New Kickfin Features that Make Tip Calculation a Breeze

Kickfin’s best-in-class tip calculation tool has some exciting new bells and whistles.

If you’re already using Kickfin’s tip pool calculator, then you know how much time and hassle you’re saving by automating everything. (And if you’re not? Head over to our tip pooling software page to see how it works!)

As we partner with more restaurants to bring their tip management into the future, we’re continuing to innovate our product so we can address their biggest pain points.

In this case, that means enhancing our tip pooling features so you can auto-calculate tip amounts even for the most complex or unique tip pool or share policies.

Check out a few of our latest features that will make tip calculations easier than ever.

New Release: Splitting Large Party Tips 

If your restaurant often hosts large parties, you know that the tip share can get confusing. Say one server is taking care of a party of 40 with a bartender assigned to only make drinks for that party. Meanwhile, the server has a few other two-top tables that are getting drinks from the main service bar. At the end of the night, how do you ensure that the large-party bartender gets their fair share of the tip out (without spending an hour on your phone calculator)? 

Kickfin can now automate that process for you, alleviating questions from your event bartender and saving time and effort on the part of your managers. 

Seamless Integrations 

Kickfin is partnering with your POS system to integrate seamlessly with your existing restaurant tech. Already, we’re serving Toast customers through our integration — and your POS just might be up next. 

Kickfin integration users get access to new product features first, like our new tip-out transparency tool. Your employees can log into their Kickfin accounts and see exactly how their tips have been split between team members, offering them full transparency into your tip policy in action.

Manager Tips 

We’re always listening to feedback to improve the Kickfin experience, and this one goes out to all of our restaurant partners who asked us to streamline the manager tip reallocation process.

>>Learn more about managers & tipping laws

In most cases, managers are not allowed to earn tips since they are salaried employees. But we all know that managers often step in and take care of tables to help servers get out of the weeds. Well-meaning guests will most likely leave a tip, not knowing that the manager technically can’t accept them — so where does that money go?

Kickfin now features a default pool, where tips “paid” to a manager are automatically redistributed to tipped staff based on your restaurant’s tip policy. 

Improved Labor Data Accuracy

We all know how easy it is for an employee to forget to clock out after a long shift. And sure, they aren’t going to get paid for a 16-hour overnight shift, but when payday comes around, those extra hours create a nightmare for your payroll team. 

With Kickfin, all employees are required to be clocked out in order to finalize payments — so you’ll catch the labor data mistake long before your payroll team has to sort it out. 

Even Better Security 

We’re committed to protecting you and your employees’ hard-earned money, so we’re adding an extra layer of security for certain transactions. You can now enable double approval of payments that meet certain conditions:

  • First payment for new employees
  • Employees getting their first payout in X number of days
  • Employees receiving more than X payouts in a 24-hour period. 

With these extra guardrails in place, you can always be sure that the right money is going to the right person. Reach out to our support team to configure your custom security measures.

Using Kickfin is a win-win for operators, managers, and employees alike. Restaurateurs save on cash delivery and labor costs, managers shave hours off their workload, and servers have the same instant payment that they’re used to — without the hassle and uncertainty of cash. 

Want to learn more about Kickfin? Let us show you the ropes with a demo

Kickfin Announces Integration with Toast 

You heard it here first: 2024 is the year of integrations. 

In an effort to make Kickfin even more user-friendly and adaptable for our partners, we’re working with restaurant tech leaders to integrate our tip management solution with their existing systems. 

First up — Toast! A trailblazer for cloud-based restaurant management technology, Toast is a favorite POS system for restaurants, food trucks, and bars. You probably know them best for being the first to create handheld POS devices, drastically changing the entire restaurant ecosystem. To make life easier for their customers, Toast partnered with Kickfin to create an integration that makes tip pooling, tip distribution, and calculation smoother. 

As restaurant tech innovators ourselves, this partnership is the perfect fit for Kickfin. 

Our goal at Kickfin is always to save time for managers, prevent loss for operators, and create more financial freedom for hospitality employees through pioneering technology that digitizes many of the analog processes that the restaurant industry is built on. 

As a member of the Toast Partner Ecosystem, we’ll be able to deliver our product to Toast customers and modernize their tip management systems with ease. Using technology that they’re already familiar with, Toast customers can reap the benefits of Kickfin with minimal ramp-up upon implementation.

“No two restaurants split tips the same way, but invariably, it takes too long and involves too much risk,”  said Justin Roberts, the co-CEO of Kickfin. “This integration allows for the utmost customization with a near-zero learning curve — truly the best of both worlds for restaurants that want to save time, reduce labor costs and make life easier for their team.”

And one of their partners is already enjoying the ROI with Kickfin. Bar Louie takes great pride in making tip distribution equitable for all of their employees, so they rely on a complex tip pooling system to ensure fair pay. Prior to using Kickfin, managers at each of their 60 locations spent 45 minutes at the end of every shift to make calculations and divvy out funds to all of their servers. Now, they’ve streamlined their tip-out process with Kickfin — and managers are doing the same work in less than a minute! That’s an annual average of 15,000 hours saved across their entire chain. 

>> Hear more Kickfin success stories

After implementing Kickfin, managers can spend their time on what matters most: delivering excellent customer service. That means more table touches, more support for your staff, and more time to focus on server training. 

With managers spending more time on the floor (instead of counting cash in the back), you’ll see better customer reviews, better service, and increased sales — all from digitizing your tip-outs with Kickfin.

We’re excited about our new partnership with Toast and the opportunity to make digital tipping a reality for their customers. For restaurants who aren’t using Toast, don’t worry! We look forward to providing similar integrations across the restaurant tech industry.  

Want to see these results for yourself? Find out how to become a Kickfin integration partner or check out a demo of our platform.

What is the Tip Credit? Your Guide to Restaurant Employee Minimum Wage

Tipping is as American as apple pie — so much so that it has become heavily regulated.  

Here’s one tipping regulation that most restaurant owners can cheer for: the tip credit. Find out about the federal laws that allow employers to subsidize labor costs through tipped earnings. (Obligatory disclaimer: this is not intended to be legal or financial advice — always consult with your legal counsel or tax professional if you have questions!)

What is the tip credit? 

There’s a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, but many restaurants only pay their servers $2.13. How? 

Since servers and bartenders earn the majority of their living from tips, the U.S. Department of Labor created the “tip credit,” which allows employers to count tipped earnings toward their minimum wage requirements. 

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour, but employers can take a credit of up to $5.12 per hour. (Importantly, this number varies by state — more on that later). 

If you take the tip credit, you’ll ensure that servers earn at least $7.25 an hour in wages and tips (hopefully much more!), and take the tip credit when it’s time to run payroll. 

“Taking” the tip credit: Is it fair to employees? 

As most restaurant pros know all too well, this industry is known for its tight margins. That’s why a tip-friendly culture can be beneficial to both hospitality employers and employees. Tipping frequently enables hardworking, well-deserving employees to earn far more than minimum wage requirements — and far more than what revenue constraints allow operators to pay their people. (In fact, many full-service restaurant servers earn $20 or more per hour.)

In states where the tip credit is allowed, and in restaurants where tipping volumes are sufficient, the tip credit allows restaurant owners to reduce some of their labor costs, while ensuring their staff still make at least a living wage.

Which states allow you to take the tip credit? 

Based on your location, taking the tip credit may not be an option for you. Make sure you know the legality in your state and how it will affect your recruiting efforts. 

States that allow the tip credit

If you live in any of the following states, you’re in luck! As of publication, these are the states that allow some form of the tip credit.

