RESTAURANT P&L, BUDGETS, MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTABILITY!

17 Jul

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Good Restaurant Management Means Managing the Bottom Line!

By Stu Leventhal

Chefs, managers, shift managers, owners; don’t we all hate the subjects of accounting. Number crunching for people who proclaim themselves creative food and drink artisans is like receiving a cold, wake up, slap across our face! There are two areas that great restaurant key employees excel at; back of the house culinary wizardry and/or front of the house hospitality. Both jobs command a hands-on attitude with one’s personal presence being physically where the action is! People don’t go into the restaurant business because they envision themselves someday hanging out in their plush back office talking on the phone with their feet up on the desk. Restaurant management is a commitment to a life style where one is partially married to the restaurant. It is not a nine to five, 5 days a week, profession. You work over fifty hours on average, rarely take a weekend off or a holiday and key personnel are always on call!

Restaurant managers take pride in creating culinary delights and hosting pleasurable experiences for their guests. We aren’t bookkeepers! We judge our success by the smiles on our guests’ faces and the size of the line at the door waiting for a seat! If we wanted to crunch numbers we’d have gotten a job in a bank! Yes, I get all that but still, periodically you will have to answer to the numbers! Monthly numbers, quarterly numbers, yearly numbers… I’m afraid to mention, shift numbers, daily and weekly numbers too! And then we can break things down to departmental number! And individual staff member’s numbers…Ouch!….yuck!….Cough!

If you don’t keep track of how much money you’re restaurant is making, you have no idea whether your business is successful or not. You can’t tell how well your marketing is working. And I don’t just mean you should know the amount of your total sales or gross revenue. You need to know what your net profit is and exactly where in your restaurant it is coming from. If you don’t, there’s no way you can know how to increase it. Heck, you may have a problem with spoilage due to over ordering that can be solved simply by placing smaller orders to be delivered more frequently. You may be over staffing Wednesday nights and you aren’t aware of it because Wednesdays were much busier last year. But, this year the movie theater down the block has implemented an early bird half price movie special that is cutting down your normally high, dinner rush traffic. When you notice the gradual loss of customers on your reports, you can look into the cause immediately and start counter actions. Like, offering an after movie late night snack discount to take advantage of the audience restlessness once the movie lets out!

If you want your restaurant, catering or entertainment business to be successful, you need to make a financial plan, including a budget and check it against the facts on a monthly basis then take immediate action to correct any problems. That is the minimum!

This report covers the minimum basic steps you should take to start monitoring your bottom line NOW! Remember, how successful you are at managing your bottom line is the ultimate factor that will determine your salary potential. Even if you are the owner, you can’t take out more than the restaurant can afford to give you. The bottom line affects everyone’s salary. It determines if you can remodel, purchase new equipment or afford to higher that genius young Chef from Paris. If you are to have a long career in the restaurant business you need to get in the habit of reading your financial reports and managing accordingly. Upper management will at some point, also expect you to talk the talk, meaning when you present your brilliant ideas, you need to project numbers and state facts or the big wigs won’t pay you any attention.

It will show your professionalism and go a long way to building your authority and credibility once you get in the habit of backing up your vague statements at meetings with proof. For example “Well colleagues, sales are up on Thursday Nights, I contribute that to the new exotic drink menu we rolled out at the beginning of the month. Congratulations Shirl, it seems the customers love your new island rum flavored umbrella fruit drinks. I apologize for my skepticism when you first brought the idea up last meeting. You truly are a genius Mixologist and we’re all thankful to have you on board. On the bad side, Saturday’s breakfast business is declining. We need to focus on finding out why and then reversing this trend. We are going through too much salmon according to our reports on how many salmon dishes we sell. That may indicate we have a salmon loving thief but let’s not jump to conclusions yet. It’s all backed up in the reports I’ve laid in front of each of you. I’ll give you a moment to look over the reports then we’ll start our discussion on how we shall proceed to build up our bottom line this coming month.”

Good restaurant management decisions are not winged or based on gut feelings they are determined by facts and figures!

The first step to getting a handle on managing your restaurant’s bottom line is to create a comprehensive financial plan for your restaurant or catering operation. Estimate how much revenue you expect to bring in each month, and project what your expenses will be.

