecting that the systems are followed on a daily basis.

Here are the top six systems you can’t survive without.

Sales Forecasts – Predicting sales is critical to any restaurant. If you don’t document what you think you are going to do in sales for each day of the week, you run the risk of buying too much or not enough product. You run the risk of bringing in too many or too few employees. Each scenario results in lost opportunity and profits because you probably wasted products, 86’d items, lost money at the time clock or provided your guests a terrible experience at every turn, virtually destroying your business as they go off and tell everyone they know and on the Internet, through Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and more, how you suck!

Budget – A budget is critical to the successful implementation of systems, because it gives you cost of goods sold and labor targets. Without targets, you simply cannot make the right decisions and cannot measure your success, because you don’t even know what success looks like. (Check out our free restaurant budget report for a step-by-step guide in creating an effective budget for your restaurant.)

Purchase Allotment System – The purchase allotment system is based on sales forecasts for the entire month, your actual sales for the entire month as they happen, as well as your food or beverage purchases as they are delivered each day. This system ensures that management knows how much money they have to spend to not only make sure you have enough product, but to do it within budget, making it easier to keep your cash in the bank and not on the shelves being risked to waste, spoilage or theft. Most of my most successful members pin their restaurant’s turnaround to this system.

Labor Allotment System – Labor allotment is a system that’s based on sales forecasts for the next week and the actual hours worked and sales for last week. With it you can easily alter your schedules to meet budget by letting each manager know how many hours and dollars they have for next week’s schedule so they can adjust them appropriately. For most restaurants, this is the first step in making sure you don’t schedule too many or too few hours to insure the guest has a great experience and you don’t lose money at the time clock.

  1. Order Par Levels – The days of your chef or kitchen manager ripping off a cardboard box lid and heading into the walk-in cooler with a grease pencil just staring up at the shelves like a tourist in New York City with their mouth wide open and ordering based on their intuition need to end. By asking your vendors for a descending case report and some simple formulas in a spreadsheet, you can easily calculate how much of each product you need to have based on your anticipated volumes, like clockwork. Creating ordering pars means that anyone who is trained to count the product on the shelves accurately can create an order that puts you in a position to succeed.

Prep System – This is one of the most amazing systems because it really is a simple clipboard system that promotes teamwork, trust and a kitchen that is always prepared for anything that comes its way. It promotes teamwork and trust because as a shift is finishing up, those cooks are counting prepped products in their stations so the next shift walks in knowing exactly what needs to be prepped or gathered to run a successful shift without running out of product in the middle of the shift. The simple byproduct is a shift where no one leaves the line during the busiest times of the day to find or prep product to complete tickets.

Let me be perfectly clear, the implementation of these systems is extremely important to your success. They are the keystone to your planning process and will guide you to a successful shift each and every day. But the piece of the puzzle that makes this all work is someone on the management team or in ownership that inspects that the systems are not only being used, but completed on time each and every day.

While we hope that we can simply count on everyone on the management team to be an adult and do what is required, there are many things that can derail the process. A simple inspection is all that is needed to get things back on course.

Implement these six systems and then inspect what you expect to be on your way to flawless shifts on a daily basis, a restaurant filled with happy trained employees and happy guests.

Translation: these systems create a restaurant that people love to go to and that makes money.

David Scott Peters TheRestaurantExpert (1)David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at www.therestaurantexpert.com/rdspos.

 

Measure Restaurant Sales to Determine Labor Needs

By David Scott Peters

www.therestaurantexpert.com

Creating the schedule in a restaurant is like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle. A proper functioning schedule is vital to your business. But putting all the right people in all the right places is just part of writing a schedule. The other part is knowing what your true needs really are.

Here at TheRestaurantExpert.com, we teach several different kinds of systems that make your independent restaurant operate more efficiently, more profitably and without you.

For labor systems, the key measurement is dollars per labor hour. This number will tell you with certainty when you don’t have enough labor and when you have too much labor scheduled for a certain shift.

But even quantitative measurements can lie. You have to be careful because you could be hitting your labor numbers and still be setting up your restaurant for disaster by having a combination of shifts that are either under staffed or over staffed. That’s when it’s important to combine your quantitative data (such as the numbers) with your qualitative data (the things you see in the restaurant along with your gut).

Ideally you want the right amount people in place for the needs of the business and no more.

To get there, first focus on your quantitative measurement and begin tracking your dollars per labor hour. Dollars per labor hour is sales divided by hours. This tells you how many dollars are coming in the restaurant per hour worked. It’s a road map to scheduling your hours in the right places. You’ll see trends and be able to move hours from less-efficient shifts to over-efficient shifts.

Efficiencies are different for everyone’s restaurant, so track your dollars per labor hour and realize that three weeks is what makes a trend.

And if your gut is telling you something different, pay attention. But don’t forego the numbers just because it doesn’t feel right. Change is hard for everyone, and if your team is used to having a dishwasher on Thursday nights, they’re not going to like it if you tell them they’re not getting one anymore. Observe what Thursday nights are really like and what is really needed. Then compare that to your quantitative results of your dollars per labor hour and make an educated decision, not a guess.

The most important thing is to just get started, gather the information you need to combine your gut instincts with solid numbers.

David Scott Peters TheRestaurantExpert (1)David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at www.therestaurantexpert.com/rdspos.