Getting into the restaurant business is hard. Staying in it is even harder.
All too often, new restaurants fail within in their first few years. There are many reasons for a restaurant to fail: bad location, issues with cash flow, poor restaurant management, or even just food that is not that tasty. There are those who advise against opening new restaurants altogether, citing that it is just too risky of an endeavor. And looking at statistics, it is easy to see why this argument could be convincing.
However, there is a solution that can help prevent or repair these problems: a restaurant consulting firm.
A restaurant consulting firm can be hired either before a business is even open, or when trouble arises and repairs need to be done. The following are some examples of problems that cause restaurants to fail and ways consultants can fix them.
Getting the word out
No one will come to your restaurant if they don’t know it exists, where it is, and what you offer. Clear and engaging advertisement is a surefire way to draw attention, and therefore crowds, to your business. Although being in a good location is typically the most important decision to make when starting a restaurant, struggling businesses are not going to be able to pick up and move at the drop of a hat. That is why a great way to make up for that is to draw people’s attention with advertisements and a smart way to do that is to use a professional service.
Ensuring excellent customer service
First impressions absolutely matter. Even more than the food, customers will remember a restaurant if they have a good time. That means that everyone from the hostess to the server to the manager needs to be on point at all times. If your staff is not up to snuff, a consulting firm can help you find candidates that are. Management is also extremely important. Managers set the tone for the whole operation. If the managers do not do their jobs, neither will the rest of staff. A food and beverage consulting firm can and will help with the training of the new employees so that they know the standards they will be expected to keep and to make sure they will fit in.
Keeping costs low
What will always sink an already-failing restaurant? Poor money management. While you do have to spend money to make money, you also have to make sure that you are spending that money wisely and that you are going to be getting it back. Look for a consultant to help you see where you could be overspending and where you can afford to save. Common problems are hiring too many staff, having too many people working at once, not keeping detailed accounting books, spending too much on food, and not pricing food properly.
Staying organized and up-to-date
As mentioned earlier, failure to stay on top of the accounting is a major cause for concern. It shows a lack of organization that could by symptomatic of a larger issue. Food and beverage consulting firms can step in and help you get current with your system. Beyond that, keeping track of food and supply inventory is also crucial. Money goes to waste when food is spoiled. Kitchen equipment also needs to stay up-to-date and well-stocked. It would not do for these things to break down, causing a significant dip in the food’s quality. This is something else a consulting firm can assist with. Once your cash flow is under control, they can work with you on coming up with a system that keeps everything else organized and efficient. Another aspect of this is cleaning. In conjunction with the inventory scheduling, a consultant can help you work up a timetable for the employees to clean the kitchen and equipment thoroughly during the week.
Learning who you are
Perhaps your issue is more of an identity crisis. Some restaurants attempt a broad appeal that results in them losing customers and appealing to no one. From the menu to the design of the building, everything is unfocused and confusing. Restaurant consulting firms can help you figure out your identity. Once you have that, you will know who you are and who you are trying to attract. The firm can help you redesign your menu, both in terms of what is on it and how it physically looks. Much like advertising, the outward physical appeal can draw in customers and profit.
Giving people what they want
People want good food. Period. Above everything else, the number one thing that will bring a customer back to a restaurant is the food. If the food is good, it doesn’t matter where it is, what it looks like, or sometimes even how the service is. The food is the focus. So the food needs to be the best part. For a bar, that means using a beverage consultant to ensure that the drinks are tasty and trendy. Restaurants need food and beverage consulting to keep their menus as well as their chefs and kitchen staffs on their game. The menu has to be the right length. Too many options means people can’t decide. Too few means people might not find something they like. From prep to plate, the food needs to be cared for. Consultants can help you find chefs that will care about the food as much as you do and as much as the customers will.
So how can you know when you need to hire a restaurant consulting firm?
Well, if you haven’t opened yet, you should consider it if you want to make sure that you don’t start out making some of the above mistakes. Come out of the gate strong and have a plan that will prevent potential failure later. If you are already starting to struggle with your restaurant, look for a reputable firm that can assist you that works with your finances. Your situation is likely not as hopeless as you feel it is and there are professionals just waiting to help you.