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How restaurant operators can improve internal communication with technology to strengthen teams

How restaurant operators can improve internal communication with technology to strengthen teams

6th December 2022
6 mins read

I) How communication shapes the workplace

We’ve all heard stories about how good communication within an organisation can be the difference between success and failure. 

It is usually a vital part of a company’s culture.

A good book on the subject is the one from Netflix’s founder “No rules rules”. It describes how Netflix were able to build a great culture around effective communication. 

While the analogy between Netflix and restaurants may be hard to picture, they are both  businesses, so the same principles apply.

In fact, the importance of effective communication becomes even more pronounced in an industry as people and service-driven as hospitality.

Not only is good communication key in establishing goals and effectively carrying out tasks and operations - it is also vital in training and maintaining a happy, productive workforce. 

Now more than ever, with 5.7% of the entire hospitality workforce leaving in June alone this year (source: Big Hospitality UK), should strengthening how their business communicates internally be a top priority for operators?

To answer this question, let’s begin by taking a look at how businesses communicate, and explore the 4 different types of business communication:

1) Internal upward:

Where information passes from frontline team members to management.

Frontline members are the ears and eyes of the business, and there should be a clear, simple upward channel of information coming from sites and team members.

It provides the most vital, first-hand insight into how the business is operating.

This can include (but is not limited to):

  • Customer feedback 
  • Recording data (sales, inventories, purchases)
  • General communication (broken equipment, mood, areas for improvement).

2) Internal downward:

Communication that passes from management to team members (front of house, chefs etc…).

Culture is formalised at the top and passes downward - this is one of the most vital communication processes in an organisation.

It is about sharing and aligning company’s values and vision for the direction of the business with the employees. 

But, it is also a pragmatic stage, used for sharing news and updates, implementing operating processes, providing the tools and environment to succeed, as well as facilitating employee development through training and support.

3)Internal lateral:

Communication between departments - how well does each department work together? 

How effectively information flows between departments is key in optimising operations and ensuring everyone can rely on one another 

It also allows for a more accurate picture of the entire organisation, particularly when it comes to data and analytics. 

Every organisation should ensure and optimise the flow of info between different systems and teams. 

Misenplace advocates for operators to have an integrated solution that relies on SSOT (Single Source of Truth). This is a concept that an organisation can apply as part of its information architecture to ensure that everyone in the organisation uses the same data when making business decisions. 

This prizes communication above all else, as teams can trust they are all acting with established sources, language and data.

For further information on the need for an integrated solution, see Misenplace’s previous articles/blog posts.

4) External communication 

Communicating with entities outside the business.

This can include:

  • Suppliers
  • Customers
  • Contractors

Though we will be focusing on optimising communication internally, it is also worth applying some of the principles we will discuss to help with external interactions too. 

To start with, operators could spend some time looking at how each of these four forms of communication is currently established in their business, and its efficiency. 

We are going to look at how the first three (non-external) forms of communication can be used and optimised in conjunction with technology to improve the day-to-day running of a restaurant, strengthening teams and by extension, the business. 

II) Tech-based communication hacks 

Communicating face to face will always be important. 

But, as technology becomes such a vital part of day-to-day living and the industry, it is only natural that it be used to improve efficiency in communication. 

From Whatsapp, to Slack to emails… the choices are numerous. Employers already regularly make use of these channels.

However, this can become messy very quickly!

With this in mind, here’s our three hacks that every organisation could use to implement effective communication:

1) Have a clearly established, ideally unique, way of communicating:

The results of a 7shifts study of more than 1900 restaurant employees showed that when not communicating in person, more than 60% of employees prefer for their management to communicate with them via text or chat. 

So, there’s a clear consensus that staff find this a comfortable way to communicate with their employer and colleagues. 

But, imagine that an organisation is sending new menus via email, sending descriptions on Whatsapp, and a last minute change is shared at the briefing just before service. 

How can we change this model to enable consistency and ease of operations?

You could agree to fix one of these more generic means of texting or chatting as your sole channel for delivering information, including:

  • Whatsapp
  • Emails
  • Text messages

Or, a more surefire way to encourage a single medium for communication would be to create a specific channel for teams to communicate with. 

This provides a clear message that this is a distinct means of contacting one another, to be used for work purposes. 

Programmes that offer this feature include:

Having clear and universal rules to communicate should be for everyone in the organisation, and should apply to every internal matter of communication, be it upward, downward or lateral.

