Last Updated:
November 2, 2023

The Easy Way to Create Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

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The Easy Way to Create Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Bogdan Patynski
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To run safe food services, you must have SOPs in place. Food handling, hygiene regulations, health regulations require, and documented processes are significant considerations for any restaurant business.

In this article, let's take a deeper look at the definition of restaurant SOPs and the numerous benefits they provide.

The Easy Way to Create Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) (Template Included!)

In a highly coordinated business like a restaurant, SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) are crucial. Running a successful restaurant needs a vast number of moving pieces that must all function together. Without SOPs, restaurant operations would be completely chaotic. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the context of a restaurant may be characterized as instructions on how to do specific tasks.

What are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in a restaurant called?

A standard operating procedure often referred to as SOP, is a defined system for how you accomplish a specific work in your restaurant.

To operate efficiently, you must adhere to a set of rules and regulations. The success or failure of any establishment is determined by how effectively the demands of the customers are addressed, and Standard Operations and Procedures (SOPs) assist you in meeting certain service standards. The restaurant SOP focuses on issues like staff hygiene, how well customers are served, cooking method, and so on. Standardization of operating procedures is essential for keeping your team on track. The set of operating procedures guidelines also helps in training your new and existing workers about their day-to-day tasks and following defined guidelines efficiently in much less time.

In addition, many restaurants often don't have well-documented SOPs. But rather, employees usually are trained to do things in a specific manner, with an approach that everyone understands "how we do things here." SOPs are meaningless without excellent communication, training, documentation, and proper execution.

Why should you have SOPs?

The restaurant industry is the most disorderly and stressful to work in. As many restaurateurs have said, it is one that lacks organization and it requires the formulation of a set of rules for standard operations and procedures.

According to Michigan government figures, following fundamental processes and primary objectives is not very successful for one in five restaurant operators. In the restaurant, mismanagement and negligence are expected for 15% of restaurant mishaps.

Standard operating procedures are critical considerations because they enable you to fully define your expectations and standards for all areas of your restaurant operation and guarantee that every shift runs as smoothly as possible.

With SOPs in place, you can maintain consistent customer service standards and operations from opening doors through meal preparation and closing procedures. If your SOPs are clear, your staff will appreciate the open communication because there is nothing worse than trying to figure out how to do something in the middle of a dinner rush. You will have happy staff and even happier customers.

What can SOPs do for your restaurant?

Simplify Regulatory Compliance

To ensure that your business complies with the local health department protocols, develop well-written procedures in line with those laws to demonstrate proper menu preparation, safety measures, customer service, etc. An SOP checklist must be completed. Self-audits and improvements are made easier using a standard operating procedure.

Create consistency

Miscommunication is a common issue that comes from improper training and underused SOPs. Things can get obscure if your standards and expectations aren't expressed clearly.

SOPs that are well-documented and integrated into your employee manual, as well as available for reference as a separate SOPs bible, provide a solid foundation for your training program.

It's up to you to decide what strategy works best for your operation, but make sure everyone knows what it is. To keep things organized you may create one-page SOPs and organize them by staff position.

Fix a problem in one go

With the standardization they bring throughout your business, you may resolve reoccurring issues with a single meeting and amendment.

SOPs make discrepancies stand out like a sore thumb, making them simpler to correct. For instance, did a new server supply straws with every drink, despite the fact that your SOPs state that you should only provide a straw when requested? You'll notice it soon and be able to remind your server why you opted to implement the straw policy.

Reduce food waste improves food taste

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are so useful in kitchen operations.

Different restaurants for example have various methods of menu preparation in their kitchens such as chopping carrots and griddling a sandwich. With detailed SOPs in place, you'll have proper documentation for your crew on how you want things done in your kitchen.

A prep cook following the SOP will know exactly how to slice an onion, whether in squares or circles, and remove the outer layer. You could be confident if they used a beef broth to make the noodles when your line cook produces ramen. Having this could have a significant impact on decreasing costly food waste. As a result, your food will be more consistently delicious across the board and your regulars may notice an improved dining experience.

Free up managers to effectively manage staff

SOPs may save your managers a lot of time looking for flaws and gaps in their work. This allows them to build up incentive programs, check-in in with employees, prepare meals and experiment with new management techniques — all of which can lead to higher employee retention.