* Remember that lost profits can’t be recovered! Lots of well-meaning entrepreneurs compare their projections to reality and find earnings too low and/or expenses too high then shrug and conclude, “I’ll make it up later.” The problem is that you really can’t make it up later. Every month that your restaurant’s profits are too low is a month that is gone forever!

* The restaurant business is very competitive. You have to be able to make adjustments right away. If revenues are lower than expected, increase efforts in sales and marketing or look for ways to increase your rates or get better deals with lower prices on your purchases. If overhead costs are too high, find ways to cut back. There are other businesses like yours around, some in the restaurant business, and some not. Study other business models. Can you figure out what their secrets are for operating profitably?

* Think before you spend. When considering any new business expense, including marketing and sales activities, evaluate the increased earnings you expect to bring in against its cost before you proceed to make a purchase.

*Once you’ve mastered the basic restaurant’s overall financial plan, your next step will be to break things down further by each department. Follow a similar fashion to the larger, less specific financial plan of your whole restaurant which we just went over. Again, estimate how much revenue you expect each department to make and how much you expect each to have in expenses.

*Depending on the size of your restaurant, you may need to break each department down even more specifically. Follow the same format. The more you break it down, the more exact you will know what is making you money and what is costing you money. Now managing decisions become a piece of cake! A walk in the park! And as far from guess work as you can get!

RESTAURANT PROFIT S VERSES RESTAURANT REVENUE!

Always evaluate the success of your restaurant based on profit, not revenue. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of dollars you are bringing in each month if your expenses are almost as high, or higher. Many high-revenue restaurants have gone under for this very reason… Don’t be one of them!

As always if you need some restaurant related management advice leave a comment or question. I’ll get you an answer.

If your restaurant problems are more severe ask us for a Philadelphia Restaurant Consultant, PRICE QUOTE they are always confidential.

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Don’t forget to check all the fine advice for building up your catering sales at:

http://www.cateringsalestips.wordpress.com

Catering is a market share every restaurant should explore grabbing a piece of!

Need some website copy written that actually brings you customers:

http://www.anewtale.com/services/

Regards,

Stu

PS. I know by your flattering comments that a lot of you have been itching to read another one of my fiction tales. I’m happy to announce, HIGH SEA by Stu Leventhal is now live at Amazon Kindle! Here’s a direct link! I don’t want to ruin the read for you so I’ll just leave you the links to the two entertaining Kindle Youtube book trailers:

http://youtu.be/mvMIK6BJkXg

http://youtu.be/R3NICAjPOZ4

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I’m looking forward to hearing all your critiques. Do you like that cover?

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(More) Ways For Restaurants To Increase Sales (part Two)

14 Jul

GAINING NEW RESTAURANT CUSTOMERS

                             By Stu Leventhal

In this day and age it has become mandatory for any business wishing to compete in the market place to have a good internet presence. The communication technology has advanced so much that a restaurant business ignoring social media, email campaigns, blogging and advertising online cannot possibly keep pace with competitors who are internet suave.

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Going into all the many different opportunities the internet offers to capture your share of any market, would take a lot more time and space than what we have here in this article. Let’s just say, it is important for your restaurant to have a website, a blog, a Facebook fan page or two or three and a twitter account at the bare minimum. A presence on Pinterest, Google+, and management that is Linkedin, would be the next goal. And, it keeps going from there; Youtube, flicker…The list keeps getting bigger and bigger. And each of these platforms can produce customers for just about anyone who takes the time to learn the best methods of utilizing them. The problem is they all work differently and they all take time and effort to master and then implement.

Now is  good time to state that all our other sales tactics, marketing ideas,  promotion attempts and advertising must be posted and shared on as many of these big social media sites as we are using; Twitter and Facebook being priority number one! Every time you implement something new offline, you need to reinforce it through your online presence. Done properly, this will maximize each new promotional effort you implement because it will be magnified on all your different platforms.

Social media is an ongoing commitment. To be successful, you must start to view yourself as the social butterfly of your community. Heard it through the grapevine, must become heard it through your restaurant blog! Heard it on your Facebook page! Read it on your website! There are truly, tons of things to talk about. Once you accept the awkward rule of successful Social Networking which is never to post advertisements about yourself or your business on your own website or blog. This goes for all social media sites as well. It is considered tacky! If you insist on breaking this rule, soon no one will be reading your posts.

