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Write Effective Restaurant Shift Notes: The Complete Guide With Templates

Write Effective Restaurant Shift Notes: The Complete Guide With Templates

TLDR

You know the importance of shift notes in your restaurant. Quality notes ensure smooth daily operations, effective communication between staff, and consistent execution of processes. But with the chaos of a busy restaurant, writing effective notes often falls by the wayside. This guide will walk you through a simple 5-step process for writing clear, organized shift notes that improve communication and accountability across your team. You'll also get access to three customizable templates to implement immediately. In just 10 minutes a day, you can set your team up for success by enabling seamless handoffs, surfacing operational insights, and documenting issues for resolution. Let's get started.

What is Restaurant Shift Notes

Restaurant Shift Notes serve as a dynamic log capturing essential updates, details, and data during each shift. They are instrumental in eliminating confusion, fostering consistency, and enhancing the overall work quality among team members. These notes play a critical role in facilitating communication, ensuring seamless information sharing within the team, and driving effective shift-to-shift coordination.

Why Taking Shift Notes Is Critical for Restaurant Success

As a restaurant owner or manager, shift notes provide clarity and continuity between teams, enable better decision-making, and help identify areas for improvement.

Provide Clarity and Continuity

With multiple teams working different shifts, it can be difficult to have a clear understanding of what has happened and needs to happen. Detailed shift notes communicate important details to the next team, like what VIP guests dined in, menu items that sold out, or operational issues that came up. This helps prevent confusion, duplicated effort, and dropped balls - ultimately leading to a smoother service and better experience for your staff and guests.

Enable Data-Driven Decisions

Shift notes contain valuable information that can be analyzed to determine peak hours, most popular dishes, average spending, and more. With data and insights from shift notes, you can make informed decisions on staffing levels, menu changes, marketing campaigns, and operational processes. The more detailed and consistent your shift notes are, the more actionable the data will be.

Identify Areas for Improvement

Shift notes should also include details on any issues that arose, complaints from guests, or inefficiencies identified. Reviewing shift notes regularly enables you to spot trends, find the root cause of problems, and make improvements. You can then implement new policies and procedures, update training, or make changes to prevent the issues from happening again.

How to Conduct a Pre-Shift Meeting and Take Notes

Conducting an effective pre-shift meeting is essential for ensuring high-quality service and a smooth shift. As the manager, begin by greeting your staff and expressing your appreciation for them. Review the day's objectives and priorities, key guest information, any operational changes, and staffing considerations.

To facilitate a productive discussion, provide specific talking points ahead of time so employees can prepare questions and suggestions. For example, you might highlight trending menu items, reservations, large parties, or promotional events. Ask open-ended questions to engage your team, capture their input, and make them feel valued.

Take thorough notes during the meeting using a template to keep the discussion on track. Your template should include sections for:

Priorities and Objectives

List the top 3-5 priorities and objectives for the shift to keep the team focused. These may include sales targets, guest experience goals, or operational priorities.

Key Guest Information

Note details of any VIP guests, special events, or large reservations. List names, contact info, dietary needs, celebrated occasions, and any special requests.

Staffing and Coverage

Review the floor plan and staffing schedule. Note any changes in job responsibilities or areas of coverage. Discuss how to handle any staff absences or availabilities.

Upselling Opportunities

Discuss how to promote high-margin menu items, daily specials, or drink features. Set team goals for upselling and note individual accountabilities.

Questions and Concerns

Provide space for employees to ask questions about the details covered. Address any concerns raised and note how they will be handled.

Following a consistent template for your pre-shift meetings and note-taking will help keep your team focused and working together towards common goals. Be sure to distribute notes from the meeting to all staff for review and reference throughout the shift. With organization and open communication, your team will deliver amazing experiences shift after shift.

Writing Effective Shift Notes: Step-by-Step Guide

To compose useful shift notes for your restaurant, follow these recommendations:

Focus on Relevant Details

When writing shift notes, focus on including details that will be helpful for the next shift. Note any issues that arose, specifics about large reservations or events, product inventory updates, and any information relevant to continued quality service. Keep descriptions concise yet thorough.

Maintain a Professional and Objective Tone

Compose shift notes in a professional, unbiased tone. Avoid excessive expressions of opinion and stick to facts. Your notes should maintain an objective, courteous tone to avoid misunderstandings or unintended offense. Focus on clear communication of relevant details.

