Identify restaurant time thieves and how to eliminate

4 common restaurant time thieves and how to eliminate them

When you run a restaurant, you really understand that time is money. As a result, you’re always looking for ways to make everything from food prep to customer service more efficient, especially with current labor shortages and the additional cleaning requirements of restaurant staff.

If you’re struggling with efficiency, you might want to look for restaurant time thieves. Time thieves are routine tasks that take more time than they should, cutting down on productivity and causing delays. Learn more about common restaurant time thieves and how to eliminate them below.

Find the time thieves

Watch for staff time thieves

The first step is to locate where the time thieves are hiding. Set aside some time to observe every aspect of your restaurant to see where there might be preventable delays. Observe customers ordering at the counter or at buffets to see where the line is slowing down or when it gets especially long. Watch staff in the kitchen and on the floor as they work, from setup to cleanup, from food preparation to serving. Make sure to ask them questions about what they think keeps them from being as efficient as possible and what tasks or processes they find frustrating.

Identify the time thieves

Once you know where the slowdowns are, you can start to pinpoint what’s causing them. Which tasks are making staff members wait for others or for items to be ready? Are needed supplies stored in areas that are inconvenient to access during busy times? Are there frequent shortages of certain materials or utensils that require staff to stop other tasks to get refills? Drawing a map of the restaurant and marking down the location of these hotspots can help you visualize the problems.

Eliminate the time thieves

Once you’ve identified the problem areas, you can focus on possible solutions. For example, redesigning workflows in the kitchen and service areas could prevent staff from having to wait on each other or move more quickly. By stocking areas with more utensils or other supplies, staff can avoid having to refill them multiple times during their shifts. If it isn’t possible to get rid of all the time thieves you’ve identified, look for ways to lessen their impact.

Top restaurant time thieves

These are a few common examples of time thieves in the industry. How many are lurking in your restaurant?

Running out of supplies

Running out of supplies.
During busy times like the lunch and dinner rush, the demand for consumables like utensils and condiments is always high. If your staff is constantly having to retrieve supplies or refill containers, that’s a huge drain on their efficiency. Instead, make sure that all of your dispensers have enough capacity for your daily needs. Keep their placement in mind as well: provide dispensers and condiments like ketchup, salt, and pepper on tables or at an easily accessible service stand so guests can help themselves.

Preparation before opening is key as well. It’s always a good idea to do extra side work, just in case, such as rolling extra cutlery sets in napkins in case of an unusually heavy rush or a large party. Make sure containers for straws, silverware, cutlery kits, napkins, and cups and lids are completely filled before opening. And don’t forget about the dispensers for fountain drinks and other beverages!

Restroom cleaning and stocking

Restroom cleaning and stocking.
Regular restroom checkups are a must, especially during peak periods. For maximum efficiency, schedule them at regular intervals throughout the day and provide staff with a checklist to make sure they cover all required tasks. Make sure to check each one has enough towels and toilet paper. For high-traffic restaurants, high-capacity dispensers like the Tork PeakServe® line can hold more towels, saving staff from having to refill them frequently.

Longer waits to order

Long waits to order.
No matter how delicious your food is, frustrations with long lines at the counter can result in lost sales. To minimize delays, design and display menus to be visible and easy to read to speed up the ordering process. Posting your menu on your website or using a scannable QR code that guests can access on their phone allows customers to view items and make their choices ahead of time—even while they’re waiting in line. Another way to prevent long waits in line: offer pre-ordering through an app so food is ready when customers arrive.

A kitchen that’s too slow

A kitchen that’s too slow.
Inefficiency at the heart of a restaurant can affect your entire operation. For an optimal workflow, give everyone an assigned responsibility. Ensuring that kitchen staff take care of food prep in advance of each shift sets everyone up for speed and productivity. Since good hygiene is always a priority, keep cleaning supplies, hand soap, and washing stations stocked and easily accessible. Finally, encourage staff to use any downtime or quiet periods to clean up and organize their workstations—messes and equipment that’s missing or out of place can cause irritating slowdowns later.

Tork offers a range of products that can help restaurants address time thieves. Features such as low refill indicators help improve workflows and support greater efficiency throughout your restaurant. Time is money, but once you are rid of time thieves, you’ll have freed up resources to fuel new ideas for your restaurant. Visit Tork online to learn more about common restaurant time thieves and find recommended products.  

Download the “4 common restaurant time thieves” infographic (PDF)