The restaurant business can be growl- I mean, grueling. An astounding 60% of restaurants close or change ownership in the first three years. If you plan to beat the odds, you must focus on making your restaurant profitable as soon as possible. Here’s five ways to make sure you’re not leaving any profit on the table.
1. Know your numbers
Do you know the exact percentage of your food cost during any given time of year? Do you forecast sales and use those figures to schedule staff and control inventory? If not, it’s time to get a handle on your restaurant’s numbers so you can make decisions based off more than your gut. Here’s even more on controlling your food/labor costs and how to prevent food waste.
2. Determine your role and hire the best
When it comes to operating a restaurant, it may not be a bad thing to have too many cooks in the kitchen. Beginning with a great front-of-house that warmly greets customers and manages crowds, to servers who are on their a-game, all the way back to solid cooks, bartenders, and bussers – hiring experienced, teachable staff helps guarantee a great customer experience every time. But don’t rely on what they already know: making sure your team is trained and updated with weekly meetings help them help you run a better restaurant.
3. Offer a take out menu
Take out orders do two great things: keep your kitchen busy and leave the dining room open for more customers. Offering a modified version of your menu for hungry diners so they can take your food home will help you bring more bacon home (see what I did there?).
4. Put customers first
A disappointing dining experience may not just stay at your restaurant. With the ability to “check in” online, leave reviews, or even just rant to their personal followers, diners now have a megaphone to share their experiences and they wont be afraid to use it. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make good on a bad meal before the guest gets their check. If you need to, comp a dish (or the whole meal) or offer a free dessert. And don’t forget to give a coupon good for a future visit so they give you a second chance. The loss you’ll take on these items is far less than the loss of customers resulting from a poor online review.
5. Don’t wait till it’s too late to market
Even if business is booming, restaurant owners should never rest on their laurels. The scene is always changing and new competition looking to steal your lunch could pop up at any time. Always have a solid marketing plan in place that, at the very least, includes an attractive, easy-to-use website and updated social media pages. When you’re ready to take things to the next level, get creative with digital marketing, local print advertising, or mass marketing tools like radio and TV.
Follow these five tips and you’ll be on your way to a more profitable restaurant or food truck. If you’re looking for even more ways to save during tax time, check out Seven Tax Tips for Restaurant Owners.