Monday, December 31, 2012

The Value of Quality & Training

If quality food is a value, stick to the products that your restaurant can deliver with the highest quality. If training is a value, never cut back or eliminate a training program. Both of these values will stimulate sales. Not performing these values will cause your customers to go elsewhere.
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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Effective Listening as a Tool

Owners and operators who want to be effective in communicating with their employees need to develop the ability to listen. Listening to another person’s account of feelings and problems requires concentration to grasp the attitudes and thoughts behind what is being expressed. Listening means showing genuine understanding and concern. If the listener indicates doubt, surprise, disagreement, or criticism, this at once places them in the undesirable role of judge or critic and impedes the communication process.

Restaurant owners/operators face numerous responsibilities and distractions. When an employee is speaking, they may feel that circumstances prevent them from concentrating on what the employee has to say. Or, the owner/operator may not be paying sufficient attention to interpret the employee’s feelings accurately or objectively. Thus, they may arrive at a false conclusion.

To avoid this, the owner/operator must focus and connect with what the employee is saying and must avoid any distraction. If the employee gets the impression that what they have to say is not important enough to require full attention, resentment and distrust may occur. And in the long run, employee moral will suffer which will directly impact your customers.
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Major Points to Consider When Selecting Menu Items

1.      The menu item must be of superior quality.

2.      The raw materials used must be readily available year-round at a relatively stable price.

3.      The menu item must be affordable and demanded by your customers.

4.      The menu item must be acceptable to the preparation and cooking staff system.

5.      The raw materials must be easily portioned by weight.

6.      All menu items must have consistent cooking results.

7.      All menu items must have a long shelf life.

8.      All menu items must have similar cooking times (approximately 8 to 15 minutes).

9.      The storage facilities must accommodate the raw materials used in preparing the menu items.

10.  Menu items should be creative and not readily available in other restaurants.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Scheduling - The Basics

The overall objective in scheduling is to place the most efficient employee at the job and time where he/she will achieve maximum productivity at minimum expense. The greatest tool you have in controlling labor cost is scheduling, and yet it is most often so poorly done that it becomes more a part of the problem than the solution. So often, the employee’s schedule is scribbled on a piece of paper, or worse verbally communicated with little though of what is actually needed.

Properly preparing a schedule for a restaurant must take into account different factors, such as:

·         The number of covers and large parties expected each day.

·         At what time maximum production must take place.

·         The skill and productivity of each employee.

·         The employee’s desired schedule. Days off, availability, etc.

One other thing….don’t get caught short on trained personnel.

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Food Cost and the Popularity of Menu Items

The popularity and price of each menu item will impact the amount spent by your customers…..and, as a result, influence the average check and daily sales. Furthermore, the sales mix will determine what overall food cost will be. If it becomes necessary to reduce food cost, you must change one or more of the following elements:

·         The menu price.

·         The portion size or number of accompaniments.

·         The food cost of the ingredients.

·         The menu mix.

Simply stated, you can raise or discount prices, increase or decrease portion sizes or accompaniments, shop for better ingredient prices; or attempt to alter sales mix by emphasizing higher-prices or lower-cost menu items through internal advertising and suggestive selling.
A properly designed menu can direct the attention of your customers to specific items and increase the likelihood that those items will be order more frequently than random chance consideration. When those items are low food cost, high in gross profit, and increase the average check, the profit picture brightens and food cost improves. The menu clearly does have a significant impact on food cost, and if used properly it can be an important cost-control tool.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Presence and Service

The difference between a customer leaving a 10% tip or 30% tip depends mostly with the personal connection a server makes with the customer. Presence increases the personal connection between people. In fact, without presence, there is no personal connection at all.

Just as a distracted state  of mind creates irritation, presence makes people feel more positive. What do you think the impact of presence (or lack of it) might be on how well-served your customers feel in your restaurant?

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Do's and Don'ts Of Handling Guest Complaints

1. Do emphasize resolving the problem instead of finding someone to blame.
2. Do act positively and use positive language. For example, use the word concern instead of problem.

3. Do respond quickly.

4. Do respect the guest and treat him/her accordingly.

5. Do speak to your manager when in doubt about what to do.

6. Don’t make excuses like “we’re short.” This does not help solve the problem or make the guest feel better.

7. Don’t blame anyone. This also does not help solve the problem, and it reflects poorly on the restaurant and you.

8. Don’t ask for sympathy or understanding. Remember, it’s the guest who has the problem.

9. Don’t argue. Nobody ever wins an argument with a guest. Keep in mind that the guest may not always be right, but he/she is never wrong.

10. Don’t get defensive. If you remember not to take a guest’s comments personally, you won’t get defensive.

The Top 10 Interviewing Mistakes Restaurant Operators Make

  1. Failing to Create a Job Description: How can you hire the best person for the job if you haven't defined what "the best" is? In addition to listing tasks and responsibilities, job descriptions should spell out the skills, attitudes, and personality traits that are key to success.

