Why are the most effective leaders spending so much time in the store rooms every day? by Mark Barnes



Working in the food service industry over the past 20+ years, I’ve been the pot washer, busboy, bar back, host, server, bartender, prep cook, line cook, assistant kitchen manager, kitchen manager, chef manager, sous chef, and executive chef. I’ve also been lucky enough over the past few years to work as a food safety trainer & consultant where I get to meet and spend time with folks throughout our industry. Considering all of those operations where I’ve either worked or spent time, and specifically the kitchens attached to them, there were some that were poorly run, some mediocre, some well run, and a few that were truly exceptional. As I think back on those exceptional operations, two common denominators continue to arise:
 
1. Those teams consistently held daily pre-service meetings
2. The kitchen leadership (kitchen manager/executive chef) spent significant time in the storage areas on a daily basis
 
The daily pre-service meeting (maybe you call it line-up, pre-shift or something else) is one of my favorite topics to discuss - I believe it to be the single best tool for an effective manager. In this post, however, I want to focus on the storage areas.
 
Why, do I think, the most effective leaders are spending so much time in the store rooms every day? Because the benefits of doing so are abundant. For one thing, there is so much MONEY in our dry storage, walk-in refrigerators, and freezers - probably about 95% of our inventory is stored in those locations. Spending time with all of that product helps us to keep better tabs on it. We can ensure that it’s properly labeled and rotated, get a better sense of usage, make it more efficient for our team, and spend much less time ordering and taking inventory while being more precise with both tasks. All of those things lead to better food cost, quality and safety, and less 86’d menu items. Not to mention a happy health inspector.
 
In addition to inventory management, our walk-ins hold much of our prepped food (TCS food prepared on-site). Spending time organizing and inspecting these foods provides an excellent snapshot of how our kitchen is actually functioning.
  • Are we over/under producing?
  • Is our labeling procedure consistent?
  • Are my cooks following and executing recipes properly?
  • Does the shelving need to be cleaned?
  • Is my team following our cleaning schedule?
  • Does my team respect the storage areas?
The answers to these questions and more can help direct where our managerial focus should be - maybe even give us a talking point or two for that daily pre-service meeting.
 
This blog is not intended to be a substitute for the user's judgement and common sense. Any errors are unintentional. 


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