Unlock Success: Mastering The Art Of Restaurant Opening Shifts

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Opening Shift Management


In restaurant management, conducting a successful opening shift is like conducting a symphony in perfect harmony. From assigning tasks to conducting pre-shift meetings and ensuring seamless service, every step is crucial for setting the stage for a successful dining experience. In this article, we’ll walk through each aspect of opening shift management, providing insights and strategies to streamline operations and enhance efficiency.



  1. Making Shift Assignments for Team Members

Assigning tasks to team members is the foundation of opening shift management. It involves distributing responsibilities and ensuring that each team member is trained adequately on their assigned tasks. Managers should designate primary and secondary responsibilities to each staff member, considering their strengths and skills.


  1. Completing the Shift Planner/Deployment Chart

A well-prepared shift planner or deployment chart is essential for smooth operations. It should be completed well before the shift and cross-checked against the work schedule to ensure accuracy. The planner should include positioning and cleaning assignments, allowing staff to know their roles and responsibilities before the shift begins.


  1. Conducting Pre-Shift Meetings

The pre-shift meeting sets the tone for the shift and aligns the team with its goals. In a quick 2-minute rally format, the Manager on Duty should gather all team members who are on the clock and communicate shift objectives, such as service standards, sales targets, and special promotions or events.


  1. Utilising the Manager’s Log

During the shift, it’s essential to keep track of operational issues and reminders using the Manager’s Log. This tool records any problems that arise and ensures that all managers are aware of important information. Before the start of the shift, all managers should read and initial the log to stay informed.


  1. Completing the Opening Checklist

Before opening the restaurant to the public, managers must complete an opening checklist to ensure all necessary tasks are completed. This checklist may include checking equipment, stocking supplies, and ensuring cleanliness and sanitation standards are met.


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  1. Managing the Shift

During the shift, managers should perform regular manager walks to assess the operation and make adjustments as needed, which may involve adjusting priorities based on observations and addressing any issues that arise in real time to maintain smooth operations.


  1. Conducting Checks and Reviews

Managers should conduct various checks and reviews throughout the shift to ensure everything runs smoothly, including cleanliness checks, hospitality checks, the accuracy of orders, maintenance checks, product reviews, and service checks. These checks should be performed before lunch, after shift changes, and before dinner service.


  1. Completing Manager’s Tasks

At the end of the shift, managers should complete various tasks to wrap up operations effectively, which includes tasks such as talking with at least three customers to gather feedback, monitoring labour-to-sales ratios, ensuring food quality and safety standards are upheld, checking cash controls, recognising positive team member behaviour, completing shift paperwork, and providing feedback and coaching to team members.


9. Conducting Shift Change

Using the Manager Log: Before starting the new shift, managers should record any operational issues or reminders in the Manager’s Log to ensure that the incoming shift knows of any ongoing problems or tasks that need attention.

Completing the Shift Change Checklist: As part of the shift change process, managers should complete a shift change checklist to ensure a smooth transition between shifts, including completing any tasks left by the departing manager, conducting critical inventory counts, auditing funds, and providing a seamless handover between incoming and outgoing managers.

Ensuring Departing Manager Responsibilities: Before the departing manager concludes their shift, they must complete all their responsibilities, such as finalising cash controls, resolving outstanding issues, and communicating important information to the incoming manager.

Completing Shared Tasks: In cases where tasks are shared between shifts, such as critical inventory counts or fund audits, both the departing and incoming managers must collaborate to ensure these tasks are completed accurately and efficiently.

Completing Arriving Manager Responsibilities/Handover: Upon assuming their role for the shift, the incoming manager must complete any remaining responsibilities outlined in the shift change checklist, which includes reviewing the Manager’s Log, addressing any outstanding issues, and familiarising themselves with the status of operations.


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Restaurant opening shift management demands meticulous attention to detail, adept communication skills, and the capacity to adjust swiftly to evolving situations. Mastering opening shift management is a multifaceted endeavour that requires careful planning, effective communication, and diligent execution.


Remember, success in restaurant opening shift management is not just about completing tasks—it’s about creating a positive work environment, fostering teamwork, and prioritising customer satisfaction.


By following these steps, leveraging technology, taking advantage of training opportunities, and implementing best practices, restaurant managers can ensure that each shift runs smoothly, setting the stage for a successful dining experience.


With dedication and commitment, every shift can be a recipe for success. Cheers to smoother shifts and thriving restaurants!


Shift Manager




What are the tasks involved in opening shift management?

Opening shift management involves tasks such as shift assignments for team members, completing the shift planner/deployment chart, conducting pre-shift meetings, completing opening checklists, managing the shift, and conducting shift change procedures.


How can technology assist in managing opening shifts?

Technology is a powerful ally in opening shift management, offering tools that can automate scheduling, facilitate communication, and provide real-time insights into operations. By embracing these technologies, restaurant managers can feel empowered and confident in adapting to new tools, improving efficiency and organisation.


What strategies can handle unexpected challenges during the opening shift?

Strategies for handling unexpected challenges include maintaining clear communication channels, empowering staff to make decisions autonomously, and having contingency plans for common issues. Regular training and preparedness help teams respond effectively to unforeseen circumstances.


How often should SOPs be reviewed and updated?

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are the backbone of any successful operation. Periodic reviews should be conducted to verify their relevance and effectiveness. It is essential to ensure that they remain applicable and efficient over time. Any changes in procedures, equipment, or regulations should prompt a review and update of existing SOPs, reflecting the current best practices and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.


What role does effective communication play in opening shift management?

Effective communication is not just about coordinating tasks and addressing issues promptly- it’s about fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie among the team. By ensuring clear communication channels, managers can make every team member feel included and valued, promoting a collaborative work environment essential for successful opening shift management.


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