How to Create a Restaurant Operations Manual

November 27, 2019


Your restaurant operations manual can benefit you a lot. It serves as a guide for new trainees and provides an emergency recovery plan. It also protects you from relying too much on individual employees.

The restaurant manager, operations manager, or communications manager might be able to write the operations manual. Make sure that whoever writes this manual should have good writing skills, be organized and attentive to details. You may outsource this task and hire a communications student or entry-level technical writer.

On this article, you will find:

  1. What elements to include in your restaurant operations manual?
  2. How to create your restaurant operations manual?


What elements to include in your restaurant operations manual?

The challenge in writing an operation manual is to include enough detail to serve as a comprehensive knowledge base for your staff, but not so much as to bore them into complacency. Alternatively, the information must be enough so that your team performs the task correctly and consistently. Additionally, avoid listing unnecessary detail, which an employee might skip or that make them confused.

Operations manuals typically include the following five types of information:

  1. Restaurant staff hierarchy
  2. Job descriptions
  3. Contact details
  4. Documented processes
  5. Emergency procedures


1. Restaurant staff hierarchy:

Here you need to mention who is in charge of what, who answers to whom, and so on, to explain the layout of your restaurant. The content here depends on your restaurant size and layout. It is much easier to make a visual flowchart that starts from the very top and go down the managerial chain.

Write the job titles, not specific names so that you do not need to go back and adjust whenever you hire someone new or someone changes position.

restaurant staff hierarchy

2. Job descriptions:

Formal job descriptions help employees understand their roles within your restaurant and allow new and existing staff to identify each other’s responsibilities.

Job descriptions go through each role in your business and layout responsibilities, authorities, and skills. That is to say, it gives an insight into each position in more detail in the context of the hierarchy. Job descriptions help individuals to know who to contact about a particular issue or to collaborate over a specific task.


3. Contact details:

Combine the “Contact Details” section to make everyone’s life easier. Consider creating a directory of all your restaurant’s employees, with their NamePositionJob Description, and Contact Information.

This part of the operations manual might be combined with the job description section if you want to have a more compact document. However, separating them can make it easier to get the correct information immediately and quickly.


4. Documented processes:

In most cases, this is the longest section of your operations manual. The challenge is to record them in a comprehensive easy-to-follow way. You have to document the processes of every task and include what-to-do lists.

You might create detailed flowcharts that tell your employees the exact steps they have to take in order to complete the process successfully.


5. Emergency procedures:

An emergency could mean anything could result in damage to your restaurant, products, or staff. Detailed emergency procedures can be obtained from your property owner or from community groups. You need to cover the most likely situation under to occur and give the best way to limit the damage.

When facing an emergent situation, your staff shall refer to the operations manual to react quickly instead of sitting around wondering what to do. It is advisable to put a copy of your emergency procedures section at reception and in the staff room for easy access.


How to create your restaurant operations manual?

1. Divide your manual into sections:

Go through the mentioned-above items (the hierarchy, job descriptions, processes, contact details) and document each of them in turn. This will facilitate the writing process. In addition, dividing the manual into sections allows easy access to information. You also have to include a table of contents that lists subsections.

2. Choose a Word-processor program:

Word processor will make it easier to create the manual as well as ensures the ease of modifying the document in the future. However, you need to have a hard copy of all the versions at a safe location.

3. Number the sections and then the pages in each section:

This strategy can help you avoid reprinting the entire document each time you adjust the manual. For instance, the number of page 4 of section 10 would be “10.4.”

4. Test the manual:

After completing your operations manual, test it out. Ask any employee to follow the steps for a particular task in another workstation. This will help to assure that the manual is accurate and easy to use before you need it. Moreover, it helps you find new ways to boost your efficiency and consistency, whether by using better software or handling a problem in a different way.