2) Having everyone aware of what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and who is responsible for it:

There is so much room for confusion in regard to who performs what task. This is the most vital way that communication can impact the day-to-day running of a restaurant.

Task lists are the answer to that problem!

Luckily, there are so many options and programmes out there to help create gorgeous task lists to schedule day-to-day operations down to a T:

  • The old-fashioned way - pen and paper!
  • Misenplace - Tasks & HACCP module

This downward form of communication helps teams understand the values, standards and goals a business is aiming for - it also helps avoid guesswork and creates accountability amongst team members.

To find out more about how Misenplace’s Tasks & HACCP module does this, head to our website

3) Centralise and integrate your systems as much as possible 

Using tech to centralise and integrate a business involves having all the departments and their systems working on the same platform - from the accounts team to procurement teams.

This avoids issues and friction as it allows for ease of communication, whilst also improving efficiency by building a more cohesive business. 

Data from one department or system, such as delivery sales data, is readily accessible to departments that may need it. This is an application of the SSOT principle we were discussing earlier.

Often solutions that allow for integration and centralisation are also designed explicitly to be accessible and easy to use. This means that communication of important information can be done by anyone from anywhere! 

For example, Misenplace’s integrative solution has an interface that is accessible from phones and tablets, meaning that a chef in the storeroom can be just as connected to all the information he needs as a manager in the office remotely! 

III) The benefits of good communication

The benefits of good communication cannot be overstated!

And this isn’t a new idea - as early as 2015 BigHospitality was producing articles outlining findings that a lack of productivity caused by poor employee retention was costing the sector £275 million per year.

Fast forward 7 years, and the issue remains the same, but worse - the industry is in the middle of its biggest ever staffing crisis, with frontline workers being the most affected. 

It is important to implement every strategy possible to not only improve retention and staff satisfaction, but also to achieve maximum productivity with limited staffing resources. 

So, what are the benefits of integrating good communication into your culture?

1) Reduce turnover & improve culture

Have a more engaged, happier, less stressed workforce.

Good communication makes employees more engaged and motivated. It also helps with staff retention.

A 2021 survey by 7Shifts found that restaurant employees who were likely to quit were unhappy with their managers, rating them a 3/5, where engaged and happy employees gave them a 4. 

If department and team members are all working on one platform and feel connected and involved in constant dialogue with one another, it collapses a sense of distance or hierarchical divide, replacing it instead with togetherness and shared goals. 

Implementing this formula increases retention, which, with the cost of replacing a front-line employee estimated at more that £5,000 by the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell, cannot be overlooked.

2) Improve efficiency 

In operations and between departments

Good communication also improves efficiency in operations and between departments. 

It means that each department has access to a wealth of information about the business, and that the data used by each department is up to date. According to Forbes, “highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability.” 

Another research published by EDM group reveals that the average UK worker wastes on average 1.5 hours per week looking for information.

This also reiterates the need for an organisation to establish a single channel for communication to prevent misunderstandings and delay in the sharing of information.


3) Improve productivity

Establish clear goals and ensure everyone knows what to do

Communication is also the backbone of day-to-day productivity. Taking the time to get across clear goals and outline everyone’s tasks and responsibilities saves so much time and money. 

It also allows management to schedule and track all the necessary jobs to keep operations running smoothly, with the added bonus of motivating staff through consistent, achievable goals.

The smallest things, such as what to do when opening and closing kitchens or bars, to preparation lists for each cocktail or dishes can boost teams’ productivity and spare more time to focus on guests. 

IV) Conclusion

Ultimately, communication allows a company to save costs based on intangible factors such as staff satisfaction and collaboration, as well as impacting more real, tangible figures with improved data flow. 

It becomes even more important as a company becomes larger and the number of interactions between individuals and departments increases.

Technology, whether it be messaging solutions or operation solutions, can be used to make this happen, and should be embraced as a supplement to face to face communication.

As one respondent to 7shift’s restaurant survey put it, “if the managers put as much time as they do in the workplace [into] engaging with their employees, the restaurant would be so much better and would receive more customers.” 

This summarises well our views at Misenplace on how improved communication, be it laterally, downward or upward, is about understanding your restaurant better. 

This can only be achieved with a collaborative workforce, who are capable of seeing and communicating the day to day changes with the greatest accuracy and efficiency possible.

Got any questions? Contact us at contact@misenplace.ai