Systems Are Awesome!


There are two critical reasons why everything you do needs to be systematic. 1. It makes measuring effectiveness much easier. 2. It makes training your staff a breeze. If you’ve ever worked for a big corporate brand than you know that almost everything is written down, in pictures, on video and accessible in a binder or online.

We like to think that the big corporate run guys are lifeless, but in fact what they have learned is that in order to truly bring life to the business you have to remove as much potential for interpretation and decision making for the employee. Think about this for a minute. If you are the owner of a restaurant or food operation don’t you want the product to come out of the kitchen the same every time? Don’t you want the staff to provide the same level of service every time? Don’t you want the way you make money to be so clear that there is no room for failure?

There is only one to get all these things and that is to build systems. To do this you need a method and the time to analyze and write down every movement. Follow these initial steps to start the process:

  1. Rally your team! Get the group together to help you with this. Trust me when I say they want systems and procedures.

  2. Make a list of all the activities that you’d like to have more clarification on. You do things a certain way but you may not know exactly why you do them that way. For example, you may want to systematize the way a team member picks up food and delivers it to a table.

  3. Analyze the process. Use time before you open or after you close or during very slow periods to run the process you want analyze. Have a piece of paper and pen. Observe the test run and make notes of every step. Don’t try to fix things yet. First get the entire process flow mapped out.

  4. Now that you have all the steps written out pinpoint the main steps and the transitions from one to the next. This is called process mapping. For example, step one is the employee taking an order, step two is the order being run into the POS, step three kitchen receives the order, step four food is ready for pick up, step five employee is called to the kitchen, etc.

  5. For deep understanding do this process several times and record how long each step takes.

Now that you have the process mapped out bring the team back in and start to analyze this process with them. Ask what are the challenges they face in this process. Make sure you know what all the problem points are. Ask them how this process could be improved. I can guarantee they’ve been waiting for you to improve the process and are now relieved that you asking for their input.

The next step is define the improvements and test the new system. It may not be perfect the first time around and you should run it several times with the team. Adapt and make immediate changes as you see. Write those down on your process map.

Once everyone is in agreement that the new system is better all around and achieves great results for everyone you can celebrate that you have built a system. Write this all out in detailed steps and present it back to the team at your next meeting. And don’t forget to thank the team for their input and help in your improvement efforts!

Russell Baltes