Running a restaurant business is a wonderful job. Yes, getting in touch with your customers can often be a demanding task. Learning their tastes and ensuring they feel at home in your establishment is probably even harder. However, smiles on their faces and their positive reviews will give you a lot more than you may think.
So, what is the best way to your customers’ hearts? All business experts agree that the path to success starts before you open your doors to clients. Creating a sound restaurant business plan is of paramount importance for further development of your restaurant.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Creating The Perfect Atmosphere
- Managing Your Supplies
- Let Your Menu Delight Them Even Before They Start Eating
- Make Sure Your Finances Are In Order
- Step Up Your Marketing Game
- Creating A Staff Dream Team
- Ways To Keep Customers Coming Back
- Tidiness & Hygiene Make Your Customers Happy
- Achieving Your #GreenGoals
- Waste Management
Recipe For Success
Alsco are experts in restaurant and catering industry and can help your business by supplying you with many of the necessities you will need for normal functioning, such as food & glass wipes, catering workwear, floor mats, clean and hygienic linen, continuous towel and washroom services
In order to ensure you stand out from your competition, you need to be creative. This, of course, is easier said than done. That is why Alsco is here to help with a comprehensive list of tips which are designed to inspire you to think in all directions and make your establishment appealing to your future guests.
CREATING THE PERFECT ATMOSPHERE
1. Decide Your Restaurant’s Location Carefully
It may be considered obvious, but it is always good to underline the importance of location for the success of your restaurant. In order to ensure visibility of the place, you need to make sure you are located in a busy neighbourhood, preferably in one which is already known to host this type of industry. Easy access and ample parking space are a must, especially in a big city.
2. Be Picky About Design And Decor
The quality of food is naturally the most important thing to mind when running a restaurant, however, decor and service are what makes people really love a restaurant.
Spend some time looking for a designer with experience in restaurant interior design and, after giving them initial instructions and sharing your vision with them, try to allow them to decide as much as possible. Professionals in this field really know how to make the best use of available space and they should also be able to create a design which will meet Singaporean standards and food codes.
3. Buying Equipment To Fit Out Your Kitchen Requires Planning
Before you decide on the type of equipment you need, you must be clear on what type of food your restaurant will produce and serve.
There is no such thing as the equipment every restaurant will need (aside from the basics such as a stove, of course) and if you buy without prior planning, you may end up with appliances that will never be fully utilized and will only take up space in your kitchen.
Another important thing to consider is leasing or buying used equipment. Some pieces of equipment, such as ice machines, can be leased because their lifespan is usually short and it does not cost too much to repair them.
4. Don’t Let Yourself Be Bothered By Lack Of Space
The bigger the restaurant is, the greater are the costs related to its maintenance. Smaller restaurants are great for creating warm, personal atmosphere in which people will feel welcome.
And if you are afraid of losing customers due to the lack of seating space, you can introduce “takeaway” service which is a welcome addition to every restaurant’s offer.
5. Space Optimization Is The Key To Getting The Most Out Of Your Kitchen
Good kitchen design will already feature a fully optimized solution for placement of your appliances and other necessities. However, nothing is as efficient in discovering inefficiencies like observing over time. After your restaurant has been working for a while, you will be able to make all the necessary optimizations and improve the workflow in your kitchen.
While your kitchen is still in the planning phase, though, it is a good idea to consider applying a tested and tried layout such as “kitchen work triangle”.
Consider making your kitchen an ergonomic work area to reduce the distance and effort required for your staff to work effectively.
6. Your Servers Will Love A Service Well
This works best if you have a long bar. Having a service well on both sides will help servers get drinks easily.
7. Tableware And Table Linens Need To Be Instagram-Worthy
Customers love sharing their food on social media. The more picture-perfect the presentation of your dishes is, the more likely it will get posted on Instagram or Facebook.
Aside from influencing the food tastes, nice tableware and table setting will also encourage customers to talk about you. Simply serve dishes that will excite your customers and they’ll be more than happy to share their experiences with their entire social networks.
Here are useful tips for buying restaurant tableware
8. Do Not Overlook Your Lighting
Lighting is often overlooked by restaurant business owners – especially if they are on a budget.
Lighting sets the overall mood and atmosphere, which is why it shouldn’t be left to the last minute. Understand that less is more, a saying that is certainly true when it comes to lighting – remember to always put lights on dimmers so that you have control over lighting levels through the day and night.
9. Consider Functionality, Not Just Style, When It Comes to Furniture
Ignore aesthetics for a while and make sure the chairs are functionally suitable by considering the dimensions, materials, and finishes carefully.
Tables with central bases provide greater versatility in table arrangement than tables with legs. They allow people to get in and out of chairs with greater ease.
When considering chairs be mindful of the design from the back. That is what you actually see in the space.
On a practical level chairs with a gap between seats and back allow for easier cleaning.
10. Colors Are An Extremely Important Part Of Your Design
Colors play an important role in generating a hospitable environment in cafés or restaurants. The colour that is rarely seen in cafes is blue and the reason behind that lies in its ability to distract one’s mind away from food.
On the other hand, colours like orange, red and green stimulate the appetite and increase cravings. This is why the right colour combination will not only help you maximise hospitability but will also generate customer satisfaction.
11. Plan a Systematic Layout For Your Kitchen
Make sure your kitchen is laid out so that your staff can work efficiently and even multitask – e.g. working at the fish station and the fryer at the same time.
12. Try To Create An Open Kitchen To Entice Customers
Open kitchens have become a trend these days because customers love it when the cooking process is part of their dining experience.
However, don’t put in an open kitchen if you don’t have any theatrically-interesting cooking to showcase. They might be in fashion at the moment, but there is nothing worse than seeing into an unclean or uninteresting kitchen.
MANAGING YOUR SUPPLIES
13. Be Wise When You Order
The only way to control how much you spend on food which is sure to show results is to be wise and think twice before you buy. Make sure you regularly update a record of your purchases so you will always be able to find what and how much you bought.
Whether you buy it in bulk or not, assessing what you buy as a way of managing food costs should be the most important part of your financial strategy.
