If you’ve been in the restaurant business long at all, you know how hard it can be. You’ve probably heard the common figure that 90% of restaurants fail in their first year, and though that’s almost certainly an exaggeration, it’s definitely a risky endeavor — restaurants fail, even good ones, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you can do better to make your dream business a reality. What if you already have a perfect location? A great menu? Is the problem operational costs? Employees? Something else?
Obviously I can’t say for sure what’s ailing your place of business, but here are a few great tips that will help you run a tighter ship:
1. Always stay focused on bottom-line savings.
It can seem tacky or cheap to make decisions based solely on saving money, but you can’t run a successful business if you’re wasting money where you could be saving. You just can’t — no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I’m not saying you should skimp on service or quality. You shouldn’t, but you can save money by saving time through higher efficiency (for example, cutting down on the number of stops an order makes as it’s relayed back to the kitchen) or by cutting down on employees taking advantage of free food and drinks. The answer will be specific to your restaurant, but the tip’s the same: make smart purchases, keep close track of stock and ordering, don’t hire employees you don’t need, and save money by doing the little things more efficiently.
2. Streamline employee management.
Your employees are the key to your restaurant running smoothly. Having a large enough staff filled with the right types of people with the right skills and personalities is the only way to have the great service that a successful restaurant needs. But you, as the manager or owner, need to keep on top of their work. Employees who aren’t cutting it need to be sorted out and, if they don’t improve, replaced. Keeping moral up and helping employees to feel valued and valuable will make everyone happier and harder working. But to make sure you’re running efficiently and not wasting money on staff, you must keep track of hours, training programs, food discounts, and every other tiny thing a good manager must do. Streamlining all of these tasks into a simple, efficient electronic program that you keep tabs on every day is the only way to know what’s going on in your restaurant. It’s your job to know!
3. Keep better track of your storeroom.
It’s truly amazing how many restaurateurs order supplies and stock willy-nilly, without keeping track of their books. They don’t know how much of each item they need, they don’t know what they already have in stock, and they don’t know what they have paid for each item in the past. Running a business like this is a sure way to fail: instead, keep better track — it’s important to order what you need, because running out of anything is totally unprofessional, but it’s also a huge waste of money, space, and time to order anything you don’t need. Keep track of your stock and ordering! Inefficient stocking and ordering is akin to throwing away money!
4. Update your point of sale system.
At restaurants with old school point of sale systems, it’s common to see waiters running back and forth from table to register to ring things up. It wastes time and creates a situation where someone has to manually compare cash and card sales. Instead, restaurants who can afford an inexpensive POS system upgrade should consider it — a unified system will integrate all transaction types and make it easy to check and compare without keeping your staff around long after closing. It’s a better way to keep the books and it’ll make business faster and more efficient, which means happier customers. Many new point of sale systems are relatively inexpensive too, so do your research and see if one of these options might be right for you.
Hopefully these four tips can help you turn around your struggling restaurant. The reality of the situation is that most people probably can’t afford to address every last thing at first; after all, a failing restaurant doesn’t have a lot of money to make changes, but by streamlining and becoming more efficient in certain, strategic areas specific to your own business, you can save money, increase efficiency, and run a more profitable business.