The secrets to improving your restaurants’ speed of service

Consistently servicing guest orders quickly, accurately, and with a smile is an ongoing challenge for restaurant operators.

And it’s easy to see why. There’s more to improving restaurant speed of service than encouraging your employees to move faster.

Watch this OpsWise video to learn forecasting, scheduling, and data analysis strategies that can help you and your team improve speed of service, and in turn, increase sales and customer satisfaction scores.


Improving / Maintaining Speed of Service

Speed of Service or Speed with Service is the measuring stick for guest satisfaction in quick-service-restaurants, but faster is not always better.  Speed, while important, has little meaning if the food is poorly prepared, prepared incorrectly, or there are items missing. Speed is also a major factor in building sales, and protecting the sales you currently enjoy. Serving guests orders quickly, accurately, and with a smile, consistently is an ongoing challenge for operators.

Here are 4 additional strategies for improving and maintaining your speed of service performance.

Accurate forecasting

Accurate forecasting is really the starting point for achieving your speed of service goals.  Executing your planned schedule and deployment is dependent on an accurate forecast, and it also affects product order guides, prep guides, and non-peak and late-night scheduling.  Some of the tools you’ll need to build an accurate forecast are:

1) Your previous year’s sales, which are especially important during seasonal changes and holidays

2) Your current sales trend or average, which is typically built into your schedule building software, but not always

3) Your Brand Marketing Calendar

4) A calendar of local events

5) The weather forecast

And 6) Employee feedback


The next important strategy for speed of service is scheduling. Every manager should review the schedule and deployment for the days they are assigned as the Manager in Charge – in advance. They should look at whether they have enough of the right people scheduled, at the right time. No surprises here. Help set them up for success by making changes in advance of the scheduled shift.

Train your cashiers

There is more to reaching speed of service goals than simply moving faster. In fact, too much speed at the register can be costly. Cashiers put in front of guests prematurely, before they’re ready, can be frustrating for a new employee, in turn compromising guest experience, creating food waste and bottlenecks, and – in the end – slowing down line flow. Make sure your cashiers are ready for rush with the following considerations.

1) If your POS systems includes a training mode, use it to: practice navigating the keyboard to build confidence, and role play order taking and guest interactions.

2) Practice tendering both cash and credit cards.

3) Train new cashiers during non-peak day parts.

And, 4) As they begin to work over peak, make sure they have support readily available, perhaps even next to them.

Use Data and Reports

Finally, let’s look at data and reports. To avoid getting stuck in the averages, it pays to dig into the details. Use data and reports to compare locations results, day part results, and evaluate scheduling and deployment gaps and needs. Identify the worst performing day parts, and match to the manager-in-charge or staff working, in terms of the number of people and the quality of people working. Once you know where your problem arease are, get everyone involved in the process, implement changes, and set new goals.

Other ideas

After looking at these basic guidelines and analyzing your operations, if you’re still stuck, ask for help from your peers. A fresh set of eyes from an operator who is achieving the results you want can provide some pointers. Even visit other locations to learn from others. You may be surprised at some basic techniques you might be missing.

Mix in contests to make it fun for your team, and reward their performance. Your team and your guests are counting on you, so let’s go!