Tag Archives: restaurant management

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 Wisdom for Managers and Owners

12 Aug

So Philadelphia restaurant managers and owners; how are your restaurant managerial skills?  Does there seem to be a gap like the Grand Canyon between you and your employees? Let’s see how we can change that.

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If you gathered 100 experienced managers together and asked for their advice, it would probably sound like the roar of Niagara Falls until you got them talking in an orderly way.   But there’s one thing for sure… They wouldn’t be saying much about “temporal rhythms,” or “competing values models.”  Instead, this is probably what you’d hear.

 

“Don’t be afraid of the phrase, ‘I don’t know’.”  If you don’t know the answer to an employee or board member’s question, don’t try to bluff your way through.  If you’re at fault, take the blame.  If you’re wrong, apologize.  If you don’t have the answer at your fingertips then, promise to get back to the person with the answer within a specific timeframe.

 

“Never gossip.” If someone wants to gossip with you, politely say you’re not interested.  The corporate adage, when someone gossips two careers are hurt – the person talked about, and the person talking.

 

“No task is beneath you.”  Don’t think that as a manager you’re above anything.  Be the good example and pitch in, especially if the job is one that nobody wants to do.

 

“Share the credit whenever possible.”  A manager who spreads credit around looks much stronger than those who take all the credit themselves.

 

“Ask for help.”  If you think you’re in over your head – then you are!  Ask for some help and you’ll find most people enjoy giving a hand.  Besides saving yourself from embarrassment, you’ll make a friend and an ally.

 

“Keep your financial remuneration from the business to yourself.”  Discussing how much you’re making is a no-win proposition.  Either you’ll be upset because someone is doing better than you, or someone will be upset with you.

 

“When you don’t like someone, don’t let it show.”  This is especially true if you outrank them.  Never burn bridges or offend others as you move ahead.

 

“Let it go!” What shouldn’t happen often does.  You weren’t given the project you wanted, you were passed over for the promotion you deserved.  Be gracious and diplomatic…and move on.  Harboring a grudge won’t advance your career.

 

“When you’re right, don’t gloat.”  The only time you should ever use the phrase, “I told you so” is if someone says to you: “You were right. I really could succeed at that project.”

 

Another aid to increase your art of restaurant management savvy involves asking questions.  If you really want to learn what the scuttle-butt within the troops is, ask questions as you travel throughout your organization.

 

Here are 10 questions that should get you all you want to know:

 

  • What made you mad today?
  • What took too long?
  • What caused complaints today?
  • What was misunderstood today?
  • What cost us too much money?
  • What was wasted?
  • What was too complicated?
  • What was just plain silly?
  • What job involved too many people?
  • What job involved too many actions?

 

Prepared with the above list as you travel through the crew ranks, you should get a pretty accurate reading of your restaurant business or organization.  It will also get you the feedback from the customers that complained to your employees.  What better way to know how your business is functioning, and where it needs tweaking?

 

Got some ideas you’d like to add? We’d be happy to hear them!

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

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.

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.