Reduce labor costs through easy cross-training

Training your best staff and new hires, and employees are easier if you have SOPs in place or, at the very least, you can use your SOPs as the foundation, and personal equipment for a cross-training program and other practices if you wish to be even more proactive in tactical knowledge.

Ensure Cleanliness and Personal Hygiene

In health regulations, cleanliness is the most important factor in running a restaurant. Preparing menus for others requires constant hygiene to prevent food-borne infections. Front-of-house staff should know how to do routine health inspections, sanitize counters, sterilize utensils, and wash hands. It is highly important that all staff members should maintain excellent personal hygiene.

Standardize Recurring Operational Responsibilities

To manage entire restaurant operations, proper documentation helps management recall many operational procedures to maintain consistency and optimize recurring processes like purchasing items and performing preventive maintenance. Standardization ensures that specific tasks are correct and efficient.

Enhance Customer Service Fulfillment

Harvard Business School found that a one-star increase in Yelp ratings can boost a food service company's revenue by up to 9%.

Good restaurant SOP enforcement promotes the standardization of the process across the areas. Regardless of size, aim for a five-star experience. Customers know what to expect from the food served to them when they visit a restaurant. Customers like predictability.

How to create SOPS

SOPs vary depending on your restaurant's core and key procedures. You must first determine these essential processes for the type of your restaurant, after then you can outline the procedures required.

Your goal should be to streamline every single step in your business so that no staff member has to second-guess what they should do next. SOPs come into play when you want your restaurant to function like a well-oiled machine.

Defining the Key Functions

List the key functions of your restaurant. These approaches may vary based on your needs. One of these may be used to create a signature dish for your kitchen. After you have specifically defined the procedures that constitute your restaurant, you must map them into the handbook.

Procedure Mapping

Once the updated protocols are set, detail these procedures. You must also map out how a particular restaurant contact customers. Your products and services must be able to identify potential customers. This one core procedure must be documented in phases to verify that each step is fulfilled.

Prepare Audit Checklists And Forms

Create a checklist for your personnel to follow. This section should explain how things perform and what needs to be set up. The initial section of the SOP should include a summary of the settings and main process. The checklist must specify the steps used to complete a certain operation.

Make A Complete SOP Manual

The SOP manual is a method of documenting all processes and activities in a systematic manner. There is a standard technique to accomplish this, but different restaurants adopt different approaches to writing their own. You may begin by defining how employees are expected to behave and interact with customers.

It is always beneficial to have your restaurant SOP on hand when operating a restaurant as it will be your lifesaver guide in dealing with any business issues you may encounter in the future.

What are the key areas to consider when compiling SOPs for a restaurant?

There are several key areas of SOPs that a restaurant needs to remember. These guidelines contribute to the streamlining of your operations. A standardized procedure makes it easier to execute the process, in the same way, all the time.

We'll discuss below the types of SOPs you'll need to have.

The types of SOPs you need to run a restaurant

Employee Onboarding SOPs

SOPs make staff training more fun and convenient. Direct new hires to have written work instructions that limit the potential in case of error. Management may use the materials to teach new staff and cross-train when there is low staffing. Restaurant SOPs mitigate tactic knowledge from being lost when employees leave.

Communication SOPs

Communication assists restaurant management, and employees in having real-time communication channels. Common communication SOPs:

  • Service standards
  • Front-of-the-house seating
  • Payment and billing
  • Food safety laws
  • Staff orientation, etc.

Staff and Personal Hygiene SOPs

This set of standard operating procedures assures personnel hygiene and food safety. Restaurant SOP for staff and personal hygiene include hand washing habits, personal hygiene, employee health, handling utensils and gloves, and staff exposure to blood.

Restaurant SOPs

Opening and closing SOPs

Opening and closing hours are undoubtedly the most crucial shifts of the day. Cleaning and sanitizing your restaurant should be the top priority, especially you're dealing with the health and safety of your guests and staff. You must ensure to implement strict guidelines when it comes to cleaning best practices on a daily basis.  It is beneficial to provide a clear checklist of duties for staff to do. An opening and closing checklist ensures that all duties necessary for keeping a clean and orderly facility are completed at the end of each shift.