14. Understand The Dynamics Of Your Kitchen
Come up with regular reviews of menu costs to makes sure you are not selling your menu short.
Conduct weekly stocktakes in order to determine food cost percentage. This way you will know what changes you need to make.
Another good idea is to set stock holding levels for particular days of the week. This will help prevent stock loss due to over-ordering. Setting preparation par levels over kitchen preparation is as important, this will ensure freshness of food products.
15. Double Check The Amounts You Receive
Always count and weigh food when they are delivered to make sure that you are getting what you paid for.
16. Think About What You Can Make And What You Should Buy
You may also want to reconsider your kitchen workload by coming up with a thorough make-or-buy analysis. Make a list of which items you can make from scratch and which ones you can just purchase prepared. Aside from cutting costs, this move can also ensure a higher quality of food that you serve your customers
17. Always Keep In Touch With Your Suppliers
Maintaining a friendly but professional relationship with your suppliers can result in you getting better deals than your competitors. However, don’t hesitate to talk to your suppliers about lowering your expenses. After all, they should know that their competitors are a viable solution for you in case you cannot reach a mutually beneficial deal.
18. Consider Making Business Deals With Local Farmers
Products from local farmers are a lot fresher and often cheaper as the middle-man suppliers aren’t necessary.
Here are some suggestions on finding local farmers in Singapore.
LET YOUR MENU DELIGHT THEM EVEN BEFORE THEY START EATING
19. Put Main Ingredients Below Each Menu Item
Mention the major ingredients in each dish. If they fit, use ethnic names as they add an authentic flair to the menu description.
20. There Is No Such Thing As Too Much Effort Put Into Menu Design
Your menu is a reflection of your restaurant. Its fonts, colours and layout should match your restaurant’s concept, location, and theme.
Create something that will excite your guests, involve your regulars, it gives them some ownership. Use the specials board as your menu design drawing board
21. Pay Attention To The Order Of Your Menu Items
Be smart when positioning items on your menu.
Murray Wright and Associates shares that people tend to remember the first and last items more easily when they read a list.
So make sure to put the dishes you want to sell the most (highest $ margin) first and last on the lists.
Here are tips and tricks for making the most of your restaurant menu by BuzztimeBusiness.
22. Keep Track Of How Well Your Dishes Are Sold
Another great idea from is to rate each of your dishes and keep a tally. This will give you the pros and cons to their suitability for the menu.
23. Holidays Are A Great Time To Introduce Your Special Menus
You can put together a menu unique to special events, holidays or occasions.
This will allow you to keep control over your costs and inventory while expanding your meal selection.
24. Don’t Forget That Healthy Is Trendy
Healthy food is an important part of the menu of every restaurant that wants to stay relevant. With the rising popularity of organic food and vegetarianism, not offering healthy menu items could mean losing customers.
Gluten-free meals and dishes which contain whole grains and vegetables can be prepared in a lot of different ways and can be a great addition to your menu.
Although deciding to make a restaurant dedicated exclusively to healthy food is a perfectly valid option, every restaurant, regardless of what type of food it serves, can go an extra mile and make their meals healthier. Use low-fat meats, organic vegetables, pay attention to how you fry your food. Not only will this make your restaurant look good and help you promote it, but you will genuinely do something good for the health of your fellow citizens.
Whole foods eating is a trend which won’t go away anytime soon, and customers, even those who aren’t vegans or vegetarians, want to eat lighter and healthier meals.
Healthy food is an important part of the menu of every restaurant that wants to stay relevant. With the rising popularity of organic food and vegetarianism, not offering healthy menu items could mean losing customers. Click To Tweet
Here are a few interesting examples of healthy dishes:
- A vegan veggie burger or falafel wrap with option for gluten-free bread
- Bringing in a vegan cheese option which allows you to easily convert many pizza and Mexican-style mains
- A tofu or lentil veg stir fry, hot pot, casserole or curry, etc.
- Raw vegan desserts and non-dairy based ice creams can easily be bought in from a growing range of suppliers
Having more options like these will add variety to your menu and appeal to a wider array of customers.
25. Don’t Be Afraid To Keep Your Menu Relevant
Track the sales of every item in your menu and remove those that aren’t selling well. Use containers and ingredients efficiently to minimise food spoilage while keeping food costs under control.
26. Make Sure Prices Of The Items On Your Menu Are Well Balanced
Analyse each item on your menu to figure out your major food costs and how you can make cuts. Make sure your menu has a balance of both low and high-cost items. Adjust these to meet food cost targets. Avoid high food cost items on slow months as much asss possible.
Here are some tips from HowCast on how to design a menu.
27. Set and Regulate Portion and Serving Size
When it comes to targeted food costs, the small things add up. Portion size is one of them.
Make sure that you are portioning everything in your meals at the proper weight. This makes sure you are ordering the right quantities, keeping costs down, and reduces the need to raise prices and potentially turn your business into a really profitable one.
MAKE SURE YOUR FINANCES ARE IN ORDER
28. Make Tracking Food Cost Part Of Your Daily Routine
Making sure you always monitor changes in food costs is one of the essential aspects of keeping your finances stable.
It is probably the best to make checking food costs your daily habit. You will need to pay attention to the maximum allowable food cost, which is essentially an indicator of how much money you can allocate for expenses, the potential food cost which reflects the cost of your menu and the actual food cost which is to do with how much food your restaurant orders.
This will also be helpful in the sense that you will get a clearer picture of the popularity of your menu items, which will, in turn, make it easier for you to make the necessary price and order adjustments.
Wikihow has a helpful guide on how to calculate food cost percentage.
29. Check Popularity Of Your Menu Items To Allow For Better Planning
To expand on the point from the previous tip, once you know which menu items are popular in a certain time period, this will be useful in prioritizing certain popular dishes. Furthermore, your kitchen managers will be able to create relevant daily specials.
Checking menu items’ popularity also helps in deciding which items to put and which to remove from the menu. In this way, you will directly affect your customers’ decisions and make sure your business is cost-effective.