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

While all of these states allow a tip credit, check your state laws to see how much you can take per hour. In states with higher minimum wage requirements, you may see higher tip credit amounts — and other states that lower the maximum tip credit amount. 

States that ban the tip credit

At the time of publication, these states do not allow employers to take the tip credit for their FOH staff, meaning all employees must be paid at least the state minimum wage.

  • Alaska
  • California 
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada 
  • Oregan
  • Washington 

Which employees does the tip credit apply to? 

Big picture: In states where you can take the tip credit, it applies only to tipped employees. That means your untipped employees — i.e., your back-of-house staff — are not eligible for a tip credit. 

But of course, we’re talking about the law here, so exceptions and caveats abound! Even if it’s allowed in your state, there are still some boxes you have to check before taking the tip credit on all of your tipped employees. 

To determine which employees qualify for the tip credit, here are a few questions you need to ask. 

  • Is the tip credit allowed in my state? Again, a handful of states do not allow employers to take the federal tip credit, period.
  • How much do my employees earn in tips? You can only take the tip credit for tipped employees who regularly earn at least $30 a month in tips. 
  • How much time are my tipped employees spending on non-tip-producing duties?  

This one is a little tricky. Basically, the tip credit can only be applied to the hours your tipped employees spend doing work that produces tips OR that directly supports tip-producing work, a.k.a. side work. (Per the DOL, supporting tasks include “dining room prep work, such as refilling salt and pepper shakers and ketchup bottles, rolling silverware, folding napkins, and setting tables”).

However: Employers lose the tip credit for the time their tipped employees spend doing side work if that side work exceeds 20% of their workweek. (This is known as the 80/20 rule.)

Additionally, employers lose the tip credit for the time their employees spend doing side work if they’re doing side work for more than 30 consecutive minutes. In other words, even if an employee spends less than 20% of their total workweek doing side work, the tip credit doesn’t apply to any periods of time where the employee spent 30 consecutive minutes or more on side work. 

Suffice it to say, this can get really complicated, really fast. Understanding the rules themselves is only half the battle; being able to track and apply them can be a challenge, too.

If you’re confused (or even if you think you’ve got it down pat) — it’s a good idea to consult with legal counsel to ensure you’re operating above board.

Can I take the tip credit if I implement a tip pool?

Tip pooling, like the tip credit, is pretty heavily regulated at both the federal and state levels. And just like taking the tip credit, it can be easy to be unintentionally out of compliance when it comes to tip pooling. 

So what happens if you run a tip pool and you want to take the tip credit (or vice versa)?

There are two key things to note.

  • Implementing a tip pool doesn’t preclude you from taking the tip credit.
  • However, if you want to take the tip credit, your tip pool cannot include back-of-house (i.e. non-tipped) employees.

In other words: if you’re taking the tip credit, only tipped employees can participate in tip pooing or tip sharing. If BOH employees get tipped out — which is legal in many places — then you can’t take the tip credit for any of your employees, including your FOH folks. 

Do I have to notify my employees about the tip credit?

You are required to give your employees notice at the time they’re hired that you’re taking the tip  credit.

What is the FICA tip credit?

This is another huge opportunity for employers to increase profit margins without cutting costs on food or labor. Typically, employers are required to pay a share of their employees’ Social Security and Medicare taxes (also known as FICA) based on their income. The program was designed to incentivize employers to better monitor staff tip reporting. 

Since many servers and bartenders increase their wages to well over minimum wage in tips, the FICA tip credit allows restaurant owners to decrease their tax liability. Rather than determining their FICA tax liability by total income (including tips), this tax credit allows employers to only pay FICA taxes on employee earnings that are above minimum wage. 

Simplify tipping for your team 

If you have tipped employees, you have to deal with a lot of cash. It’s taking up managers’ time and creating a reporting nightmare. Move into the future with Kickfin — the easiest way to pay out tips. Kickfin’s capabilities digitize tip payouts, simplify tip pool calculations, and makes reporting a breeze. 

Learn more about Kickfin today. 

How to Reduce Employer Payroll Taxes with the FICA Tip Credit

Like any good business owner, restaurant operators are always looking for ways to reduce overhead costs and bump up profits. And one way to cut costs without sacrificing quality is to relieve some of your tax burden using the credits available to food and beverage businesses. 

One that you need to know: the FICA tip credit. Thanks to America’s tipping culture, most servers earn the majority of wages from tips paid directly from customers, and the IRS is willing to acknowledge that. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the FICA tip credit for restaurant operators. (Obligatory disclaimer: this is not intended to be legal or financial advice — always consult with your legal counsel or tax professional if you have questions!)

What is the FICA tip credit? 

You’ve heard of the tip credit — here’s another “credit” that restaurant owners can use to decrease costs. 

FICA taxes are your payroll taxes that go towards federal programs, like Social Security and Medicare. The liability for FICA taxes is shared between the employee and employer. 

But technically, aren’t customers the one paying servers’ wages through their tips? Should all of the tipped income tax liability fall on the restaurant owner? 

According to the federal government, the answer is no. You can take a tax credit to decrease your burden on employee payroll taxes based on the amount of tips that your employees report above minimum wage. This is called the FICA tip credit, which is part of the general business tax credit. 

When is the FICA tip credit applicable? 

There are some important conditions that restaurant operators must comply with in order to qualify for the FICA tax credit. 

  • You must own a food and beverage business where tipping is customary 
  • Tips must be given voluntarily (so service charges do not count toward tips, even if they’re paid directly to employees)
  • You must owe taxes in order to qualify 
  • The FICA tax credit cannot reduce your tax liability below $0
  • You cannot claim the FICA tax credit and deduct those same taxes as a business expense

How to calculate the FICA tip credit 

Here’s an example of how to calculate the FICA tip credit for a tipped employee. 

Before we get started on the math, note that the FICA tip credit is based on a minimum wage of $5.15 per hour (the minimum wage when the credit was established). Employers are allowed to take the tax credit on any tips that a server earns above the $5.15 minimum wage.

So, let’s say:

Your server works 100 hours over the course of a month. During that time, the server also earned $1000 in tips. You’re taking the tip credit and paying $2.13 an hour for her time.

100 hours x $5.15 minimum wage = $515 required minimum wage for FICA tax credit

100 hours x $2.13 hourly wage = $213 actual wages paid 

$515 minimum wage – $213 actual wage = $302 ineligible FICA tax credit amount 

$1000 in tips – $302 ineligible credit amount = $698 eligible FICA tax credit amount

$698 eligible credit x 7.65% FICA tax rate = $53.40 FICA tax credit

If your restaurant already pays more than the required minimum wage of $5.15 per hour, then you can simply take the FICA tax credit on any tips earned outside of their hourly wages. 

For example, your server works 100 hours in a month and earns $1000 in tips. You pay her $7.25 in hourly wages. 

$1000 eligible credit amount x 7.65% FICA tax rate = $76.50 FICA tax credit

Obligatory disclaimer: While we’re here to provide information and tips, remember to always consult with an expert when you’re preparing your taxes so that you can get advice personalized for your business. 

Make life easier with Kickfin’s tip management platform

We know that’s a lot of math, but with powerful reporting tools, the tip management process is a whole lot smoother for everyone involved. 

For better, easier tip tracking and reporting that will simplify tax season, check out Kickfin’s tip management platform. Our solution streamlines tip reporting as well as digital tip payouts and tip pool calculations. Request a demo to learn more.

