Top 5 Restaurant Time Wasters

In the restaurant business, there’s one thing everyone wants more of…


Just a few more minutes a day, a few more hours a week, an extra day a month you could spend on yourself.

Extra time for family.

Catching up. Just taking a breath.

Putting more into the hospitality side of the business.

Sounds like a dream… huh?!!

This extra time is elusive for many a busy restaurant manager. It seems like you’re at the restaurant 24/7. Plus, things break, the line cook didn’t show, and there was a late delivery that needed to be dealt with.

While some of this is inevitable, what if you could get rid of the most irritating time-wasters on your list?

What if you had an extra hour or two a week?

Well, you could finally concentrate on doing things faster, checking more boxes on your to-do list, and getting back to your business… or just having a little more free time.

Because time is in such scarcity, we looked at the top 5 restaurant time wasters and what you can do about them.

While we can’t take them all away, we can promise you’ll like some of the cool tools we’ve found to help kill these time wasters… so you can find that extra couple of hours.

#1 The Boring Minor Details

Number one on our list.

The minutiae, the small stuff, the bureaucratic bull that eats up your day.

Tons of your time is consumed by tasks you have to do to keep your business running, but don’t necessarily want to do… or know how to do.

There are administrative tasks.

Filling out forms for every tiny item related to your business… licenses, utilities, security, government fees.

Then there’s taking care of mechanical failures and broken equipment.

Trying to fix the malfunctioning component yourself… and often band-aiding the problem so you don’t have to buy an expensive replacement.

Even though you have to dedicate time to these tasks in order to keep your doors open… they represent a huge waste of time… taking you away from improving your food, your management, your staff, and your operations.

#2 Staff issues… imagine that

A huge chunk of every restaurant manager’s day is spent addressing people problems.

And we’re not talking the ones who come to dine with you.

Your staff is one of the most important features and valuable assets of your restaurant… you couldn’t open your doors without them.

But managing your team is a time suck.

Training (and re-training) staff.

Teaching staff members how your restaurant rolls is time-consuming… sometimes it takes more than one try for someone to pick up on your specific style of hospitality.

Communicating with staff.

The daily special. Changes in staff schedules. Things have to be communicated promptly and clearly, or you risk throwing the whole flow of the restaurant off.

Wrangling late or missing staff.

Calling late team members (sometimes 2-3 times) and replacing those who don’t show up altogether (more time on the phone) takes up your time.

Restaurant politics.

Sometimes your staff doesn’t get along, and it’s your job to put the kibosh on disagreements.

You want a consistent experience for your guests no matter who’s working… taking care of your staff is important… but there’s no doubt doing so can be a huge time-waster.

#3 Menu planning… again?!

Finding new ways to freshen up your menu is always a priority, whether you’re a farm-to-table concept or a family diner with daily specials.

Creating new dishes and menu changes take up a lot of your time.

You can spend hours with your chef thinking up creative ideas for seasonal items… how to prepare, pair, and plate them… never really knowing if your customers are going to like them.

Then there’s providing non-allergy, gluten-free and vegan options to suit customer preferences.

And sticking to a budget can leave you with few options to work with… which takes, even more, planning and preparation.

Menu planning is important, but it can also be a time waster.

#4 Marketing

Having a great website, active social media channels, and a trustworthy online presence is a must for any restaurant today.

And this probably means you’re spending hours a week on it.

Marketing is important for two reasons.

First, to stay in touch with current customers and foster loyalty… and second, to attract new business to your restaurant.

But the fact is, you didn’t get into the restaurant business to be online all day… writing copy, updating your website, posting on five different social media sites.

What would take a pro a couple minutes might take you 20.

And that’s how you end up wasting time on restaurant marketing.

#5: Inventory… the process hated by everyone

If you were to name your least favorite back-of-house task, it would probably be restaurant inventory.

And it’s hated by everyone in your restaurant.

The reason is pretty clear…

You waste time walking around your kitchen with a clipboard and a piece of paper… spend an hour or more digging through stacks of invoices to look up the last price you paid… and then type all this count and valuation information into a spreadsheet.

Between taking the actual inventory and then doing the data entry, hours of your day are sucked away.

And if you’re doing inventory every week like you’re supposed to be, that’s at least 16 hours a week you can’t get back.

Stop Wasting Time

You’re busy.

Your checklist is full of the major time-wasters that eat up your day.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

As lovers of modern technology, we’re here to say, “Isn’t there an app for that?”

As luck would have it… there usually is.

Modern technology is a time-saver… and we’ve scoured the landscape to find the restaurant apps that will help kill these five time-wasters.

So, break out your smartphone (use it for more than Facebook and SnapChat) and check out these apps to save serious time.

Rage against the time wasters… and find that extra couple of hours to do what YOU want.

EvernoteWunderlist and Checklist to get rid of the minutiae and organize your business and personal life.

ShiftnoteWhen I Work and Slack for restaurant staff communication.

EpicuriousBig Oven and Escoffier Cook’s Companion for restaurant menu planning.

Canva, Hootsuite and MailChimp for restaurant marketing.

The Orderly App to make your restaurant’s profitability… painless.

Why wouldn’t you use apps (most of them free) that could wipe out the time-wasting tasks on your to-do list?

After all, you didn’t get into the hospitality business to waste so much time on these tasks but rather, as restaurateur Danny Meyer says, “to make sure people are a little happier when they leave than when they came in.”

So here’s to the hospitality business… making people happy… and ditching the time-wasters that stop you from doing it.

Pro tip: Download the FREE Orderly App. It’s the easy-to-use, do-it-for-me restaurant app to keeping your food costs down. You can throw away the boxes and even skip taking an inventory with this free app… it’s a real time saver!



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