30. Pay Attention To How Much Your Staff Works
Keeping track of the number of hours each of your staff members worked per day, week and month are important for your work schedule. Aside from the time spent at work, it’s useful to know the category of the tasks they perform, as well as when during the day they are performed. Paying for the staff is among the most significant costs in this type of business, which is why it is essential to be well informed in this respect and avoid too much overtime which put a strain on your employees and your budget.
31. Take It Easy With The Discounts
Discounting is a great idea if you want to attract attention to some new product or service. However, as it is the case with all good ideas – too much of it can be a bad idea.
The main problem with offering discounts all the time is that your regular prices lose their objective value and start being perceived as “higher prices”. Discounts cost you money and it makes no sense to spend money if the final result is going to be customers who are dissatisfied with your real prices.
Remember the feeling when you watch those TV teleshop sellers who never offer anything a discount? It’s a clever marketing ploy, but very quickly starts feeling disingenuous. Discounts need to be introduced only in truly special circumstances, for example for certain special dates, or for the purpose of a product promotion. Offer discount for the first month of featuring certain dish on the menu. But after the month has passed, make sure to introduce the real price and stick with it.
Offering more value for the same amount of money is a better long-term strategy. Free muffin with every cup of coffee ordered. Or a cup of coffee for free if you spend more than 10 dollars.
“Selling is not about price. It’s all abcout value”
STEP UP YOUR MARKETING GAME
32. Understand The Power Of The Internet
Today, people turn to the Internet for nearly everything, including looking for great eating spots. Taking advantage of that is near-essential for your restaurant business.
So now’s the right time to make the most of all that the Internet has to offer. Create or improve your website or try online advertising. Creating a mailing list to send your customers regular deals, discounts or updates is an affordable way to keep them coming back.
33. Online Marketing Is A Big Deal In The Restaurant Industry Today
Wi-Fi marketing platforms can be surprisingly effective at helping restaurants build their email lists quickly.
You can get contact information from guests who sign-in to your Wi-Fi in exchange for a free wireless connection. This way, you can send out updates, messages, and coupons, giving them more reasons to keep visiting your restaurant.
34. Word of Mouth Is Still The Best Marketing Strategy
“Word of Mouth” marketing strategy is not so much a marketing strategy as it is just being good enough so that people recommend you to their friends. Restaurant goers are much more likely to visit a restaurant if people they trust told them about it.
So, what can you do to stimulate people to spread the good word? One of the tested and tried methods is introducing loyalty membership cards. These cards increase the chances that their holders will talk about you to the people they know by up to 70%!
35. Digital Marketing Is The Quickest Way To Reaching Your Audience
Using SEO and digital marketing are still the most effective ways of growing your audience.
Converting your audience into paying customers is a little more tricky and cannot be done with marketing alone. Reputation will always spread far and wide so concentrating on a quality experience with great service and a fantastic product is paramount.
36. Your Facebook Presence Needs To Be Carefully Planned
Facebook is a great tool for highly targeted marketing. You can define your offer with variables such as age group, area, behaviour, and time that people are online. Particularly powerful is the fact that Facebook allows you to segment your marketing and open areas of your business up to other customers without damaging your core business.
Remember, Facebook marketing for restaurants is not about how many Likes you have, it is about having the right objectives, and that is usually finding more new customers and turning them into repeat customers.
37. Make Friends With Food Bloggers
Bloggers – potentially those with large online followings – can help you create a buzz about your business. Have a new menu? Set a menu launch and have food and lifestyle bloggers over to try your new offerings.
Aside from coming and experiencing your new menu, these bloggers would write about the whole experience on their blogs, share photos of the place and food on their Instagrams, or even tweet about your restaurant and your new menu.
38. Consider Becoming A Food Blogger Yourself
Food blogging is one of the most popular blogging categories these days, so starting your own blog which would present what your restaurant has to offer is probably an idea worth thinking about. There are many things you can write about – every week you can feature a recipe from your kitchen, present a staff member or introduce your readers to a bit of your restaurant’s history.
For a minimal price of website maintenance (you can even try it out for free on some of the popular blogging platforms!), you will get a powerful promotional tool which may help you attract customers.
39. A Birthday Club Is A Great Way To Engage Your Guests
Making customers feel important is a great way to make sure they talk about your restaurant, and birthday celebrations are particularly effective occasions for this. A symbolic gift or a free meal for the person celebrating is not going to go unnoticed.
40. Organise Sending Of Email Updates To Your Customers
The goal is to stay in your customers’ minds. Come up with creative ways to get customers to give their email addresses (like having a birthday club or setting up a blog)
You can use this email list to update customers on your latest menu additions, promos, blog posts, upcoming events, holiday specials, and a whole lot more.
41. Value Your Loyal Customers
Rewards give your customers a good reason to keep coming back to your restaurant. Come up with a loyalty program installed on your Point of Sales (POS) System that will record what customers purchase so they can collect points and rewards.
If your customers know that they will get something in return for always eating at your place, they’ll not only keep coming back, they might invite their friends to visit your place, too.
To win loyal customers we can attempt to make guests feel special by remembering their birthdays (via Facebook) or their favourite dish or wine style – this will drive loyalty and repeat visitation.
A recent survey was made on 2000 businesses with different loyalty programs. 14 million visits from 1 million customers were recorded. According to the study, loyal customers (those who visited at least 10 times) only make up 20% of the total customers. However, that 20% drives a whopping 80% of the total revenue and 72% of total visits.
42. Social Media Presence Is Of Utmost Importance
No business that wants to succeed in today’s world can afford to ignore social media. When planning your social strategy on the internet, understand that communication with both your potential guests and the members of your staff is equally important. For the broader public, you should post regularly, creating a mix between relevant posts such as special deals announcements or daily menus and interesting posts whose purpose is simply to drive more traffic to your page.
When it comes to communication with your staff, creating a closed group for photo sharing and general team building is a great idea which will bring the people working in your restaurant closer together.
Use social media to drive visitation – photos of dishes should be posted daily – photos of staff having fun, mixing cocktails, receiving new or interesting stock, visiting the markets.