Reporting Tips on Taxes: 5 Questions Your Restaurant Staff Is Probably Asking

It’s no secret that tax season is confusing and stressful, especially when you work in the hospitality industry. Many restaurant employees — whether they’re newbies or seasoned pros — aren’t exactly sure what’s required when it comes to reporting their income and filing taxes. There tends to be a lot of misconceptions particularly when it comes to reporting on tips received.

Maybe your employees are asking questions, or maybe you have a hunch that they should be asking questions. If that’s the case, we’ve taken the liberty of answering a few FAQs that your staff might find helpful. (Obligatory disclaimer: Of course, this is not intended to be tax, legal or accounting advice, and it’s always best to point them in the direction of a certified tax pro if they need help!). 

1. Do I have to report my tips to the IRS? 

Short answer: yes. 

Employees are required to report all income, including tips received while working at a restaurant, on their tax returns. This includes cash tips, credit card tips, and tips received via electronic payment platforms. 

Accurately reporting your income, including the tips you’ve earned, ensures that you avoid penalties and legal issues. But it’s not just about ensuring “Uncle Sam” gets his due; it also behooves you to avoid underreporting your earnings. More on that in a minute…

To make things easier, it’s advisable to keep detailed records of your tips to ensure accurate reporting come tax time. (If you’re a Kickfin user, of course, that’s easy to do!)

These days, you probably receive tips from customers in one of two ways: either they add a tip via credit card when they pay the bill, or they’ll leave a cash tip. Here’s what to know about reporting credit card tips and cash tips to the IRS

Reporting credit card tips

Most restaurants use POS systems to run their front-of-house operations. When customers leave tips on credit cards, they’re getting tracked in the POS and reported to the IRS by your employer. As a result, those tips are going to be included on the W-2 or 1099 that your employer gives you.

That’s because your employer is responsible for paying taxes on your tip earnings, too. In addition to paying payroll taxes, employers are required to withhold income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes on those employee tips, just as they would on other forms of employee compensation. They must keep accurate records of all tips reported by employees and include those amounts when filing employment tax returns.

(Keep in mind: this is the case for all tips left on credit cards, no matter how your employer is paying out those tips — cash, digitally, paycard or payroll. In other words, even if you’re leaving your shift with a wad of cash in your wallet, the IRS is well aware that you earned those tips, assuming your customers are primarily paying with credit cards.)

What’s more: because cash tips are less common and POS data is readily available, the IRS collects income information based on the credit card tips you input through their SITCA program. So, there’s really no way around reporting credit card tips to the IRS, and you’ll be liable for income tax on those tips. 

>> Learn more about SITCA and tip reporting

Reporting cash tips

This is where things can get a little muddy. 

It’s been common practice in the restaurant industry to under-report cash tips (or not report them at all). Technically, this is illegal. 

Bottom line: Employees are required to report all tips received when you file your taxes, including cash tips that were not run through your restaurant’s POS. Again, if you don’t accurately report your tip earnings, you could face financial and/or legal penalties. 

2. Does it affect my employer (and will they care?) if I under report my cash tips? 

Most restaurants are using the tip credit to decrease their monthly labor costs — so under reported tips could cause them some problems. 

Your employer’s biggest concern here is making sure that you earn at least minimum wage with the addition of your tips. If the majority of your tips are coming from credit cards, those are already automatically reported through your POS system, and your employer can track them for compliance purposes. But if you’re the rare server who earns more cash these days, then under reporting tips could cause a big spike in labor costs for your employer. 

In short, your employer probably won’t care if you don’t report all of your cash tips, but there are some serious reasons why you should…

3. What happens to me if I under report my cash tips? 

Leaving those cash tips untaxed might give you more freedom in the short run, but it could affect your future financial security. 

  1. You run the risk of being audited. No, it’s not super likely, but there’s always a chance that the IRS may be suspicious of your reported sales compared to your reported tips. This discrepancy could cost you in the long run.

  2. Unemployment and disability payments are based on wages. If you’re under-reporting your tips, it could hurt you if you ever need to rely on unemployment or disability (which many restaurant employees had to do during the pandemic). With your income artificially decreased, you’ll have to live off of much less than you’re actually owed.

  3. It may be harder to make investments in your future. We know great servers who are raking in the cash… but when you’re ready to make a major financial move, you might not have the documentation to back it up. For example, you might love a house that is technically in your budget, but without proof of your entire income, you might not qualify for a sizable enough home loan or be able to prove that you make three times the rent.

4. How does my tip reporting affect my taxes? 

Ultimately, how much you report in tips will determine how much you owe in taxes — that’s kind of the whole point of reporting your income. The more you report, the higher your tax liability. 

5. Why do I owe taxes every year? Aren’t they supposed to be withheld from my pay? 

They are — but your hourly wage probably isn’t enough to cover your entire tax responsibilities. You might remember picking up several $0 paychecks throughout the year. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: many financial experts say that it’s actually better to owe taxes when you file. That means you had more freedom to invest throughout the year, and that you weren’t offering the government a loan that they have to pay back in April. 

But we get it. That big tax refund is way more fun to see hit your bank account, and you might not be prepared to pay up if you owe. If you’re afraid that you’ll owe taxes (or panicking about where you’re going to get the money to pay them), here’s what you can do to ease your burden. 

  • Set taxes aside each week. Even though you’re walking out with tips in hand (or in your bank account), that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be taxed eventually. Each week, count up your tips and set 10-15% aside to save for tax season. If you have extra money leftover — take a vacation!

  • Explore write offs and deductions. Did you pay for your own uniform? Or for a safe alcohol service course? Are credit card fees taken out of your tips? All of these are deductions that you can use to reduce how much you owe.

  • Keep precise records. You’ll need to know how much you spent on work-related expenses and will need to back it up with documentation. If your employer is using Kickfin, your account is a great source of truth for all of your tip payout information. 

All of this reporting and recordkeeping can feel overwhelming — especially for servers who can’t remember how much cash they left with last night, let alone a year ago. Make sure your employees have all the tools they need to make smart financial decisions. Check out how Kickfin’s reporting can make life easier for managers and servers alike.

Guide to Restaurant Training: What to Cover and Why It’s Important

Restaurant training is a method for restaurant owners and managers to equip staff with the knowledge and skills they need to do their jobs. This training covers key areas such as customer service, food preparation, and safety procedures. Effective training is crucial as it enhances service quality, improves staff morale, and leads to a profitable and well-run restaurant.

What Is Restaurant Training?

Restaurant training is the process of teaching new and existing employees the things they need to perform their job duties effectively. This includes everything from learning how to use the equipment and tools in the kitchen to understanding menu items, serving customers, preventing foodborne illness, and reacting appropriately in emergencies.

Restaurant training isn’t limited to new employees. It’s also crucial for existing staff to receive ongoing training to keep up with changes, trends, and standards. Providing high-quality training is an investment in your employees and your business, as properly trained staff can boost the efficiency and productivity of your restaurant, improving customer satisfaction and profits.

Why Restaurant Training Is Important

Restaurant training helps restaurant owners and managers build a competent staff and create a good dining experience for patrons. Restaurant training is important because it can:

  • Build skilled and motivated teams. Effective restaurant training ensures staff members have the skills and information necessary to perform their duties efficiently.
  • Maintain consistency. Through proper training, your staff members can learn the correct procedures, techniques, and standards to maintain consistency in service and food. This ensures a consistent experience for customers every time they visit your restaurant.
  • Improve customer satisfaction. Well-trained employees are better equipped to handle customer inquiries and complaints effectively. This improves customer satisfaction, leading to increased sales and positive reviews.
  • Reduce employee turnover. Investing in your employees through training can also help boost morale and reduce employee turnover. When staff members feel valued and equipped with the necessary skills, they are more likely to stay with your restaurant. 
  • Create growth opportunities. Good training also provides employees with opportunities for professional growth and development. Continual learning leads to increased knowledge, skills, and expertise, opening up new career opportunities within the restaurant industry.
  • Ensure compliance with regulations. The restaurant industry is highly regulated, with specific rules and regulations that you and your employees must follow. Through proper training, your staff can learn the guidelines and procedures to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations, food handling standards, and other requirements.

