In this article we will outline some thoughts on how to get the most from your day to day workflow on your existing restaurant business, as well these points will be useful if you are in the process of starting or opening a new restaurant. In the recent past Lonsdale Avenue Magazine has published similar content on starting a small business and useful tips for local marketing. At the end of the day we want to help families on the North Shore succeed and thus we offer consulting services for people who may be stuck or wanting to scale and streamline their companies.
While publishing magazine features is our main business function, we also find lots of business owners have questions for us. We use these questions to create content that benefits our readers and the community generally. If you would like to build a really strong team in terms of their marketing understanding, we also host workshops where we come to your business and do a round table discussion with your staff. Everyone in your organization is in customer service and marketing and making sure you have the best practices and knowledge is critical to success in this fast paced modern world.
10 TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR RESTAURANT
Make sure the food and menu items you serve actually taste good. Gone are the days when you could buy premade frozen food and reheat it and serve it as “just made in your kitchen”. Customers don’t want mediocre food, they want freshly made food using local ingredients that tastes good consistently. You should hire a food and drink consultant to work with. Asking your friends and family if the food tastes good doesn’t count, they won’t be objective. If you find you are getting online reviews that say your food sucks, it likely does suck. Fix it.
Control the food portion sizes and streamline that area. The fastest way to lose money is serve huge portion sizes that people can’t finish or are not in line with the cost they are paying. As an example, french fries as a side dish to a burger or sandwich should be about 8 ounces. If you want to serve huge portions for side dishes consider additional fees for that. This will also allow you to streamline your storage and kitchen fridges once you understand your average weekly sales for specific items.
Condense your menu offering to what is selling and what makes money. You don’t need to have a huge menu to be successful. In fact, a clean and easy to understand menu with minimal options can be a blessing. In terms of creating return customers who like a specific menu items, but also making it easy to source and store food. If you have been to an old Italian restaurant you will know what we are talking about, many of them have a 10 page menu. This is no longer practical.
Listen to your staff and human resources and make them part of planning. At the end of the day, your staff do not work for you, you work for them. As the business owner or manager if your staff are not happy, you will have lots of turnover, which leads to no accountability, which translates into poor restaurant management and service. Pay your staff a liveable wage and treat them like they matter, as you cannot run your kitchen yourself. If you have lots of turnover, bad management would likely be the problem. Plus they always have the best ideas on ways to improve functions of the business flow.
Read and respond to all online reviews, in particular on your Google map listing. Nowadays you cannot run away from a bad customer experience. You need to deal with it head on, learn from it and fix the issues so they don’t keep happening. In that way responding to all online reviews and comments is critical. If you don’t have the time or know how, take a few hours a week to teach yourself how to manage this. When you get a bad review respond to it as the owner or manager, welcome them back to earn their business and transparently apologize while letting them know their feedback matters.
Stop using food delivery apps, it is destroying your business stability. Food delivery apps like Door Dash, Uber Eats, Skip The Dishes take huge cuts of your menu prices up to 40-50%. This translates into nearly zero profit when you factor in the cooking costs. If your business is using food delivery apps it’s just a matter of time until you fail. What’s stopping them from opening the same business as yours and taking your clients from you? If you do delivery hire your own driver and create a system that works well and is profitable.
Be mindful who you associate your brand with in particular social media influencers. If your online marketing consists solely of doing giveaways or contests with foodie people on Instagram, you will fail over time. The followers they have are looking for freebies and deals, not necessarily spending money at your restaurant. It’s a slippery slope if you focus on this area as you dilute your brand value and confuse reasoning for paying customers to visit you and spend money. Plus this just makes you blend in with everyone else doing the same thing. Lastly, the number 1 way people will find your restaurant is on Google, so spend time developing your own blog which will rank in search results.
Competing on price point and doing giveaways will ruin your brand integrity. If you only compete on price point, over time you will lose. Big brands are doing this and they have millions of dollars backing them as well as controlling their supply chain. As a small business owner, you want to be unique and offer food and drinks that are distinctly yours. Plus having discounts all the time makes people not want to pay full price for anything. This creates brand confusion.
Manage food waste by doing “pay what you can afford” takeout menus. One of the biggest areas of restaurant failure is food waste. Instead of throwing away food and recipe items that did not sell, consider doing a biweekly style takeout menu. Where people pay what they can afford to get food from a simplified menu offering. You could even work with a local charity organization to welcome in people from the community who need this service. Don’t get this confused with anything said above, this is strictly to avoid throwing away food. The thrown away food would make you zero money, so doing this would at least make some money and be amazing public relations.
Make all business functions cost effective while having minimal waste. The core costs of your business like electricity, heat, water can be streamlined by using equipment that is energy efficient, such as LED lights. Make your doors and windows properly sealed to avoid heat loss. Use kitchen appliances that are energy star certified. Find cleaning solutions that are cost efficient and natural. Turn off areas of your restaurant that are not being used like TVs. It’s useful to make a list of all expenses for your business and then see what you can cut down generally.