Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
A restaurant that enjoys praise from diners and is always packed with guests is the dream of every restaurateur. Here are some tips that can make this come true.
Many people’s ambition is to open and run a successful restaurant. Some want this because they are foodies. Others do it for the thrill of creating pleasant dining experiences for others. Most restaurateurs get into the business because of the opportunity to earn a hefty sum regularly.
But, to enjoy any of these, you need to open and run a successful restaurant. In this article, we’ll give you some great tips for succeeding in this industry today.
Is it smart to run a restaurant today?
The restaurant industry experienced one of its most challenging periods in history during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the US alone, restaurateurs laid off over 8 million employees as a result of the pandemic and unexpected drop in revenue.
This was one of the sectors that were hit the hardest in the last couple of years, but while many thought it would never recuperate, it slowly gets back on its feet. Those in the business that kept standing despite the pandemic are recovering fast and getting back to the old challenge - how to attract more people and run a successful restaurant.
The predicament of the pandemic made it a very bad investment in the last couple of years but, now that people are getting back to dining outside, this once again becomes a lucrative opportunity for business people.
So, the answer would be yes - the chances of you running a profitable restaurant are very good today. Making a success of your restaurant is far from impossible right now, but you need to have the right tricks up your sleeve to make this happen. There’s still the matter of significant competition, big expenses, the inflation of food prices, and so on.
Tips for running a successful restaurant today
Without any further ado, let’s get into this.
1. Make proper employee scheduling your priority
Delays in service and poor customer service are the biggest turn-offs in the hospitality industry. You can invest a fortune in your restaurant’s interior, hire the best chefs and serve the tastiest dishes, and people will still leave if they get bad service.
Handling your employees should be your number one priority today. This starts with scheduling and tracking their work. Thanks to technology, this is made easier today and it leaves no room for error. If you use a smart app for employee scheduling in restaurants, you can significantly improve customer satisfaction, as well as keep your team happy and productive.
Agendrix will simplify employee scheduling, track their work hours automatically, and keep everyone happy. Since you can keep an eye on their work, you can use that information to reward them properly and motivate them to work better. Not only will this facilitate your employee management, but it will also reduce employee turnover - and we all know how hard that is for a restaurant business.
In one software, employees can send you their work preferences, requests for time off, and availability. You can share your schedule plan with them, and they’ll get notified in real-time.
2. Leverage technology for better operational efficiency
Running a restaurant today hardly even resembles doing this in the past. Now that technology is right at our fingertips, everything can be made simpler. We aren’t just talking about time tracking or employee scheduling tools. Your guests will also expect to find technology in your restaurant.
This expands beyond offering free WiFi or the chance to pay by cash or card. Some of the best features to invest in to keep your customers happy are:
- Contactless dine-in
- Contactless delivery
- Mobile ordering
- Online reservations
- Contactless payments
To keep up with what’s trending, restaurants today invest in high-end tech tools. It doesn’t only help them run the restaurant, but it also meets the expectations of today’s diners.
3. Create a strong business plan - and update it
There aren’t many business plans that are built into success after the owner wrote it all down on a cocktail napkin. A successful business depends on a carefully-planned strategy. If you want to increase your chances of growing your business, one of the vital pieces of the puzzle is the business plan.
Think of the business plan as a document that you create to plan for every little detail about a location, inventory, employees, expenses, etc.
Most importantly - don’t toss it aside once you open the doors to customers. Your business plan is something you should return to and update regularly to keep your business a success.
Once ready, your business plan should serve you at least these 3 purposes:
- Help you convince investors, get a business loan, etc.
- Assist you in handling every process when opening your restaurant
- Serve as a basis for measuring your progress over time
There are a couple of points that a restaurant business plan must include. These are:
- Market research
- Competitor research
- Detailed information on your target audience
- Budgeting and financial projections
- Your marketing plan
Take your time and be as detailed as possible with your business plan. Don’t just write broad guidelines. For example, your marketing plan should be more than just a few sentences listing the platforms where you will create a social account, or the money you’ll invest in ads.
It should include detailed plans on local business associations you can join, discounts you can offer to market your new business, community events you can participate in, etc.
4. Invest in the people working for you
Your staff is the basis for your restaurant’s success. These are the people that prepare the food. They are the people that serve it. Your staff handles the customers and keeps them satisfied while in your restaurant. They keep the place running.
If your employees aren’t motivated and happy, you cannot run a successful restaurant. It’s as simple as that.
There are many ways to motivate your team today, and some of them are:
- Training and development opportunities. You can invest in them by offering them development and training opportunities.
- Open communication. By being transparent and open with your team, they’ll have a clear idea of what needs to be done. Being included in the work makes employees more motivated.
- Rewards system. Employees that are recognized for their hard work are happier in the workplace and more productive. With a proper rewards system, you can keep your team engaged and reduce employee turnover at the same time. According to research, companies with high employee engagement see a 38% increase in productivity.
5. Make your entire menu your selling point
What do people come for when they come to your restaurant? Do you have one dish that amazes everyone and is ordered more than all others?
That’s not bad, but you could do better. If you work on your menu, you can create more than one item that wows the customers. The more ‘selling points’ you have on your menu, the more people you can attract to your restaurant. After all, your chef’s delicious beef dish won’t appeal to vegetarians, but their famous veggie stew just might.
Go through your menu and eliminate the items that are rarely ordered. Try everything that’s left and insert new items that will reel more people in to try them.
One big mistake of restaurateurs is that they attempt to make a larger menu to give people more options. This can be tempting, but a menu with too many items is not always a good idea. It’s better to focus on quality over quantity - and offer a carefully selected list of things on your menu, each more impressive than the last one.
These are some of the benefits of having a smaller menu:
- Makes it faster and simpler for customers to make their decision
- Your servers will be more knowledgeable and confident when giving recommendations
- It allows you to concentrate on foods and beverages that reinforce your restaurant’s concept
- Your kitchen and bar employees will have fewer items to prepare, which will make them more efficient
6. Step out of your comfort zone
Why should every night at your restaurant look the same? Yes, most people will come occasionally to dine with you, but if you make the experience more versatile, this might prompt them to visit more often.
It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and offer your guests an incentive to come to your restaurant even when they didn’t plan to dine out. Schedule special events with special menus that are available for a limited time only. Create themed nights. Have a tasting night where your customers can try everything on the menu.
Your options are unlimited. There’s no reason why you should have special events only on ‘traditional holidays’. Get freaky with this, too. Celebrate things like:
- Strawberry Icecream Day (January 15)
- White Shirt Day (February 11)
- Smart and Sexy Day (March 13)
- Eat What You Want Day (May 11)
- Chocolate Covered Anything Day (December 16)
7. Always think of the finer details
When your restaurant is packed with guests and the reservation calendar is full, it’s easy to get carried away and think: my job here is done. But, there’s no such thing as a time to relax in the restaurant industry. Imagine this - you attracted a very important guest and served them on soiled linen or the menu card was all greasy.
This can kill your reputation faster than you think.
No matter how busy your restaurant is, always think of the fine details.
Does your restaurant have what it takes right now?
If your restaurant doesn't have what it takes to succeed, you should begin to improve it right away. Go through this list and make sure you have covered everything you need to run a successful restaurant.
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