5 Ways to Prepare Your Restaurant for Success in 2011
Posted on December 22, 2010
The past two years or so have been tough for many restaurateurs. Trying to sustain a restaurant business, let alone open up a new concept, takes an incredible amount of determination and savvy, and in many cases even the deepest commitment cannot keep the doors open. Unfortunately, the Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazine 2011 E&S Forecast does not have many bright things to promise restaurant owners and operators in the coming year. Statistics show that things will get better, but very slowly.
The good news is that restaurateurs are extremely resourceful by nature, and the best ones are excellent at looking internally to see how they can alter current practices to adapt to the outside situation. Taking a cue from those who are already setting the example, we offer a list of five ways to prepare your restaurant for success in the new year. No matter what you are dealing with on the economic front, these are all good things to take a look at as you prepare to crack open the 2011 calendar.
1. Arm yourself with the right people. Making the right hiring choices is important, and starting the year off with a strong team of motivated, committed individuals is one of the most important ways to secure a loyal following in your establishment. There are plenty of talented, bright and experienced people out there looking for work, and hopefully you have already found them. If you haven’t, check out this article called Hiring in the Restaurant: How to Find the Right People.
2. Focus on quality. In a tough situation, customers are far more choosey about where they are going to spend their hard-earned cash than they would otherwise be. Do frequent sweeps to make sure your dining room is sparkling clean. Keep a close eye on all hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) checkpoints, especially in terms of temperature and food storage. Never let your food quality, customer service or atmosphere slip, or customers are bound to notice.
3. Turn a keen eye toward your internal operating costs. When a recession hits, operators often need to find ways to adapt their operational procedures in order to lighten up on spending. This type of introspection has resulted in some major changes across the board already. Food costs are rising, making the cost of doing business even higher in some areas. Some operators have implemented changes to their menus, whereas others have begun consolidating large commercial equipment and supplies purchases to get better pricing. Other purchase used equipment when practical. Take a look at every line item in your profit and loss (P&L) statement and find the places where you might be able to adapt. This is no fun at first, but the level of familiarity you will gain your business will only make you a better operator in the future. Learn more about controlling food costs in your restaurant here.
4. Be smart with your equipment. Speaking of commercial kitchen equipment, taking care of the heavy-duty stuff can really pay off when you find out how much it costs to replace. Being smart with day-to-day equipment use, and training employees to do the same, can help extend the life of your equipment and reduce the replacement and repair costs you face in 2011. Additionally, consider how you use the stuff. For example, running cooking equipment 24/7 when you don’t need it can seriously run up your energy bill. Figure out when exactly you need to power up, and when you can afford to turn things off without affecting food quality or your business. Small, smart changes and setting best practices can keep your equipment lasting long into the future.
5. Connect with your customers. These days, finding a strong connection with your customers is key to formulating the lasting bond that is repeat business. The hard part is learning how to formulate that connection. Determine your target demographic, and do some research about the best ways to market to that group. You may find that hosting regular wine tastings at your bar draws in the neighborhood folks every week. Or, it might turn out that using social network channels is the best way to invite your tech-savvy customer base for happy hour. Whatever it is, work at forming those lasting relationships, and the ROI will follow. Check out this article on creating repeat customers in your restaurant for more ideas.
Are you a food service operator or restaurant owner with your own ideas for how to prepare for 2011? Do you have thoughts on how to battle specific issues that others might be facing? Share it with us in the comments section, and thanks!