Now, since 90% or more of your posts have to be about something other than your own self-promotion and/or the promotion of your business that opens many doors for possible material for you to publish. Any topic of local interest is free game as well as national and international news and developments in your industry, field or specialty. Now I know you are getting tire of hearing everyone babble about how social media is the big new power when it comes to marketing and in particular internet marketing. I mean, really, how much can one restaurant blog about? Won’t a small local restaurant exhaust all its topics in about a month or two? So, how can we keep leveraging the power of the web, Facebook, Twitter and our blog?

  1. Utilize the power of the daily special – Taking the time to come up with innovative specials that change each day, allows you a daily opportunity to communicate with your customers. Letting everyone know todays special is a legitimate reason to Tweet, blog and text message! And since you connected your Twitter account and your blog to your Facebook account this allows you to update all of them at the same time rather quickly and without appearing too spammy.

Social Media is still the lowest costing advertising and marketing method you can find, mostly free except for you time and efforts. But yes, it is hard to come up with fresh, entertaining things to discuss all the time. So, now we have taken the pressure off, by establishing that we always have at least one post we can make every day; the daily special! Now all we have to do is add a few tid bits of info on something else and we’re done. Blog posts don’t need to be huge.

  1. Chef tips – posting some general kitchen, cooking and/or dining advice is a way to keep your customers interest. Time saving food prep tricks, recipes, health info calories, fat content etc. food storage tips, reheat info and food safety advice; all make appropriate topics.
  2. New staff members names and a short few lines stating their role or position as well as a few lines about them. And, you can blog and post about crew members too, it doesn’t have to only pertain to key employees like chefs and upper management. Remember the best social media posts are friendly and informal posts. Your customers are interested in learning more about your wait staff, bartenders and prep-cooks too.

Any good marketer will tell you that besides finding new customers you must also not only continue to satisfy the needs of your current customers but also convince them to purchase more. You need them to visit and dine more as well as bring their friends and recommend your establishment to everyone they know!

  1. The trick to getting your customers not to opt out of your email list and your social media platforms is to create some social media only events and offers. Reward your loyal customers for taking the time to engage with you via your social media sites. Post discounts that they can only access on your Facebook pages. Tweet a special offer! Create fun contests where they can win free deserts, such as, the first to answer a trivia question placed on your blog or website wins a free meal. Leave them a funny line or two of a poem that must be recited to their server when they place their lunch order (today only) to get half price. Make it fun! This will keep them looking forward to your next posts, tweets and blogs. Plus post the names of the winners (with their permission of course, so they have to log back in, to see who won.) It could be their next door neighbor.
  2. Have a special event just for your social media participants. Shut off a section of the restaurant and serve free appetizers. Rent a few big screen TVs for a special sports game. Again, they have to print the invite ticket online to get in.
  3. The same goes for getting your opt/in customers to actually open their emails you send them. Once they realize you periodically send email contests that can only be entered with the emailed code, they will joyfully open all your emails in the hopes of another contest. Again make the contests timely, the first 5 people to answer correctly win a glass of wine or a dessert.
  4. Customer surveys are another great way to get even more out of your social media. Ask for feedback on your new menu items and how their last visit was service wise. How can we serve you better suggestions are always good and helpful. Keep the questions short and to the point or most won’t take the time to fill them out. Yes or no, multiple choice and rate us from one to five are the best survey type questions.

