Select Page
5 min read

Slow service sucks. What sucks even more is when your staff is trying hard but just can’t keep up. Today, we are going to look at how you can speed up your service by giving your employees the best chance to succeed.


We’ve talked about training in the past, so I’m not going to go in depth on this, but if a staff member isn’t trained on how to properly and competently do their job, start there first.

Count Your Steps

Alright, we are going to assume your employees know how to do their jobs, now it’s on you. We’ll look at

a waiter, but follow this process with each of your positions. Through each task write down the number of steps you take.

Pretend you are a waiter, go through a mock serving of a table. Through the entire process count your steps. Go to the table; go to the POS; deliver your drinks. Take an order; back to the POS; grab your soups; out to the table. Back for condiments; out to clear the soup cups. To the sink to wash hands; bring out the food. Check on the table, print the bill and deliver it. Head back to collect it; run the card; return the card. Head back to bus; to the dish pit. Don’t forget to wash your hands at the sink. Clean and reset the table. Whew! That’s a lot of steps and that’s just one table. If we can reduce these steps by even 10% we can have a significant improvement on speed of service. So how do we do that?

Consult Your Employees

Start by consulting your employees. Talk with the employees that work the position every day. They likely know where they get most frustrated. They’ll know where the bottlenecks are where things should belong.


With the suggestions you received from your employees, and with their help where possible, rearrange parts of your restaurant. The majority of changes will occur in your employee only service areas. Should plates or glasses be on a different shelf? Do you need to add a shelf? Can you move the POS closer to the door? Do you need to add a POS system?

Add Extra Stations

This doesn’t always mean adding a POS system. Often it means setting up a small cabinet with napkins, condiments, and plates. It may just be a tray jack that is set up with a tray to collect dirty dishes. If you can keep a server from having to go all of the way back to the kitchen to grab something, you are saving steps and saving time.

In the kitchen, it may mean having an area with pre-prepped salads so that they don’t have to be made on the fly. It could be the purchasing of a hot drawer to store baked potatoes or chicken wings so that they can be cooked in larger batches and allow cooking space for other menu items. How about a rack shelf in the dish area to act as a drying rack? Plates can stack up higher so your dishwasher doesn’t have to run as much.

In the bar it may mean creating a duplicate creation station. Have two identical stations set up on each end of the bar that contain all of your rail liquors and common call liquors. This way bartenders don’t have to go to the other end of the bar just to make a drink. Less steps, less time, greater speed up service.

Consolidate Stations

Maybe you have the opposite problem. Perhaps you have too many stations. Your burgers are in one freezer, your fries in another around the corner. Except, that cooler only holds enough for the first 10 orders, so you have to go to the main freezer down the hall if you need more. Can you rearrange and consolidate so that all the items are in one convenient spot in an appropriate quantity? Even if you have to invest in a slightly larger freezer, if that speeds up your kitchen and you can get more food out faster, it could pay off quickly. Less steps, less time, greater speed of service.

Full Hands In, Full Hands Out

For any employee moving through your dining room, be sure they have full hands leaving and entering the kitchen. If they are going out into the dining room they should be bringing food, drinks, appetizer plates, or silverware out to a guest or to set up a table.

When reentering the kitchen they should be pre-busing tables or running a check. If your employees are able to preform multiple tasks on every trip, you may be able to cut their steps nearly in half. If you have good organizational health and everyone is helping everyone else, you can drastically improve your speed of service.


Now that you have rearranged, added stations, removed stations, and improved your processes, recount your steps. Have you improved? Are their further improvements that can be made? Keep monitoring and reevaluate over time. Give you employees the best opportunity for success. Reduce your steps, reduce your time, and you’ll increase your speed of service.