Without offering great quality food, it is practically impossible to draw crowds to your restaurant. It is the single most aspect that trumps every other aspect of customer service and restaurant management. Quality control is for restaurants what cheese is for pizza – it enhances the final result. This happens because quality control measures ensure high-quality food is served to the customers which can significantly increase your restaurant’s demand.
Restaurant Quality Control (QC) is not just limited to food. It entails many other factors that contribute to the entire dining environment. All these factors combined make the customer experience at your restaurant safe, superior, and worthwhile. Ultimately it improves customer satisfaction which is the end goal for every restaurant owner. To help you out, we have put together a list of ten QC procedures that are a must to follow for every restaurant owner:
1. Document ingredients
Every ingredient that is used to create a menu item has to be verified for its quality to ensure the final dish is up to mark. Expecting a dish to turn out spectacular when the ingredients used are sub-par or expired is like expecting to grow muscles while feeding yourself junk food. Document every ingredient that is purchased by your restaurant along with details like:
- Quantity purchased
- Description & composition
- Purchase date
- Expiry date
- Nutritional value
- Storage requirements
- GMO status
It becomes easy to record and keep track of this information with the help of an inventory management system. Moreover, it brings consistency in quality standards so you don’t have to keep checking for ingredient quality again and again. This also helps in spotting any changes in quality being offered by the supplier.
2. Diligent temperature monitoring
Not keeping your raw materials at the right temperature can make it prone to bacteria growth. This is why temperature control is highly important for a restaurant to maintain food consistency. Continuous temperature monitoring is necessary not just to retain food freshness but also to prevent food wastage.
Automating the process of temperature checks by investing in storage devices that come with temperature sensors can save your restaurant from serving guests substandard food. These sensors can alert the staff about any system failure so it can be taken care of before it gets too late. Imagine the amount of product loss that can be avoided by adopting this tech tool!
3. Follow standard recipes
Recipes are extremely important for any restaurant to communicate to every cook the exact procedure of creating a menu item. It allows a restaurant to create the right flavor and texture every single time without constant monitoring. Unless a recipe has been documented to the T, it is impossible to guarantee the same food quality on all days.
By documenting a recipe you can offer your cooks a template to follow so it reduces the chances of error on different days of production and makes the workflow smoother. Also, adding recipes to your restaurant software shows expected consumption and helps in reducing the chances of ad-hoc purchases. Here is a video explaining the process of creating recipes and sub-recipes in the EagleOwl software.
4. Find the ideal supplier for individual ingredients
One supplier cannot provide every raw material your restaurant needs. Even if they are able to supply everything, it may not always be of the finest quality. Get your central kitchen or storage staff to evaluate the quality of ingredients from different vendors. Do not forget to take into account the budget when testing different suppliers.
This will help in generating a list of approved vendors for each raw material or ingredient. Create a consolidated list with the ingredient name, vendor name, unique vendor ID, agreed price of the ingredient, quantity for the agreed price, etc, and share it with your staff to ensure they have everything in one place to evaluate quality every time with ease.
5. Define standards
An important step for quality control in restaurants is setting food quality standards. This helps in ensuring food safety and highly reduces the chances of a menu item being sent back by the guests. Define standards for every menu item in a Product Requirement Document so your staff is well aware of what exactly the final product is expected to be.
The Product Requirement Document contains all the physical, chemical, as well as microbiological standards of the final product that will be served to your guests. The physical characteristics include its sensory properties like appearance, texture, taste, smell, etc. Details like the shape, portion size, and weight are equally important to be specified.
The chemical characteristics help in defining the nutritional value of the food. Setting microbiological standards is necessary to detail out the right procedures for handling and cooking a certain food item. This document is very useful at all stages of food production and must be shared with all the outlets to ensure protocols are being followed actively.
6. Be mindful during transfers
Since a lot of restaurants have a central kitchen set up for food preparation, it becomes crucial to ensure quality is maintained while food is being distributed to all the outlets. Quality control procedures for this require a high level of packaging expertise to maintain freshness and avoid spillage.
Evaluate the packaging material to avoid food contamination. Specify terms for your staff for the safe packaging of all the different types of raw materials and sub-recipes. This includes guidelines about loading, transportation, and unloading at the final destination. For instance, raw material like chicken may need cold storage but a semi-prepared food item will need packaging that doesn’t contaminate hot food.
To avoid confusion, club together similar items and label them clearly. For e.g. 20 boxes containing chicken masala gravy will be boxed in a single carton and labeled accordingly. This will alert the staff during transfers to handle the package carefully to avoid gravy spillage and cross-contamination.
7. Sanitize the FOH and BOH
Offering a highly sanitized and clean dining environment has become a necessity in 2021. Everything from the glasses to the dinnerware to the linens – everything has to be spotless and germ-free. But cleanliness doesn’t have to be restricted to the FOH alone. Your BOH too needs to maintain high levels of hygiene to prevent any contamination.
Your staff symbolizes your restaurant’s standards. So they should be well-groomed at all points. Educate your FOH as well as BOH staff about the cleanliness standards to ensure the health and safety of your guests. Share a restaurant hygiene checklist with them detailing every single aspect so there are lesser chances of staff ignorance.
8. Keep check of inventory
One of the most important procedures to control quality in a restaurant is to keep an accurate log of food purchase and food production. By keeping track of your inventory and sales, it becomes easy to avoid ad-hoc purchases. Most ad-hoc purchases lead to change in food quality due to the last-minute change.
Since you have a systematic record of expected consumption and available stocks, you can ensure inventory with a shorter shelf-life is ordered sensibly. Also, you can order long storage raw materials in bulk to prevent impromptu buying. The more streamlined your inventory management is the higher your chances of uniformity in quality across all outlets.
9. Check visual presentation
As much as it is vital to serve guests safe and good quality food, it is equally important to ensure it has been presented well. Create cooking and plating guidelines for the entire staff so no matter which staff cooks a dish, visual consistency is maintained. Having supervisors monitor food presentation is an indispensable step in restaurant quality control.
Popular Italian Chef & restaurateur Giada De Laurentiis says, “I think we eat with our eyes first, so it has to look great. The presentation has to be great.” A menu item that tastes great but is badly plated is bound to discourage a customer from visiting your restaurant. Make sure your staff learns plating techniques that not only enhance the visual elements of a dish but also manage to make the food portions look generous.
10. Educate your staff
Every person in your team is equally responsible for your restaurant’s quality control. A comprehensive staff training program can prove to be highly beneficial to bring everyone on the team on the same page about food quality management. Connect their performance to their incentives and you have a foolproof way of ensuring good food quality standards.
Since QC requires an ongoing effort from the whole team, choosing the right manager can aid in coaching the staff about the importance of QC – be it food production, food storage, or general cleanliness. Your restaurant manager ensures adherence to the set standards at all times.
When asked what makes a good restaurant manager, Kristin Albert, Director Of Operations at Bottleneck Management University says, “Someone that is upbeat and positive, likes to talk to guests, is a good communicator, likes to train and develop, is proactive and sets others up for success, sets clear expectations and holds staff and managers accountable.”
With Quality Control measures, a restaurant can soon get on the blacklist and go out of business. Since diners visit restaurants for the food, offering them superior quality food and dining environment is a must. It is, therefore, important to keep in mind the above procedure to maintain the quality and consistency of food being served at your restaurant. Following these will allow you to exceed customer expectations and gain their loyalty.
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