Stay tune for part three of WAYS FOR RESTAURANTS TO INCREASE SALES. We will be discussing some neat and unique offline methods; Loyalty Programs, Bounce Back Promotion, holiday parties and much, much, more…

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WINE BY THE GLASS OR WINE BY THE BOTTLE

9 Jul

                                by Stu Leventhal

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There’s no doubt about it, asking your service staff to push for wine sales can boost your restaurant’s revenue. But, what is the best wine sales building strategy? Obviously, your accountant will be quick to point out, if your wait staff sells glasses of wine, you make more profit than if they push for the bottle sale. But, ask your bartenders and they’ll tell you filling all these glasses, is a lot of unnecessary work, not just for the bartender but for the server who has to run back and forth to the bar re-filling the glasses. Just open up a bottle and leave it on the table or in a bowl of ice and let them serve themselves. It’s cheaper for the guests too, so everybody wins. But you say, it is your servers’ job to run the bill up, not make things easier for your bartender. We’re leaving money on the table. And so, should we be couching our staff to push for the bottle sale or the glasses? And so, the debate goes on…

To find the answer we went to the source; the waitresses and waiters who rely on their tips, which are based on a percentage of the total bill. Any top server will tell you selling by both bottle and glasses are necessary. Experienced servers know how to gage each table full of customers based on the circumstances to know whether to push for wine by the glass or bottle. Many issues apply and the answer is determined by past experience that is hard to explain. Let’s just start by saying different circumstances require different tactics. Listing both choices on your menus, allows your seasoned wait-staff to determine the best way to go. Your best servers know how to run up the tab, don’t handcuff them. Let them teach your new hires the tricks of the trade.

Many restaurants seem to struggle with wine sales. That is usually because just having a few bottles of vino on a list doesn’t constitute a wine program. Have you ever walked into a restaurant and the first thing you notice is there seems to be a bottle of wine sitting on every table? Even if you aren’t really a wine drinker, you sort of feel obligated to start the meal off with a bottle. This is because the whole restaurant has built up a culture, of building a spectacular dining experience around their wine offerings. There may be a wine steward ready to share his advice on what he recommends pairing with the chef’s specialties of the night. He’s ready with a quick colorful story or two about the history of the vineyard or the founding vineyard owner. The opening of the bottle, allowing it to breath, pouring of the sample taste; is a whole, well-rehearsed dramatic little vignette that no one wants to miss out on.

If you want to sell wines, really sell wines, you have to invest in creating the whole grand production. That is not to suggest that you need to install the biggest wine cellar in town. But, you do have to put some thinking into the wines you are going to offer.

Obviously, your wines by the glass offerings have to be limited. You can’t offer to open every bottle of wine for a one glass sale, especially the real expensive bottles! But, we need to have a decent variety of tastes and price ranges represented. Your bottle list should present a much deeper selection as well as some big money names to capitalize on celebrating big occasions as  well as sating customers with big egos that enjoy showing off by ordering the most expensive bottle in the house. When you are new to wine, selling it is normal to get nervous about investing in inventory when you aren’t sure which wines are going to sell. The key to being successful is working with your vendor.

Trust that the vendor has your best interest at heart. No decent wine vendor wants to make one sale off of you. They all are in this for the long haul and repeating orders. That means suggesting a wine program to you that will work for your type of restaurant. Wine Vendors are always excited to have new restaurants join their platform. They are used to answering the questions and solving the concerns of new managers and owners who are skeptical and unknowledgeable about wine. They know they must get involved with the training of your wait staff and invest with promotional bottles as well as helping you with marketing if you are to be successful. Utilize all the free stuff they offer and listen to their experienced advice. The vendor only succeeds when you succeed.

When it comes to introducing your new wine program to your staff as well as to your customers, your vendor is your partner. All good wine vendors should offer to teach your staff everything they need to know any time they add a new wine to your program. The training should include a history lesson on wines in that category, including what types of food it pairs well with, as well as background info on the particular label and what to say to sell more of that particular wine. They should be anxious to spring for a bottle so your staff can taste the new vino. Actually knowing what the wine tastes like will help the servers better describe it to their customers. Your vendor should also supply you with plenty of complimentary bottles for you to use to promote your new wine list. Don’t be shy about giving free tastes away. Supplying sample tastes to your customers makes launching your new wine services a breeze. Once your customers are aware you have a real wine program word of mouth will build this lucrative new addition to your business model fast!

Scheduling a wine tasting event with your vendor on the day you plan to officially introduce your customers to the new vino list is a no brainer because, once again your vendor will supply the wine free and they usually offer to contribute to your marketing cost for the event also! Welcome to the fabulous business of wine! Everyone is treated like family!

