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4 Ways to Reduce Order-taking Mistakes

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

They say that no one is perfect. But when we talk about taking the orders of our customers in our restaurant, we all know that there shouldn't be room for any mistakes.

Today, I am answering a great question from one of our avid podcast listeners, Rich, a Restaurant FOH Manager from Asheville, North Carolina.

Rich's query goes like this:

I wanted to ask how you handle it when servers make mistakes and ring in items incorrectly to the kitchen, even after they've been thoroughly trained. I'm currently trying to find that perfect balance between holding people accountable, while still maintaining good morale among the staff. How do you handle situations like these at your restaurants?

We all know that in the restaurant business, order accuracy is very critical. Inaccurate order can cause problems in restaurants.

Order accuracy is not only about providing excellent service, but it also concerns the customer's safety. For instance, some customers give special instructions because they may have allergies with a particular ingredient in the dish.

As part of our company's commitment to providing consistent order accuracy for our customers, here are some tips we can share:

1. Document all the FOH mistakes

Are you tracking FOH mistakes? What are these mistakes, and who makes the mistakes?

Incorrect order, food was dropped off at the wrong table, broken glass, etc. All of these mistakes need to be recorded in your logbook daily.

Based on the tracking and the pattern that you're observing, are you able to see who commit errors more frequently? There maybe 2-3 individuals out of 10 who are highly-contributing to these order-taking mistakes.

Document and track everything so you can identify patterns of behavior. Who are the people involved, is it a particular food item that the mistakes are happening? Or maybe, it’s a piece of confusing information in the POS, and etc.

In our restaurant, we have an area in the hallway where we assign one person and all the food that goes through, if it's a mistake comes back to this section.

We track all of the errors by writing it down on a piece of paper like, order no. X, these were the mistakes associated with it, and we look up who's the server on the ticket.

At the end of the night, we put all of these on the logbook feature of our scheduling platform.

By doing this, you can identify what the problems are and how to resolve them.

2. Conduct pop-quizzes as part of their training (specifically for Menu and POS knowledge)

Are you conducting periodic menu and POS quizzes?

Do you have a list of your members in the FOH department, along with their quiz scores?

We do this monthly, and no is exempted. I don't care if an employee has been working for years, or if she/he is the manager, everybody needs to take the quizzes.

By having pop quizzes, you can assess how well does everybody knows when it comes to your menu and POS to ensure that they won't commit any order-taking mistakes.

3. Implement order-taking accuracy techniques

Now, I will share with you three techniques that we provide to our people to avoid order-taking errors:

Repeat back every order - this is non-negotiable. Whether they do it in person or over the phone, after listening to the customer, they need to have a recap of their order clearly. This needs to become a habit so that no one forgets, and thus, avoids mistakes.

Talk as you do - we talk as we do. Instead of awkward silence while doing things, why not speak, right? For example, as you punch the orders into the POS, talk as you do it.

Slow down customers - equip your people to slow down a customer while saying his/her order. A server needs to be in control of the conversation to make sure that we capture accurate information. The secret is to throw questions because the person who asks questions dominates the conversation. For this, we strictly follow the flow in the POS.

4. Give consequences to those who commit mistakes

To ensure consistency in providing customers with accurate orders, we must implement consequences to those who commit mistakes. We do this using the following procedures:

Make scores and errors per person public - put the quiz rating individually on your board so that everybody knows what the mistakes are and who made them.

Coaching slips - are something that is documented, you and the staff need to sign it. Providing memorable coaching sessions can help an employee avoid having mistakes.

Reduce hours - thoroughly explain why you need to reduce an employee's hours due to frequent order-taking mistakes.

Retake menu/POS quiz - make the employee retake the menu/POS quiz.

Re-watch video training - make them watch the video training again.

Make them apologize to the customer and the team - they need to realize that it's a mistake that requires an apology. They must say and feel sorry about it.

Termination - if the menu and POS quizzes are low after so many times of giving grace periods, and providing a lot of training, and still, the employee commits mistakes, termination process must take place.

Order accuracy is a crucial part of any restaurant's success story. Our employees need to know that what matters to us as restaurant owners or managers should matter to each and everyone in the company.


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