Types of Restaurant Training

You can implement several types of restaurant training to ensure your team is efficient, confident, and ready to provide the best possible service. These are the main types of restaurant training and why each is important.

Basic Training

Basic training in a restaurant primarily involves orientation and familiarization with the employee handbook. This includes introducing new hires to the restaurant’s culture, values, and expectations. You can also use orientation to clarify job descriptions, roles, and responsibilities. 

Basic training also covers a thorough understanding of the employee handbook, which outlines the restaurant’s policies, procedures, and standards, along with information about employee benefits, code of conduct, and guidelines for addressing grievances. The handbook serves as a reference tool that employees can consult whenever necessary.

Front-of-house Training

Front-of-house training refers to the education and instruction given to employees who directly interact with customers – including bartenders, servers, hosts, and bussers. This training is vital as these individuals are the face of the restaurant, and their performance directly impacts customers’ dining experience.

The training typically includes modules on customer service skills, menu knowledge, and restaurant operations. It teaches employees how to interact with customers professionally, handle complaints, and deliver an exceptional dining experience. It helps staff anticipate customer’s needs and exceed their expectations.

Back-of-house Training

Back-of-house training is for staff members who work behind the scenes, including chefs, line cooks, dishwashers, and prep workers. This type of training focuses on culinary skills, food prep techniques, plating presentation, inventory management, equipment usage, and safety protocols. 

Such training can ensure consistency in food taste and presentation, leading to a more satisfying customer experience. Employees are also trained on proper food storage, temperature control, cross-contamination prevention, and cleaning and sanitizing procedures. This helps prevent foodborne illnesses, ensures the health and safety of customers, and maintains the restaurant’s reputation.

Technology Training

Technology training is an increasingly critical component of employee training in modern restaurants. It involves equipping staff with the knowledge and skills to operate and maximize the use of various tools, including point-of-sale (POS) systems, reservation systems, kitchen display systems, and digital menu boards. It may also cover mobile and online ordering platforms and social media platforms for marketing and customer engagement purposes. 

You should train employees not only on how to use these systems but also on troubleshooting common issues and understanding how these tools contribute to the overall operation and success of the restaurant.

However, technology training is not a one-time event. As restaurant technology evolves rapidly, you must regularly update training programs for new features or systems. 

Cross-training

Cross-training in a restaurant is the process of training employees to perform multiple roles within the business beyond their primary job responsibilities. For example, this might involve a server learning how to operate the bar, a line cook understanding the nuances of customer interaction, or a host gaining a general understanding of the processes and pressures of the kitchen. 

Cross-training is immensely helpful in creating a versatile workforce that can adapt to various situations and lend a hand when necessary. Furthermore, cross-training fosters a sense of teamwork and empathy among staff. When employees have a first-hand understanding of the challenges their colleagues face, they are more likely to collaborate effectively and support each other.

Restaurant Training Methods

The methods employed for restaurant staff training can significantly influence the effectiveness of the training program. Whether traditional face-to-face training, interactive online modules, or on-the-job training, the goal remains: to equip your staff with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide exceptional service and ensure smooth operations.

One-on-one Training

One-on-one training is a personalized approach to personnel development where a more experienced staff member – often an owner or manager – provides direct instruction to a less experienced employee. This training method allows for immediate feedback and ensures the trainee comprehends all aspects of their role. It can be used to cover everything from specific job skills to restaurant policies, customer service standards, and understanding the restaurant’s culture and values.

One-on-one training is particularly beneficial when new employees first join a restaurant staff and need to understand their roles and responsibilities comprehensively. It is also a good fit when an employee transitions to a new position, needs to improve specific skills, or when the restaurant introduces new equipment, software, or procedures. The targeted instruction and individual attention can help the individual understand and adapt to their new responsibilities or changes more effectively.

Group Training

Group training involves providing instruction to multiple employees simultaneously, often in a group setting or through seminars or workshops. This method can facilitate the sharing of ideas and experiences among participants, promote teamwork, and create a sense of camaraderie. 

Group training can be effective when you need to train many employees at once, such as during restaurant-wide policy changes, menu updates, or new system implementations. It also proves advantageous when reinforcing general knowledge or skills that apply to all staff, such as customer service principles or food safety norms. Additionally, group training can be a good fit when promoting team-building and enhancing internal communication.

Online Training

Online training is the use of digital resources to deliver training programs to employees in the restaurant industry. This method leverages digital platforms such as training software, videos, webinars, and virtual reality simulations to instruct employees on various aspects of restaurant operations. 

Online training may be a good fit in several scenarios within the restaurant industry. For instance, it’s particularly effective when training on theoretical concepts or standard procedures that do not require hands-on practice, like understanding company policies or learning how to use a new software system. It can also benefit ongoing learning, allowing continuous access to resources for self-paced learning. 

Which Method of Training Do Most Restaurants Use?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to restaurant training. Every restaurant has unique needs and preferences, depending on factors such as the size of the staff, type of cuisine, and company culture. However, most restaurants tend to use a combination of one-on-one, group, and online training.

For example, one-on-one training is essential during the initial hiring process and when introducing new employees to the restaurant’s culture, values, and specific job skills. Group training is typically used for delivering standard information across all employees, promoting teamwork, and enhancing internal communication. Online training can be a convenient and flexible option for ongoing learning and development, especially in today’s digital age.

Ultimately, any restaurant’s most effective training program depends on its specific needs and goals. A well-rounded training program that incorporates a mix of one-on-one, group, and online methods can ensure that all employees receive comprehensive instruction and have the skills they need to excel in their roles.

How Much Does Restaurant Training Cost?

The cost of restaurant training can vary widely, depending on the type of training and the size of staff, the complexity of operations, and other specific business needs. Many restaurants may handle all training in-house, using their resources and staff members as trainers. In this case, training is often more expensive, requiring only the time of existing employees.

However, some restaurants may opt for external training programs that provide instruction to the restaurant industry. These programs may offer a broader range of topics and more comprehensive training plans, but they can also come at a higher cost.

For businesses that choose to leverage outside programs, the costs of training can vary significantly based on the types of training provided, the systems being covered, the complexity of the restaurant’s systems, and the number of employees being trained. Some providers offer packaged courses for a set fee, while others may charge per user or course.

The Importance of Ongoing Training

Comprehensive restaurant training ensures that employees are up-to-date with the latest information and equipped with the necessary skills to perform their duties effectively. This training can also improve employee morale and retention and enhance job performance, ultimately benefiting the restaurant’s overall success.

Effective training is a vital component of any successful restaurant. Whether through one-on-one sessions, group training, or online courses, investing in the development of employees can lead to improved job performance and contribute to the overall growth and success of the establishment.

The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Recruiting

Recruiting is a crucial part of any successful restaurant business. From hosts and servers to cooks and bussers, every employee plays a vital role in providing exceptional service and creating a positive customer experience. Finding talented staff can be challenging, especially in today’s competitive job market.

There are several strategies that restaurants can use to make the most of their recruiting efforts and attract top-notch candidates. In this guide, we will explore some tips and best practices for effective restaurant recruiting.