*The best tip I can give you is not to worry about the big name wines that everyone has on their lists. The real key to building up successful wine sales is having a decent selection of wines that no other restaurant in your vicinity can get. That is why partnering with one good wine vendor, medium to smaller is much better and more important than trying to have the biggest wine list in town. Besides, often having too many choices can be a hindrance to wine sales. Americans traditionally aren’t very knowledgeable about wine. We know beer! So, when it comes to choosing a bottle of vino to toast a special occasion information overload from a ten page wine list is more annoying than impressive.

Smaller wine vendors understand the value and prestige that exclusivity will bring your restaurant! They can guarantee that no one else in your area will be serving your bottles! That’s powerful! Together you and your vendor will slowly turn your beer drinking clientele and community into wine connoisseurs! And your relationship with your wine vendor will only grow stronger and stronger with time! Plus, the best part is once your customers fall in love with a particular wine, they will have to come back and dine with you to enjoy it!

As always feel free to blog comment us with any and all of your restaurant management questions and we’ll get you the answers. That is how we come up with the future topics for your blog.

*If your restaurant caters or is considering catering check out our sister website for great free catering sales advice: http://www.cateringsalestips.wordpress.com  Adding catering or expanding a restaurant’s catering services is a fantastic way for any restaurant to build sales and profit. Here, you’ll find out the effective ways to grow a strong catering business.

*If you are having trouble creating your business advertising copy and marketing text try browsing through some of the free business writing tips at: http://www.anewtale.com/business.html  They also have very affordable web writing services at:

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If you need a formal restaurant consulting  price quote, E-mail us: anewtale102@gmail.com

Ways for Restaurants to Increase Sales

26 May

By Stuart Leventhal
First off, let’s make it clear that gaining sales does not equal gaining profit. A restaurant needs to be running on all pistons before it considers going after bringing in more sales. But, alas that is a whole other topic. For this article we are going to assume every little aspect of the restaurant you own or manage is running like fine clockwork and you feel the whole staff from front to back is ready to handle additional business. Many restaurant owners and managers think; more advertising, more promotion, more community awareness is the cure all for a slow restaurant. Wrong!
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Attracting more customers to a mismanaged poorly run restaurant is like pouring fuel on a fire. You are pointing a spot light on incompetence. Showing off your faults is never a good sales building strategy. Do you really want to brag about the fact you have a rued impatient hostess? Let’s face it, the best form of advertising for any restaurant is word of mouth. Do you want them talking about your waiters who can’t answer a simple menu question like, “Is the seafood casserole spicy?” Are the words coming out of your customers’ mouths, “Don’t eat at Julio’s!” or “The service is so slow in there.” or “Last time I ordered takeout from Chen’s, my food arrived late, cold and they forgot my brown rice!”

If those lines remind you of your restaurant, it’s time to get your act together. Don’t bother reading further, because the added traffic these tips will bring in will only add to the problems your staff can’t handle already. You think you have issues now? Wait until you see the mistakes a poorly trained crew is going to make once you double or triple their work load. Lesson #1 – Fix the problems in your restaurant and your sales will increase on their own. Customers will come back! Customers will notice the improvements and speed of service and shout your praise! Customers will dine with you more frequently! And the word of mouth will flow like magic!

Now, let’s get into the business of restaurant sales building. First we’ll talk about the basics so everyone is on the same page when we sit down to build our new sales building plan. Sales building plan? Yes, we are going to need a plan that spells out our objective, goals and each step we intend to implement. Why? Because restaurants get very busy. The best of intentions get miss laid, brushed aside, de-prioritized in a fast paced restaurant atmosphere. Also, we are going to want to delegate tasks and responsibilities out to our staff, if we really want to make an impressionable, noticeable, impact on our sales growth. Therefore, we need the plan formally written down, if we intend to hold people accountable for doing their part. We will want to track our results, so we know what is working best. Then, we can put all our efforts where we get the most back from our time, labor and money spent.

*Now, don’t bail on me just because you heard the word money! I got plenty of great advice coming for building your restaurant sales that cost you nothing but some time invested to implement.

The easiest way to start your new restaurant sales building plan is to copy and paste portions of this fine article and portions of other fine articles on this website. Share them with your team. Post the stuff you like on your walls in the break room. Pass out whole articles at your weekly and monthly team and management meetings if you wish. That is why I wrote these tips in this easy to share format.

