Fast food restaurants live and die on productivity; customers expect quick and efficient service, but won't settle for low quality. In the fast food environment, employees must maintain a high rate of production under high stress conditions. Because productivity suffers for numerous reasons, there is no one right way to increase productivity at a fast food restaurant. Try a combination of methods until you find the sweet spot for your particular crew.
Include your employees. Ask each individual crew member for thoughts and ideas in regards to increasing efficiency and productivity. Listen and take ideas into account; incorporate the ideas that strike you, but hear each one out regardless. Show that you appreciate an inside perspective.
Foster a sense of teamwork among the staff. Even if you're in a management position, pitch in to the small tasks to show your commitment. Set a good example to gain the respect of your team; a staff that respects the management is more likely to turn in a productive performance. Get to know each staff member so you can communicate with them on a personal level, appealing to their interests, likes and dislikes.
Tweak the schedule. Don't overschedule workers by putting too many employees to work during the same shift. Financially, your fast food company is purchasing the crew's labor, plus the cost of their benefits, uniforms and other ancillary items. Though it's a risk, you can potentially increase financial productivity by decreasing the number of employees per shift. This can also help ensure a consistent pace of labor rather than a restaurant full of workers without tasks.
Reward valuable employees. Employees that go above and beyond add to the restaurant's productivity immensely. Encourage this productivity boost with whatever reward you can manage, whether it be a raise or a heartfelt compliment. Always show your appreciation – whether privately or publicly – for a job well done.
Distribute pet projects. If a job needs doing, package it as a special task for a trusted employee. Make a list of all the niggling tasks -- such as cleaning the bottom of the ice bin or hosing off the floor mats -- that need to be done around the restaurant and dole out pet projects evenly.
Hold regular meetings. Keep your team on track by consistently reviewing the work week and noting what worked and what didn't. Always propose solutions – never leave a problem hanging – and pitch ideas for improvement. Recognize quality work. Leave each meeting with a set of new goals. Sit down regularly with shift managers to address any problems that have arisen during their shifts.
Lighten the mood. A fast food restaurant is a business, but taking fun completely out of the equation hurts morale, which in turn hurts productivity. Joke with your staff when appropriate. Ask what you can do to add levity to the work environment. Something as simple as playing a bit of music behind the counter can go a long way.