The restaurant business can be tough. It takes a strong passion for what you do to help you stick out the long hours and emotional and physical fatigue. If you are doing it alone, it can seem like a long uphill battle.
Don’t worry though, help is on the way. Check out these restaurant consulting tips for the DIY restaurant owner or manager:
The customer is always right
In any customer-facing business, the adage “the customer is always right” is the mantra that every staff member has to live by. Never let your ego or the ego of your staff ever get in the way of listening to your customers’ needs. Be open to criticism and make any realistic changes to improve the customer’s experience. To help you with this, try to observe your restaurant from your customer’s point of view. Are they waiting really long to get a table? Are their food allergy concerns not being addressed properly? And as always keep in mind in overall vision though and make sure you stick to that.
Hire staff who are just as passionate as you are
The backbone of any successful restaurant is an experienced, dedicated staff. Make sure each staff member is aware of what expectations you have for them. Pay your staff well and give them the training they need to do their job well and everyone will benefit. A high turnover rate at your restaurant not only causes staffing problems it also makes it difficult to provide your customers with consistent excellent service. You don’t want your customers feeling like that the quality of service depends on which day of the week it is and who is on staff.
To keep your staff from being overworked and burning out quickly, make sure you have enough staff members to share all the tasks that make up running a restaurant and always have backup staffing planned for when you are extra busy or staff get sick or have an emergency at home.
Invest in advertising is a necessity
Word of mouth will only get you so far in the restaurant business so even if it is a small budget, make sure you allocate some resources for advertising and restaurant promotions. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great, low-cost ways to connect with potential customers as well.
Switch up your menu regularly
They don’t have to be big changes, but is important that you are constantly fine-tuning your menu. While returning customers might have favorite dishes that they love, they will also enjoy being able to try new things on the menu as well. You never want your menu to feel stale.
Keep eye on cash flow
The first year a restaurant is open is very crucial. In the beginning, it is expected that you will be putting out more money then you are making, but you want to make sure you stay on budget and that as soon as possible you are making more money then you are spending. Always keep a close eye on your cash flow so you don’t find yourself buried under debt and unable to dig out.
Consider offering catering to expand your business
Many restaurants also offer catering services whether on site or at people’s homes or banquet halls. It is a great way to reach more customers and increase sales. You just need to make sure you have the right equipment and additional staff to do it.
Find the right POS system
Technology is great and can really help you with restaurant management. Most restaurant owners now use some sort of point of sales system to keep track of sales, cash flow and even your inventory. The right system can help keep you financially on track and make sure you never run out of food or supplies while cutting down on waste.
Create recipe costing cards
Wasting money on extra supplies you really don’t need or losing money because you are not charging enough for dishes to balance out the cost of ingredients can really put your restaurant in a rocky financial situation. To ensure that this does not happen, create recipe costing cards that lay out the cost of every item on your menu and how much food you should order. Include on these cards also what your ideal pricing would be for each dish.
Connect with customers on social media
As a restaurant owner or manager, it is also important for you to have a social media presence. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, then hire a social media strategist to maintain your social media channels for you. If you haven’t done so already set up an account on Facebook, Twitter and at least one other social media channel like Pinterest or Snapchat and use them to post pictures of your dishes and to let your customers know about upcoming events and specials. Encourage your customers to like your page and share it with all your friends. You will be pleasantly surprised by the power of social media.
Be willing to spend money to make money
In the restaurant business, you need to be willing to spend money to make money. That doesn’t mean splurging on all expensive things, but it does mean not skimping on quality. You should always get the best food, materials and staff your budget will allow. Your customers will be able to tell if you try to pass off a poorer cut of meat or are trying to make do with just one waitress in a busy dining room. Not only will you lose customers because of the lack of quality in food and service, you will also lose employees who are tired of being treated like workhorses.
Always have an emergency fund
An emergency fund is also another good restaurant consulting tip. While it is most crucial in the first six months of opening your restaurant when you are still getting all the kinks out, it is good to always have an emergency fund set aside to help when profits are lean or for when you are hit with unexpected repairs or hikes in prices of your ingredients. Every restaurant goes through some low times, the key to survival is to have enough money to keep your doors open until you get your restaurant back on the winning track.
Focus on what makes you unique
If sustainability is really important to you, then make it a platform for your restaurant. If you pride yourself on providing everything farm to table, then emphasize that in your marketing and social outreach. Focus on what makes you unique and you will draw in people who share similar values.
For more information on restaurant consulting tips and food and beverage consulting for the DIY restaurant owner or manager and to learn how a restaurant consultant can help you, give MBB Management a call today.