How To Recruit for a Restaurant

Recruiting for a restaurant involves identifying potential candidates who demonstrate the skills, experience, and temperament necessary to meet the unique demands of the hospitality industry. Typically, the process begins with a well-written job listing. The listing should be detailed and precise, clearly outlining the responsibilities, skills, and expectations for the role. It should also highlight the benefits and opportunities your restaurant provides, such as career growth, training programs, or competitive pay scale. 

The recruitment process should leverage various channels to reach potential candidates. Traditional methods, such as newspaper ads and job fairs, can be effective. Still, online platforms like job listing sites, social media, and the restaurant’s website often yield greater reach. Networking is also a powerful tool. Current employees, industry contacts, and even customers can serve as invaluable sources for recommendations and referrals.

Once you find potential candidates, move those that seem like a good fit to the interview stage. The interview process is a valuable opportunity to assess each candidate’s aptitude and skills, as well as their personality, attitude, and ability to get along with other employees. 

How Do I Start Recruiting?

To recruit new employees for your restaurant, start by writing a detailed job listing. Next, distribute that job listing using multiple channels, including job boards and social media. Finally, use candidate interviews to identify applicants with the right skills, attitude, and personality to work in your restaurant.

Common Restaurant Recruiting Tools

Recruiting the right people for a restaurant involves a wide range of tools. Here are some of the most common tools used in restaurant recruiting.

  • Job boards: Online job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Caterer.com are excellent places to post job openings and reach a large pool of potential candidates.
  • Social media: Platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram can be powerful tools for sharing job openings, showcasing your restaurant’s culture, and engaging directly with potential applicants.
  • Recruiting agencies: Specialized hospitality recruiting agencies have extensive talent networks and deep industry knowledge, making them valuable resources for finding and hiring qualified candidates.
  • Word of mouth: Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth recommendations. Encourage your customers and vendors to refer their friends and former colleagues or ask other restaurant owners or industry professionals for recommendations.
  • Employee referrals: Many restaurants successfully recruit through their current employees. Offering referral bonuses can incentivize your staff to recommend talented individuals from their network.
  • Hiring events: Hosting job fairs or open interview days can quickly and effectively screen multiple candidates at once. They also allow candidates to get a firsthand look at your restaurant’s culture and atmosphere.

Tips for Successful Restaurant Recruiting

Every restaurant owner knows a skilled and dedicated team is critical to a successful business. Recruiting top talent is no easy feat, especially in an industry as dynamic as hospitality. Here are some tips to elevate your restaurant’s recruiting, allowing you to attract, hire, and retain top employees: 

Define Your Ideal Candidate

Before you start your recruiting process, have a clear understanding of the type of candidate you are looking for. This means defining the skills, experience, and qualities essential for the position. Having a clear definition of your ideal candidate will help you target your recruiting efforts and attract individuals who are the best fit for your restaurant.

Optimize Your Job Descriptions

Creating a strong job description is another crucial step in improving your recruiting. An effective job description should provide a clear and compelling overview of the role, its responsibilities, and the skills and qualifications required. It serves as the first point of interaction between your restaurant and potential candidates, so it should reflect your restaurant’s culture and values while capturing the essence of the job. 

Focus on Employer Branding

Employer brand is the public’s perception of your restaurant, including its reputation as a workplace. In recruiting, branding is the image that potential candidates have about the working environment, culture, values, and benefits of being an employee at your establishment. This sets your restaurant apart from competitors, making it an attractive place for top talent to work.

Investing time and resources into developing a strong employer brand can significantly enhance your restaurant recruiting efforts. You can share your restaurant’s branding through various channels, including your website, social media accounts, job postings, and during the interview process. Sharing stories of your current employees’ experiences, highlighting career growth opportunities, and showcasing the unique aspects of your restaurant’s culture are effective ways to build a strong employer brand. 

Remember, potential candidates are not just looking for a job—they are looking for a positive and rewarding work experience. Employer branding is a valuable tool to communicate these things to potential employees.

Create a Restaurant Recruiting and Hiring Team

Assembling a dedicated recruiting and hiring team is another effective strategy for enhancing your restaurant’s recruiting process. This team could include managers, supervisors, or experienced staff members who understand the restaurant’s culture, expectations, and the skills required for each role. The recruiting team’s responsibilities include interpreting the job descriptions, screening applications, conducting interviews, and making hiring decisions.

Having a dedicated recruiting team also helps streamline the hiring process and ensures that hiring decisions align with your restaurant’s needs and culture. This team can also provide valuable insights into the applicant’s potential fit within the existing team, as they are familiar with the daily operations and demands of the restaurant.

Ask Current Staff for Referrals

Referrals from current employees are often high-quality, as individuals typically recommend candidates they believe will fit well within the existing team and culture. Employees making recommendations will likely have firsthand knowledge of the candidate’s work ethic, skills, and attitude, contributing to a more reliable assessment of fit for the job role.

Implement a successful referral program by incentivizing your staff. You can do so through financial rewards, extra time off, or recognition for successful hires. Encourage your employees to recommend friends, former colleagues, or acquaintances from their professional network who they believe would be a great addition to your restaurant team.

Leverage Social Media

Social media offers a powerful means to reach a broad pool of potential candidates. You can use social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to showcase your restaurant’s culture and job openings effectively.

  • LinkedIn: A professional network like LinkedIn can be highly effective for posting job openings and scouting for potential candidates with specific skill sets. LinkedIn’s robust search feature lets you find professionals with the experience and qualifications necessary for your restaurant.
  • Facebook and Instagram: These platforms are ideal for showcasing your restaurant’s culture. Regularly post photos and videos of your team in action, highlighting the positive aspects of working at your restaurant. Use targeted ads to reach potential candidates in your area when you have job openings.
  • Twitter: Twitter is an excellent platform for quick, real-time updates. Use it to announce job openings, share updates, or retweet positive comments from employees. Using relevant hashtags can help increase the visibility of your posts.

When using these social media platforms for recruiting, engage with users who comment or share your posts. This interaction builds a more substantial online presence and makes potential candidates feel valued and seen. Social media platforms also offer a valuable opportunity for potential employees to interact with your brand before they even walk through the door, helping you to attract candidates who genuinely resonate with your brand and work culture.

Attend Job Fairs and Industry Events

Job fairs and industry events are excellent opportunities to supercharge your restaurant recruiting efforts. These gatherings offer direct access to many potential candidates, many of whom are actively seeking job opportunities. They provide an avenue for face-to-face interaction, facilitating a more personal and immediate connection than digital platforms.

Network actively with attendees at industry events, as it’s a prime opportunity to meet potential candidates and other industry professionals who could refer candidates to your restaurant. These events often attract passionate individuals who are involved in the industry and may be seeking new opportunities or who can connect you with potential candidates.

Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits

Offering competitive compensation and benefits packages is a compelling strategy to attract and retain top restaurant talent. Salary is often a primary consideration for job seekers. However, comprehensive benefits can distinguish your restaurant from competitors and show potential employees you’re invested in their well-being and development.

A competitive compensation package can include a fair wage or salary, tips, and bonuses tied to individual or team performance. On the other hand, benefits could encompass health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, or even unique perks like staff meals, gym memberships, or professional development opportunities.

This comprehensive approach attracts quality candidates and boosts employee morale and job satisfaction, reducing employee turnover. It signals to potential employees that their efforts are valued and rewarded, fostering loyalty and commitment. It’s essential to clearly communicate these benefits during the recruitment process so candidates can fully appreciate the total value of their compensation package.