If managing social media sounds like a lot of work or you simply don’t think you should be the one doing it, there are two possible solutions.
You can either hire an agency which specializes in social network management, or you can select a member of your staff to do it for you.
An argument for paying professionals is that you will be able to expect consistency and regularity, however, businesses which go down this path often suffer from the lack of authenticity online.
On the other hand, if you manage to find a staff member who is skilled enough to do this job, your potential customers will recognize that they are communicating with somebody from the inside, which will make them trust you more.
The following tips should help you start your restaurant’s online life:
- Regular posting is extremely important. Profiles which are not constantly updated don’t look professional and show lack of effort.
- Your restaurant doesn’t have to be open yet in order for you to start reaching your potential guests. There are many ways to create hype before the opening night.
- Use your social network profiles to update people on all important things related to your restaurant.
- Offering guests to vote for the next special is a great way to engage your audience. Contests are also a useful engagement tool.
43. Attract Influencers To Your Restaurant – One Way Or Another
Work with “Influencers” such as bloggers, Instagrammers, and Youtubers. Those with large followings on social media can serve as a great channel to reach your target customers. Come up with creative ways to get these “digital celebrities” to talk about you and your business on their social media channels.
Here are some really useful tips to keep in mind when working with influencers to get customers.
- Focus on building relationships and ambassadors
- Don’t just look for celebrities
- Involve your influencer’s followers
- Trust the influencer
44. Email Campaigns Can Do Wonders For Attracting New Guests
This is one of the most powerful tools you can use to both retain and attract customers. The quicker you become established, the better – your competitors are slowly picking up and applying the same email marketing techniques.
Here are the basic things you need to run an ideal email marketing campaign for your restaurant:
- Build and manage your contact list
- Think of a creative mailing strategy
- Create effective content and attention-grabbing calls to action
- Measure and analyse the results
45. Update Your Free And Paid Listings Regularly
Aside from social media, don’t forget to regularly update your listings on free and paid directories. Directory listings like Zomato (UrbanSpoon), TripAdvisor, Yelp, FourSquare, TimeOut and TheHappiestHour help people when searching for a restaurant or café, making these an easy, low-effort way to attract more customers.
46. Make Sure Mobile Phone Generation Is Able To Find You
Millennials are an influential customer demographic and therefore should be important for your restaurant to attract. Technology is a constant part of their lives. When it comes to something simple like where to eat, the information millennials find online has a huge influence. Be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you want to have a presence on the platforms they visit.
47. Organize Your Internet Presence Around Your Website
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. How would you find a good restaurant online? ‘Google it’ has become synonymous with finding, well, nearly anything. If you don’t have a website, you are guaranteed to miss a large number of potential customers
Set up a website for your restaurant as this will help convince customers to visit.
Clueless on how or where to start in building your restaurant’s website? Here’s a simple guide on learning what important things your customers need to see on your website.
There are many free website templates available on the Internet that are tailored for restaurants. You can also pay a webmaster who will create a customised website for you.
48. Online Orders And Bookings Are Becoming The New Default
Customers who are too busy to go out prefer ordering online.
“The Free Restaurant Online Ordering system is completely free for restaurants to use. We have taken thousands of orders and most importantly saved Restaurants thousands of dollars in commission.” – James Eling, founder of marketing4restaurants.com
Add a booking button to your website so that visitors can easily make reservations in just a few clicks. Unless you are open 24/7, then it’s best that you have an online booking system.
Having an online booking system will make everything easy, practical, and fast for your customers. Give them that kind of convenience and they are surely going to remember you.
49. People Trust Food Guides, And So Should You
It’ll make it easier for your customers to find you, especially those who haven’t heard of you before.
Here, they can search by location, price range, type of food, and the service offered. The key here is exposure.
50. Take Online Customer Reviews Seriously
Online reviews are a critical factor for your customers. If your restaurant has a lot of good reviews, then you have a greater chance to attract new customers – customers who may not have even heard about you before.
So, make sure you stay active on these listing websites and keep building a good online reputation. Respond to negative reviews constructively and encourage positive reviews. Show them that their feedback matters to you, and they’re far more likely to trust and respect your business.
CREATING A STAFF DREAM TEAM
51. Develop A System For Creating Flexible Schedules
Consider seasonality, holidays, marketing campaigns, and other changes in your business when creating schedules for your employees. Flexible schedules instead of fixed weekly ones help in keeping you within your budget. Additionally, this helps your employees achieve their work-life balance.
Sassco, a Hospitality POS developer shares:
52. Switching Shifts Can Lead To Overtime Hours
If it can’t be avoided, frequent switching of shifts should be monitored regularly. These requests can lead to employees working a lot of overtime hours which can quickly drain your budget.
53. Find Employees Who Are Loyal
When hiring, look for candidates that have loyal work histories. Loyal employees who will stick can be trained as they will stay longer, making them worth investing time and money on.
54. Experience Is Crucial In This Line Of Business
Consider a candidate’s work experience when hiring. Experienced employees will need less training and the time that could have been spent on training an inexperienced new employee can be better spent on focusing on guests and other important concerns.
55. Keep Full Time Employees Only When Necessary, For The Rest Use Part Time Employees Or Outsourcing
Balance both part-time and full-time employees. Part-time employees tend to be less committed and less reliable. Have them help with tasks that don’t require too much expertise and commitment instead – reducing the risks and stresses for your business.
You might also want to consider outsourcing. You can basically outsource anything these days, from having the books done to doing simple errands.
56. Take Care Of Your Employees’ Health
Frequently ill employees will increase the amount of sick leave you pay that could’ve been saved. Keep your staff healthy by making sure they have a clean and germ-free environment to work in. Keep your commercial kitchen clean and sanitary at all times with an Alsco clean and hygienic tea towels and linen.
57. The More People You Employ, The Bigger Chance They Won’t Be Happy
Always remember – even minimum wages add up quickly however small an expense a few employees may seem. Having too many staff on the floor might also mean your servers will receive less in tips, easily deflating their morale.
