Building a Restaurant – Restaurant Branding – Hospitality Sales

3 May

By Stuart Leventhal

The most effective way to expand any business, especially a business as service oriented as a restaurant, bar or entertainment venue is to take the time to really care about the intended expansion. Whatever your hospitality related expansion or improvement plans are; don’t go about the change willy-nilly. Be committed!

Whether you are a restaurant that has decided to increase sales by adding a takeout service, a diner that is considering staying open 24 hours to capitalize on overnight revenues or if you are considering adding catering to your mix; you need to make your expansion plans your top priority. Everyone in the organization has to know how serious you are about the plan. Now is the time to talk the talk and walk the walk!

If you are a manager or owner of a restaurant that is fairly successful and has been in operation a number of years, with a seasoned staff then you’ve really got your work cut out for you as far as getting anyone onboard with any new idea. You and I know there is always room for improvement. Let’s assume your dinner shift does the majority of your business. For years you’ve struggled to build lunch up with little success. You’ve advertised, gave out coupons, discounted meals, dropped complimentary samples off at all the local nearby businesses; only to receive a small spurt in sales that dwindled the next week. Is it any wonder your staff is ready to throw in the towel on the lunch trade?

Restaurateurs, It’s time to go to war! And, your competitors aren’t the only enemy. No matter how you wish to expand your restaurant operation, even something as seemingly simple as adding live music on certain nights, you have to be prepared to go all out. You can’t just announce a change then forget about it. Because, that is what everyone else will do forget about it. You have to post signs all over the establishment. Someone opens a menu and an announcement about your new service or product should fall out into their lap. People driving by should see the announcement on your marque or a banner should be stretched across your awning. You need to have daily meetings with the crew about your new expansion. Discuss what everyone is doing to turn it into a success. What can we do better?

Restaurant Management 101

Praise and reward your best ambassadors of the cause. This could be giving your servers who are showing the best efforts in promoting the new service or products, 1st choice of what section of the dining floor they work. For example: Ambassador of the week for the new vegan menu could get first preference of what shifts they work all next week. Slacking employees will quickly get the message that you are serious about the new catering menu or building lunch and they will hopefully jump on board when they see the rewards you are shelling out for crew members choosing to participate whole heartedly in the promotion.

When you are trying to make a change in an established routine, you have to change the whole culture of the restaurant. That’s not easy! You need to keep the mission exciting. Create promotion specials. Have sales contests. Sales training may be needed. Don’t assume everyone knows what you want them to say to customers. Write scripts for your staff who answer the phones and great your customers at the door. Role play; you and your managers play the customer so the staff can practice on you and you can give them feedback.

Even the best running restaurant can run better. Involve all your key employees. Seek out their input. When you make a move, be decisive! Follow up. Stick to your guns and you and your organization will reap the benefits. *Special Tip – In order to become successful and permanent, any expansion of a restaurant’s services or products, must be listed on the menu (preferably on all the menus) big and bold. Your customers and employees look to the menu to define what the restaurant is. This is not the time to be cheap. Reprint the menu, whenever implementing any new change no matter what part of the restaurant it involves.

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One Response to “Building a Restaurant – Restaurant Branding – Hospitality Sales”

  1. ashleigheg May 8, 2013 at 3:36 am #

    Great post – it is important to get the whole team on board with any changes you’re looking to make, it will make the process smoother and more enjoyable for everyone! Thanks, keep it up!

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