How to Improve Line Flow, Increase Speed of Service

How to Improve Line Flow, Increase Speed of Service

By Juan Martinez, PhD, PE, FCSI and Principal at Profitality® 

To Queue or Not to Queue…that is the question. If you think about it, you already have an answer when you consider that your life is but a series of queues throughout your day, made up of activities and waits. Perhaps you might want to process-map yourself through the day to help you understand this concept. This exercise may even give you a base knowledge to help you run your life better, or maybe just more efficiently.

Just like in life, running a restaurant is a set of queues. If you want to run it right, make sure you accept this, understand it, and manage it. How do you improve line flow and optimize the way you manage queues in your restaurant concept? It could be a queue that a customer experiences, a production queue in the back of house, or a queue in equipment usage, among many others.

In a service system, the total time is made up of smaller time segments and queues. If you think about the total change or impact that you want to achieve — in customer wait time, for example — you might think it’s not doable. But when you attack it in terms of components, the story and complication may be quite different.

The following are examples of what I’m talking about, and how looking at the queuing components and the theory of constraints can help with this quandary. Both of these are Industrial Engineering techniques that we use constantly to help drive impact in line flow and queuing management for foodservice concepts.

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