Don Bye
Blog, Loss prevention

If a quick-service restaurant isn’t “quick,” then what is it? From waiting on the next batch of chicken to finish cooking, to the person in front of you counting out change, to taking a number and waiting for it to be called, there are many ways for a QSR to forget the “quick” part of its name.

But with limited time in your day, figuring out the most efficient ways to improve can be daunting. While loss prevention techniques are created to minimize the risk of loss onsite, they can also help improve your QSR service. Here are a few key areas of loss prevention that also apply to speed of service and how they can improve your efficiency, customer satisfaction, and bottom line.

1. Improve your forecasting

Accurate forecasting should be the starting point for achieving your restaurant’s speed of service goals. Accurate forecasting affects your scheduling, deployment, food ordering, and preparation. Over and under-forecasting will both negatively affect your speed of service.

An actual sales-to-forecast variance of 5% to 7% daily, for an order cycle, and for a business week is the starting point for your success. To calculate, divide your sales variance by the forecasted sales and focus on 5% to 7%. For example:

  • Forecasted Sales = $6,000 
  • Actual Sales = $6,400 
  • Variance = $400 (6.67%) 

A $400 variance spread over the extended hours of operation makes for more effective scheduling to meet the needs of your team and by extension, your guests.

Forecasting accurately can be tough. Luckily, there are lots of tools to help you take every factor into account when planning your schedules. For some more tips on making sure you have adequate coverage, check out 3 Reliable QSR Sales Forecasting Tools You Already Have.

2. Rethink your training

 It’s critical your training program prepares team members to handle both slow and busy days with grace and efficiency.

Learning the ins and outs of your POS system is one of the biggest hurdles new employees face when starting out. Set new cashiers and your team up for success with robust training that includes:

  1. Practice on the POS system
  2. Role playing guest scenarios and an overview of menu items
  3. Time in position with an experienced cashier or crew trainer

There’s a common theme in many of these tips: to move faster, sometimes you need to slow down. Rework is a major source of QSR delay, and it can make an already busy shift into an unmanageable mess. 

3. Optimize your register techniques

Generally, a line is only as fast as the person working the register. And it often takes more time to enter an order, bag it up, and take a payment than it does to make the order in the first place. Even after following our training advice, you can probably still optimize your employees’ register techniques to improve speed of service.

In particular, make sure your cashiers are repeating orders back to customers. Repeating a customer’s order back to them can feel tedious, but the few extra seconds it takes to repeat an order can save you minutes of extra work down the line as well as food waste due to incorrect orders.

4. Keep an eye on the drive-thru

A backup in your drive-thru may cause more problems than you think. You can avoid it by making sure employees are diligent with drive-thru orders. Ideally, you have dedicated employees for both in-store and drive-thru orders. Proper staffing levels and deployment keep the drive-thru line moving.

5. Schedule the right people for the right roles

When you write your schedule, place the very best people available in their best roles and make sure you have enough staff at the right time.

Your forecasting plays a role here, too: missing your forecast on a regular basis will prompt changes in scheduling and deployment. Accurate forecasting sets your team up to execute the “plan” the way it was intended. 

6. Double check your equipment

Yes, equipment can improve your speed of service. Make sure the line equipment is in good repair, and that you have a system in place to make repairs as soon as they’re needed. For drive thru locations, ensure your team has enough working headsets and that the proper team members are wearing them. (Try having the drive thru order taker, cashier, manager-in-charge, and key line personnel use headsets.)

7. Be ready for revenue

Your employees’ focus should be on providing quality service and food. Taking care of details that can slow down service in advance will help.

Don’t let your employees get caught off-guard by a rush!

  1. Is your production line well-stocked with everything they need? Paper items and food both matter for day part sales.
  2. Are registers loaded with change and otherwise ready?
  3. The dining room, restrooms, and kitchen area should all be fully cleaned and stocked. This is just as important as complete food prep.
  4. You’ve already scheduled the right workers for the right roles. Make sure they stay there during both peak and non-peak times.

8. Set clear goals – and communicate them

Each day part should have clear and concise goals. You may need to name a team member your “speed of service captain.” Working with the manager-in-charge, this team member keeps speed at top of mind. It’s a great way to make sure your team is informed about their goals while challenging them to improve.

Remember that feedback is crucial to speed of service. Share results with your team! This reminds them that their contribution matters every day.

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