58. Make Training And Development One Of Your Primary Focuses
Any under-performing employee, new or a veteran, will cost you time and money as you have to improve these employees through training. The key to a successful business, after all, is to surround yourself will brilliant and talented people.
“Give them the training, resources and encouragement to do their job well and then empower them to do it. When we don’t train our staff properly, we’re telling them that how they perform isn’t important. And, if we don’t think it’s important, why should they?“ – Donald Cooper
59. Evaluate Your Staff On A Regular Basis
You will always find something to improve on in your team by doing regular employee evaluation. Set management priorities and predetermined references to evaluate as this will help your team consistently deliver excellent service.
60. Checklist Ensure Important Things Are Not Forgotten
Checklists encourage people to start good habits. This would help your staff focus on their daily or weekly tasks, follow important restaurant procedures, and remain accountable.
61. Schedule Regular Meetings With Your Employees
Hold regular meetings with your staff to announce important things such as changes in the menu, new policies, and even small victories. Do it every day, pre-shift. Having regular huddles with your team will help reduce mistakes and power-up everyone’s motivation and efficiency.
62. Become Efficient and Achieve More By Creating A Handbook Or An Employee Training Plan
This handbook or training plan will make it easier for you to evaluate individual employee performance. Steps or processes such as initial guest greeting up to handing them the check should be included in this handbook. Having a solid training plan will also help you get rid of unnecessary steps or inefficiency. Here’s a useful template you can follow when crafting a restaurant employee handbook from Toast.
63. Making Sure Sick Employees Stay At Home Is Essential In The Restaurant Business
You can’t force sick employees to work. Aside from risking their health, you will also be risking your business. If a staff is showing signs such as diarrhoea, vomiting, or fever, send them home to get rest and make sure not to assign them to tasks that involve being in direct contact with food. Remind your employees that it’s essential to inform the management whenever they feel sick.
64. Make Sure Employees Know That Great Performance Is Rewarded
Celebrating small victories and sharing success stories will help foster camaraderie among your employees. It’ll bring the team together and make everyone feel a greater sense of job satisfaction.
Get lots of employee recognition ideas from this Pinterest board by Gregory Smith
65. Establish A Straightforward Relationship With Your Employees
Make it crystal clear what your staff can expect from you, and then what you expect from them in return. Do that and they will deliver what your customers expect from your establishment.
66. Show Respect In Order To Be Respected
Respect each team member and they will not only treat you with respect, but treat your customers that way too.
67. Be A Rolemodel
Keep in mind that nothing and no one is below you. As their leader, you wouldn’t ask them to do something you wouldn’t do. The standard you walk past is the standard you set.
68. Make Sure You Reward Each And Every Positive Example
Nothing breeds success like success. Influence more positive behaviour by positive reinforcement of even the smallest examples of great customer service.
69. Be The Master Of Your Own Feelings
A great tip from Eric Cacciatore of Restaurant Unstoppable.
Don’t let your emotions, specifically anger, get the best of you. Understand that you have control over your emotions. When you feel your emotions welling, “snip it”, like Jerry Posner says in episode 273. Give people the benefit of the doubt until you fully have your emotions under control. Then as Stephen R Covey says, “Seek to understand, then be understood.”
An animated book review of Stephen Covey’s “Habit 5 – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Seek first to understand, then be understood”
70. Wine Tasting Events
On quiet periods, you can approach local wineries to see if you can collaborate on your special wine event.
Another great idea would be to use bin-ends as a special ‘wine-by-the-glass’ to move stock no longer listed. That way you will get a return on unused stock and offer diversity for your guests.
71. Create Themed Events To Make Even The Most Ordinary Food Interesting
Show people that your business is anything but boring. Throw theme parties whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. Make sure to rave about it, mentioning the event on both social media and in person.
Make sure that there is always something going on in your business. Stay active and creative.
72. Sometimes A Good Name Is All Your Special Needs To Stick Out
You can also do this on your quiet days. Offer your customers specials each day and promote it with a creative name that’ll catch in your customers’ minds.
This is a good way to build curiosity – customers will be dying to return to see next day’s special!
73. Be Present At Food Markets
Join food markets or food bazaars. This is a great way to get yourself out there and be discovered by a whole new demographic. If there are no food bazaars in your area, you can set one up yourself at your place.
74. Promotion In The Restaurant Will Make Your Guests Come Back
Why not slip a promo flyer in with the bill? Or maybe have a table talker on the tables? How about a poster in front of your restaurant? The ideas are countless.
While a customer is already inside your cafe or restaurant, you should make the most of that time. By the time they come out, they already know all the great deals and delicious meals you offer.
75. The Media Want To Hear About Your Newest Promotion
Never let that great new deal go unnoticed. Write a press release and send it to media outlets, local publications and bloggers who cover food, drink, lifestyle and the local area.
76. Understand The Concept Of Upselling
Remind your staff that you are all a part of a business. An extra dessert or an appetizer can make a positive impact on your profits. Upselling dishes is an effective way to encourage further spending from existing customers.
Observe and identify your top-performing staff and have them mentor the others to improve your sales further. However, we wary not to put too much pressure on your customers. Good upselling is almost undetectable.
77. Your Employees Are The Face Of Your Restaurant
Your restaurant may be an example of modern design and your dishes the tastiest dishes in town, however, at the end of the day, you will still mostly depend on the members of staff to make customers satisfied.
This is why it is crucial to make the staff feel like they belong in your restaurant. Your relationship with your employees needs to be friendly but professional, founded on mutual trust. You also need to make sure you are constantly updated on developments in the kitchen and in the hall. Quick staff meetings at the beginning of each shift will be enough to keep you in the loop.
“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace” – those are the words of Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup.
78. Recognize The First-time Customers And Give Them A Special Treatment
Train your staff to look out for first-time customers and ask these people how they discovered your business. Make sure that they receive the perfect service from your crew as it could be your first and only chance to make a good first impression.
Make sure they are greeted with a smile and give them a discount coupon they can use on their next order.
79. Free Meal Giveaways Are A Cost Effective Way Of Attracting Guests
Raffle off a free meal for a night by picking a lucky customer at random. This is an easy, affordable strategy; for the cost of one meal, you get more people coming in for the chance of winning the next free meal.
