7 Restaurant Resolutions You Need to Make for 2016

By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert

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The infamous New Year resolutions. Every year we make big plans for the coming year. This is going to be your year, right? Then what happens about three months in? We lose focus and soon those resolutions get bogged down with excuses.

So, while the New Year is still fresh, let’s put down some goals that can make your business better! When you work with 500 restaurants a year, you notice patterns — patterns that separate the good from the outstanding. The sad thing is that every restaurant has the potential to become better. Many take action to make things happen and when they experience a setback, they lose enthusiasm and stop. Little do they know that sometimes they are so close to seeing some change, and if they would have just stuck it out, they would be in a better position than they are now. 

Here is the plan for 2016:

Write down your goals daily. Not just one time and that’s it. You do not go to the gym just one time and say, “That’s it, I worked out. I’m good for the rest of the year.” The same goes for goal setting and resolutions. You need to write them down every single day to get your brain trained to look for opportunity to work on those goals.

Declare it and share it. Tell people your goals and have them hold you accountable. When you declare your goals to the world, you become open to coaching and mentoring. A quick side note about friends or family that tell you to “be realistic” about your goals: Anyone who tells you to do that is not a true friend. Find people who lift you up, not drag you down. 

7 Resolutions for the Year

Here is a list of resolutions for 2016, that if you have the courage to implement and take daily action on, will change your business for the better.

1. Fire that person who is bringing your business down. 

Those negative attitudes are hurting your culture more than you realize. Your culture is your brand. You always protect the brand! 

Here is a simple exercise to see how your mindset is about your business. Now answer each with the first word that pops in your head — do not overthink this.

My restaurant is _______________.

My guests are ______________.

My staff are _______________.

Here’s a clue. If you hesitated at all on the question about your staff, who was the person you thought of (if it was negative)? That person is pulling your restaurant down. You need to do yourself, the rest of your team, and that person a favor and let them go.

2. Get a grip on your numbers. 

It's truly sad how many independent restaurants do not know their food costs or have a yearly budget. This is Business 101! If you don't know your numbers, you don't know your business. 

Make it a must to cost out your menu. There really is no excuse for this. Do you think Apple does not know the price down to the penny of every product they sell? Of course they do. You need to as well. 

Not having a budget or using sales projections is another restaurant sin. If you do not have a plan for your business, then you are relying on hope that the market will be kind to you. Hope is not a business strategy. 

3. Update your menu. 

A new menu will breathe life into your brand. It also allows you to take off those items that are low profit and not popular. Make your menu based on guest purchasing trends and bottom-line sensibility. Take your ego out of the menu and you'll put more dollars in the bank.

Your point-of-sale system will tell you the cold hard truth of what your guests are spending their money on. You need to listen and give them more of what they want. 

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4. Learn about social media.

Sorry to tell you this, but social media is here to stay. Too many owners suffer from what psychologists call “denial bias,” which is the tendency to discount or disbelieve an important and uncomfortable fact.

Facts: There are now 7.2 billion people on the planet and of those, the following numbers make the data really interesting:

  • There are just over 3 billion active Internet users (45 percent of the world’s Internet users)
  • Nearly 2.1 billion people have social media accounts
  • 3.65 billion mobile users have access to the Internet via smartphones and tablets
  • Close to 1.7 billion people have active social media accounts

What does that mean to restaurants? You have to market where your guests are and that can be summed up in one word: mobile.

5. Appreciate your team.

Most managers use outdated management styles to run their teams. The days of the yell, scream, and throw-things-around mindset is good for TV ratings, not for running a successful business. Things need to change if we want to attract the younger generations into our industry. 

One of the main reasons staff members leave is because there is a lack of appreciation and recognition. The restaurant industry can be brutal as far as hours worked, combined with the ever changing slow-to-slammed tempo with guests. How hard is it to take five minutes at the end of the shift to just say “thank you” to a staff member? You’d be shocked to learn that most don’t. Then they are puzzled why their turnover rate is so high. 

6. Focus on what is hospitality.

Let’s declare 2016 the Year of Hospitality! Seriously, the industry as a collective needs to get refocused on the word “hospitality” and what it means. We use the words “service” and “hospitality” so interchangeably that perhaps they have become diluted. Let’s define them for this year:

Service: The steps or tasks used to fill a need. It’s the mechanics of the job like serve from the left, clear from the right. Almost anyone can be trained on the mechanics of a job.

Hospitality: This is the emotional connection. Hospitality is basically the human element. You have to want to be hospitable. It cannot be forced or faked. True hospitality is felt. 

7. Tap into your resourcefulness.

Most people fail to achieve their resolutions because they blame lack of resources as the reason why. Common statements like, “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have the people” are just lame excuses that never will get you closer to your goals. Successful people all know that lack of resources is never the real problem, it’s people’s lack of resourcefulness. If you really want to make changes and take your restaurant to the next level, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.

One of the best quotes to remind you to tap into your resourcefulness is from the military commander of ancient Carthage, Hannibal (247 BC – 182 BC): “I will either find a way, or make one.”

Read books, find information on the Internet, listen to audiobooks, get a mentor, get a coach. Just do something. Action is always the cure.

Here is to making 2016 the best year ever! Now get going!