Movies like Chef & The Hundred-Foot Journey might appeal to the chef in you. But, managing a restaurant is not as easy as running a hot knife through butter. It’s like long hours of working under pressure and living up to the expectations of food gourmets.
The possible reason for failed attempts is restaurateurs changing the concept quite frequently. Instead, they need to come up with an idea, based on market research, and stick to it.
If you are frequently changing your course in the middle, it will send a wrong signal to your guests.
Along with serving the taste palette of guests and managing inventory, there are many other critical processes to be taken care of while making your restaurant business successful.
12 Tips to Grow Your Restaurant Business
So, you have the choice to distinguish yourself from the rest or join the increasing list of restaurateurs. Here’re some tips and tricks help your restaurant business grow.
- Start with In-Depth Market Research
It is crucial to do market research for deciding your location and target audience. Find out what local people want that will make them visit a new restaurant.
Depending on the target customers’ demands and your budget, you can go for something low-cost like food trucks or a high-end fancy restaurant. While there might be stiff competition, an accessible location with parking space will help bring in customers easily.
- Keep Expenses in Check
Do not underestimate the importance of optimizing your expenses and keeping adequate reserve funds. Restaurants operate on thin margins and many of them have still not recovered from the negative impacts of Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a survey by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Voices program, 40% of owners in food, restaurant and hospitality small businesses were planning to take a loan or line of credit to avoid closing shutters.
Even small measures like hiring temporary staff during peak hours or negotiating with vendors to reduce costs can go a long way in optimizing fixed (staff salary, license fees, rent) and variable (food, utilities) costs.
However, the most optimal way is not easily visible. An expense management software can be ideal in this case to control spending and identify cost saving opportunities. You can track all your expenses and get insights into asset-wise spending.
- Hire a Great Staff & Keep them Motivated
Think like a customer. What do you like when you visit your favorite restaurant? Is it the ambience, the food quality, or the staff service that stood out? Well, the key to satisfy customers is to hire great employees and keep them happy.
Hire chefs who can prepare a wide range of dishes that appeal to the taste buds of customers and have something unique to offer. Other things to ensure include:
Your hired staff must have good soft skills to establish connection with customers. They should adhere well to restaurant sanitation rules and know to handle demanding customers or other emergencies.
Clearly allocate responsibilities to each employee and hold them accountable for their successful completion. This can include food purchasing, cleaning, inventory management, etc.
Spend money on a suitable restaurant management software. The software will streamline functions related to CRM, billing, staff scheduling, inventory management, among others.
For the staff to deliver their best, keep them motivated with competitive salary, incentives and holidays, professional growth opportunities, and the like.
Suggested Read: How to Start Food Truck Business : Complete Guide
- Let Your Consumers Set the Price
Something which is considered too cheap at $15 in Malibu can be too expensive for guests visiting a restaurant in the suburbs. Setting the price for each item in the menu is about considering the location, demographic and psychographic factors.
Why increase the price of those dishes in your menu, which are not much in demand? Instead, you can raise the price of your chef-special dishes which move really fast, as your guests wouldn’t mind spending more on those.
Also, you can adopt practices like offering smaller food portions at a lower price to ensure that guests are happy with the pricing. Another trick to attract price-sensitive customers is not putting the price along with the tax included.
Adding a unique mix of text, styles, and images on the menu card will further add to the appeal. This will have a positive psychological impact on your guests.
You can refer to analytic reports and the ratio of change in profits and guest counts with the shift in prices. Technology solutions like restaurant software can help analyse the response of customers to changing food prices.
In the end, you have to make all price adjustments on the basis of guest behavior. The best idea is to raise prices on selective menu options, which are not price sensitive.
- Track Your Stock & Inventory
Effective inventory management is essential to operate restaurant business successfully. Both over and under stocking ultimately affect your profits. Assign staff to regularly track inventory levels and stay up to date with the business demand.
Restaurant inventory management software can serve as a game-changing tool for your business. It helps in tracking usage and waste accurately in real time, maintaining optimal stock levels, making demand forecasts, and more.
These features speed up the inventory operations and simplify the work of staff. Hence, don’t be afraid of investing your money in an inventory management software if you want clear visibility into your operations.
- Invest in Technological Solutions
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that small businesses need not invest in technological equipment and software. Covid-19 pandemic has been a major contributor in pushing digital transformation to the forefront of restaurant operations.