Setting GOALS: When you make your sales plan be specific. Post the past two years sales figures for the upcoming 3 months. Leave them posted in plain sight of all the staff and management and fill in the current sales for each day, week and month right next to the last years’ figures, as you get the new numbers. Do the math and post the difference good or bad. Leave comments about why you feel the restaurant got the results it got. For example say; this went well in the back of the house but… Or, this week I saw improvement with this and our sales reflect everyone’s extra efforts. We messed up here and our sales numbers show the loss! It is important to praise and criticize everyone as needed based on whether you are meeting, exceeding or failing to achieve your posted goals. Talk about what you can improve on during your weekly meetings, shift meetings, one on one coaching and during counseling sessions

1. We obviously wish to increase the number of new customers. Attract more customers, gain more sales. This is the generally the most dominate goal of any good sales plan. Naturally most of our efforts will be dedicated to finding and finessing new potential customers to try us out. But, you should realize 80% of additional sales growth on average comes from the existing sales base. So, if you are looking for results quick, always put most of your efforts into marketing to your existing customer base. And, that leads us to our next two goals.
2. Convincing our current customers to come back more frequently. That may mean, talking our lunch regulars into trying us for diner. It may entail, developing a specially priced family pack take home menu, packed in microwavable containers with fast reheat instructions supplied.
3. Enticing our current customers to spend more. Upsell! Upsell is the big restaurant word. It means, if someone orders apple pie, are your waitresses and waiters automatically replying, “I can heat that up and put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top for just 75 cents more.” Or “Would you like to add a side of our Sicilian style meatballs or our hot Italian sausage to your eggplant parmesan? How about a slice of carrot cake to go?”

It is much easier to squeeze more money out of your existing customers than it is to get new people to try out your restaurant. So, therefore, part two of this article is more geared towards teaching you how to do the harder stuff, attract new customers! But don’t forget the 80/20 rule – You will gain more bang for your buck if you go after the 80% which are your current customers. So, invest in keeping the customers you already have happy. After all, building long term customer loyalty is our ultimate goal! (Continued in part two)

*If your restaurant caters or is considering catering check out this website for great catering sales advice: http://www.cateringsalestips.wordpress.com Adding catering or expanding a restaurant’s catering services is a fantastic way for any restaurant to build sales and profit. Here, you’ll find out the effective ways to grow a strong catering business.
*If you are having trouble creating your business advertising copy and marketing text try browsing through some of the business writing tips at: http://www.anewtale.com/business.html

Choosing an SEO Marketer

4 May

By Stu Leventhal

SEO and SEM is tricky stuff. Having a great website is only the beginning. The next important step is Optimizing your website so people can find you. The internet is a complicated weave of people, companies and organizations sharing information and thoughts. Everyone is competing for each-others’ attention. New fads become popular daily as well as new technological advances. One day your website is ranking first page in the Google, Yahoo and Bing searches, the next day your website is nowhere to be found.

It is no wonder restaurant owners and managers are pulling their hair out when it comes to maintaining their online marketing campaigns. It takes a very big person to admit when they are in over their head. Being embarrassed to ask for help with search engine marketing can be the death of your career or business in 2014. Picking the wrong SEO/SEM service can cost you a lot of money, aggravation and wasted time. Philadelphia Restaurant Consultant is one of the best Philadelphia Search Engine Optimization and internet marketing firms in the Philadelphia Arena. Let’s look at why Philadelphia Restaurant Consultant’s style of approaching internet marketing is so successful.

Philadelphia Restaurant Consultant Knows How to Grow Your Hospitality Business!

We write articles that engage Philadelphians! Relevant food and beverage articles that get your customers’ mouths watering! SEO Keyword Optimized articles to move your web real estate to the first page of Google Searches and attract interested local readers!

Internet Traffic Cop

INTERNET TRAFFIC COP!

We have been packing restaurants and bars in Philadelphia and the surrounding area with crowds for years!

*They key is to tailor your promotional events and marketing pieces to the particular Philly neighborhood you do business in. Each area of Philadelphia has a unique persona and her residents have a particular personality with certain likes and dislikes. Blanket marketing just is not as effective in Philly as specialized GEO targeted marketing.