80. Hire Musicians For An Instant Atmosphere Improvement
Keep your customers entertained and you’ll be sure to see them coming back for more. Entertainment like live acoustic music featuring local artists before will not only draw people in, it’ll also make them want to stick around and, potentially, invite more friends.
81. People Like To Compete
While contests can easily draw people in, make sure you create desirable contests that people will actually want to take part in. Come up with smart and creative games or contest ideas such as “Caption This” or “Name That Meal” contests, a Best Photo challenge, or anything that would encourage people to be creative and witty. The winner may get a free meal but everybody else is going to be paying!
82. Bring-Your-Own Nights Can Prove To Be A Hit
Have a bring-your-own night if you don’t serve alcohol. Simply extend your hours and provide glasses and you’re guaranteed to have people coming in your door all night.
83. No Better Way To Show Off Your Quality Then To Offer Free Samples
Some customers are afraid to try something new. Offer them a free sample. You never know… if they love it, they just might purchase a full order!
84. Guests Will Appreciate If They Can Take Food Home
Take-home options can easily increase sales of sit-down restaurants. Come up with a take-home offer for lunch or dinner which could include an entree, side, and dessert and is packaged for travel with proper heating/serving instructions.
Modern living often leaves little time for cooking at home, especially during the week. Restaurant and delivery takeout services offer a welcome alternative to working people and parents who want to relax at home but are forced to make their own meals.
In fact, a research showed that about one-third of consumers say that purchasing restaurant takeout is an essential part of their lifestyle. In addition, nearly half of adults (46 percent) and 61 percent of millennials say an important factor in choosing a tableservice restaurant is whether they have takeout or delivery options.
WAYS TO KEEP CUSTOMERS COMING BACK
85. Understand People Who Eat Alone
Make sure single diners don’t feel uncomfortable dining alone at your restaurant. Be particularly welcoming with these types of customers. Avoid asking if they’re waiting for someone else and never act surprised that they aren’t. This can make solo diners uncomfortable.
86. Make Service Speed One Of Top Priorities
Nothing irks customers more than slow service. Make sure your staff provides not just personalised service, but quick service.
87. Your Guests Will Expect Free Wi-Fi
Today, diners are rarely without their smartphones, tablets, or computers. They will appreciate it if they can use their gadgets while they eat, especially those who are waiting for important work-related emails and notifications.
88. Do Something Nice For People Who Eat Alone
It wouldn’t cost you too much to try to give single diners a little more TLC. Adding small extras, for example, is a good way to make them feel a little more welcome and special.
After all, these little favours are insignificant when you consider the volume of customers you serve. Plus, that single diner you just went the extra mile for will want to come back. Who knows – they might even bring friends next time!
89. Follow Your Public Internet Profiles And Read Reviews Your Guests Leave
Always check sites like TripAdvisor or TheFork as these kinds of sites are where both satisfied and unsatisfied customers leave their feedback about restaurants they’ve previously dined in.
Being aware of your business score on these sites will help you determine whether your prices match the quality of your offering.
Do check the “Value for money” section as this is where restaurants generally get good scores.
If you have a bad score, that means customers have not been completely satisfied with their dining experience and may even feel like they have been ripped off. This is also a sign that you might need to adjust your prices.
90. Ask People For A Quick Review After Dinner
It always helps to understand your restaurant’s weaknesses. Don’t worry, every restaurant – at one point or another – experiences these.
This is where conducting customer satisfaction surveys help. You will learn what your customers focus on most. And if you do understand these concerns, you’ll know exactly where to improve.
You can send a satisfaction survey to customers via email after they leave the restaurant – or, perhaps send those out through your monthly email campaigns.
91. Ask Guests About Their Impressions
Another way you can get feedback from your customers is by asking them directly about their dining experience. You can do this in a natural and non-commercial conversation.
You can also give away cards or flyers with a list of websites they can leave their reviews on your restaurant. Check your customer reviews on a daily basis on the internet, Facebook, social networking accounts and especially on specialised sites.
92. Don’t Focus On Yourself Only. Pay Attention To The Competition
Get to know your competitors and look at their approaches. This way, you’ll discover exactly how to learn from them and, more importantly, differentiate yourself as a business.
93. A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) Will Make You Stand Out
Shared by Eric Cacciatore of Restaurant Unstoppable, come up with a unique selling proposition or what Seth Godin calls a “Purple Cow”. Something that is truly unique and special that you have to offer your local community.
The best brands create USPs that are intangible; things like relatable core values, missions and visions. Appeal to the consumer’s mind and heart. Ask, “how will this make the guest feel?” or “how will the customer think they are being perceived by society when they align themselves with your restaurant’s brand?”
94. Make Sure You Are Visible On The Market
If you want your guests to remember ever visiting your restaurant, you need to be able to offer them something unique, something they will remember and tell friends about. If you want them to come back, make sure you offer your customers some (or all) of the following:
- Top notch service
- Creative approach to the food you offer and the way you offer it
- Original (usually ethnic) dishes
- A themed experience (check out this list of top 20 themed restaurants in London, UK)
In a way, your customers expect the food you serve to be fresh and tasty. It is what they don’t expect that you need to give them – something that will make their stay at your restaurant a truly memorable experience.
Murray Wright suggests a signature item as a way to be different from the rest of the crowd. A signature item can be everything from a special drink or a dish to staff attitude and serving style.
TIDINESS & HYGIENE MAKE YOUR CUSTOMERS HAPPY
95. The Cooker Hood Needs Regular Care
Grease and bacteria can build up on the cooker hood over time. The best way to keep it clean and hygienic is through a steam cleaning method. Keep in mind that the wire mesh underneath should be cleaned with warm, soapy water.
You can also use the same cleaning method for extractor fans that have a removable mesh.
For those extraction fans that use paper filters to soak up grease and grime, the best thing to do is to clean the mesh and replace the old filter.
Don’t forget to soak and scrub all washable items with non-abrasive brushes to avoid damaging the material.
