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Restaurant Tips
Pumping up the volume!

restaurant suppliesWednesday, July 15, 2015

Just a collection of thoughts from experienced restaurateurs about how to improve operations, training, hiring, advertising & promo... and how to PUMP UP THE VOLUME!

The Over-Portioning Woes!  A recent experience reminds me that the obvious isn't always the obvious. While dining with a friend at a local restaurant, my friend asked for more sour cream. The 18 year old restaurant employee returned with a 7 oz bouillon full of sour cream! As a restaurant owner, I sat there in disbelief! My friend wanted and used maybe an ounce.... the remainder being completely wasted and the cost came right from the restaurant's bottom line. The moral of this story is: An employee will fill a vessel to its capacity. It's up to you to determine the vessel used and to train employees accordingly. If you said, "All requests for additional condiments should be placed in a 1 1/2 ounce ramekin," then you've fought half the battle. The remainder of the battle is making sure the procedure is followed.

Durability Vs. Cost  Any decision to purchase dinnerware must address estimated useful life vs. cost of the ware. You can easily pay $12 for a dinner plate but will it last 3 times longer than a $4 plate? Probably not. If your china gets used.... it's going to wear out. The key for your organization is to replace it before it looks like "heck." This is one the most common mistake restaurants make. You can be assured that your customers notice the wear... do you? Make it a point to look at your chinaware once a month and sort out the worst of it. To get the maximum value for your dollar, we recommend our Tuxton China which combines great looks and durability at very modest prices.

Do I need a website for my restaurant?  Well that's a tough question for today... but for tomorrow, the answer is an unqualified yes. Most visionaries agree that the future of the web is to look inward... to local markets... vs. globally. Add changes in technology and one can envision a world where you can instant message luncheon specials at 11:30 each day... take orders over the net... broadcast advertisements to PDA's within 5 blocks of your restaurant whenever you want to. More and more, consumers are searching the web for local products and services... a trend expected to continue. To start today... reserve your own domain name. You can check availability and reserve one for about $9.00 per year at Namecheap.  You can get a hosting company for as little as $3.95/month at Peoplehost  So for as little as $60 per year, you can have a web presence today from which you are positioned for tomorrow.

For a restaurant, one indispensable tool for your website is software to manage your customer email activities.  One very good system is Aweber  This system includes an email sign-up that you place on your website. It will email your customer with whatever message you want to get across! All without effort on your part... once the system is set up of course.

Your goal should be to accumulate the largest email list possible. Customer should be able to sign up at your site or at the restaurant.. via a comment or sign up form. Offer them something to sign up...  Email frequently... keep in touch.

The Low Carb Craze?

The latest research may indicate that the Atkins craze may be on the downswing. Replacing it is "good carb / bad carb" Low Glycemic vs. high Glycemic foods. What's a restaurant to do? Email your thoughts and we'll share info....  

Over 2 years ago, we said....

LOW CARBOHYDRATE section on your menu. Do it today! Why? Because millions of people are on the ATKINS DIET... and eating out is difficult. They end up paying for a full meal, only to throw away the potatoes, bread, and other high carb items. A low carb selection is easy.... beef, seafood, poultry, pork... simply done without breading. If you are known as the place to go for a low carb meal.... you will get more business. People on the Atkins, talk to each other... share tips.... it is a win win situation for everyone! The diet is proving to be the most effective diet, the most healthy diet!!!  Get informed at atkins.gif (5314 bytes)  Even larger benefits await the restaurants who prepare other low carb dishes with carb controlled ingredients! This is hot... it's at the cutting edge. Act now and get the word out. Contact support groups and let them know your about your low carb menu! Let the local weight lifting clubs know about it too! Weight lifters "cut up" using low carb diets. Get your low carb offerings out to hospitals! Even small hospitals have 600 employees. Start today by offering low carb specials...

Another idea Offer low carb takeout munchies and lunches. The hardest part of the Atkins diet... is thinking ahead. "I'm hungry, what do I eat? I didn't take anything out of the freezer yesterday. Where can I buy just 6 oz of shrimp with nothing else... or an 8 oz chicken breast with nothing else... where can I buy two hamburger patties smothered with cheese and mushrooms... and nothing else. Hold the bun and don't charge me for it!"

Three keys to any success is: 1. SOLVE A PROBLEM   2. DO IT NOW   3. MAKE IT EASY   Low carb menu selections will be successful. There is a quiet revolution in eating that's happening now.... be a part of it!!!!

Vitrified? What's that mean? - When you hear that chinaware is "vitrified" it actually refers to the degree of melt in a clay body. Literally, like glass, meaning the ceramic body is non-porous. The composition includes silica which transforms to glass when fired at high temperatures. It is stronger, thinner, and more translucent than ware fired at lower temperatures and for shorter periods of time. What does this mean to the restaurant? Other than it's natural strength, fully vitrified china does not absorb moisture. If ware is not vitrified, it will absorb moisture. The body will expand and contract at different rates than the moisture, thereby by causing internal stress leading to breakage. Bottom Line --- Insist on vitrified chinaware!

Minimum Wage Thoughts - Minimum wage is another way of saying "I'd pay you less if I could." Think about it... is this the message you want to give your employees? Your employees are your biggest asset... more important than your decor, more important than almost anything! The right employee can attract business, turn your patron's bad experience into a good one, can save you thousands of dollars... and otherwise contribute to the success of your restaurant!