Create an Engaging Application Process

The application process is often a candidate’s first impression of your restaurant and can significantly influence their decision to apply. Make sure your application process is user-friendly, mobile-friendly, and engaging. Provide an option for candidates to upload their resume or link to their LinkedIn profile, as this can save them time and effort in filling out a lengthy application. 

Take advantage of technology by including video interviews or assessments in the application process. This provides an opportunity for candidates to showcase their skills and personality and gives you a better understanding of their qualifications before scheduling an in-person interview. It can save time and effort for both parties, resulting in a more efficient and effective hiring process. 

What Position is the Most Important Recruitment Decision in a Restaurant?

The most critical recruitment decision for a restaurant is management. Managers serve as the backbone of the restaurant, running operations, coordinating staff, and ensuring customer satisfaction. Their competence directly influences the restaurant’s atmosphere, efficiency, and, ultimately, profitability. Moreover, a proficient manager can mentor and uplift the staff, fostering a positive work environment conducive to high performance and staff retention.

Manager retention is critical in the restaurant industry. The constant presence of a reliable manager offers stability and consistency, which is beneficial for both the staff and the customers. Frequent management changes can disrupt the workflow and create uncertainty, which can negatively affect the morale and productivity of the team. That’s why it’s essential to have an effective management training program to ensure you instill managers with the right attitude and skills and aid in their professional development to avoid high turnover in these key positions.

How to Create a Restaurant Management Training Plan

Training your management staff is one of the biggest challenges that restaurant owners face. And it’s not cheap: According to the National Restaurant Association, hiring and training new management can cost a business $15,000.

That’s a lot of money invested in restaurant management training — with no guarantees your new managers will stay.

Creating a restaurant manager training plan that’s effective and repeatable is worth the extra time and resources to ensure your managers are successful and engaged in their role — and that they’ll stick around.

Read on to get best practices and tips for implementing or revamping your restaurant manager training plan.

Why a restaurant manager training plan is important

Of all the staff in your restaurant, managers have the largest impact on your operations and guest experience. Managers are responsible for the efficiency and engagement of your staff, the quality of your food, your financials, and guests’ overall satisfaction. 

If your restaurant management training program fails to address any of these items (or other key facets of your daily operations), it could affect the quality of your business in the following ways: 

  • Inefficient staff: If your managers don’t get quality, consistent training, they’ll lack the tools to make the rest of your staff operate efficiently. This will permeate all other areas of your operations.
  • Lower revenue: Inefficient managers and poorly-trained staff lead to lower food sales, higher product costs, and reduced profits. Failing to adequately train your managers is bad for your bottom line.
  • Higher employee turnover: Inadequate or ineffective restaurant management training programs have been linked directly to higher turnover – not just of managers, but of other employees as well. Considering the cost to hire new employees, you can’t afford not to keep the employees you have.

How to create a restaurant manager training plan

Creating a restaurant manager training plan isn’t something that you can do alone or overnight. You need to get buy-in from employees and investors, identify existing processes and values, define your expectations, and codify aspects of your operations that may exist only in your head.

Here are some of the key steps to generating effective restaurant management training:

Get buy-in from stakeholders

As an owner or operator, you can’t be the only person structuring the training plan. You need to get input and buy-in from upper-level stakeholders like investors and co-owners in addition to employees and managers themselves.

Identify existing training material (if any)

Before you start generating everything from scratch, check to see if there is any existing material that can be updated. Documents and best practices may not be centralized, but there may be bits and pieces in different areas that you can compile. Evaluate it for accuracy and update as necessary.

Define your business values 

As you start putting materials together, make sure your core values and mission statement are running themes throughout your program. Manager training is your opportunity to instill these values in some of your most important representatives in the restaurant – to explain why you’re passionate about what you do. 

Set clear expectations

Outline for your managers in very clear terms what you expect from them. If you have high expectations, your managers will take pride in their jobs. If expectations are low, your staff will struggle not to trip over a low bar. 

Help build interpersonal skills with customers

Your managers should develop a rapport with customers. They should keep track of common complaints and make sure they’re addressed. Ensure your managers are able to listen to feedback with an empathetic ear and respond calmly and reasonably. If your customers have a good relationship with your managers, they’re more likely to forgive your off days, and even more likely to compliment you on your good ones. This will improve your reputation and turn your customers into one of your most effective marketing tools.

Define operational standards

Though your managers are in the hospitality business, they need to understand the technical aspects of your industry, too. That means they should know the inner workings of your establishment like the back of their hand. Whether it’s inventory management, company financials, staffing, or facilities maintenance — your managers should be keeping an eye on problems that could negatively impact employees or customers. 

Build in a feedback loop

When we think about training, it’s easy to focus on the flow of information from owners and stakeholders to managers, but it’s also important for trainees to have an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. Management training itself is an operational aspect of your business to be codified and improved over time. So, make sure your training program includes standards and processes for whom your managers should approach with questions or ideas for how to make both training and other parts of your business more effective. 

What to include in a restaurant manager training plan

Management training plans need to include all aspects of your best practices. Any good restaurant manager training program should include most or all of the following: 

  • Food safety and food waste policies
  • Workplace safety practices and insights
  • Cash management overview, including banking practices
  • Employee tip policies and disbursement practices
  • Procurement process for supplies and equipment
  • Inventory management
  • Explanations for running and analyzing key reports 
  • Training on key equipment
  • Tutorials on any technical systems, including POS systems
  • Alcohol handling/service
  • Steps for hiring, training, and managing new hires
  • Employee conflict management
  • Customer service
  • Restaurant marketing (e.g., oversight of social media, online reviews, etc.)

Continuing education for restaurant managers

Of course, there’s plenty more to learn when it comes to developing an effective and efficient restaurant management training program. If you’re looking for more insights or inspiration, here are some other resources that will help you craft a solid new training program: 

Your managers are the lifeblood of your restaurant. They are an extension of your values, brand, and vision, which they pass down to your staff. To make sure they are living up to your expectations, you must hold them to the highest standards. 

Because of the importance of effective management to your establishment, your operations, your customers, and your profits, your restaurant training program needs to be as engaging and informative as possible. This is your chance to institutionalize best practices and make sure your managers represent you well in their dealings with your staff and customers. 

10 Restaurant Management Tips for Your Business

Running a successful restaurant requires juggling staff, food quality, customer service, finances…the list goes on (and on). Whether you’re a seasoned restaurateur or a management newbie, implementing effective restaurant management strategies is crucial to the success of your restaurant, team and bottom line.

Chances are, you’re already doing a lot of these things — but it’s never a bad idea to revisit your restaurant management approach and make sure you’re covering all your bases.

Here are 10 restaurant management tips to help you navigate the restaurant industry, boost efficiency, and take your business to the next level.

1. Invest in restaurant technology

Your tech stack impacts every aspect of your approach to restaurant management.

