Archive | April, 2013

Successful Catering Tips for Restaurants

22 Apr

by STU LEVENTHAL

All restaurants that don’t cater, should consider adding catering to their services. It is a great way to increase sales. Parties, business meetings, social gatherings, special events can be a big source of added income. If you don’t cater, all that extra money is going to your competition. That means your competition can afford to pay their crew more than you do, so they eventually grow a better crew. They can afford to refurbish their dining room, purchase that new convention oven you’ve been eyeing and place more adds on the local radio station than you do. Even if their food doesn’t start out being better than yours, in the long run who do you think is going to be the last restaurant left on the block?

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The restaurant business is very competitive if you want to play with the big boys and succeed you have to start thinking of ways to grow your business. Especially during tight money times, restaurants can no longer afford to pass up chances to make large sums of money from catering. It’s going to take a little effort to put together a competitive menu and implement a sales strategy plus train, everyone and purchase the necessary equipment and supplies but the effort will be well worth it. Just think of all the publicity your restaurant gains when it supplies a party that has over a hundred guests. All those guests, many who never ate at your establishment, now know how wonderful your food is. People love to talk about parties and the events they’ve been to and eventually the subject of how was the food comes up. Cater just a few events a month and you will be gaining more free word of mouth advertising than any radio spot or newspaper add could ever bring in.

*Here are some ‘getting started with catering’ tips for any restaurant who wishes to start cashing in, by claiming their piece of the catering pie in their neighborhood.

First off, we must recognize that implementing a major facet or as big a change as the decision to add catering into a structured organization like a restaurant, probably will have some impact on everyone in your organizations job responsibilities. Any move of that magnitude, influence or potential will definitely need to have a formal plan with a schedule for implementing each phase of the plan. A number of management meetings should be held before any significant moves are made or decisions locked up. Equipment needs to be priced then purchased. Room needs to me made for added storage. A lot of thought needs to be put into designing a catering menu that is competitive.

Every key player should be consulted when compiling a list of all the adaptations that will be necessary to add a catering service. Every department head and key player from; accounting, marketing, floor managers, Chefs, kitchen crew management, bar management, head waiters, dining-room managers and especially head hosts and hostesses, should be involved in the preliminary discussions. Remember, every staff member will probably be effected somewhat. So, each section’s leader will have to plan to notified, way in advance, their crew of what they as a team will be responsible for, as well as divvying out each individual crew member’s additional catering responsibilities and duties. Special roles will also have to be assigned and explained to certain people who will be playing a part in preparing for the restaurant’s big catering launch. Allowances will have to be made for the necessary time it’s going to take to train each crew member on their new catering responsibilities. Servers, hosts and anyone who answers the phone will need to rehearse scripts as to how to explain the new service.

Successful Catering

When it comes to successful catering restaurants, there is always someone, one strong dedicated person, who drives the catering operation. This, ‘go to’ authority knows everything about anything to do with your restaurant’s catering; party scheduling, event planning, portioning, group pricing, discounting, menu variation and precise answers to any catering questions. He or she lives and breathes catering all day long. The goal of restaurant management, if you are just starting to add a catering service, is to at first be the ‘go to’ catering person or to assign someone capable to be the ‘go to’ catering person. The restaurant’s ‘go to’ catering specialist can still have other duties in the restaurant while the catering service is being built up but their first and foremost obligation must now be catering.

Management and ownership must support the catering specialist in every means possible and give them everything they need to succeed in building and executing catering sales and meeting established goals. The entire restaurant crew must be thoroughly sold on catering. Everyone must buy in and be prepared and enthused to do their part to make sure this dynamic, game changing opportunity is a success. Management‘s focus should be to build the volume of the newly implemented catering service up as fast as possible to justify the ‘go to’ catering person’s full salary being allocated completely to the new catering division. Thus, allowing the catering specialist to work solely on catering. It only takes the profit from a few catered events to cover the salary of a full time catering person. Once you’ve reached that amount, don’t hesitate to inform the catering specialist they now can dedicate 100% of their time to the catering business.