As per a 2020 survey by PYMNTS, digital restaurant food orders increased by 142 percent along with a 130 percent rise in take away orders between March 2020 and 2021 in the US.
Technological solutions can help you be data-driven and improve the efficiency of operations. For instance, using a restaurant billing software can help create invoices quickly and save material costs of manual billing.
It also ensures smoother tracking of transactions, accurate tax calculation and accounting records, creation of monetary reminders, etc.
Restaurant management tools can also provide reports on total sales, staff performance, in-demand menu items, customer retention rate, and more. This can help in making better decisions for the success of your restaurant business.
- Use a Good POS Software
Restaurant POS software will help you go a long way in terms of central kitchen management and inventory management. With automatic table ordering and billing, you can fasten processes at your restaurant.
Inventory management processes can also be made more efficient with top restaurant POS software. You can track your stock in terms of location and quantity.
Not to forget about leveraging the features for online reservation, hassle-free food ordering and quick delivery. Restaurant POS also helps run special discounts and vouchers to delight your customers and ensure repeat visits.
- Use Effective Strategies for Promotions
If you do not advertise your USPs, nobody will know about them no matter how good you are. Marketing is the basic necessity for your brand awareness and eventually acquiring customers. This does not mean going all out with your marketing budget but rather adopting strategies that are effective.
Start by building your restaurant’s website. It should have a user-friendly interface with all the necessary data like contact details and features like online reservation, ordering, etc. One of the best ways of promotions these days is to use social media sites like Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
Show people mouthwatering recipes and special events on your social media page. Be regular and post latest offers and other developments. For offline promotions, you can distribute flyers, prints newspaper ads, and more.
- Ensure Consistent Branding
How do you make people recognise your business and build trust? The answer lies in maintaining brand consistency. For this, setting brand guidelines is essential.
Create an exciting and memorable logo to represent your business on websites, newspapers, billboards, street signs, and anywhere else.
Invoices can be created with professional templates available in restaurant billing software. The visual style, color palette, and other elements that reflect your brand should be similar across all offline and online marketing channels.
- Meet Compliance Requirements
In your restaurant, everything has to be perfect – The wine list, menu, guest reservations, kitchen processes, and so on. Amidst all this, you may end up ignoring the legal & financial foundation of your business.
Bookkeeping, accounting, payroll and HR tasks are often taken for granted, resulting in the shortage of utilities. You can’t serve the best food in the world, if you run short of utilities.
Also, ensure that you comply with restaurant regulations in your locality to avoid any legal trouble that can send your restaurant business off track. As a restaurant, you must not violate terms of employee rights act, food standards and safety act, and other such laws.
It also means that food business operator license, shop and establishment license, certifications, and other regulations must be maintained and up to date. You have got to do it all to win a running race.
- Be Proactive in Rectifying Your Mistakes
In spite of your best efforts, there can be instances where customers are unhappy with your services. Instead of trying to sweep the complaints under a rug, be prompt in addressing their grievances. If customers are dissatisfied, they can post their negative opinions on review sites, forums, social media, and other places.
Ways to appease them can include replacing the dish, waiving off the bill, offering perks on upcoming visits, and so on. You can also request feedback and suggestions from your customers.
- Always be Ready to Try New Things
Be aware of any new trend that hit the restaurant market. Remember that your guests want to experiment with new menu options. For instance, a lot of guests put requests for fusion foods.
So, it’s a smart move to introduce fusion food specials on your menu, and delight your customers. You can also organize musical and fun events at your restaurant to attract more customers.
The more cautious steps you take, the more profitable your restaurant will become. Watch your steps and calculate the impact of every change you introduce at your La Bistro or La Brasserie.
Also, find out how you can make the most of restaurant technologies and stay ahead of the pack.
- Is restaurant business profitable in India?
Yes, a restaurant business in India can be profitable provided that they follow the right practices. However, running a legacy business maybe difficult in today’s day and age.
- How to promote your restaurant business?
Treating the customer right and running loyalty campaigns are beneficial. For offline promotions, you can provide ads in newspapers, distribute flyers, etc. Online promotions include adding your business to Google’s local directory, social media advertising, and more.
- How to start a small restaurant business?
Do market research and decide what you want to do. Get licenses, make investments in location, equipment and other hardware/ software technologies, hire staff, and promote your business.