The standard restaurant tech stack has changed in recent years — and it continues to evolve as new innovations roll out. Here are some essential tech tools every restaurant owner should consider leveraging:

  • Point of sale (POS) system: We know, we know…a POS is table stakes. But there are a ton of options out there — and if you haven’t done so lately, it could be worth revisiting your current POS to make sure it’s checking all your boxes. An advanced POS system goes beyond processing transactions. It can track sales, organize menu items, manage staff, and offer detailed reports to aid in business planning.
  • Inventory management software: Our motto: Automate what you can — and that includes inventory management. Accurate inventory tracking reduces waste and helps boost profits. Inventory management software helps you keep track of what’s in stock in real-time, predicting what you need to reorder and when.
  • Payroll software: A good payroll system simplifies the complicated task of managing staff wages, benefits, and tax deductions. It automates calculations, reducing the chance of errors and ensuring your staff is paid correctly and on time.
  • Tip management software: If you’re still paying out credit card tips in cash, it’s time to hit the “easy” button. Tip pooling and distribution software can be run as a standalone system or integrated with your POS to calculate and distribute (cashless!) tips instantly to your employees’ bank of choice. That means no more bank runs, a lot more visibility into tip payments for easier reporting — oh, and happier employees. (Sign up for a demo to hear more from one of our experts about what we do and how it can help you.)
  • Reservation and online ordering system: In today’s digital age, an online reservation and ordering system is non-negotiable. It allows customers to make reservations or order food online, improving their dining experience and boosting your bottom line.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) system: Sometimes, leaning into automation and digitization can also mean less personalization. But for most restaurants, it’s still important to maintain that human touch and build meaningful customer relationships. A CRM system can help you do just that. It stores customer data, tracks their preferences, and ultimately allows you to better understand their preferences — creating a more customized experience and ultimately customer loyalty. 

2. Formalize your staff training program

Investing in regular staff training is another key restaurant management strategy that gives your people what they need to succeed.

A well-trained staff will not only possess the necessary skills to perform their roles efficiently, but they also reflect your restaurant’s standards and values. Whether it’s the kitchen staff preparing meals or the front-desk staff interacting with the customers, every individual contributes to the overall customer experience. 

Staff should be trained on how to handle various situations, from managing customer complaints to upselling menu items. Training also ensures that hygiene and safety standards are consistently met. 

3. Consider the employee experience

The hospitality industry is known for high employee turnover. Part of that is due to the nature of the job — many employees join the workforce during transitional seasons of life (think: college kids); there’s seasonality to consider, etc.

But turnover is also due to the fact that hospitality is a grind — and if you’re not meeting you’re staff’s expectations when it comes to things like culture, flexibility, and even benefits, then they’ll look elsewhere. (And they’ll likely find something, given the tough labor market.)

In addition to simply keeping your restaurant running, having a high staff retention rate makes every aspect of your operations easier. When your staff stays with you for a long period, they become more familiar with your standards, operations, and expectations, and are better able to deliver consistent, high-quality service. 

Frequent turnover, on the other hand, can lead to inconsistencies in service delivery and creates more headaches when it comes to scheduling and management. Plus, the cost of recruiting, interviewing, and training new hires adds up over time – especially if new staff only stays for a few months. Turnover also ups your admin burden when it comes to tasks like payroll and user management for your tech systems. 

A few retention-oriented tactics you can incorporate into your restaurant management plan:

  • Competitive wages
  • Employee benefits (which may be more financially feasible than you think!)
  • Career growth opportunities, with a clear path to achieve them
  • A fun, respectful workplace culture

One key factor contributing to employee satisfaction and retention in the restaurant industry is the fair and prompt disbursement of pay and tips. That’s where Kickfin can help. Kickfin is a digital tip distribution platform that enables restaurant owners to send tips directly to their employees’ bank accounts, instantly after their shift.

By eliminating the need for cash handling, Kickfin not only increases efficiency but also ensures transparency and fairness in tip distribution. Employees can expect to receive their tips promptly, fostering a sense of financial security. Moreover, the immediacy and reliability of Kickfin’s system can boost employees’ morale, leading to increased job satisfaction.

4. Focus on Customer Experience 

As a restaurant manager, prioritizing service is crucial to ensuring your customers feel welcome and receive a high-quality experience. That includes:

  • Greeting guests: Invest time in training your staff on how to interact with customers — which starts the moment someone walks in the door. A genuine, prompt greeting sets the tone for the overall dining experience.
  • Communication: Employees should be able to communicate clearly, listen to customer needs, handle complaints with professionalism, and provide quick solutions. Not only does it demonstrate your restaurant’s commitment to satisfaction; it’s also a great way to help your employees boost their tips.
  • Efficiency: Quality service means efficient service. Make sure orders are taken accurately and delivered to tables promptly. Regular staff meetings can be useful to highlight areas of improvement for both front-of-house and back-of-house — and it’s an opportunity to recognize efforts of staff who consistently go above and beyond.
  • Feedback: Feedback, whether positive or negative, is a powerful tool for improvement. Consider using comment cards, online surveys, or simply asking customers about their experience. This not only shows your customers that their opinion matters, but it offers insights into how your service and food are perceived and where there might be room for improvement.

5. Be aware of online reviews

In today’s digital world, online reviews significantly influence a restaurant’s reputation and customer decisions. Continuously monitor and respond to reviews on platforms like Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, and social media.

Negative reviews, in particular, should be addressed promptly and professionally. Avoid getting into online battles: Simply apologize for any shortcomings, acknowledge the customer’s dissatisfaction, and suggest a resolution. This approach shows potential customers that you’re dedicated to providing exceptional service and willing to make things right when they don’t go as planned.

Positive reviews deserve your attention as well. Thank each customer for their feedback and express your delight in serving them. It will encourage repeat business and inspire others to visit your restaurant. You might even consider incentivizing those who have had positive experiences to share them more widely. 

6. Always be marketing 

Continuous marketing is essential to keep your restaurant at the forefront of customers’ minds. Actively promoting your restaurant on various platforms, like social media, flyers, and local newspapers helps you reach a broad audience and increase visibility. Social media platforms, in particular, offer cost-effective and highly engaging ways to connect with customers, showcase your food, and build a community.

Regular updates about new menu items, special discounts, and events can entice customers and increase sales. It’s also beneficial to leverage local publications, as they can help you attract a local crowd and build a loyal customer base. Distributing flyers and circulars in nearby areas can be effective, too, especially for promoting new offers or events. Keep in mind that marketing is a continuous process – not a one-time, check-the-box restaurant management task.

7. Experiment and innovate

The best restaurant management plans leverage outside-the-box thinking. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different aspects of your business — for example:

  • A dynamic menu can keep your patrons excited and curious about your offerings. Trying out new recipes or introducing seasonal dishes can provide a unique dining experience, attracting new customers and encouraging regulars to keep coming back.
  • Creative pricing strategies can drive profitability. Offering discounts during slow hours, or bundling certain items together at a lower price, can boost sales and enhance customer satisfaction. 
  • If you have the space, hosting private events can also increase sales while making your restaurant feel like an entertainment destination — and can be an opportunity for new guests to visit your business.
  • Live music nights, themed dinners, or cookery workshops can generate buzz around your establishment and foster a sense of community amongst your customers.
  • Rethinking the decor — whether it’s a true overhaul, a spruce-up, or simply decorating for seasonal trends — can make your space feel fresh and inviting, which in turn elevates the dining experience. 

8. Be aware of your cash flow and accounting 

Keeping a close eye on cash flow and accounting is essential for maintaining sustainable restaurant operations. Inconsistent or inadequate cash flow can lead to various challenges, potentially affecting your ability to pay employees, suppliers, and other expenses.

Remember, as a manager, your continuous focus on cash flow and accounting is critical to the financial health and success of your restaurant. Using technology like bookkeeping software can significantly aid in this endeavor, allowing you to focus more on delivering exceptional food and service to your customers.

This is another area where digital tipping can make restaurant management more efficient. With more credit card tips than ever before, many restaurant managers know the pain of not having enough cash in the safe to pay out tips at the end of a shift.  Kickfin makes it easy to distribute tips instantly (no cash required) by instantly transferring funds to your employees’ bank accounts. Not only do real-time, digital payouts make for happier customers — it also makes reconciliation and reporting a breeze, and gives everyone greater visibility into cash flow. 

