My Restaurant App Advice for Restaurant Owners

checklists restaurant app restaurant systems
My Restaurant App Advice for Restaurant Owners

There are a lot of restaurant apps out there right now. Heck, I founded a company that created software and an app to help restaurant owners with every aspect of their business years ago. I know a thing or two about restaurant apps, and I like to look at those that will really help improve a restaurant owner’s life. This tip is about which app you should start with and the answer might surprise you. Click below to watch the video version or keep scrolling to read it. 


Things have changed so much since I was a young restaurant manager, creating systems in Microsoft Excel by programming and visual basic physics. Yes, I was a spreadsheet geek. I was well ahead of my time back in the mid-1990s. There was only one, maybe two, software options if you were a restaurant operator, and they were geared toward the big chain operations. If you were able to imagine something that would resemble an app that you use today, you'd have to program it yourself in either Excel or Access or some other database program.

Let me start off with telling you something I tell every audience I talk to. I say it in my weekly video tips and in these articles. First and foremost, you must take care of Restaurant 101. That's great hospitality, hot food hot, cold food cold, a clean and safe work environment for guests and employees, WOW customer service, and an incredible product. Something new on the list in today’s adjusted restaurant offerings is safe delivery. You must get the food to their home as if it was in your restaurant because to go or delivery has become a major part of restaurant service. Making sure you have Restaurant 101 down also ensures you are there to make memories for people.

Next on the list is you also need checklists and cash controls because you want to know every penny makes it into the bank. We want to make sure all the standards are met. Once you have Restaurant 101 down and systems to control your cash (here is an article about daily admin/cash controls), it’s time for checklists.

Checklists are the best first system, way before recipe costing cards, or menu engineering or dollars per labor hour worked. That’s because checklists allow you to impose your will without being there. That's how the chain restaurants kick your butt. They have thousands upon thousands of restaurants with no owners in them. How is that done? They checklist everything that is done. They impose their will without being there. This is how you want it done, too.

Think of a checklist as the instructions for doing a job step by step. It’s something used to mark that your employees have done their jobs. It's a powerful way to ensure it gets done your way. Checklists allow you to hold people accountable, or what I call answerable because they use the checklist to show you they’ve done their work. It's in black and white. You take personalities out of the process.

Checklists really are a springboard to changing your company culture to a close to open culture. When you have this kind of culture, every manager can walk into the building and know every manager has their back because they're going to ensure the restaurant is 100 percent ready to open for every shift of the day. By following the checklists, everyone is making sure the restaurant is ready to go.

Now, in the old days, your checklists were on paper on clipboards, or in a journal of some kind. But these days, you can use a restaurant app for them.

If I were to give you advice on which restaurant app to start with on your journey to systemize your restaurant operations, it would be a restaurant specific checklist app. In fact, I believe so much in what I'm telling you, I get my Restaurant Transformation Intensive 24-week-group-coaching-program members a subscription to a software program called Jolt.

I put my money where my mouth is, if you will. I'm not giving you advice that I don't follow.

What is Jolt? Jolt is software for multiple things, but their checklist app is what I’m talking about here.

I discovered them when I was a coach at my old company and one of my members was using them for their food safety monitoring. Their checklists and the functionality of the app are the gold standard and for my members, I want the best. (This is not ad; they do not pay me.) I'm telling you, they're the best one out there.

Why online checklists instead of the paper ones?

First, the online checklists offer more flexibility to make changes and to make them more specific to meet your standards.

Second, pictures. When every task is done, your staff can take pictures to prove it. You could have a question that says, “Is the dumpster lid closed?” And they can check “yes,” and then you can require a picture. In fact, they must use their phone to take a live photo, not one from the camera roll. Show it. Prove it. That way, when the raccoons get into the garbage cans, you’ll know it’s because they’re tricky pests instead of blaming the PM crew for not securing the cans.

Another reason using an online checklist is so great is the power of notifications. Jolt also has a really neat function where you put ranges of any kind of number and it notifies you when it's out of range. You could require the closing employee to enter the walk-in cooler temperature. If it’s out of range, you get notified. So instead of coming in the next morning going, holy crap, we lost a walk-in cooler and all the product, your managers are notified as soon as the number is entered out of range. You don't even have to be in the building.

More example of this kind of accountability only available with an online restaurant app? You could literally be sitting at home, go on your phone, look on the app and say, oh, my gosh, the bartenders are way behind. They're going to keep the cooks there later, and we're going to lose money. You can see your managers haven't completed their checklists, which means they’re not doing their jobs, which is why you hired them. This kind of accountability from anywhere is priceless.

One of my favorite things on the restaurant app Jolt is gamification. You can gameify checklists with points. Whoever gets higher scores wins a prize. There are all kinds of things you can track, which takes checklists to a whole new level, and again, allowing you to impose your will without being there.

No matter which restaurant app you use, the number one reason to use one for checklists is you can hold your management team accountable from anywhere. If you want a culture of close to open, you’re not holding your employees accountable to the checklists. You’re holding your managers accountable. Why do you have managers in the first place? To ensure the process is working. A restaurant app like Jolt helps you help them understand what your expectations are and make sure they do them.

My Restaurant Transformation Intensive coaching members start creating their checklists right away and, they're implementing their first checklist, using Jolt in their restaurants, training their managers, training their team, before any other systems go into place. And I can tell you, my members rave about the impact of checklists on the management of their restaurants and specifically they love Jolt.

If you would like to learn how to own a restaurant that doesn't depend on you being in it to be successful, watch this free video course that teaches you three key principles to running a successful restaurant. If you're ready right now to make some serious changes in your restaurant, you can also book a 60-minute call with me where we talk about your challenges and figure out exactly what is holding you back from having a restaurant that doesn’t depend on you being in it to be successful. 

Be sure to visit my YouTube channel for more helpful restaurant management video tips.

If you're ready right now to make some serious changes in your restaurant, you can also book a 60-minute call with me where we talk about your challenges and figure out exactly what is holding you back from having a restaurant that doesn’t depend on you being in it to be successful. 

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