Use a Consistent Format

Adopt a consistent format for your shift notes to make them as useful as possible. You might include sections like:

  • Guest Experience: Note any guest issues, large reservations, events, etc.
  • Product Inventory: Update the team on inventory needs or shortages.
  • Staffing: Communicate any staffing issues or updates.
  • Closing Duties: List any closing duties left incomplete due to business demands.

Review and Sign Off

Once complete, review your shift notes for errors or omissions before distributing them to the team. Your shift notes represent an official record of events during your work period, so accuracy and detail are important. Sign off on your shift notes to certify them as an accurate summary.

Distribute Notes Promptly

Promptly distribute your completed shift notes to ensure the next shift is well-informed. Email the shift notes or place a hard copy in a designated location, depending on your restaurant’s preferred method. Thorough, efficiently communicated shift notes help enable a seamless handover between work periods.

By following these best practices, you will compose shift notes that provide an accurate, actionable summary of events during your work period. Clear communication and consistency are key to keeping your team well-informed and delivering an exceptional guest experience. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

3 Restaurant Shift Note Templates You Can Use

As a restaurant manager, effective communication between shifts is imperative to ensure high-quality customer service and a well-run establishment. Shift notes provide the means to convey necessary details about daily operations, events, and issues that occur during a shift to prepare incoming staff for their shift.

Shift Note Template 1: Brief Summary

This template provides a quick overview of the shift in a bulleted list. It includes:

  • Sales totals and any notable business metrics
  • Staffing issues or call-outs
  • Difficult customers or complaints and how they were resolved
  • Key events like large parties or catering orders
  • Maintenance or facilities issues that need to be addressed
  • Reminders for the next shift

The summary shift note template is ideal for conveying the most critical details when time is limited. However, it lacks the context and depth of the subsequent templates.

Shift Note Template 2: Shift Report

The shift report template provides an in-depth account of the shift in paragraph form under section headings like:

Sales

  • Sales totals, comps, voids, and any anomalies
  • Performance relative to forecasts and previous shifts

Staffing

  • Call-outs, staffing shortages, and how they were addressed
  • Performance and training issues that need to be addressed

Customers

  • Difficult customers, complaints, and resolutions
  • Large parties or catering events and their details

Facilities

  • Any maintenance, cleaning, or equipment issues that arose

The shift report template is comprehensive but more time-consuming to complete. It is best for conveying complex situations or events where additional context is required.

Shift Note Template 3: Manager Log

The manager log acts as a timeline of key events, interactions, and details from the shift in chronological order. It provides an at-a-glance record of how situations were handled and decisions were made. The manager log template includes:

  • Time - Description of event, interaction, or decision

For example:

  • 5:15 PM - Staff call-out from Server 3, redistributed tables to remaining floor staff
  • 6:30 PM - Difficult customer at Table 12 complaining of long ticket times and cold food. Completed 50% of the bill and apologized. Will retrain kitchen staff.
  • 8:45 PM - Approved 10% discount for a large party of 20 at the request of the Event Coordinator. The group was well-behaved and left a generous tip.

The manager log provides a helpful timeline of reference for future shifts. Its chronological organization also allows incoming managers to understand the sequence and rationale for decisions made during the shift. The log is especially useful for new managers still learning the ropes.

Final Thoughts

In summary, writing effective shift notes is a skill all restaurant managers should develop. By clearly and concisely communicating important information between shifts, you enable your staff to provide excellent customer service. Implementing a standardized shift note template at your restaurant will save you time while improving communication. Be sure to include sections for sales data, staffing updates, guest feedback, and other critical info. With practice, your shift notes will become a valuable resource for your team. Invest time into this simple yet powerful habit - your restaurant's operations will benefit tremendously.

Write Effective Restaurant Shift Notes: The Complete Guide With Templates

Write Effective Restaurant Shift Notes: The Complete Guide With Templates
by
Soma Amir
by
Doron Segal
by
Tomer Molovinsky
by
Olivia Terenzio
by
Jessica Buckley
by
Ashley Rodriguez
March 25, 2020

TLDR

You know the importance of shift notes in your restaurant. Quality notes ensure smooth daily operations, effective communication between staff, and consistent execution of processes. But with the chaos of a busy restaurant, writing effective notes often falls by the wayside. This guide will walk you through a simple 5-step process for writing clear, organized shift notes that improve communication and accountability across your team. You'll also get access to three customizable templates to implement immediately. In just 10 minutes a day, you can set your team up for success by enabling seamless handoffs, surfacing operational insights, and documenting issues for resolution. Let's get started.

