7 Tips for Restaurant Success
It’s no secret: the restaurant business is challenging. And if you’re in it, you’re constantly looking for ways to be successful, because, in restaurants, success is survival. But beyond survival, you want to see if you can make a mark on your community, your industry, or your own career. What you need to know is how to make your best investments of time, creative energy, and resources in order to cultivate the best kinds of success, not only to stay in business. Here are our seven best tips for getting you there.
The Best Tips for Restaurant Success
1 – Reconnect with food and service
Can you cook? Do you like to eat? If you’re passionate enough about restaurants to be in the business, you’ve got to have a love for food, and ideally, a love for making and serving it. Reconnect with that original drive and always keep it in mind. Visit some other restaurants, shadow servers for a day as if you were a trainee, take some cooking classes. Consider getting some training (if you don’t have it already) in specialty areas out of your comfort zone (French wines, raw fish, butchery, etc.). You need to love and understand food and operations from the ground up so that you can nurture a holistic understanding of all aspects of your business. You’ll be surprised at the insights and great intuitions you’ll gain.
2 – Follow the market gap
What is it that you want your restaurant to do? Yes, you’re serving food, but what’s special about you? If you do not have a guiding vision, concept, or mission statement beyond “stay in business,” it’s time to come up with one. Base it on what your restaurant can do in your particular location that’s not being done. Are you providing a cultural experience? Serving affordable organics? Bringing fondue to Millennials? Perfecting the chocolate cupcake? The key to restaurant marketing is knowing how you are filling a need or desire in the current local market and honing in in your unique way.
3 – Hire well, then delegate
You’ve got a lot to do without trying to do and fix it all. So hire the right people, from assistant manager to dishwasher. The right people will be qualified, dependable, and, especially if they create food or serve front of house, fit with your vision. If they don’t agree or don’t “fit in” with what you’re trying to accomplish in the big picture, they aren’t the right people. Your chef and management are always non-negotiables in this regard.
When you hire well, you can lead, encourage, and initiate rather than worry or have to constantly intervene to avert crisis. You can plan and pass off tasks effectively. This makes for a healthier, happier, more trusting staff. And when you do keep track of performance, you can use it as a way to encourage staff and improve operations hands-on, rather than micromanage or criticizing from a distance.
4 – Don’t be afraid of people
It’s all too easy to miss opportunities for connection and clear communication when working in a busy environment. This can be compounded by using technology to replace face-to-face communication, rather than using it as a way to organize and supplement that communication. In short, don’t be afraid of people. Take initiative to communicate with your staff and customers, remember names, and talk face-to-face or over the phone whenever possible. When you need to communicate by text or online, keep it helpful, professional, and warm. You don’t have a restaurant if you don’t have relationships.
5 – Don’t be afraid of business
Restaurants are places to share food, relationships, and make a vision thrive. But to exist at all, a restaurant has to be a good business. Whatever your professional background, keep learning about business. And find conversation and learning partners. You’ll make mistakes, but there is always room to grow in marketing, bookkeeping, networking, customer service, and product. And if you can see other restaurants as potential friends and collaborators and learn from them, you’re learning a secret to becoming a leader in your industry.
6 – Cherish your values
What would you identify as the “adding good to the world” element of your business? Honesty, atmosphere, customer care, ethically-sourced ingredients, giving back to the community, promoting the local music scene—whatever it is, be consciously aware of it.
And keep this in mind: Your restaurant won’t last forever. It will go through a life cycle that will hopefully be healthy, exciting, and fruitful. But sometimes you may have to choose between a vision-value vs. increased revenue. In those times, slow down and consider. Are you acting out of panic, or making a purposeful move? Is this a moment to compromise, or not? Sometimes success doesn’t mean better numbers—it means integrity. It’s possible to add a quantity of years in business without adding to quality. Stay aware of those decisive moments.
7 – Know your reputation
Good restaurateurs are keen to know how they stand out and what they can improve. Get someone who knows how to navigate social media (that might be you, it might not!) to keep an expert eye on your social media channels and reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Knowing your reputation among customers means you can manage your reputation by responding to concerns, giving thanks for positive feedback, building connections, and showing yourself as a responsive business with real humans behind your operations.
Online review sites can’t give you real-time feedback, however, and often don’t populate enough reviews in short periods of time to help you make a quick turnaround when you need to. To stay on the very top of your game with customer feedback, check out Original Review. It’s the only review platform that provides you with real customer reviews before diners leave the restaurant. Whatever your vision, whatever your measure of success, we’d love to help you find it.
Click here for your free demo of OR.