It's Time to
Get Back to Basics
needs to tell you that sales in your restaurant have been
suffering recently. It’s been tough sailing for even the
most profitable restaurants in this poor economy, and many
restaurants are just barely staying alive. So, what can
you do now to create a profitable bottom line and hang in
there until things pickup? It’s easy……just get back to
explore five steps you can act on now to begin to have a
better impact on your restaurant’s bottom line. It won’t
happen overnight, but you will begin to see positive results
begin to emerge.
1. Nothing Like the Owner’s Touch – Be Present and Be
you know by now that as the business owner, when you are away,
the help will “truly play”. No one, even your best
managers, take as much pride in the unit as you do, both up
front and out in the back, as well. But, you must not
only be “present”, but you must also be aware of the
restaurant’s customer satisfaction, and to food presentation
and quality as well. I can count numerous restaurants we
work with where the owners got tired of being onsite and have
basically “checked out”, and it didn’t take long for the place
to begin to fall apart. Make sure that your staff knows
you are serious and watching their service and the quality of
the product that they are serving.
Know Your Numbers – They Are All Around You
restaurants are those that have a pulse not only on weekly and
monthly figures, but also know their daily figures and what
goal they must reach. Focus on meal counts, daily and
weekly purchases, and labor and food and beverage costs. In
slow times, reduce servers and kitchen personnel.
Remember, your two largest expenses are most likely food costs
and labor costs. Physically control your inventory and
watch for the ability of food or beverages to be “walking out
the door”. Put periodic inventory counts in place to
make sure the employees know you are watching.
The Customer is King (or Queen!)
economy, the customer, more than ever, is looking not only for
a quality product and great service, but a real value as well.
Keep in mind that once they have had just one bad experience,
you may lose that customer for life! Make sure the
employees know the standards you are trying to attain.
Here’s something that seems to work: before every meal,
as the wait staff is hearing the daily specials, make sure
that the manager runs over some basic protocol tips, or ways
to make the experience for your customer more enjoyable.
Train them to “up sell” and make recommendations, if so asked.
There’s nothing worse than a server who doesn’t know the food
that he or she is serving.
Nine out of ten restaurants that we have helped to open in the
last year or so have often run into snags because they
underestimated the amount of capital they needed to open a
restaurant. As a result, the snowball continues to
manifest itself and it ultimately becomes almost impossible to
catch up. Try to put away an extra amount of cash in the
“good season” to help get you through the rough times.
Some of my restaurants even go so far as setting up and
funding a separate cash account in the summer, for instance,
to get them through the long winter season. Consider
closing in slower times, such as Mondays, if financially that
time is usually a cash drain on your operation.
The “Buzz” Works – Create It!
There are many ways to get your name in the news. From
special dinner events to getting a review in the local paper,
getting free publicity works great. Think about wine
tastings, specials on holiday meals, etc. Using a
qualified and well-connected PR firm can do wonders for the
top line. But, it takes time and may be tough to
measure. Think about sponsoring Chamber or Town events
in non-peak hours, as well.
While the above tips are some you have heard before and truly
are basics, it is good to review these every six months or so,
and then strive to follow through with some of them. In
doing so, you just may find that your customers and your
pocketbook are both much happier.
is a CPA and partner of Needham, MA based Levine Katz Nannis +
Solomon, PC. He has been supporting restaurant owners for over
a decade, and has more than fifty restaurant clients in the
Greater Boston Area. He can be reached at