We Are Experts In: Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Content, Hospitality Industry Promotion, Website Design and Maintenance, Reputation Management and much more. Contact us for a free consultation: anewtale191@live.com

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.

Bigger Tips for Waiters and Waitresses

1 May

by Stu Leventhal

Welcome new waiters and waitresses as well as seasoned professional food and beverage servers to the fantastic, dynamic, multi-billion dollar Hospitality Industry. Whether you have a part time or full time waiting gig, are paying your way through college or covering the bills until you get discovered by Hollywood agents or perhaps you are seriously preparing for a challenging yet satisfying life long career in the; restaurant, bar, catering, tourism, cruise ship, casino, entertainment, industry. If your job is service oriented, we’ve got some basic serving advice that will help you endear yourself to your guests and in return get the best thank you possible, bigger tips!

*If you are in management, clip this article out and post it in the crew break room. You’ll be pleasing your customers, your staff and your bosses when they see the spike in sales and revenue that results.

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Food servers’ attitudes represent and reflect the whole dining establishment they are employed by. This is because they are on the front lines, addressing customers personally. Waiters and waitresses are the number one part of a restaurant’s ambiance. Customers rank service as more important than décor or menu selection. How the wait staff conducts themselves sets the tone for the entire dining experience

The most important thing for new service personnel to learn in order to be successful is how to think like a customer. Let’s face the music, most of our customers could have stayed home and made themselves a sandwich for a lot less money than they are going to spend dining out with you. They came to your place of employ because it makes them feel better. They have time on their hands and money to burn! They’ve chosen you to spend it with, out of all their other many, many choices. Shouldn’t you feel honored and privileged? That alone should make you want to prove to them you are worthy of their patronage.

Common sense goes a long way towards knowing what to do and how to act. Think about how you like to be treated. Be polite, courteous, respectful and attentive. It’s not rocket science. Just put yourself in your customers’ shoes. There are plenty of behind the scenes jobs in a restaurant. Once you make the choice to go into the service end of the business, paste on your smile and concentrate on making your customers happy! The size of your tips is your report card!

Let’s start at the beginning:

The customer’s first impression of an eating venue starts outside in the parking lot and on the sidewalk. If the outside isn’t enticing the customers will keep driving or walking past. Therefore, as a waiter or waitress it is in your best interest to help make sure the outside of your place of employ looks its very best at all times. If you are on your way into the restaurant or on your way out, look around. If you see something off such as; trash, light bulbs burnt out, letters missing on the marque, fix it right away, if you can. For something more major, be sure to tell a manager immediately, before you start working and it slips your mind.

When you step onto the business property, you should already be in full uniform and have your game face on. Appearance is everything! So, make sure your uniform is clean and you are well groomed. Look and act like you deserve a bigger tip and you will get bigger tips. Look like a slob and you will be tipped accordingly. If you meet customers coming or going, greet them hospitably even if you haven’t punched in yet. Regardless of your company’s policy or if there is no formal policy towards breaks and your off time, always remember customers don’t want to see the staff huddled outside talking or smoking. Whenever you enter the building, make a show out of going to wash your hands. Never start work, even to help a co-worker in dire need, without first washing up. It is against the health code and leaves a very poor impression with diners.

If one of your friends arrive early and they wish to wait for you to get off work, make sure they know not to hang around the restaurant’s lobby or even outside in the parking lot. And they definitely can’t sit at the counter or a table unless they are ordering something.

When you are working your shift, you are the authority. Everyone else’s paycheck is relying on you. You are the liaison between your customer and everyone else. Act the part! Take control. Communicate whatever you need to whoever you need and do it clearly and with authority. Your customers’ satisfaction comes first, above your coworkers’ feelings. Tell the cooks what you need done to make the customer happy. If the customer asks for something you are not comfortable with, run it by your manager. Management almost always bends the rules to please customers. Never just assume. Always allow the manager the choice to okay or turn down even the most outrageous requests. Management will generally bend over backwards for a customer and that means a huge tip for you!

