2024 Guide to Restaurant Performance Management & Reviews

Service, quality, and efficiency are key differentiators in the restaurant industry. That’s why many restaurants adopt performance management systems. These programs ensure employees meet standards and align with business goals.

Whether you want to build a new program or improve an existing one, it’s valuable to revisit best practices, compare to others in the industry, and get new ideas to stay ahead. This article will help you towards those ends. We’ll cover the following:

  • Why restaurants should consider adopting performance management programs
  • Real-world examples of successful programs from leading restaurant brands
  • Guidance on how to create a strategy and process
  • Example comments and phrases to share during performance reviews

Run a streamlined restaurant performance management process with PerformYard's flexible platform.Learn More

Benefits of Performance Management in the Restaurant Industry

Performance management and review programs offer several benefits for restaurants, including:

  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: Regular reviews help ensure staff meet service standards. This leads to happier customers, repeat business and positive reviews.
  • Increased Employee Efficiency: Performance management helps you learn how employees can improve processes. This can lead to faster service times, reduced wait times for customers, and more table turns per shift.
  • Reduced Employee Turnover. Fair, clear performance reviews can improve job satisfaction. They do so by providing clear expectations and growth opportunities. This increases employee retention. It also cuts costs for hiring and training new staff.
  • Higher Sales: Effective performance management programs can raise sales. They can motivate staff to upsell and improve sales techniques. This can increase average check sizes and revenue.
  • Cost Control: Regular reviews can help you find wasteful practices or policy breaches that lead to unnecessary costs. These might include things like food waste in the kitchen or inefficient staff scheduling.

Reviews can also improve workplace communication, resolve issues faster, and improve team dynamics.

Examples of Successful Restaurant Performance Management & Review Programs

Program details are part of proprietary strategies, so most are unavailable. Still, much can be learned from well-known brands using public and industry sources.

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle has a review system focused on real-time feedback and coaching. It allows managers to assess employee performance all the time. This helps in finding training needs and encouraging employee growth. The result has been a more motivated workforce and improved operational efficiency.

Darden Restaurants

This is the parent company of popular chains like Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse. They adopted a performance management system with detailed analytics to measure and enhance staff performance. The reviews are tied to specific business outcomes, like customer satisfaction and sales growth. They help in strategic decision-making and boosting performance.


A leader in optimization, McDonald’s recently adopted performance management strategies as part of broader digital transformation efforts. McDonald’s used technology to better engage customers and employees. This greatly improved efficiency and service quality. Their integration of digital order systems and performance analytics helped streamline operations. It also improved the dining experience (Digital Data Design Institute at Harvard). ​

Run a streamlined restaurant performance management process with PerformYard's flexible platform.Learn More

Restaurant Performance Management Strategy & Process Best Practices

Here are some best practices and guidance for restaurants considering adopting a performance management and review program:

  • Define clear objectives. Before adding a performance management system, restaurant managers must say what they want to achieve with it. This could include better customer service. It could also mean faster work, less employee turnover, or higher profits. Clear objectives help tailor the performance management system to meet specific needs.
  • Develop specific metrics. Set clear and measurable indicators. They should align with the restaurant’s goals. These might include customer satisfaction scores. They could also include table turnover rates, sales targets, and health and safety compliance. Metrics should be realistic and relevant to each role within the restaurant.
  • Implement a system for ongoing feedback. Don't rely only on annual reviews. Continuous feedback helps employees understand their performance in real time. It also helps them make adjustments more swiftly. This approach encourages a culture of continuous improvement. It helps address issues as they come up.
  • Provide training and support for managers. Ensure they are properly trained on how to conduct effective performance reviews. They should know how to provide constructive feedback, set achievable goals, and support their team’s professional development. This training equips managers with the skills necessary to conduct fair and motivational reviews.
  • Involve employees in designing and implementing the performance system. This inclusion can increase buy-in and reduce resistance to the new system. Employees who feel they have a say in the criteria and process are more likely to view it as fair and valuable.
  • Leverage technology. Many modern software systems offer tools for tracking performance metrics, scheduling reviews, and storing documentation related to performance discussions. This can help maintain consistency and ensure that records are easily accessible.
  • Link performance to rewards and recognition. Clearly link outcomes to bonuses, promotions, or public recognition. This alignment helps motivate employees to meet or exceed their performance targets. Ensure that the rewards are equitable and based on objective criteria to maintain fairness.
  • Regularly review and adapt the system. This may involve soliciting feedback from staff about the review process and updating performance metrics to reflect changes in the business environment or strategic objectives.

Restaurant Performance Review Example Comments and Phrases

Here are some examples of constructive comments and phrases that can inspire and improve communication during employee performance reviews.

Positive Feedback

  • Teamwork and Cooperationsome text
    • "You consistently support your teammates during busy shifts and willingly step in to help others when needed. Your collaborative spirit significantly contributes to our team's success."
  • Customer Servicesome text
    • "Your ability to handle customer requests with patience and a positive attitude has been noted by many of our guests. You've received several positive comments about your thoughtful service."
  • Adaptabilitysome text
    • "I've noticed how quickly you adapt to new menu changes and dining protocols. Your flexibility helps us operate smoothly even during unexpected situations."

Areas for Improvement

  • Efficiencysome text
    • Your work is reliable. But, you should get faster during peak hours. It would help us serve customers better. Let's explore strategies to enhance your time management skills."
  • Attention to Detailsome text
    • "It’s important to pay close attention to the presentation standards we’ve set for our dishes. Let’s work on ensuring every plate meets our quality expectations before it leaves the kitchen."
  • Professionalismsome text
    • "Maintaining a professional demeanor at all times is crucial, especially during busy periods. Let's focus on handling stress in ways that ensure it doesn't impact the team's or guests' experience."

Development Opportunities

  • Skill Enhancementsome text
    • "You've shown a real strength in customer service, and I believe you could excel in a supervisory role with some leadership training."
  • Goal Settingsome text
    • Let’s set some goals for the next quarter. They should focus on upselling techniques. These goals could not only boost your sales but also improve guest satisfaction."
  • Feedback Receptionsome text
    • "I appreciate how you've been open to feedback. Continuing to seek out constructive criticism will be key as you work on mastering new responsibilities."

Run a streamlined restaurant performance management process with PerformYard's flexible platform.Learn More

Product Tour

The tools to streamline your performance management process.

Learn More
Product Tour
Performance Management

Bring your performance management to life.

Learn More
Performance Management
Product Tour