The hospitality industry possesses actions and tasks that are repeated regularly and frequently. These actions and tasks can include repeated processes such as the ‘order of customer service’ (i.e. the consistent way in which customers are treated from the moment they walk in to the moment they leave), to support tasks such as ‘ordering weekly stock from suppliers’. Repetitive tasks can also be defining processes such as ‘the creation of a cocktail recipe’, or ‘the way a certain dish is served’. A repetitive interaction can be the way in which a customer is treated when they pay a bill (or perform another action inside a venue). Fundamentally, a repetitive task is an action, interaction or process that occurs regularly and/or frequently.
In the hospitality industry, it important to execute repetitive tasks in the same manner, every time.
In many cases, it is the nature of consistent repetition of actions, tasks and recipes that help define the external reputation of a venue. If a venue re-creates an experience or product uniquely, consistently and successfully, it will become known in the local sphere for that excellent experience or product. It makes sense to capitalize on this. Find something your venue is good at, and repeat it for every customer.
So, in the hospitality industry, it’s essential that all repeated tasks are completed in exactly the same manner, every time. This includes internal tasks such as cleaning, stock ordering and other back of house tasks, and external tasks involving the creation of food and beverages, and interactions with customers.
Repeating tasks in the same manner, every time, activates one extremely important lever of success in the hospitality industry: consistency. It is this consistency that contributes to a venue’s external reputation (and therefore success).
As I’ve mentioned earlier, consistency is a key factor in determining the success of a venue – if a venue is known for consistency, it’ll have more chance of success than an inconsistent venue. With this in mind, I’d like to stress the importance of this next strategic approach to bar management, which answers a logical question:
Question: How do you re-create consistency?
Answer: Systemize everything you can. Create a systematic method of repeating every venue-defining action and task.
If it is a regular process, systemize it. If customer service, productivity or profitability is involved in any regular part of your establishment (which it will be), systemize the process. If there is a degree of risk involved in a process, systemize it. I don’t mean purchase a ‘computer system’ to do the work for you, I mean create a uniform and methodical approach for executing a task.
Creating an efficient system involves formulating the most efficient way to perform an action or task, and creating a way of uniformly and consistently executing that system.
When you’ve created your system, record exactly how the system works, and store the details of the system in a place where your staff can access it (an ideal place for this is your operations manual, but we’ll cover that later). Recording and implementing your systems has the following advantages:
- All staff are on the same ‘level of understanding, and understand how the repeated processes in your venue occur
- There is nil room for confusion, when executing a particular process
- Inducting new staff is efficient and straightforward – simply give them your list of systems to read
- You can rest assured knowing that tasks will be done as efficiently as possible (using the extremely efficient systems you created), so you can drive your venue towards the highest levels of customer service, productivity and profitability
Examples of systemized processes are:
- Standard customer service procedures (create a positive consistent and standardized experience for every customer, from the moment they walk through the door, to the moment they leave)
- Outlining the way your bar is setup and packed down (opening/closing procedures)
- Calculating wage costs and percentages
- How to process credit card transactions properly
- What to say to customers when they leave
- Tracking daily/weekly/monthly/annual operational tasks, particularly cleaning tasks
- Tracking other tasks or regular/re-occurring jobs
- Wet/dry stock ordering and receiving
- How to record shrinkage (theft, wastage, spillage)
- Basically, any repeatable action or task that may differentiate your venue from your competitors.
By systemizing tasks, you’ll bring a strong sense of organization to your establishment (which will assist in promoting a positive internal staff culture).
When you are creating systems for your bar, think outside the box. Think of faster, easier or more economical ways of executing a task. Or get your team on board – sometimes brainstorming for a remedy to a situation with your team can generate unpredictably positive results (sometimes from the team member you’d least expect). Experienced staff may have seen an effective system in a past occupation which can be adapted to your venue.
Stand by your systems – if you don’t enforce them, staff will assume you are a pushover and you’ll have difficulty asserting your authority in the future.
One of the most common format of systems I’m describing is the checklist – in simplest form a checklist is a list of tasks (either ordered or unordered) with a tick-box on one side. Making a checklist for a task presents no real negative side-effect (you have nothing to lose with a checklist): a ‘check-listed’ task will be done uniformly every time (given the list is followed correctly) and can easily be checked by another staff member if necessary.
An important checklist in any bar is a wet and dry goods stock ordering checklist (wet stock is your alcohol, soft drink etc. and dry stock is other items like napkins, straws, glassware etc.). This is your ordering ‘bible’ and contains everything you’ll need to order regularly (normally weekly, but depends on your venue) and should be kept somewhere easily accessible in your bar. Tell your staff where it is kept, so if you aren’t present they can write a list of things you are likely to run out of. This is a great communication tool too.