In the restaurant business, change is a constant. From swapping ingredients in a recipe to rearranging a floorplan layout for social distancing, restaurant pros are quick to adapt to changed circumstances.
Here is what four restaurant experts recommend to make sure your restaurant can wade through any current or future difficulty.
Quality business comes from quality products
“You have to start with a great product,” Curtis Duffy, restaurateur and winner of three Michelin stars, recently advised students of the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. “A great product comes from years and years of relationships with farmers, foragers, and fish mongers. Developing those relationships gives you the better edge to getting those great products.”
Whether you run a fine dining establishment or a small roadside diner, quality ingredients are essential to your restaurant’s success. It’s not simply that better raw materials will help you produce tastier dishes. As diners are increasingly discerning, you must be able to know what goes into your food. Where does the veal come from? Is it a local breed? Are the fruits in the compote in season? Are the lemons organic? Is the chicken antibiotic-free? Sourcing your raw ingredients from businesses whose quality and values you trust will help you answer these questions confidently, and build a more solid relationship with your customers.
When you are dealing with fresh ingredients, maintenance matters. Educate your employees on proper handling instructions, monitor refrigeration temperatures, and implement ingredient management technology that helps you forecast your needs accurately, so you order only what you need, and always have fresh ingredients and minimum waste. Having a trust relationship with the supplier will simplify making last minute orders or changes.
Prioritize and cultivate great staff members
“The only way a company can grow, stay true to its soul, and remain consistently successful is to attract, hire, and keep great people,” says Danny Meyer, restaurateur and CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, in his book Setting the table: the transforming power of hospitality in business. “The human beings who animate our restaurants have far more impact on whether we succeed than any of the food ingredients we use, the décor of our dining rooms, the bottles of wine in our cellars, or even the location of the restaurants.”
According to a recent Deloitte customer experience report, the most important experiential element in a dining experience is friendly, authentic engagement with restaurant staff. Your employees are the public-facing ambassadors of your brand. The more time and training you invest in them, the more capable they will be to deliver the experience you want your restaurant to be associated with. Set clear rules, offer courses and ongoing training, and equip them with technology that enables them to focus all their attention on your guests’ experience. For example, tech like mobile Point of Sale enables your team to take orders in a conversational way, access in-depth information on dishes, and send orders directly to the kitchen. This means they can stop running around between the kitchen and the front of house, and won’t have to worry about memorizing the whole menu, leaving them more relaxed and free to engage with customers. Empowerment is also important: allowing your servers the freedom to give a free dessert or a discount when guests are dissatisfied can turn negative situations into positive experiences.
Promoting a culture of excellent service and encouraging the continuous development of skills will reward you with talented, devoted employees. The first step, though, is to hire hospitality-minded people: after all, work ethics, thoughtfulness, and heart are all fundamental to a great hospitality experience – and are all values that can’t be taught.
Take advantage of technology
“There’s no question that being hands-on while staying on top of the numbers can be tedious and time consuming. But with a good point of sale (POS) system, both tasks will be a lot less daunting,” states restaurateur and industry consultant Roger Fields in his book Restaurant success by the numbers. “When properly used, a POS system will not only allow you to make timely decisions based on readily available and accurate information, it will also free up more of your time to do the really important work of taking care of customers, properly managing and supervising staff, and growing your business.”
Running a food and beverage enterprise can be an all-consuming job. Using technology to automate tasks will reduce the risk of human error, and give you more time to dedicate to what matters . Modern restaurant management systems that unify the POS, inventory, scheduling, and financial functionalities into a single platform can simplify your life even further. Servers can take, modify, and send orders straight to the kitchen from the guests’ table from a mobile POS device. In the kitchen, display systems (KDS) can show what needs to be prepared at each prep station, with the order tickets prioritized by cooking times. In the back office, Business Intelligence (BI) tools can help you make sense of your data, optimize your product ordering and reduce waste.
A modern restaurant system will give you the freedom to spend more time with your guests, while also providing you with the accurate customer and business data you need to stay efficient and in profit.
Always be prepared to change
After the industry disruptions caused by Covid-19, no restaurateur needs to be convinced that the ability to move with customers is paramount to survival. As consumer habits changed, restaurants have had to transform their menus, floor plans, kitchen routines and delivery models. Chains whose business relied on office workers and commuters have had to completely rethink their brand; established businesses whose success depended on the atmosphere and experience have lost their key differentiator. Takeaway and curbside are the new eat-in.
This is a new world for restaurateurs – but somehow, it is also business as usual. “My businesses change constantly, be it their menu items, staff uniforms, music that’s played, or layout and feel,” says Tilman Fertitta, owner of over 600 restaurant locations, in his book Shut up and listen!: hard business truths that will help you succeed. “Failing to beat change to the punch puts change in the position of dictating terms to you, rather than the other way around.” Fertitta’s book was published in 2019 – long before Covid-19 was a word. Change was, however, already the imperative for anyone wishing to be successful in the world of hospitality.
The message from some of the most successful restaurateurs in the industry is clear: a thriving F&B enterprise is built on high quality ingredients, unsurpassed hospitality, and the ability to keep reinventing yourself, following your customers. You can make the most of these elements by implementing the technology tools that can help you make informed, data-driven decisions. Do you need help selecting the tech that will best support your business? Contact us.