What is Restaurant Shift Notes

Restaurant Shift Notes serve as a dynamic log capturing essential updates, details, and data during each shift. They are instrumental in eliminating confusion, fostering consistency, and enhancing the overall work quality among team members. These notes play a critical role in facilitating communication, ensuring seamless information sharing within the team, and driving effective shift-to-shift coordination.

Why Taking Shift Notes Is Critical for Restaurant Success

As a restaurant owner or manager, shift notes provide clarity and continuity between teams, enable better decision-making, and help identify areas for improvement.

Provide Clarity and Continuity

With multiple teams working different shifts, it can be difficult to have a clear understanding of what has happened and needs to happen. Detailed shift notes communicate important details to the next team, like what VIP guests dined in, menu items that sold out, or operational issues that came up. This helps prevent confusion, duplicated effort, and dropped balls - ultimately leading to a smoother service and better experience for your staff and guests.

Enable Data-Driven Decisions

Shift notes contain valuable information that can be analyzed to determine peak hours, most popular dishes, average spending, and more. With data and insights from shift notes, you can make informed decisions on staffing levels, menu changes, marketing campaigns, and operational processes. The more detailed and consistent your shift notes are, the more actionable the data will be.

Identify Areas for Improvement

Shift notes should also include details on any issues that arose, complaints from guests, or inefficiencies identified. Reviewing shift notes regularly enables you to spot trends, find the root cause of problems, and make improvements. You can then implement new policies and procedures, update training, or make changes to prevent the issues from happening again.

How to Conduct a Pre-Shift Meeting and Take Notes

Conducting an effective pre-shift meeting is essential for ensuring high-quality service and a smooth shift. As the manager, begin by greeting your staff and expressing your appreciation for them. Review the day's objectives and priorities, key guest information, any operational changes, and staffing considerations.

To facilitate a productive discussion, provide specific talking points ahead of time so employees can prepare questions and suggestions. For example, you might highlight trending menu items, reservations, large parties, or promotional events. Ask open-ended questions to engage your team, capture their input, and make them feel valued.

Take thorough notes during the meeting using a template to keep the discussion on track. Your template should include sections for:

Priorities and Objectives

List the top 3-5 priorities and objectives for the shift to keep the team focused. These may include sales targets, guest experience goals, or operational priorities.

Key Guest Information

Note details of any VIP guests, special events, or large reservations. List names, contact info, dietary needs, celebrated occasions, and any special requests.

Staffing and Coverage

Review the floor plan and staffing schedule. Note any changes in job responsibilities or areas of coverage. Discuss how to handle any staff absences or availabilities.

Upselling Opportunities

Discuss how to promote high-margin menu items, daily specials, or drink features. Set team goals for upselling and note individual accountabilities.

Questions and Concerns

Provide space for employees to ask questions about the details covered. Address any concerns raised and note how they will be handled.

Following a consistent template for your pre-shift meetings and note-taking will help keep your team focused and working together towards common goals. Be sure to distribute notes from the meeting to all staff for review and reference throughout the shift. With organization and open communication, your team will deliver amazing experiences shift after shift.

Writing Effective Shift Notes: Step-by-Step Guide

To compose useful shift notes for your restaurant, follow these recommendations:

Focus on Relevant Details

When writing shift notes, focus on including details that will be helpful for the next shift. Note any issues that arose, specifics about large reservations or events, product inventory updates, and any information relevant to continued quality service. Keep descriptions concise yet thorough.

Maintain a Professional and Objective Tone

Compose shift notes in a professional, unbiased tone. Avoid excessive expressions of opinion and stick to facts. Your notes should maintain an objective, courteous tone to avoid misunderstandings or unintended offense. Focus on clear communication of relevant details.

Use a Consistent Format

Adopt a consistent format for your shift notes to make them as useful as possible. You might include sections like:

  • Guest Experience: Note any guest issues, large reservations, events, etc.
  • Product Inventory: Update the team on inventory needs or shortages.
  • Staffing: Communicate any staffing issues or updates.
  • Closing Duties: List any closing duties left incomplete due to business demands.