96. Take Care Of Stainless Steel
Avoid damaging stainless steel exteriors by using microfiber cloths when cleaning and polishing. It is also best to use high-quality commercial cleaning products for a better finish.
97. Linen, Curtains And Carpets Must Always Be Clean
Always check your carpets, curtains, and linen for obvious and unsightly wear and tear.
- Stains can be removed by high-pressure cleaning, heat and steam extraction
- Vacuum carpets regularly to keep them free of debris such as dirt and dust that could tangle in the carpet fibres
- Make sure all curtains and window dressings are properly laundered
Alsco offers managed floor mat rental services for your restaurants so you don’t get to worry about cleaning dirty mats. Mats are cleaned and maintained regularly.
98. Refrigerators and Freezers Shouldn’t Be Forgotten
When cleaning, make sure to remove everything from fridges and freezers and check every item’s expiration dates.
Use multipurpose cleaners and damp cloth to clean and defrost shelves where necessary using a multipurpose cleaner and damp cloth.
Only a damp cloth is needed to wipe down the exterior of these appliances for a perfect finish.
99. Understand That Staff Uniforms Are Among The First Things A Client Will Pay Attention To
Customers notice how your staff present themselves. Make sure they don’t only have nice uniforms to wear, but also that these uniforms are always kept looking neat and professional.
100. Greasy Fryer and Grill Need To Be Dealt With
Grease that builds up on your fryers and grills can become a fire hazard. Clean the baskets, filters, hangers and tank racks separately and keep the interior surface of your fryer and grill free of signs of oil by wiping it with paper towels and a wet sponge soaked in warm soapy water.
You may also soak your grills in soapy water for 24 hours to remove hardened deposits and blackened carbon.
101. Check Stocked Supplies To Make Sure They Are Still Usable
Regularly check your stockroom shelves to see if items have reached or are nearing their expiration dates, if containers are worn out, or have cracked lids, and broken labelling.
102. Customers Remember Clean Toilets
Restaurant toilets are places where hygiene is at its biggest test. Not only that they tend to be the biggest source of bacteria, but the visual impression they leave on your customers is usually one of the few things they will use to form the final opinion about your establishment.
This is why it is important to make sure your washrooms keep up with the hygiene standards. Clean toilets will not go unnoticed by your guests. Dirty ones even more so.
A rule of thumb says you need to make sure washrooms are cleaned every hour. Your staff has to pay attention to everything, particularly to the parts guests come into contact with, such as taps, door knobs, hand driers and light switches.
- Using disposable disinfectant wipes, cleaning staff needs to wipe all “touch points” in toilets. It is usually a good idea to make a checklist for this purpose. This way you will make sure people get in touch with as little germs as possible.
- During each cleaning, toilets also need to be checked for damage. In this way things like broken taps and toilet seats can be replaced in time.
- Things like broken toilet plastic and leaking plumbing can be health hazards. Suspiciously behaving door locks can lead to unpleasant situations if not replaced in time. Spaces between tiles can house millions of germs and are easy to neglect during cleaning.
Use Alsco’s managed washroom service to make all the aforementioned tasks much easier. No need to constantly worry about refilling soap dispensers, bad odour, and overflowing sanitary bins.
RULE OF THUMB: Make sure washrooms are cleaned every hour. Your staff has to pay attention to everything, particularly to the parts guests come into contact with, such as taps, door knobs, hand driers and light switches. Click To Tweet
103. Your Restaurant Needs To Look Good From A Distance, Too
A restaurant that looks clean outside gives customers a good impression of what’s inside. Keep the outside area of your restaurant clean as it will make a serious impact on passers-by.
The best way to get rid of dirt from walkways, pathways and exterior walls is to blast them clean with a power/pressure washer. Don’t forget to clean exterior doors and repaint them if they look worn out.
- If you have space, outdoor and garden furniture that can endure adverse weather conditions make great investments
- Artificial plants, flowers, and hanging baskets will also cost you less
- Add patio benches or welcome planters to attract more people into your restaurant.
104. Waste Containers Don’t Need To Look Like Waste
Regularly clean your bins, inside and out. You may also want to power wash them to ward off unwelcome pests and keep them looking fresh. Make sure your bins do not collect water as this attracts rats and other animals. It is best to hide your bins from view with a bin store or secure them with fences.
105. Clean Hands Policy Needs To Be Enforced Strictly
Regular hand washing should be a habit in your restaurant. Make it 100% sure that your employees understand the importance of keeping their hands clean and sanitised at all times.
Put up reminder posters in the kitchen on when they need to have clean hands:
- Before, after, and while preparing cooked food
- When handling meat, uncooked eggs, seafood, and poultry
- After they go to the toilet, sneeze, blow their nose, touch garbage
- After assisting someone who is sick
Or maybe reminders on how to properly wash hands, in case they forget. Here are free, print-ready hand washing posters that you can post in your kitchen and in your washrooms.
More hand washing and hygiene posters here.
106. Abide By Appropriate Standards For Food Handling, Hygiene, Premises, Etc
Make sure that everyone in your restaurant is aware of the HACCP food safety management system principles and the practices in keeping and preparing food to prevent the growth and spreading of bacteria.
Not only will these practices help ensure that the food you serve is kept sanitary, they will also minimise the risk of spoilage and cross contamination of food while in the storage, or during preparation and cooking.
107. Your Kitchen Must Be Clean At All Times
After use, every single utensil used and every surface in the kitchen should be thoroughly cleaned. Use hot, soapy water and disposable paper towels to clean up spills and if you are going to be using cloths on other surfaces, make sure these are washed using a hot cycle on a washing machine.
108. Use Dishwasher For Utensil Sanitizing
Consider investing in a commercial dishwasher that will help you sanitise utensils and other small kitchen items. When it comes to eliminating bacteria, high temperatures are necessary.
109. Cleaning Commercial Kitchen Floors
Grime and bacteria mostly build up on kitchen floors. That’s why you should make sure all kitchen floors are mopped regularly. If you are going to be mopping the floors regularly, you might want to apply a non-slip coating to prevent staff from slipping when moving about.