    (While a librarian and a waiter both need to have good customer service skills, only one of them needs an outgoing personality.)
  2. Asking Illegal Questions: Write out your interview questions, review each one, and ask yourself: "What does this have to do with the person's ability to do the job?" If it's not job-related, don't ask it.

    (If you need someone who will be on time every day, don't ask: "Do you have a reliable daycare provider?" Ask: "Other than personal illness, how many days were you late for work in the last six months?")
  3. Relying on First Impressions: A study by the University of Chicago found 90% of interviewers make a hiring decision within the first 14 seconds of meeting the applicant.

    (No wonder so many bad hiring decisions are made.)
  4. Forgetting Who Needs to Make an Impression: Applicants today are picky about where they'll work. Interviewers need to sell applicants on the job and the company.

    (Applicants report major turnoffs are interviewers who are not prepared and being kept waiting.)
  5. Hiring Based Only on the Interview: Another study concluded that hiring decisions based on inter-views are only eight percent more reliable than flipping a coin!

    The best predictors of success on the job are testing (53%), a temporary job assignment (44%), and the reference check (26%). Experience is reliable only 14% of the time and age is the least reliable predictor of success (-1%).
  6. Positive Biases: A bias is the instant bond you feel when you find out someone is from your home-town - even though its population is over 500,000 and you've never met before.

    Biases cause us to hire who we like best instead of the person who is best for the job.
  7. Not Asking the Right Questions: Every unprepared interviewer in the world says: "Tell me about yourself," and then asks: "Where do you see yourself in five years?" And every job applicant has rehearsed answers to these questions.

    The best questions to start with are: "Tell me about your first paying job. What three things did you learn from it?" Use the same questions to take the applicant through all of their subsequent jobs. The answers paint a vivid picture of the person's work ethic, commitment, and drive.
  8. Talking Too Much: Most interviewers forget that they can't learn anything while talking. Rule of thumb: The applicant should do the talking at least 80% of the time.
  9. Interviewing from the Application or Résumé: When you conduct interviews with either of these documents in hand, you tend to simply confirm the information the applicant has already provided (instead of learning what you need to know).
  10. Emphasizing Experience & Education: Harvard Business School determined that the combination of information, intelligence, and skill account for only seven percent of business success. Attitude alone accounts for the other 93%.

    Far too few interviewers ask attitude questions like: "I know you would work harder or longer hours if asked, but, just in the course of your normal workday, what have you done for an employer that is more than what was expected of you?

When To Change Your Menu

The frequency with which new menu items are introduced depends on one or more of the following factors:
  • The type of restaurant
  • The capability of the kitchen personnel
  • Competition
  • Frequency of visits by regular customers
  • The number of covers served each day
While restaurant operators would like to limit the number of menu items because it makes ordering, preparation, employee training, and cost control easier, aggressive competition and an exacting dining public demand that new menu items be introduced to keep them coming back.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Observations - Part 2

Another client of mine is the opposite of the one I discussed in Observations - Part 1. Even though he has some operational challenges, he understands the importance of customer loyalty.

His customers not only come to his restaurant to enjoy a great meal, but they also come to see him. They ask for him by name. If he's not in, they ask how he is doing and to tell the servers to make sure they let him know they asked about him. His is a restaurant where many of the regular customers seem to know each other. You can visualize them calling each other saying, "lets meet tonight at "_____'s."

Very few of the restaurants I have consulted with over the past 18 years have this type of following. To be successful in this business requires you have a love of people. They don't refer to it as "the hospitality industry" for nothing.

This owner/operator loves people and he passes on that love of people to his staff.

It's infectious.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Menu Variety

Quick Tip #7 - Menu Variety

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Menu Variety

Menu variety isn’t just a simple numbers game. Offering 10 choices of entrees or salads does not itself equate to variety if five of the choices don’t appeal to your customers. That situation will result in waste from unsold ingredients.

Listing too many items on the menu may be contributing to your inability to forecast accurately. And having to carry dozens of items in inventory that is not turning over quickly will result in higher food costs.
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Monday, December 3, 2012

What Is Your Objective?

What is your objective? This is the first question I ask anyone seeking consulting help.
What is the client’s objective should be the focus of the client/consultant relationship. In order to achieve the desired outcomes of any project (big or small), clear and concise objectives and outcomes must be agreed upon.

Reducing food or labor costs is not an objective. It is nearly a means to an end. Increasing cash flow so I can send my kids to college or take that long sought after vacation sitting on a beach sipping margaritas is the objective. Objectives can be business or personal; they usually overlap in one way or the other.
Maybe you want to start a new restaurant. My first question would be “why?”  Maybe you have always dreamed of owning a restaurant. By discussing your objectives it is important for us to understand what success will look like. Visualize it….How will it improve your life? What advantages will a successful restaurant have on you or your family? Your long term objective may be to develop a chain of successful restaurants…maybe franchise your concept? What will that mean to your financial future?

These are the discussions I have with all of my clients before we begin any project. It is important that clear objectives and outcomes be discussed, established, and agreed upon in order to achieve maximum outcomes and values.
Call me at 866-903-5875 today so we can discuss Your Objectives.

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