Review and Sign Off

Once complete, review your shift notes for errors or omissions before distributing them to the team. Your shift notes represent an official record of events during your work period, so accuracy and detail are important. Sign off on your shift notes to certify them as an accurate summary.

Distribute Notes Promptly

Promptly distribute your completed shift notes to ensure the next shift is well-informed. Email the shift notes or place a hard copy in a designated location, depending on your restaurant’s preferred method. Thorough, efficiently communicated shift notes help enable a seamless handover between work periods.

By following these best practices, you will compose shift notes that provide an accurate, actionable summary of events during your work period. Clear communication and consistency are key to keeping your team well-informed and delivering an exceptional guest experience. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

3 Restaurant Shift Note Templates You Can Use

As a restaurant manager, effective communication between shifts is imperative to ensure high-quality customer service and a well-run establishment. Shift notes provide the means to convey necessary details about daily operations, events, and issues that occur during a shift to prepare incoming staff for their shift.

Shift Note Template 1: Brief Summary

This template provides a quick overview of the shift in a bulleted list. It includes:

  • Sales totals and any notable business metrics
  • Staffing issues or call-outs
  • Difficult customers or complaints and how they were resolved
  • Key events like large parties or catering orders
  • Maintenance or facilities issues that need to be addressed
  • Reminders for the next shift

The summary shift note template is ideal for conveying the most critical details when time is limited. However, it lacks the context and depth of the subsequent templates.

Shift Note Template 2: Shift Report

The shift report template provides an in-depth account of the shift in paragraph form under section headings like:

Sales

  • Sales totals, comps, voids, and any anomalies
  • Performance relative to forecasts and previous shifts

Staffing

  • Call-outs, staffing shortages, and how they were addressed
  • Performance and training issues that need to be addressed

Customers

  • Difficult customers, complaints, and resolutions
  • Large parties or catering events and their details

Facilities

  • Any maintenance, cleaning, or equipment issues that arose

The shift report template is comprehensive but more time-consuming to complete. It is best for conveying complex situations or events where additional context is required.

Shift Note Template 3: Manager Log

The manager log acts as a timeline of key events, interactions, and details from the shift in chronological order. It provides an at-a-glance record of how situations were handled and decisions were made. The manager log template includes:

  • Time - Description of event, interaction, or decision

For example:

  • 5:15 PM - Staff call-out from Server 3, redistributed tables to remaining floor staff
  • 6:30 PM - Difficult customer at Table 12 complaining of long ticket times and cold food. Completed 50% of the bill and apologized. Will retrain kitchen staff.
  • 8:45 PM - Approved 10% discount for a large party of 20 at the request of the Event Coordinator. The group was well-behaved and left a generous tip.

The manager log provides a helpful timeline of reference for future shifts. Its chronological organization also allows incoming managers to understand the sequence and rationale for decisions made during the shift. The log is especially useful for new managers still learning the ropes.

Final Thoughts

In summary, writing effective shift notes is a skill all restaurant managers should develop. By clearly and concisely communicating important information between shifts, you enable your staff to provide excellent customer service. Implementing a standardized shift note template at your restaurant will save you time while improving communication. Be sure to include sections for sales data, staffing updates, guest feedback, and other critical info. With practice, your shift notes will become a valuable resource for your team. Invest time into this simple yet powerful habit - your restaurant's operations will benefit tremendously.

Soma Amir

About the author

Doron Segal

About the author

Hey I'm Doron, the co-founder & CTO of Per Diem — a mobile app platform for restaurants. I'm also a dad and a husband. I love to travel and meet new people.I love creating things, and see people using the stuff I built.Prior to Per Diem I worked at Saildrone, OpenTable, Apple, Beats Music, Siemens.

Tomer Molovinsky

About the author

A second time founder with a passion for building products at the intersection of hospitality and technology. I've had the pleasure of launching reservation systems, mobile payment solutions, and loyalty programs at OpenTable and Resy, and witnessed how operators were losing a direct connection with their customers online. We built Per Diem to strengthen the relationships that businesses have with those customers, and to ensure that local businesses can thrive in today's economy.

Olivia Terenzio

About the author

Jessica Buckley

About the author

Ashley Rodriguez

About the author

Ashley is a freelance writer and podcast producer based in Madison, Wisconsin. She hosts a podcast called Boss Barista and writes an accompanying newsletter with full transcripts of each episode and articles about coffee and restaurant work. You can check out her work here (ashleyrodriguez.work/).

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