110. Understand The Role Of Mats In Restaurants
As basic of a necessity they may seem, mats play huge and important roles in every restaurant. Invest in quality mats that prevent your staff from slipping, prevent dirt from outside get inside the restaurant when customers come in, or prevent fatigue or exhaustion for staff who need to stand for long periods of time.
111. Organize Cleaning
Make sure you have a regular cleaning schedule. Also, encourage each employee to never leave their assigned station in the kitchen dirty. For best results, you might want to consider hiring Alsco’s Food and Beverage linen service to deliver clean and hygienic linen for your restaurant every single day. We understand cleaning and will get the job done right.
ACHIEVING YOUR #GREENGOALS
112. Make Sure You Use Water Responsibly
Start a green initiative in your restaurant and avoid wasting water. Simple habit changes such as running the dishwasher only when it is completely full, loosening dried food by soaking rather than rinsing and installing low-flow faucets and toilets. All of these can help cut down on water, soap and energy – saving your business money.
113. Consider Avoiding Plastic Whenever Possible
It’s about time to stop using plastic materials in restaurants. Lots of restaurants are doing the same – and for a good reason. This ‘green’ move does not just save the environment, it also helps restaurants save on garbage expenses.
Paul Kuck of sustainablefoodservice.com shares a great way to use silverware instead of plastic:
“Actually something I used to do with our local Alsco services is collect the silverware that gets into the bags of dirty linens and sorted out at your laundry sites. We would pull out our silverware, then use the rest on festivals where we had a booth so we used reusable silverware rather than plastic.
I’ve also sent several people to Alsco and linen services when they’ve wanted to get reusable silverware at their schools. Donating silverware to schools, soup kitchens or the like would be an awesome program for you to start company-wide. Over the years we collected buckets and buckets – many hundreds of pounds of silverware from one single site.
Before we collected it, the silverware was kept a while, then thrown out because none of the restaurants came to sort through and collect theirs.”
114. Consider Glass As A Replacement For Plastic
Instead of using disposable plates, cups, and utensils, why don’t you consider investing in glass? It lasts longer, makes a better impression, and helps preserve the environment.
115. Make Everyone Participate In Your Green Initiative
For your green initiative to succeed, everyone should be involved. Educate your staff about the importance of sorting out recyclable items. Tell them to turn off lights when they’re not needed. Encourage them to bring in their own take-home containers instead of using disposable restaurant packaging.
116. Energy Efficient Lighting Saves Both Environment And Money
Make the big switch to energy efficient light bulbs in your restaurant. You will not only save up to $22 per bulb per year, but this wise move can also chip away at your electricity bills.
117. Turn The Lights Off When Possible
Make it a habit to keep lights off when they’re not needed. You might also want to try intelligent lighting that automatically turns lights off when an area is bright enough and doesn’t need to be artificially lit.
118. Temperature Control Can Do Miracles For Your Budget
During the colder months, turning your thermostat down by a degree or two can make a big difference in your energy costs. If going from 72 to 70 is still comfortable, there aren’t any reasons not to do this. Every degree above 20 degrees can add 10 percent to your heating bill.
You can also control the heating with a thermostat timer that will warm the place up just in time for opening, and cool down on closing time.
119. Fire Is Warm In More Than One Way
You’ll be spending a sizeable amount of your energy bill on heating during the colder season and going for a wood-burning stove just might work wonders for your business. Aside from being cost-efficient, they will give your restaurant a cosy look and feel that customers will love.
120. Efficient Cooling Is Also A Thing
Your restaurant kitchen will be needing refrigerators to keep food and beverage cool. Use your fridge efficiently by only keeping the drinks cool as they don’t really need to be frozen.
121. Consider Investing In A New Fridge
Newer models of refrigerators use less energy than older models, so a fridge update could easily save you money over the long run. Knowing how to maintain your commercial refrigerators will keep them running efficiently now – and for years to come and will save you money in unnecessary repair costs and downtime.
122. An Efficient HVAC System Can Be A Great Investment
It would be smarter to invest in an efficient HVAC system that will consume less energy to heat or cool down a room. This can save on your operational budget and you wouldn’t have to disappoint customers by not being able to cool the room due to energy budgets.
123. ‘Energy Efficient’ Is Budget Friendly
Energy efficient appliances may cost more but they definitely consume less. In just a year or two, the appliance pays for itself from all the energy savings.
It’s great to purchase Energy Star rated equipment that will reduce the long term cost of your restaurant. Items like refrigeration, ice machines and ovens can be found for the same up-front cost as standard efficiency units.
124. Regularly Monitor Your Energy Consumption
Do regular checks on everything that uses electricity, including those that use gas or other fuel. An energy audit will help you see clearly where you are spending the most money and where you are overspending, allowing you to make adjustments and lower your overall expenses.
125. Think Twice Before You Call Something Waste
Educate your employees on the importance of not wasting food and encourage them to use as much of each ingredient as possible.
126. Try To Minimize The Amount Of Kitchen Waste
Too much waste in the kitchen means higher food costs. That’s why it’s important to always remind your employees of the common practices that prevent food waste:
- Store and handle food properly
- Accurately measure portion sizes
- Avoid preparing large quantities of food in advance
- Avoid purchasing too much inventory.
What can we do about food waste? Fresh facts for restaurant, catering and hospitality staff.
Train and monitor your kitchen staff. Pay attention to what appears in the kitchen trash cans so you know what’s being wasted. This will help you keep your food costs under control.
This concludes this comprehensive list of tips and ideas you can use or just keep in mind while making your restaurant’s business plan. The main purpose of this list was to inspire you to think in certain directions and, along the way, think of more things that are relevant for your particular business situation. The key is to be one with your business – to know exactly what it is, inside and out, so you know exactly what your customers would love and remember about your restaurant.
The internet is full of really useful restaurant business ideas and this article attempted to give you a starting point for further research. However, ideas are only ideas after all. In the end, it all boils down to you. With your creativity and resourcefulness applied in the right way, you’ll be set to create a great business plan for your restaurant.