A lot of restaurant upper managements get gun shy when it comes to allocating a full time employee to their newly created catering service. They’ll print menus and put up posters, even pay for a few radio and newspaper advertisements but they hold off as long as possible before starting a catering payroll. This is a big mistake and by far the reason many catering divisions fail to grow into their full potentially of being a big, serious part of a restaurant’s revenues. If you make your catering specialist work in another section of the restaurant when there catering is slow or worse whenever there are no catering orders. Then who is going to grow your catering business? Sure, every once in a while you will get an order if everyone keeps talking up the new catering menu and service. But your catering service will never grow like it should and easily can unless you have at least one person dedicated to just pushing catering. So, the moment catering sales start covering your full time catering person’s salary take their name off of the kitchen or dining room’s payroll and inform them you want them to now dedicate themselves to working solely on catering.

As the orders grow, the back of the house crew members will have to be developed further to be able to produce the extra volume of products being sold by the catering person or division. The next biggest goal is to increase the catering volume so it is high enough that specific individuals of the kitchen crew can be designated to only work on catering. Congratulations, at this point you have arrived.  Now you are a caterer! And believe me the other caterers in your neighborhood know you are a contender.

Get the right crew in the right jobs and your catering division can grow and grow like any other aspect of your business grows. You ultimately want to be in a position to hire full time catering sales people who work solely on commission which is figured into the sales price of the events. Thus the cost of paying the catering sales force is never an issue because they have to sell to get paid. You can now hire a bunch of them each assigned a separate territory or each specializing in selling to a specific catering client niche. Then, just cut them loose. But, you need to stay on top of the kitchen and make sure they can handle the added business and still complete all the functions you need them to continue doing for the main restaurant! You can’t allow the quality of your main restaurant to falter because of the added catering business. That would defeat the whole purpose of adding catering. Also, remember catering orders tend to come in sporadically so additional crew members may need to be hired, who are on-call and willing to work on an as need basis.

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Fixing a Bad Running Restaurant

21 Apr

Fixing a Bad Running Restaurant

by STUART LEVENTHAL

Improving the profitability of a restaurant takes leadership, motivation, dedication, determination, vision, courage and great marketing! Implementing changes in any organization is never a cake walk. Restaurant work environments are very structured. They run on routines. That is to say at 8am on a Monday, everyone knows Robbie will be in the back working on counting the truck order in, dating all the packages and putting them away in their proper storage areas. Johanna will be running to the bank to pick up a change order. Julio will be starting the preliminary prep work for lunch. It’s been like that every Monday since I can remember, change a few names here and there. But, what if upper management isn’t happy with the way the restaurant as a whole has been preforming lately? That’s why the brought you aboard. And, I hope you are determined to succeed where others before you have failed miserably. It’s time to make some changes and people don’t like change. Get ready for an uphill battle!

If you are the owner of a poorly preforming restaurant or a manager who is hoping to advance their culinary career by fixing a restaurant that has been mismanaged for years. Well, congratulations! I don’t know how you found the Philadelphia Restaurant Consultant Blog but I know if you are still here reading then you are as excited as I am about discussing new ways for restaurants to succeed in a sluggish economy. You are probably also excited and chomping on the bit to begin implementing improvements on everything from front of the house hospitality and food service, as well as back of the house kitchen operations. Woo!… Cowboy! Take a deep breath. We got to walk before we can run.

Whether upper management brought you in to fix the problem or you were promoted from within because of your great work ethic, you are still the new man here. Your buddies on the cook line no longer view you as their pal. You are; the new boss, the new owner, the new manager and everyone is nervous. First impressions are extremely important right now. You don’t want to approach your first day like a raging bull in a china shop. Believe me, it will take you a very long time to live down that mistake. And that’s time you could be spending making an impact on restaurant operations.

