Tag Archives: restaurant consulting

Good Old Fashioned Restaurant Management

14 Aug

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Common Sense Restaurant Management

By Stu Leventhal

Restaurants have been around for thousands of years. Undoubtedly there has always been good ones and bad ones. With all the modern conveniences the basics of how a customer judges, rates and recommends his favorite food or watering hole has not changed at all.

Good restaurant management is about creating an oasis for you customers so they can escape from their problems and worries, stop and rest along their journeys and be pampered! It has little to do with providing a square meal for a square price. If you are not focused on creating a constant and reliable ambiance that your customers can rely upon through thick and thin then you are in the wrong business.

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Your customers, especially regulars become your extended family. And, family members can be a pain in the butt. There will be times when you have no patience to listen to another sad story but hey remember there’s probably another deli across town that can make a Corned Beef Rueben just as good as your sandwich maker.

If you wish to build a strong restaurant business, think about the hit TV show Cheers. The characters came to the bar to Socialize not to get drunk. The shows revolved around them all sharing pieces of their hectic and often unusual happenings in their lives away from the bar with all their friends at the bar. The banter between the employees and the guests was informal to say the least. Yet, it seemed like every corner bar in every neighborhood across America. Do you encourage your servers to engage their customers like Sam, Carla and Woody do? And how about yourself? Do you converse like Coach, Rebecca and Diane did? Or, are your customers scared to call you over to discuss a problem with their meals?

Of course the food has to be top notch! But that’s a gimme! Everyone should expect; quality food, made from the best ingredients, under sanitary and food safe conditions, served up timely with a smile! There is a lot of competition out there. If your goal is to build repeat business, you have to do more than what’s average.

There are plenty of places selling good burgers yet everyone knows which burger joint is considered the best in town. Most of the time it is the place that is the most fun to dine at too!

Of course you know that there is a common belief that if one sends back their plate because their meal wasn’t prepared to their liking, the people in the kitchen will spit in their food or do something even worse. For that reason, many diners will suffer through an unsatisfying meal rather than complain. This is why it is absolutely required for the manager to be visible on the dining floor 90% of the time the restaurant is open for business.

Your job is to act like the host who is throwing a big party. You float around making sure everyone is having a good time and the service and food is perfect. You mingle, schmooze and entertain. You act concerned when you detect something is bothering a guest and over joyed to see them even when you are run down and feel a cold coming on. Behind the scenes you manage food costs, waste and spoilage, place orders, take inventory and forever push you’re your staff for more productivity. Are you overwhelmed yet just reading about all your responsibilities? Cause there are more…

Keeping peace among the ranks is a full time job in itself. Interviewing, hiring, training disciplining, coaching and encouraging all fall on your shoulders. And, you are also responsible for budgeting marketing funds, building sales, showing a profit and keeping accurate records of every aspect of the business so you can report to higher ups, owners and stock holders. Yes, it can be a bit of a juggling act but the one area that can never be sacrificed or put second is your dining room presence! You must be aware of what is going on with your customers!

A good manager knows when he’s been in the back office too long, on the phone too long, in a meeting too long, checking in the truck order at the loading dock too long! The business of good restaurant management is being hands on, out on the floor, directing and helping to enhance your crew’s efforts to please the guests. As long as guests are having a good time they will forgive anything. No matter what goes wrong, if they are having fun they will shout your praise and tell all their friends for years to come about your extra efforts and the great time they had!

Good word of mouth is still the best advertising! We are living in the age of the super, digital, virtual, highway and a bad or good tweet or text is only a click away with a cell phone.

Need some Philadelphia tailored restaurant consulting? Email us at anewtale191@live.com our expert Philadelphia restaurant consultants will be happy to assist you!

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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?

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