Today’s economy requires that operators maintain all the basics that have been discussed in the last Restaurant Rap issue which include a) serving quality food and beverages, b) providing good service, c) maintaining a clean environment and keeping all of the equipment well maintained and d) providing a strong price/value experience to the customer. In addition to these items it is important to put in place the following practices: 1) keep employees motivated, 2) control food and labor costs, 3) show your appreciation to customers, and 4) maintain consistency in all the sensitive aspects of the operation including portion size, cleanliness and service standards.
1. Keep your employees motivated. During challenging economic periods it is not uncommon for businesses to have a downward trend in sales and to keep employees motivated it is helpful to implement sales incentive programs which all employees participate in. Such programs can consist of sales contests such as increasing guest check averages by shift from prior comparable periods or selling the most add on sales items such as desserts, beverages and side orders, etc to increase guest check averages. Awards can include either cash, gift certificates or letting the winners choose gifts from a gift catalogue.
2. Control food and labor costs. With sales decreasing and costs increasing it is easy to get these two most important cost categories out of control. Intensify your systems in maintaining portion control, receiving and storage procedures and cash handling systems. Control your labor cost by reviewing labor costs hourly and adjusting schedules as necessary without compromising the proper level of service the customer deserves.
3. Show your appreciation to customers. Such practices as offering daily specials to give customers variety and offering bounce back coupons for free desserts or side orders for their next visit to the business will be appreciated by them. Also making sure that all employees regularly greet customers, thank them and encourage them to come back again will enhance their dining experience and increase the chances that they’ll come back again.
4. Maintain consistency in all the sensitive aspects of the operation. The things the customers remember most about their dining experience is the portion size, the quality of the service, the cleanliness of the operation and the hours of the operation. Customers are concerned about the reliability of the operation and all of the above mentioned items help make up their mind as to whether or not they’ll return to your business.
By implementing all of the above practices your chances of increasing sales levels, maintaining costs and having repeat customers will be enhanced.