9. Connect with a mentor or other restaurant owners

Establishing connections with a mentor or other restaurant owners can provide invaluable insights and guidance for your business. A mentor with industry experience can offer advice based on their own triumphs and mistakes, helping you to navigate the challenges of the restaurant business and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices. They can provide a fresh perspective when you’re faced with difficult decisions, and their wisdom can prevent you from making common mistakes.

Similarly, joining a community of restaurant owners or managers can offer a platform for mutual support and information exchange. Communities often host forums or meetings where members discuss industry changes, innovations, and common hurdles, providing practical solutions based on their experiences. Amidst the ups and downs of the restaurant business, these connections can serve as a lifeline, providing emotional support and reassurance.

Having a mentor and being part of a community enables you to continuously learn, grow, and adapt, enhancing your ability to manage your restaurant effectively and successfully.

10. Be the manager you’d like to work for

Being a successful restaurant manager takes more than just business acumen; it requires embodying the qualities of a leader. As a manager, you need to be an excellent multitasker, capable of overseeing several operations simultaneously. 

You also need to be transparent. Being open and honest with your staff fosters a sense of trust, respect, and loyalty. Share relevant information, provide clear instructions, and involve employees in decision-making processes where appropriate. 

If you own or manage a restaurant, you set the tone for the entire establishment. A positive attitude is contagious, inspiring employees to put their best foot forward and delivering an exceptional dining experience to customers. Through your enthusiasm, commitment, and resilience, you can create a motivating work environment that translates into the overall success of your business.

6 Tasks Restaurant Teams Can Automate with AI

AI is kind of having a moment right now. 

It’s basically impossible to scroll through a newsfeed without stumbling across an article (or 10…) about the rapid developments we’re seeing in AI technology — and all of its benefits, risks, and mind-blowing potential to change life as we know it.

While AI is getting quite a bit of PR here in 2023, many industries have been embracing AI for years, including hospitality. From automated customer insights to voice assistants, AI is becoming increasingly entrenched in restaurant operations. 

What even is AI?

AI (short for artificial intelligence) is an exciting new technology that’s changing nearly every industry — including the service and hospitality industries. AI is intended to take in information and respond in a way that mimics human responses. This means it can respond to queries with valuable information. If you use Alexa at home, you’re interacting with AI every day.

Machine learning is what makes AI really valuable, especially in restaurants. Machine learning takes in information from a data source (for example, your POS) and analyzes it. Once the tech “learns” from historical data, it can predict trends and behaviors in the future. For example, TikTok uses machine learning to determine which videos you’re more likely to engage with and shows you new content based on those predictions in hopes of keeping you on the app for longer.

Why use AI in your restaurant? 

Running and managing a restaurant is stressful. Operators and managers wear a lot of hats, and it can be hard to streamline operations when you’re pulled in so many different directions. Restaurants can use AI to make life just a little bit easier — and cut costs while you’re at it.

Does that mean the service industry should start preparing for the inevitable robot takeover? Not just yet. The human element is still vital to many segments. But there’s never been a better time for restaurant operators to innovate: new AI advances can streamline and simplify everyday restaurant management processes, helping operators to uncover new efficiencies, increase staff and customer satisfaction, and ultimately boost your bottom line.

Here are a few ways AI can lighten your workload and optimize your restaurant operations.

1. Menu Development 

Your chef and kitchen staff have been hard at work putting together delicious dishes that will turn your new customers into regulars, but how are you supposed to put all the flavors and components into a short, enticing description? With AI, you can skip the writer’s block and simply generate well-worded descriptions in seconds. 

2. Hiring

Restaurants are still experiencing staffing shortages and struggling to fill positions — but what if AI could streamline your hiring efforts? There are a few ways to relieve the burden that staff issues have put on restaurant management. 

  • Writing job descriptions: Remember how we said it was tedious to write menu descriptions? Same goes for job descriptions. Of course, you want to provide all the details about the role, but sometimes it can be hard to creatively describe a serving job and show off your restaurant’s culture. Instead, turn to AI for quick job descriptions that only need to be slightly edited to show off more personality. 
  • Reviewing applications: Once you’ve posted your job online, you have a few different ways to leverage AI in the hiring process. For one, you can use AI to filter out candidates that don’t meet your requirements about experience, age, or availability. Then, you have fewer applications to wade through and can focus on serious candidates only. 
  • Chatbot: To really lean into the AI trend, you can also use an AI chatbot that has a text conversation with applicants to learn about their skills, job experience, pay expectations, and availability. Choose a chatbot that can integrate with your existing technology, so you don’t have to create your own software (unless you want to). Rather than filling out the traditional application form, your candidates will share about themselves in a more casual, conversational manner, almost like a pre-interview. These chatbots can still filter out candidates who aren’t going to be a good fit — and it might impress your more tech-savvy candidate pool.  

Of course, you can also tackle staffing issues by automating some of your positions. QSRs can especially take advantage of AI voice assistants to man drive-thrus and take orders, while your human staff focuses on fulfilling them.

3. Scheduling

You’re not limited to AI writing tools. New technology can automate and optimize almost every aspect of your business, from front of house to back. 

Now that AI’s streamlined your hiring practices, give it a chance to improve your schedule, too. Restaurant budgets can be tight, so you don’t want to have too many employees during a slow weekday lunch — but you also don’t want to be understaffed during a huge rush. Machine learning can analyze your sales data to determine peak times and the optimal amount of staff to schedule for a shift. You can put in parameters that will keep the schedule within budget, and then use the AI-generated roadmap to create your weekly schedule.

4. Forecasting

AI can do even more with your POS data to optimize your entire restaurant and predict trends, empowering you to make data-backed business decisions. 

For example: inventory management. No one wants to over-order and let food spoil, nor do you want to 86 a popular dish because you ran out of one ingredient. With AI, you can utilize POS data to determine your best-sellers, which items you frequently run out of, and where you could be over-purchasing. With your inventory optimized, you’ll prevent food waste and serve your customers their first-choice dish.

>> Find out more about Revenue Forecasting for restaurants

5. Marketing & Customer Insights

Once you get people in the door, you want to keep your loyal customers coming back. Many small restaurants don’t have the luxury of a full-time employee to run their marketing efforts. Good news: You can employ AI instead. 

Auto-generate marketing emails to let your customers know about specials, events, and coupons. If you have a loyalty program, you can even take it a step further. AI can figure out each customer’s most frequent orders and when they’re most likely to come in, and offer individualized deals based on their ordering habits. Your customers will feel like you really know them, and you can relieve pressure off the FOH manager who does marketing on the side. 

6. Customer Engagement 

While you don’t want to lose the human touch that really makes your customer experience, there are a few tasks you can pass off to AI that will free up managers’ and employees’ time for more pressing tasks (especially when they’re in the weeds on a busy Friday night). 

If your phone is ringing off the hook with people asking about wait times, making a reservation, or wondering if you have outdoor seating, AI can help field calls and answer their questions. You can program the AI to pick up on certain terms (like “reservation”) to generate the answer your guests are looking for. If you can integrate AI with your waitlist and reservation software, the AI can add callers to your waitlist, estimate wait times, and create reservations. 

Adding an AI chatbot to your website can also quickly engage customers, allowing them to get answers to specific questions that they’d normally call in to ask. 

Of course, there are limitations to tech, especially in the communication and hospitality departments. When choosing to add any new technology to your restaurant operations, make sure that it gives you more tools to engage with customers — and doesn’t create a cold, mechanical dining experience. It’s there to make your life easier, but AI can’t replace good service and personal connections with your customers.

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