Kitchen staffing

Schedulind according to the needs of a commercial kitchen

As we have already discussed in a previous post, the various operations that occur in a commercial kitchen vary, depending on the way the restaurant operates. One of the managerial operations that an executive chef or a restaurateur will come against, is how to properly hire the right number and of course the right quality of people in the restaurant’s kitchen. The major problem that restaurant enterprises face, is the lack of scheduling according to the real needs of the restaurant. The most usual phenomenon, is the false belief that the labour cost is extremely high, thus must be cut down in order to meet the potential and revenues of our business. The result is a vicious circle of bunt-out employees, bad final product and unhappy customers that little by little lead to permanent lock of our business. The purpose of this post is to examine the way that we can estimate the number of necessary personel according to our restaurant needs.

Restaurant’s Financial Objectives

Every business’ major objective, whatever business it is, is none other than maximizing its profits. We intentionally use the word “profit” since not only we need to emphasise in revenue maximization but also cutting down any unnecessary costs. Therefore, either starting up a new restaurant or operating an established one, the need of setting specific financial objectives is essential, and must be done prior to choosing and staffing our restaurant.

In order to make this more comprehensible, we are going to use the example of hotel’s main restaurant that has a capacity of 700 beds and operates 7 months per year. We know beforehand that this restaurant offers three main meals and two snack-type meals. Also, we already know the estimated occupancy of the hotel’s rooms, due to various guaranteed contracts the hotel makes with the travel agents. Consequently, we have all the necessary data, about the revenues as well as the number of guests that will dine in each meal, on a day to day basis.

Afterwards, the chef needs to establish and schedule the menu of each meal. In the example we are examining, that is an easy task, having in mind that all meals are served in a buffet style. Yet, the complexity of making a menu for that restaurant, lie in the fact that a buffet, especially one that a hotel restaurant serves to its customers has to:

Cater to people of different nationalities and with diverse eating habits

Revenues are much higher midst season that at the very beginning and end of it.

Contracts that the hotel make with the travel agents have specific limitations and requirements (eg having a show cooking station on all three major meals). That said, the executive chef had to take into consideration all these variables, like the seasonality of products, the eating habits etc and then compile the restaurant menu.

After menu compilation, there are major strategically significant decisions to be made that will determine the needs in personnel that this specific kitchen is going to have. What kind of raw and intermediate material will the chef decide to use? Meat and poultry is going to be prepared by a skilled butcher hired by the hotel or is the hotel going to be supplied with already portioned and ready to use products? Are desserts going to be made by a pastry chef or is the hotel planning to outsource this operation? What is the opportunity cost of each one of those decisions? All there are questions that need to be answered prior to scheduling the personnel need, in order have a specific guide.

Βusiness requirements estimating methods

Both in Greek and International literature, there are many methods mentioned that can be used in order to determine the needs of a commercial kitchen in personel. For the above example, we are going to use the “job-design” method for a couple of reasons. First of all, as we have already mentioned, any comercial kichen has various and complex operations to be carried out that need, different skills and knowledge range from each worker in the brigade. Using a different method like “Delphi”, which is mainly used in large scaled production units whith unskilled personel, will not be effective. The second reason, is that a large commercial kitchen, like the 700-bed hotel main restaurant mentioned above, consists of (yet not divided to as most restaurateurs and restaurant managers want to believe) smaler different job sections that operate is a specific and different way from each other, that is ablolutelly necessary for the operation as a whole.

A really handy tool that will us apply the “job-design” method is the organogram that in nothing more that a chart on paper that represents the various stations and job possition in our kitchen. Conclusively, after copleting a restaurant’s financial objectives, the executive chef or the restaurateur needs to write down, on that piece of paper and programm his restaurant kitchen’s organzational chart.

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