It’s not easy to get a restaurant underway. It feels like there’s a million and one things to take care, usually because there is! Eventually, though, you’ll begin to get the hang of things, and you’ll begin to think about how you can make your restaurant more popular, better, and more profitable. There’s rarely one single thing that can bring significant improvements to a restaurant; it’s usually a combination of many things. We take a look at some ideas below. Incorporate them into your business, and you might just see that your restaurant goes from strength to strength.
Refine Your Menu
Did you know that when a newspaper wants to increase its profits, it’ll sometimes reduce it’s readership numbers? It sounds counterproductive, but it works because as they attract more niche readers, they also attract more niche advertisers, who are happy to pay more money. A kind of similar thing happens in the world of restaurants. Rather than offering dozens of plates and trying to appeal to anyone and everyone, it’s better to make your menu much smaller. It’s better to offer ten plates that you do extremely well rather than thirty plates that are just “OK.” Plus, it’s easier to manage a restaurant with a smaller menu, which will free up time for you to spend doing other things to grow your business.
You’re not serving food to people who are hungry. You’re serving food to people who want a culinary experience, so rather than your decor and all the rest, it’s important that the bulk of your energy is going into making the food delicious. Even the best chef in the world would fail to make a high-class meal if the ingredients they were using were subpar. So don’t stay committed to one supplier; taste around, and figure out which is going to routinely deliver the best ingredients for you to use. There can be a big difference between identical meals if the ingredients used to prepare them are of dramatically different standard.
People tend to get into a rut of which restaurants they’re going to eat. They find a local one that they like, and that’s it, they go there all the time. As such, you need to find a way to get these people interested in leaving their “usual spot” behind for an evening and dining with you. One of the best ways to do this is to hire a mobile truck, and do a spot of street marketing. Offer affordable taste size portions of your meals, and you might just find that you win some new people over. Plus, this is just a fun way to get people interested in your restaurant, especially if it’s been open for a while and the early “new restaurant” buzz has begun to wear off.
Involved in the Community
You’re not in this business just to make money, or at least you shouldn’t be, for two reasons. One, it’s pretty difficult to make money from restaurants! Second, it’s important that your restaurant has a mission, such as improving the community. You can do this by getting your ingredients from a local supplier, working with artists and designers in the community for your decor, and hosting fundraising events. This will help your restaurant to grow in multiple ways. It’ll raise your profile in the community, which will mean more business, but also you’ll be making your establishment a pillar of local life – an institution – rather than just a traditional business.
Latest Staff Training
You’re the one pulling the strings, but it’ll be your staff who are making the restaurant what it is. If customers love the vibe of the staff, they’ll be back. Even the best food can’t save a restaurant if the staff there have the wrong attitude. Of course, the quality of your team begins with how robust your hiring process is. From there, it’s about making sure they’re fully trained as to what you expect from them, and treating them well. A staff that is paid well and encouraged to have fun at work will reflect the kind of attitude that’ll help your restaurant have a positive atmosphere. Also, remember that your staff is going to put up with complaints; it’s inevitable when you’re in the service industry. Make sure they know how you want them to deal with these customers – rather than giving them a step by step guide – and trust them to get it right. A well-trained, confident staff will benefit your restaurant in many ways!
Your restaurant may have once looked beautiful, but time moves on, and it’s not always kind to your decor. If it’s beginning to look all dated inside your establishment, then look at giving it a makeover. Some fresh paint and rearranging the furniture can be all it takes to get people to take another look at your restaurant.
Free Up Your Cash
The running costs of operating a restaurant can be eye wateringly high, as you probably already know. But it’s possible that you’re spending more money than necessary, and that by getting a little smarter with your money, you can free up some cash to improve other aspects. If you haven’t already, look at working with a company that provides accounting solutions for restaurants. They’ll be able to help you manage your expenses and reduce your waste, which can lead to significant savings, especially when spread over the span of, say, a year.
Partnering With Other Business
Humans benefit much more from cooperation than they do competition. So why not look at cooperating with other business to create a mutually beneficial arrangement? You can partner with local food, coffee, and beer companies. Let’s focus on beer specifically. The craft beer movement is huge at the moment, and there are plenty of businesses making delicious, high-quality products. You can strike a deal with a local microbrewery to supply your beer, and in the process, you may gain the attention of the people who already know and like that brewer. And for those who don’t, at least you’ll be able to serve them the best beer in town.
Stick or Twist
You may have started out at a location that was ideal for your needs at the time, but remember that needs change, and thus so might your premises. The size will be the most important consideration; are you currently meeting your capacity, or do you find that the wait for a table is too long (or, worse, that there’s no wait at all, even at your busiest periods)? You may also want to think about where in the neighborhood the restaurant is located. It might be that where your currently based is no longer as trendy as it once was, or that the demographic is beginning to shift in a direction that isn’t conducive to your restaurant success. Of course, there’ll be significant expenses attached to moving your restaurant, so you’ll need to ensure that you’re fully committed to the idea before proceeding.
You’ve got an atmospheric, cozy space; why not put it to full use? During the week, when diners can be thin on the ground, you could look at hosting events such as concerts, art displays, and book readings. These are more than just ways to make your restaurant a bigger part of the community – they’re also fun. Your restaurant has always been much more than about the food: it’s a social spot, and now, a cultural pillar.
You don’t really know how good of a job you’re doing until you’re told! So why not gather some feedback, especially from your regular customers? They’ll tell you what they like or don’t like in a casual way, if you’re on friendly terms. Of course, you’re not obliged to take their advice on board, but if you have as many opinions as possible, then you’ll be able to make an informed decision about the best direction in which to take your restaurant.
Of course, you don’t always need to solicit feedback. You’ll be told what people really think of your restaurant, though not always directly to your face. They’re called online reviews, and they’re either wonderful or a bane of existence. If you’re doing your best, then you should see plenty of five stars, which means: carry on doing what you do! If the reviews aren’t so positive, then you’ll know that some things need to change.
Would You Spend Time There?
It’s worthwhile trying to get a bit of perspective when it comes to your restaurant. It’s easy to end up “too close” to your business, and thus fail to see it as it actually is. So look at your restaurant through the eyes of the customer, and ask yourself if it’s an enjoyable place to be, whether the food is good, and what you’d change if you were the owner. And since you are the owner, you’ll be able to make the changes as you see fit.