Does your restaurant create an atmosphere where employees and customers enjoy coming? Is it located somewhere it’s easy to see (easily seen from the street, first stop off the highway, in a popular part of town, etc.)? Is it cluttered with decorations or does your interior have a neat look? If any of the answers is no that could tell you where you need to start; employees want to feel valued, customers want to relax while they eat, if no one can see your restaurant they won’t be able to eat there, and lastly customers don’t need decoration on every inch of the wall or on the tables. They want an “at home” feel without the junk.
Don’t overwork your staff, even if someone wants over time. It will help costs and also ensure that service doesn’t suffer. Hire temporary servers if needed. On days that have consistently low traffic don’t be afraid to stay open for a short time. If financially feasible, research what times you’re missing out on. Is there a morning or afternoon rush you’re missing out on? If fine dining in the evenings is a popular attraction in your city, maybe create a special menu that’s only available then.
If you’re going to create menu changes, don’t use these special options to get rid of items that wouldn’t sell at other times. Word will spread and it will hurt your credibility. An important thing to keep in mind when it comes to your menu, changing it does not mean making it huge. If you have a small kitchen staff, there’s no way to maintain that amount of items without it cutting into costs. Cut out things that don’t sell to make a more organized menu; something a customer can look over quickly. Include a brief description underneath the name so they know what they’re buying.
Remember, even if you serve gourmet food, you’re still a part of the service industry. When customers visit they expect to interact with your staff and for their orders to get to the table in a reasonable time. If you know a table has waited a long time, especially if the customers haven’t been rude, send something out. A drink or a signature dessert can not only appease them but it will also give them a, hopefully, pleasant preview of the cook’s abilities. Consideration from the manager leads to positive reviews for the restaurant later.
Your creative ideas do not have to be over the top and flashy. When customers come in to a new restaurant that’s what they want to see, something new. If you have the same things as the business next door, and they’ve been there before, why should they come to your restaurant? This doesn’t stop at your interior and the readability of your menu, but your marketing. Does your latest ad look like you’re desperately jumping onto new trends instead of naturally absorbing them? That could be driving as many people, if not more, away from your restaurant as a problem within the business.
Make sure you have a head for business, simply being a good chef yourself is not a guarantee you’ll succeed. You need an efficient way to collect information and check it often. You’ll need to know how to analyze the information you receive. These are the essentials of what you’ll need to know to run a profitable business:
- How many people are getting fed every hour? Every shift? A day?
- Which items are being ordered? How many per group?
- What are these items costing me to stock?
- How much am I gaining and losing each week?
I knew from the very start that three things were needed for my success; I needed a great head chef, location, and concept. And they all had to work together.