Increase the number of guests in your restaurant
Possibly the biggest challenge facing any restaurant is how to increase the number of guests in your restaurant. For years, the owners have been testing new ideas and concepts to attract customers to their restaurants. Daily specials, sponsorship of local sporting or music events, and advertising in local newspapers or high schools are proven methods of attracting guests to your restaurant, but they’re outdated and have minimal, if any, impact.
The real secret to increasing the number of diners in your restaurant is to “Do it right”. What you decide as a theme or menu for your restaurant does not matter. What matters is that you focus on what you do well, and nothing else.
Let’s start with the menu. Are your portions the correct size? How many of the plates that are brought to the kitchen are empty? If the plates are not empty, what items are left? These are questions an owner or manager should be asking servers on a regular basis to determine which portions are too big and which are too small.
Do you have too many items on your menu? Hoping to attract more customers, restaurants have begun to diversify their menus by offering exotic foods and delicacies. The end result is an overloaded menu that offers too many options for the guest. A typical menu should not contain more than 8-10 starters, 10-12 main courses and 4-6 desserts. There are two reasons why this formula works. The first reason is that by limiting the number of items the kitchen must produce, they become faster and more adept at preparing those dishes. When diners go out to dinner they have a rough idea of what they want to eat. By providing a simplified yet well-balanced menu, guests can spend more time enjoying the “dining experience” and less time selecting food.
Now that you have the menu and the kitchen in order, we must look at the service. There is no better way to increase the number of diners in your restaurant than by providing excellent guest service. Think for yourself, how many times have you returned to a restaurant that had great food and lousy service. For most of you the answer will never be. Now think about how many times you have returned to a restaurant that had great service and mediocre food. Most of you will probably say that on at least one occasion you have returned to a restaurant because the service you received was excellent.
Service staff are your restaurant’s front-line workers, and therefore the strongest impression of your product. Having a trained service team is a huge challenge for any restaurant, but the best way to reduce these challenges is through training and consistency. Train your team to perform each task the same way every time, and you’ll see spectacular results. If each server serves each guest the same way (excluding individual personalities) every time, you’ll see your speed increase, your ability to help other team members increase, and most importantly, your accountability increase.
At the end of the day, it is up to the owner or manager to keep track of standards and training. If a restaurant has an amazing service package that is never enforced, then there really is no service package at all. As the owner or manager, you need to visit each table and talk to as many guests as you can to get a “real” idea of how your service and kitchen teams are performing. Remember, these challenges can be overcome with a little planning, a lot of training, and constant follow-up. It’s your business, if you don’t take an active role in ensuring its success, who will?