5S is a methodology used to organize the workplace, aiming to increase productivity and reduce waste. It comes from 5 Japanese words, seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke, which are commonly translated into English as sort, set, shine, standardize and sustain. 5S is most often thought of as a manufacturing tool, and what is a restaurant if not a manufacturing establishment for delicious meals? Here, we will show you the value of each of these steps when applied to the restaurant industry.
1. Sort: Basically, sort out your workspace. Ensure that you have all of the supplies that you need, but remember to also remove the stuff that you don’t need.
- Kitchen: The dinner pantry can clear out the items that are only used for lunch specials.
- Bar: The afternoon bartender doesn’t need all of the supplies for brunch’s bellinis because they are not on the dinner menu.
- Service: Once the lunch iced tea rush is over, put the easy-to-grab pitchers back in the service station. Don’t leave them sitting out, getting warm while everyone orders coffee at dinner.
- Kitchen: If you garnish every plate with parsley) , you want the parsley at the front of your station because you are using it frequently. What’s more, you don’t want it at the back of your station because each pinch will leave a little trail of parsley flakes across your whole workspace.
- Bar: Speed racks are everything. Your bartender needs to be able to grab bottles with confidence during a rush to keep up with the pace of service. Bottles should not only be organized in racks, but pour spouts should be faced to allow for maximum efficiency.
- Service: Extra silverware should be organized and easily accessible. You absolutely do not want to be sorting silverware to try to find a spoon while table 12’s ice cream (and patience) begins to melt. Organize your backups and make sure that there are plenty of them.
3. Shine: Keep your workplace clean! This serves as a spot check for organization, helps ensure a safe workplace, and increases guest satisfaction and employee morale. Plus, of course – it’s gross if you don’t.
- Kitchen: A clean station lets you work faster, not to mention the fact that it’s hygienic, so that your guests don’t get sick. In extreme cases, you may be at risk of violating the law.
- Bar: First off, fruit flies are repugnant, and making a new drink during rush because one got into a glass is a waste of time and booze. Second, it takes more time to get a new glass of wine for a guest because someone else’s lipstick is still on it than to just polish glassware as it gets cleaned and put away.
- Service: It takes less time and cost to polish silverware before service than to try to find a fork that doesn’t have old food crusted to it during service. Guests appreciate clean silverware. Doesn’t everyone?
4. Standardize: Every process should have a standard. Consistency not only increases guest satisfaction, but also reduces waste and increases insight into your costs. Furthermore, by setting standards, you also set the benchmark for performance expectations.
- Kitchen: Every dish should have a recipe that should be followed. If one prep cook makes marinara with ½ fresh and ½ canned tomatoes, and another makes it with just canned tomatoes, there is going to be a drastic difference from one day to the next. Customers won’t know what to expect, and you won’t know what the true cost of that recipe is, or whether it is priced appropriately.
- Bar: Some bartenders are heavy handed and some are light handed. Some prefer sweet drinks, while others prefer tart drinks. Without specific measurements and recipes, it is impossible to tell if alcohol is walking out the door, being consumed by staff, or being poured on the floor. Standardized pours are instrumental in ensuring that your liquor cost stays in check, and that your cocktails are consistent no matter who is bartending.
- Service: Standardize best practices of service to ensure consistent, quality service at all times. Set a standard time frame to greet the table, check after food has been delivered, and so on.
5. Sustain: Review the process to ensure it is happening on an ongoing basis. The goal is to have this become a process that is done out of habit, rather than force. Good habits take a while to establish, but once the 5S process is set, you will see increased productivity, reduced waste and increased guest satisfaction.