Time is of the essence: tips to improve kitchen efficiency

With half of hospitality professionals considering themselves to be time poor when completing everyday tasks in the kitchen, Steve Buckmaster, sales director at BRITA Professional, looks at the top reasons why time is lost and discusses three simple solutions to improve kitchen efficiency.

“The back of house area is the backbone of any catering establishment and for a business to succeed, it needs to be operating as efficiently as possible. For operators already juggling tight budgets, an ongoing skills shortage, and growing pressure from discerning consumers, small back of house inefficiencies can easily build up into bigger productivity issues if they are not addressed.

“It’s the golden age for eating out in Britain. Never before has such high-quality food and choice of cuisines been widely available, yet this is putting pressure on kitchen staff to consistently produce excellent food, often in very short spaces of time and at competitive prices. With the pressure on back of house staff mounting, it is easy to see how a kitchen that doesn’t operate as effectively as possible can impact on all areas of the business and ultimately the sector as a whole.

“At BRITA Professional, we’ve conducted independent research to find out just what is causing time to be lost within professional kitchens and what simple, yet effective solutions can be implemented to create a more productive and streamlined working environment.

“The research found that the top three measures hospitality professionals say would make their kitchen more efficient are:

  • Reliable equipment (61%)
  • More space in the kitchen (56%)
  • Easy to clean equipment (53%)

“It comes as no surprise that reliable equipment was cited as the most important measure. In fact, our research also highlighted that 38% of hospitality professionals spend three-five hours dealing with equipment issues on a monthly basis – the equivalent of 60 hours wasted over the course of a year. As the age-old saying goes, ‘a workman is only as good as his tools’, and while those who work in the back of house area – chefs in particular – bring their flair, creativity and passion to the kitchen, it’s fair to say that their job cannot be completed without the use of equipment.

“So, with time of the essence in the kitchen, what are operators doing to improve efficiency and save time and money?

  • Prevention is better than cure: For catering businesses, the key to minimising the likelihood of unexpected equipment breakdowns is to implement preventative measures. With a high proportion of equipment breakdowns related to limescale, using a water filter on key pieces of equipment such as the combi oven, is one of the most effective ways to prevent this. When kitchen equipment breaks down it’s often considered in isolation but with a third of hospitality professionals having to deal with between four and six equipment breakdowns in a year (and 12% experiencing 10 breakdowns annually), the implications of this start to add up. Not only does this impact on productivity and consistency, but also on the bottom line.
  • Cleaning and maintenance: To make sure machines are constantly operating at their optimal capacity, many catering businesses have created cleaning and maintenance schedules. Since more than half of hospitality professionals would prefer for a supplier to handle kitchen equipment servicing, be sure to ask your suppliers about the maintenance assistance they can provide. From filter exchanges to routine equipment checks, these additional services could help save you time and money.
  • Streamline the kitchen set-up: When considering the best kitchen design for service, it can be helpful to think of your back of house like a formula one pitstop. To have the most efficient layout possible, chefs should be able to access everything they need in no more than a few steps. A bigger kitchen doesn’t necessarily mean a more streamlined space either, it is important to make the most of the space that you have with multi-purpose equipment.

“Overall, the UK hospitality industry is set to grow by 1.5% this year, yet consumer spending on eating out has fallen – this is largely due to limited wage growth. As such, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out in the crowded marketplace. Whilst it’s a challenging time in the sector, it is also an exciting one. By applying time-saving practices such as these, catering professionals can have more space to create, innovate and develop, without being held-up by unnecessary kitchen inefficiencies.”

By Steve Buckmaster, sales director at water filter company, BRITA Professional

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