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Next week, I will spend a day observing the operations of a bakery in Brookline. The owner wants to grow her business and we will be documenting the different jobs in the kitchen to evaluate how best to expand her operations and utilize labor effectively.
As I prepare for this day, I asked for her prep-sheets, recipes and order guides - any standardized forms she has that streamline operations. She pulled out her recipe book - a tattered moleskine book with handwritten notes in her native (non-English) language.
"Don't worry," she said. "I'm always at the bakery to teach them my recipes."
Oh, I worried.
In addition to the inefficiencies of constantly teaching her employees her recipes, there is an inherent risk in having one person the sole keeper of information. If the owner becomes incapacitated for any reason, can someone else jump in to take care of operations?
This is just one example of the importance of knowledge sharing. There are several approaches to ensure your business is covered when a key person is out of work.
- Write down job descriptions with specific tasks
Job descriptions are helpful not only for the employees themselves, but also in the event someone else has to cover a shift. How should the cook set up her station? What are the closing procedures at the end of the night? Which aspects of the operation is each employee (or station) responsible for?
- Write down recipes
It's also helpful for employees to have par levels - how much chicken for example, should be prepped and ready for service on any given night of the week? Have a system where employees can track what needs to be ordered to maintain par levels on their station.
- Cross-train employees in multiple aspects of the business
With job descriptions written and recipes recorded, your employees will be better equipped to jump onto another job at the last minute.
As for my client, I will be transcribing recipes, creating prep sheets and order guides so she can manage her current business more effectively and stream-line operations as she grows.
Do you have your recipes written and job descriptions standardized?