Let’s first reassure your staff that Armageddon has not arrived simply because they have a new boss. Sure it is okay to state professionally that you know everyone working here knows the restaurant isn’t running up to par. You certainly can inform them that you intend to address all of the restaurant’s problems and you are sure you can come up with ways to get the ship sailing straight again. You should then explain that you know it is going to take hard work from everyone if we are going to succeed. The use of ‘we’ shows that you think of them as a team with you included on the roster. You should make it clear that you can’t run the restaurant all by yourself so, if we are going to make a go of this place then everyone of us is going to have to work very hard from here on out. We all have a stake in the restaurant doing well. And any fine running restaurant is always a reflection of her skilled crew.

Next, you want to make it clear that if anyone has any ideas on how to make the place run better, smoother or more efficient or if anyone has any concerns at all, your door is always open. They should feel free to come to you at any time with anything restaurant related. Yes, you should state you have a few ideas (everyone expects you to). And, you’d like everyone to buy into them when they are set in motion because again you are going to need everyone to buy in, for any change to succeed.

Now, it is time to write up your plan. First start out by listing everything you can think of that is wrong. Then prioritize the changes in order of what you wish to implement first. Realize that every change that is made, in a poorly performing restaurant should be accompanied by a formal written announcement. The announcement of the change should be backed up by notices taped to the wall in as many places as possible, especially tacked to the break room bulletin board. This is a sloppy run operation you are trying to fix. People have gotten lax and lazy. If you don’t post notes everywhere, this crew will go right back to doing things the same old way within a few days. Be prepared to do a lot of follow up on any change you make and keep tabs that the change is being done the new way. Once you fix something you want it to stay fixed!

Don’t implement too many things at one time. If a crew is set in their ways, trying to give them a bunch of things to remember that they have to do differently is not going to go over very big. “Baby steps” As Bill Murray would say. Slow and steady wins the race! Stick to your plan. Stick to the time table you set for implementing each portion of the plan. If your ideas were well thought out, as each one succeeds, everyone will grow more and more confident in your ability to lead. Then, each new change will get easier and easier to implement. Eventually, you will have everyone buying into whatever comes out of your mouth. Congratulations you’ve won over your crew’s respect! You are a real manager now and it’s all going to be gravy from here on in!

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Welcome to the Philadelphia Restaurant Consultant Blog

21 Apr

Welcome to the Philadelphia Restaurant Consultant Blog

by Stuart Leventhal

Philadelphia represents a challenging environment for new restaurateurs to make it in. Every year we see tons of well-meaning, experienced entrepreneurs shut their doors for good after only being open for less than a year. Don’t let Philadelphia’s unique economic environment eat your restaurant investment alive. If you have a good dining establishment theme, the desire to succeed, a decent background in the basics of the culinary industry and a lot of guts then The Philadelphia Restaurant Arena is your oyster!

Seriously, if you want to make a splash in the Philadelphia Restaurant Market you have to know a few things about Philadelphia and Philadelphians. First off, Philadelphia is made up of hard working, hard playing, mostly working class people. We don’t spend frugally but we don’t count pennies when we do decide to paint the town red. Philadelphians are loyal, as seen by their undying devotion to their sports teams. We stick by our sports heroes no matter what they do! That same devotion is also true towards our favorite dining out and drinking establishments. It’s your job to win us over.

Philly diners will put up with slow service as long as we get the right to sass the chef, hostess, waiters and surrounding customers with a little attitude (all in good fun of course). That’s just part of the scene when going out in Philly. South Philly’s waitresses have had a long time reputation for being perfectly blunt which is so perfectly acceptable to their customers; the very same customers who wouldn’t think of putting up with anything less than exquisite treatment when dining out in one of the nearby tinsel towns.

Yes, we have the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to restaurants in Philadelphia. We also have a fine representation of every worldly type, nationality and style of restaurant in every price range. Needless to say, there is a lot of competition here. If you are opening a new restaurant in Philadelphia, you’ve got your job cut out for you that is for sure. But who ever said doing anything worthwhile was going to be easy.