Nova Dough! - Here's an idea that worked extremely well at my restaurant! I created my own "restaurant money" on business card stock commonly available at any office supply store. Using Print Shop software, I made free drink money... 20% off money, buy one/get one free money, dinner on me money, free appetizer... I even put my dog's picture on it. I printed the front and back. They fit neatly into a wallet and best of all... they disappear in the wash!  The biggest bang for the buck is that they are different... and because of that, your restaurant will get free word of mouth publicity! Just sit back and think of the number of uses!"

  • Donations   How many people ask for donations? Sure there are many good causes. We can't support them all but at times we feel obligated since a good patron is asking. Why not give them "dough" for "buy one get one free"

  • Prizes   Best Halloween costume, weekly fish bowl business card drawing, complimentary drinks, you name it!

  • Employee Incentives   Most specials sold, employee of the week... recognition...

You can really have some fun with this!

The "Unexpected Extra" - Complete your patrons dining/entertainment experience with the unexpected extra. Whether its a sampling of a new menu item... a complimentary dessert... or recognition!... give them something that they didn't expect and they will remember you when it's time to make a dining out decision.

Chinaware Trends - We're definitely seeing a trend toward "bigger." Large pasta bowls lead the way for innovative restaurants. Add "wow" factor with 16" or 18" oval platters! Wide rim, bright white ware is quickly replacing traditional "American white." Also seeing a trend to match the food to the ware rather than the ware to the ware. Star shaped dessert plates... specialty appetizer plates... something different and entertaining. New glaze colors, even mixing and matching colors livens up the tabletop! Traditional cups/saucer combo is being replaced by mugs.

Dramatically Improve Your Hiring - Is this familiar? You hire 3 servers, 1 doesn’t show up for work the first day, the second quits after 2 days, and the third has some type of personal problem that tells you… “this won’t last.”

How do you avoid this?… by hiring the right people. The first step to hiring the right people is to  “pre-qualify” applicants before they walk in the door. In other words, determine the character and behavior you want in people and tell them in the ad, upfront! Let’s apply these principles to an ad for wait staff. First, if your newspaper puts ads in alphabetical order (ask), start with a word that will appear near the beginning of the listings. 

Busy restaurant is looking for excellent servers who enjoy people and smile without effort. You must be able to distinguish confusion from busy, be able to go with the flow… and have the gumption to not serve food that isn’t up to our restaurant’s high standards.  You must care about the way you look and not wear perfumes or have other odors that make patrons want to barf. You must be able to leave personal problems at the door. If you have a mate or spouse who interferes with your work… if you have a chemical dependency… have no sense of humor, or can’t work weekends, please sail on by this ad and work for one of our competitors!  If you have what it takes,  apply in person weekdays between 2-4 at Frank’s Fine Restaurant located at 123 Some Street.  EOE

Remember… be detailed in a humorous way. Your objective is to attract the best qualified applicants for your restaurant. Running a detailed ad will not cost you as much as hiring the wrong person! Think of the lifetime value of one customer who stops patronizing your restaurant because of a bad experience! With an ad like this, you will elicit a response… I’ll also be great advertising! Try this and email us your results.

Increase Your Volume by 20% or more within 2 Months! Study after study has been done indicating that your most immediate source of volume is with your existing customers. Studies also show that your best customers frequent your establishment approx. twice per month. If you could get all of them to visit one more time, you have the potential to increase volume by 33%! Now let’s be realistic and back that down to 20%… Would you like that?

I was recently at one of my favorite restaurants, one that I frequent at least 3 times a month. I know and talk to the owner every time I go there… which has been over six months. While talking to another patron, I learned that the restaurant features a “magician” every Wednesday. Why didn’t I know that? I have 2 kids who would love to be entertained with a magician while dining! The owner knows I have children. This restaurant missed a great opportunity! They missed an additional $80 in sales per month from just one customer! Don’t let this happen to you!

Here’s a cheap, simple way to create an online or paper newsletter with your patrons.
Gathering names: Go to your nearest office supply store and buy blank business cards. On one side, print name address, telephone number, and e-mail address. (You might even ask for their birthday) On the other, print “Win Dinner On Us!” Have your servers ask each patron to complete the card to receive your newsletter and have a chance to win a free dinner for two, to be chosen randomly on a monthly basis. I followed this and collected 600 names in 2 weeks! People will respond when asked. Divide the cards into 2 groups, patrons with e-mail, and those without.

E-mail newsletter Yes, it takes some time to key in all the e-mail addresses, but once they’re in… you can deliver up to the minute news and events about your restaurant…. Instantly!  The idea is to type your newsletter in a word processing format and automatically e-mail it to patrons!   No Postage… No Printing Costs!

You can email a monthly calendar of events! Tell ‘em what’s going on. You can e-mail upcoming specials… say you just received a shipment of fresh Tuna! E-mail a birthday greeting; a coupon for ½ off any appetizer on Mondays… let your imagination be your guide. 

Important: Give your patron subscribers a way to “opt” out of the newsletter. They should be able to do this via a reply email. Put this notice at the very bottom of your e-mail newsletter.

Why this works! Quiz question ---- What is the number one reason people stop patronizing a restaurant? Bad service? Bad food? WRONG! The number one reason people stop frequenting a restaurant is because their life’s pattern was interrupted… through no fault of yours! They took a vacation, changed jobs, had a baby, got a divorce… something interrupted their pattern of coming to your restaurant. A newsletter works because it keeps you in the forefront of thinking.

For those without e-mail! While certainly not as cost effective as e-mail, a printed newsletter is still worthwhile! It may cost you a little more than $1 to keep in touch with customers on a monthly basis.

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