Kitchen management is no easy task. There are a lot of moving parts that never quite slow down. A skilled leader has to manage staff, keep customers happy, ensure consistent food quality, keep up with inventory and accounting, and much more. Every day brings new challenges, so you have to be flexible and adaptable while also mastering a wide range of skills. However, by developing a clear understanding of the demands that come with running a restaurant, implementing proven strategies and optimizing new technology, kitchen management can be made a little easier.
Kitchen Management Duties
There is no telling exactly what kind of challenges can pop up during the course of the day at a restaurant, but here are just some of the regular duties you can expect to have on your to-do list.
- Supervise food preparation, cooking practices, plating, portion sizes, and temperature. Ultimately, the responsibility falls on you to ensure that all the food meets quality and safety standards before it is sent out to the customer.
- Schedule kitchen and staff shifts. This can be especially challenging in restaurants when there are slow and busy periods throughout the day and the week.
- Work with the chef and restaurant owner to periodically make changes to menu design, items, and pricing.
- Oversee health code compliance issues when it comes to cleanliness, proper food storage practices, etc.
- Track and manage inventory and weekly and monthly cost reports and make necessary food orders.
- Train employees. Even the most experienced service industry workers may be able to improve table turnover rates and use the right selling techniques to increase the average check size if they are given the proper guidance.
- Update kitchen equipment and POS software and hardware systems as necessary.
Kitchen management is an all-encompassing job that requires managers to play an active role in practically every area of the restaurant.
Tips for Better Kitchen Management
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best ways to approach different kitchen management responsibilities to ensure more efficient operations and improve profits.
Inventory includes every ingredient that is required to create dishes on the menu along with beer wine and spirits. While you never want to run out of inventory, you also don’t want to order too much and end up with spoiled food. Developing a solid inventory management strategy is key to effective kitchen management.
Investing in the proper equipment
You want your kitchen and wait staff to be fully supported with the best equipment and technology. This will streamline operations and make everything less chaotic. When staff has functional tools easily within reach, they can focus on making better dishes and providing excellent customer service.
Restaurants are busy places and wear and tear is inevitable. The more you are able to service equipment, the longer it will last. Make sure that you are following manufacturer recommendations for cleaning and maintenance so that you don’t end up with big repair or replacement bills.
Work with other staff members to hone in on the type of cuisine you want to serve This will inform your menu and help you choose dishes and pricing. A smaller and more specific menu can help establish your brand and make life easier for all the employees.
Make smart hiring decisions
These are the people who are going to keep your restaurant and kitchen running. Look for people with an interest in the industry and not just those who need a job. The right people will be able to help create new dishes, make suggestions for improving processes, and help to create a more positive work environment. Also, put in the time to train them when it comes to different procedures and steps of service so that they are set up for success from the beginning.
Once you hire a great staff, good scheduling practices can play a big part in employee retention. Be sure to give staff plenty of time to prep before service begins. Make sure everyone is aware of what needs to be accomplished, the goals for the day, and what role they will be playing. It is also important to take the scheduling needs of individuals into account and try to make accommodations for when their schedule needs to be adjusted for special occasions.
Incorporate the appropriate technology
For some restaurants, technology can play an important role in filling in gaps where kitchen management may be feeling overwhelmed. Everything from online ordering systems and restaurant apps to Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) that are integrated with point of sale systems can digitize traditional pen and paper operations for more efficient ordering and fulfillment. Orders can be entered into the system and digitally displayed for the kitchen. The KDS can even prioritize orders based on cook times and provide data on performance and order history. This is just one way that technology can provide better communication and connection between the kitchen and the front of the house and take some of the burden off of management.
Keeping the kitchen clean and tidy not only prevents food contamination and makes sure that the restaurant is in compliance with all health codes, it also provides everyone with a better and more efficient work environment.
Essential Skills for a Kitchen Manager
Since kitchen managers have so many different hats to wear, and responsibilities to juggle, it isn’t necessarily a job for everyone. A successful manager must have the following traits:
- Creative. They must find new solutions to problems and ways to improve the restaurant and make sure customers keep coming back.
- Level Headed. You have to be calm under pressure.
- Passion for cuisine. It is important to have a passion for the type of restaurant and cuisine you will be serving and managing.
- Solid work ethic. It is a demanding job with long hours.
- Natural leader. You will have to both lead staff and tackle administrative tasks.
Tips for Mastering Kitchen Management
- Recognize and reward employees for a job well done. Offer promotions when they have been earned. Consider organizing sponsored employee outings or incentives for exceptional performance.
- Be a clear communicator. If employees aren’t aware of restaurant goals, their individual responsibilities, and practices for accountability, it is on management to fix these problems. Sharing a vision and long and short-term goals as an entire business can have a unifying effect.
- Be open to feedback. When communication does breakdown and there is a problem, kitchen management needs to lend an open ear and let employees know that they are being heard and their concerns will be addressed.
- Invest in employee growth and development. Offer training programs and other professional opportunities that make employees feel valued. Help them reach their career goals. Even mentorship can be an effective way to support employees. You will create a better, happier workforce and improve retention.
- Help employees find a better work/life balance. The restaurant industry can be stressful and demanding. Managers need to help employees avoid burnout so they can stay happy and healthy.
- Create a safe work environment. Injuries can happen in the kitchen, but you can do your part to implement and enforce safety guidelines. These OSHA guidelines can help you navigate this area and make improvements.
Best Kitchen Management Software
Fortunately, today’s kitchen managers aren’t completely on their own when it comes to juggling all the different responsibilities of running a restaurant. Now, they have a wealth of restaurant technology options available to them.
Being a kitchen manager comes with a lot of rewards and demands. It’s good to start with a clear understanding of what the position requires and what skills you will need to hone. From there look for technology that can help streamline and automate processes to make tasks easier on all staff members. With the right tools, you can manage the kitchen efficiently and stress-free.
What are kitchen manager duties?
Manage kitchen staff and inventory; supervise cooking, plating, portion sizes and health and safety practices; train staff on all service, food prep and plating methods; manage and plan staff schedules; work with other leadership team members to adjust menu items and pricing; update and maintain all equipment; monitor weekly and monthly reports.
How do you manage kitchen work?
Keep track of all stock and inventory, manage menu items and pricing, maintain equipment, hire the right talent, be fair and equitable when it comes to scheduling employees, take advantage of all relevant technology, and enforce food safety and hygiene throughout the restaurant.
What are important kitchen management skills?
Successful kitchen managers should be effective leaders and administrators, show creativity when it comes to growing the business, be able to keep calm under pressure, show a passion for cuisine, have a solid work ethic, and be a natural leader.
What are some good tips for kitchen management?
Work hard to motivate employees, create a supportive and positive environment, communicate expectations clearly and be open to feedback, encourage a work/life balance, and reduce hazards for a safer work environment.