10 Ways to Make Your Restaurant More Profitable - Part 2
Eveve have worked with over 1,500 full service restaurants in the past 10 years, covering a vast array of cuisines, locations and operations. In general, most of Eveve’s clients are full service, and so this blog will be most helpful to such restaurants, but hopefully it can be of value to restaurateurs in the quick service sphere as well. After working with so many restaurants, we analysed the top 10% and what makes them so successful. This blog forms the second in a series of three, looking at the question from three different perspectives. This second blog considers the question of profit from the perspective of an existing restaurant.
Current Restaurateurs: 10 Ways to Help Make your Existing Restaurant More Profitable:
- The Food. Even if a restaurant has been operating for years, there is no avoiding the importance of food in a restaurant’s success. After all it is the reason your guests will leave the house in the first place. Ensure that you have a chef whom you can trust, who can run a team which can prepare food in a timely manner, with consistent quality. Make sure that the menu is not too long, to ensure you have the freshest food. Invest in quality ingredients, it is the only way to ensure a superior product is being provided to your guests. The execution of the food served is not Eveve’s speciality, but we know that food is the first and most basic issue. If this is not addressed, there is little point in going on to the next points.
- Ensure Sufficient Two-Top Tables. The cardinal sin of most architects is completely ignoring economic reality when designing floor layouts. The fact is, the most common party size in fine dining restaurants is two, followed by four tops. Even more important, two-tops tend to have a higher spend per head, and a shorter turn time, which means they earn far more per hour. It is incredibly common for restaurants to have banks of large tables and booths, and a relatively small number of two-tops, often situated in the least hospitable parts of the restaurants. The result is that most restaurants end up sitting two-tops on six person tables, even at times when they are full (running a waitlist), which is a huge waste of resources. To ensure the profitability of your new venture, remember that you will probably get more two-tops than any other party size, they will spend more per head, and be in and out relatively quickly, so ensure plenty of two-tops, and that some of these are in nice locations, like beside the window. Finally, it is easy to combine several two-tops in to a larger table, but you can not split a larger fixture like a booth between two or three parties.
- Give Millenials What They Want. Millennials are now America’s biggest age group, and many have good jobs and few commitments, meaning significant discretionary income. This makes Millenials the key audience for profit seeking restaurants. Consider the hottest restaurants in your city right now, and it is likely they will be filled with well-paid millennials spending money liberally. The issue with Millennials is that they are different from previous generations, and want different things. The “restaurant experience” has become much more important, compared to the volume of food, price or convenience of the past. If you want to attract Millennials, observe and learn from the restaurants in your city doing the best job (perhaps with farm-to-table, chef-driven creative concepts and healthy options) and avoid the 90s mistakes of high fat, pre-processed foods the emphasis of quantity over quality.
- Accept Reservations. If your restaurant is full service, reservations are a must. Not only are they requisite for the guest experience, but they are highly effective for the operator as well. Walk-ins tend to come in large lumps, around 7pm for example, or Sunday Brunch at 10am. A well planned reservation system is far more effective at smoothing the loading of diners over the whole shift versus walk-ins, which improves food and service consistency, improves the guest experience and your profit. For more information of how to run your reservations to maximise profit, please see the third blog in our series "How do I make my Restaurant more Profitable".
- Invest in a Lead Host. In Europe and New York it is not uncommon for the best paid member of staff to be the Maitre’d. And why not? It is the most intellectually vigorous position in the restaurant when done correctly. Yet in many American restaurants, the host team are the least well paid members of staff. It is crucial to have one person beside the door who knows what they are doing. Invest in a well-paid, experienced lead host or reservations manager, who understands the importance of maximising reservations and walk-ins, and is incentivised to manage the floor in a profitable way for your business. In many of the most successful restaurants, the GM or restaurateur takes on this role themselves at weekends.
- Greeting. Leading on from point four, it is essential that every guest who walks over the threshold is greeted enthusiastically and courteously within the first 10 seconds. If your host is dealing with another guest, they should be trained to at least look up at the new guest, make eye contact and say “Sir/Madam, I am just dealing with these guests, I will be with you in just a moment”. Many of the most profitable restaurants ensure that servers who are available act as backup hosts when the latter are overloaded. A busy restaurant is good for all team members.
- Farewell. The corollary of greetings is farewells, and they are just as important, if not more so. How many times have you eaten in an expensive restaurant, only to pay and walk out without a thank you along the way? The farewell is the final interaction with the guest, and if the dining experience was positive, it will reinforce a great memory. If the experience was mediocre or poor, the farewell gives an opportunity to improve the experience or address a problem. If you identify a problem at farewell, perhaps offer a gift card, so you can avert a negative online review and have the chance to win back that customer again. Make sure your hosts take on the responsibility of bidding farewell to every one of your guests.
- Keep Servers Away from the Host Stand during Service. Often when a server approaches a host stand during service, it is to find out how many diners are in their section(which they should have already been told before service started) and to hussle for more (at the expense of other hosts and the general welfare of the restaurant). In many cases this distorts the hosts decision-making prism and not in a good way. The host’s objective becomes allocating or equalising guests by server, not maximising diners in your restaurants as a whole (which is what drives profit). The desire to equalise server loading at any one time, can often result in over quoted wait times, and reservations being forced to wait, or being placed at a table which is too large for them—wasting the restaurant’s previous resources at busy times. If server sections are cycled every shift, it will even out any irregularities within a single shift, and allow your hosts to focus on what they should be doing—maximising your profit!
- Website Your restaurant probably cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions to renovate or build. How much did you spend on your website? In 2016, your website is your sales and marketing platform. A well optimised website is how most of your new diners will discover your business. In the grand scheme of things, a website is relatively inexpensive, with a high quality one available for between $1,000 and $3,000. The revenue driven by the website will be tens of times the outlay and is crucial to your profitability, so do not scrimp on the cost with an amateur. Choose a professional, and better still one which specialises in restaurants. Eveve offers subsidised websites for new TELOS reservation system clients Read More Here.
- Social Media. In 2016, Social Media is critical in the portrayal of your restaurants and brand, but the delivery is crucial. Avoid too many posts, diffuse messages, and irrelevant or generic material (such as a picture of a drunk cat or a 1920s Man with the caption “it is Friday, drink wine”, seen on all too many restaurant Social Media postings). When managing your social media presence, focus on short direct messages which clearly identify what your brand stands for and why people should visit your restaurant; showcase your food with sumptuous photography; and keep diners abreast of your upcoming events. The upcoming events calendar is important to create a sense of buzz about your place. No one wants to eat in a quiet or stale restaurant.
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