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Behind the line

They wield knives. They bark orders. They play with fire. They chop, dice, sear, toss and sweat. Then, with a flourish and a pinch of this and a dash of that, they produce the delicious food your customers crave.

"They" are your kitchen team. They are the overworked, and under-recognized players that make the behind-the-scenes magic. And while we work to make sure servers are motivated to sell, and managers are motivated to lead, we sometimes forget to ask the back-of-the-house team for their opinions about how things are running.

Your service staff is the closest link you have to your guest, but your kitchen staff controls the appearance, flavor and safety of the food you serve. They are supply-driven and task-oriented, and represent the essence of total quality management. So wouldn't it be a good idea to get feedback from them about things like:

  • Sourcing, purchasing & receiving?
  • Food preparation & production methods?
  • Menu item cooking & assembly?
  • Kitchen equipment, supplies & tools?
  • The support they receive from management?

A simple but comprehensive survey, covering 20-25 issues, given once or twice a year would give you insights on these topics and more. You can also periodically ask about one specific topic, such as a new system or policy you're considering.

Inclusive team thinking can help you take the appropriate steps to improve service and reach higher efficiencies. You'll also see:

  • Improved morale — Everyone likes to be included in the "process"
  • Problem solving — You never know where a great idea  or solution will come from
  • Improved retention — You can identify and correct a problem that may be a reason employees are leaving

The end result?
Faster, friendlier and more efficient workers—on both sides of the line. It's win-win.

We've created a 25-question Kitchen Productivity Survey, complete with survey forms, instructions, and scoring sheets. It's available in our on-line store at http://store.yahoo.com/tradesecrets/kitprodsur.html.

See also:
The 1% solution
Insider trading

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