With the New Year comes a new chance to grow. What can you focus on to make a difference in 2023? Here are some ideas from the Martin Bros. Culinary and Marketing teams:
1. To Go, Delivery & Catering
The numbers of people picking up food to go, ordering delivery and requesting catering services continues to grow. And it’s a trend that gives restaurants an opportunity for increased sales. For example, to visualize the opportunity, imagine that you had yearly sales of $800,000 and were promoting to-go business. If you increased sales by only 10%, that would give you $80,000 in increased revenue. Consider food cost and labor to produce at 40%. This would give you an extra $48,000 towards overhead. Always look at all avenues – especially these big three – for increased sales.
Limited Time Offers (LTOs) are a perfect way to offer new menu items. Promote them on table tents, menu inserts or menu boards. And most definitely promote them online and on social media! They can be fun new items or seasonal specials. No matter how you promote them or what they are, LTOs are exciting and a great way to draw customers in.
3. Social Media
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide a way for diners to interact with their favorite restaurants. It’s a way to market your restaurant, and the only resource required to do it is time. Just remember, people like to see the human side of their favorite businesses. Use social media as a fun way to tell them about your specials, but show them who you are, too.
The restaurant industry has been behind in implementing new technology. Then came COVID and now staffing and supply challenges to show us what technology could do to help us even more. For example, food service robots have jumped onto the scene and can help reduce staff shortages, increase labor savings, and more.
In today’s uncertain market, especially with staffing and supply challenges, you must be able to make changes quickly. Have a plan for when you are short staffed and when you can’t get an item that you need. Think through some of the worst-case scenarios and how you could still function.
6. Menu Pricing & Cost Control
Before COVID, we encouraged our customers to review their menu pricing, menu items and expenses quarterly or a minimum of every six months. Today, we are recommending that our customers review everything monthly. With rollercoaster inflation numbers, cost of goods with demand and product availability, you need to review regularly to stay profitable.
On your customer side of menu pricing and cost control is affordability for your customers. Your customers are experiencing some of the same challenges that you are. Inflation is causing big increases in living expenses for everyone, which leaves your customers with less disposable income to spend on restaurants. Make sure that you are considering affordability for your customers when you are looking at your menu and your LTOs. Be sure to offer some specials that your customers will consider specials for their tastebuds as well as for their pocketbooks.
When we talk about sustainability, we think about working in partnership with our environment. This can include eating more seasonally (fresh fruits and vegetables), eating more variety (increasing the diversity of what we eat to promote diversity in agriculture, which in turn is better for the environment) and focusing on reducing food waste as well as the waste that comes from the supply chain. There is a lot to think about and work towards, but even the small steps we each take can go a long way towards the wellbeing of the planet and everyone and everything on it, now and for generations to come.
9. Customer Service
Customer service is the most important thing you can offer. It’s even more important than the food. You can have the best or only food in the city, but if your customer service gets no stars, it’s pretty safe to say that your business will get no stars either. Employee training is a must in order to have the best customer service. You must show your employees what is expected of them and give them a reason to want to offer great customer service and dedication. More on that in the next tip.
10. Employee Dedication & Retention
Customers are very important, but employees are just as important, too. Your success is largely determined by the dedication and customer service of your employees. And their dedication and customer service should be rewarded! Involve them, train them, praise them, pay them, treat them as you wish to be treated. All of these things can only help increase their dedication, heighten their customer service and retain them on your workforce. On the flip side, the cost of losing staff and constantly recruiting and training can easily be more than it is to just reward your current employees, so it’s really a no-brainer. If you put your staff first, they will take care of the customers, and that’s a win-win, too.