Waiter and waitressing basics (101)

  1. Always take the time to politely introduce yourself and inquire how everyone at the table is doing today, no matter how busy the dining room is. Block out all distractions and give your guests your total attention. Make at least one dining suggestion before you even lift your order pad as if you are ready to take the order. It is simply just rude to jump right in with, “Okay, What can I get you guys?” It all starts with showing common courtesy and creating a rapport.
  2. Study your menu and know it backwards, forwards, upside down and inside out. You can’t represent your guests’ best interests if you don’t know what each menu item tastes like, how it is prepared and what goes into making it. You need to be able to answer your guests’ questions with confidence. You need to know how to offer suggestions and additions to whatever they order that will enhance their experience and meal, as well as enhance your tip! If they order the salmon steak you should be quick to suggest. “Baked with dill seasoning is my personal favorite but the Blackened salmon fillet is our most popular. You can also order that pan seared topped with our chef’s lemon, pepper and garlic sauce or broiled and topped with sweet curry peach sauce or perhaps lightly brushed with olive oil.”
  3. Take a course in short hand or develop your own way of using symbols and abbreviating things in a way you’ll understand and be able to recall what you write quickly. It takes too long and is exhausting to write everything all the way out for a table of eight. While we are on the subject of taking orders, always carry extra pens, a backup order pad and some scratch paper. If your pen runs out of ink and you are forced to leave the table in the midst of taking a large complicated order, it will be brutal for you to remember where you left off as well as it being a much unwanted distraction for your guests.
  4. Never refill drinks over the table. You are tempting fate and deserve a disastrous, embarrassing spill. Never reach over one guest to serve another. Again, risking fate.
  5. Check your order over thoroughly before you bringing it out to the table and are embarrassingly informed by your guests that something was made wrong or something is missing.
  6. Once the order is delivered, ask if there is anything else you can get them. Then allow your guests to get situated and adjusted to start digging in. After just a minute or two, stop back and check if everything is to everyone’s approval.
  7. Never prejudge guests! Don’t worry about your fellow servers who roll their eyes at you or cackle in reference to the haggard looking couple who just got seated in your section. Every dinning guest deserves your utmost attention and deepest courtesy. With experience you’ll realize it is impossible to distinguish, with a glance, who the big tippers are going to be. Even attempting to figure that out is waste of time and counterproductive.
  8. Always be professional and keep your cool when confronted by angry customers. Mind your manners. Remember, other customers may be watching and you represent the restaurant. Serving can be very stressful. Hang in there and be polite

Remember, the waitresses and waiters who make the most tips have put the time and effort into cultivating a slew of regulars who routinely request to be seated in their station. Do something special, over and above the call and you will quickly gain customer loyalty too.

More Tips For Bigger Tips

Besides basing the amount of a tip on the quality of the service, most people also decide how much they are going to leave you based on a percentage of their total bill. Thus, the bigger their bill, the bigger your tip will be. Therefore, it is in your best interest to suggest high end, pairings to go along with every order. Again, this goes along with knowing your menu. Don’t just suggest add-ons, “How about broccoli with that?” You have to describe the complimentary flavors that gets their mouths watering. This goes double for suggesting specialty beverages and desserts.

Act like an expert, carry yourself like a pro and you’ll be tipped appropriately. Talk and act with confidence. It’s all in your demeanor. You are the most influential ingredient to the ambiance of your guests dining experience. Set the tone, set the mood for a fantastic meal!

Be personable, read your guests, figure out what the occasion is that brought them here. Trying to oversell to a table full of businessmen stressing to catch a quick lunch break is pointless and can be annoying. On the other hand, suggesting and pointing out the menu items which your kitchen excels at preparing fast, is quite informative and helpful and will be appreciated in the size of the gratuity they reward you for your quick thinking and understanding. If your guests are obviously celebrating a special occasion, you need to recognize that, make a fuss. Perhaps this is a good time to suggest a bottle of your best champagne.

There is a big difference between being an order taker and being a salesperson. High earning waiters and waitresses promote food and drinks. They are enthusiastic about adding to their customers’ experience. They are ambassadors for their chef’s newest creations and the specialties of the house. They push for add on soup, appetizer and dessert orders because they are passionate about assuring their customers have a memorable time.