Here are some examples of opening and closing checklists. Place this in an obvious spot or highly visible area in the kitchen.  

Example of Opening & Closing Checklist

Inventory SOPs

Proper inventory management helps you save money by only ordering products when needed.

Stocks Received

Inventory management begins when an item is received. Compare the packing slip to the cargo and the purchase order.

POS System Integration

Your business inventory system may be coupled with the restaurant's POS system to update the count when an item is sold.

Manual Inventory

If your inventory system cannot be integrated with your POS system, your employee must physically count and update the inventory information. This is excellent for tiny establishments with limited menus and with limited asset management.

Storage issues

A restaurant must be able to store food and keep an adequate stock. This would require proper training for your personnel in order to reduce waste. A specific set of instructions could be extremely beneficial in terms of how you want to store your food. You should also include specifics on the quality and amount that you want to store.

Customer Service SOPS

Having a set of SOPs including customer service SOPs is essential as it enables you to provide specific guidelines on how your customers should be treated. You should aim to provide exceptional customer service to keep them and so increase your sales.

Greeting and Seating

In restaurants, all customers should be welcomed at the entrance with good eye contact within one minute of their arrival;  Follow a script that guarantees every customer is greeted pleasantly. Make sure to demonstrate your unique style of hospitality every time your staff greets and welcomes your customers.

Ordering, Serving, And Delivery Standards

Your restaurant SOPs must contain guidelines related to waiting and busing tables. A set of guidelines such as the expected average time for a customer should receive an order and the procedures a delivery guy must complete after bringing the menu must also be considered.

Payment And Final Settlement

Many restaurants integrate a POS to handle their sales and billing. Other activities will determine whether your restaurant should set some underlying POS management standards.

Customer Complaint Management

There are various gestures you may practice to offer your customers a little extra unique touch when they leave. Opening doors, asking for feedback and recommendations, and ensuring their leaving would be a good approach to building a strong brand reputation.

Side work SOPs

SOPs for Equipment and Facility

In any restaurant business, Infrastructural SOPs define how to appropriately care for the restaurant's physical assets. You can have different protocols for how to operate personal kitchen equipment such as a microwave, oven, covered linen, laundry, dining room cleanliness, dishwashing, etc.

Food Preparation SOPs

Kitchen operations including food preparation and handling are one of the most important components of your restaurant operation. Kitchen efficiency obviously influences your restaurant's efficiency.

Typical Recipes And Food Preparation Techniques

This part of your restaurant's SOP will contain basic guidelines and processes to protect diners from being sick from spoiled food. The preparation also specifies requirements for certain dishes.

Food Display

Service standards in a casual restaurant, a classic bar, and a fine dining restaurant will vary. For a restaurant to run efficiently, certain requirements must be defined. Your SOPs should cover all the hows and whys of the front-of-house crew.

Food Storage

A restaurant must be able to store food and keep track of inventories. To minimize waste, your workers must be properly trained. A precise set of instructions might assist a lot with food storage. You might also provide information on the local food you save, such as its quality and quantity.

Food Flow SOPs

Food-flow SOPs provide specific written guidelines for food handling safety and consistency. Some examples are such as preparation and safe food handling, storage of food, food waste recycling, etc.

Menu Production SOPs

Menu production also ensures managers adhere to the restaurant's concept, customer expectations, and business goals. They also handle plating food, take-out service, food donations, etc.

ADA compliance SOPs

It must follow the ADA's standards and regulations. The legislation mandates that restaurants provide disabled customers with the same products, safety, and services as regular customers.

It also works with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to prevent handicap discrimination.

Final Tips for Writing Restaurant SOPs

Consult personnel involved in specific processes before documenting SOPs to guarantee accurate results. Organize your functions simply. Avoid jargon, long paragraphs, and unnecessary material on checklists.

You can illustrate a minute details method with further task instructions. Consider how you want your customers to see your restaurant. Put yourself in their place to develop more complete processes that lead to excellent online reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations, and repeat business.

See your ROI rise as you incorporate these restaurant standard operating procedures into your establishment. Your commitment to precision isn't just about meeting standards; it's about achieving financial success.


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