3 Key Phrases That Sign the Decline of a Restaurant

3 Key Phrases That Sign the Decline of a Restaurant

When you listen to people talk about their restaurant, there are subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) verbal signals that causes you to have a reaction. A negative reaction. As a consultant, you hear these words spoken and in the back of your mind you hear a voice in your head say, “wait for it”. Usually those voices are not wrong. It could be a few months or a year. Eventually, those that throw around boasting remarks tend to be sitting down and eating the very words they were saying.

What you say is a reflection on what is really going on in that three-pound piece of gray matter nestled on the top of your body. The funny thing about the words we say to ourselves, is that when we repeat them with energy, we actually believe them!

Here are three common phrases uttered by short sighted restaurants that originate from the three cardinal sins of leadership: ego, pride, and denial.

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This is The Number One Problem in Your Restaurant

This is The Number One Problem in Your Restaurant

Problems.

All restaurants have them. You probably have a few, too.

It’s okay.

Having problems is actually a good thing because they signal a gap from where you currently are to where you want your restaurant to be. The thing you do not want to do is ignore them. Problems can be a gift. Ignoring them is a sure way to let them grow into a monster that can consume your business. Always better to get the monster while it is small and does not require the National Guard (a.k.a. a consultant) to be called in.

So, what problems are you facing right now? What keeps you up at night?

Now, it doesn’t matter where your restaurant is located. The industry shares the same issues globally (I have seen this first hand as an intentional restaurant coach). The struggle to find talent, the need to dominate your marketing, and the rising costs of doing business all are common problems that many restaurants face today. What is a restaurant to do?

Understand the number one problem that is the cause for all of this…

People.

All business problems are really just people problems in disguise.

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Is Your Operation Ready to Offer Digital Ordering?

Nearly every household orders food to-go from a local restaurant at least once or twice per month (some per week) and the days of traditional ‘phone orders’ or simply waiting in line, are clearly coming to an end thanks to new and continuously improving technology.

mobile ordering

Many independent restaurants have been sitting back, watching the development of online/mobile ordering, also known as digital ordering, wondering if they need to get into this space and/or how to even get started.

The question shouldn’t be ‘should we introduce digital ordering?’— the question should be ‘when will we introduce digital ordering?’ The answer to that question should be: As soon as possible, BUT only when your operations are ready for it and you won’t be undermining any restaurant fundamentals throughout the process.

If you haven’t implemented digital ordering, don’t feel bad!

It’s obvious you didn’t open a restaurant because you love technology. You opened one because you love food, drink, and serving a community through the development of customer experiences.

There are numerous benefits, however, to offering digital ordering methods to your guests. The good thing is that technology (or apps) currently on the market, have made it extremely simple and cost effective to introduce this new feature while improving on customer experiences. To sum it up, independent restaurateurs no longer need an IT department or professional to get started— the hard work is already done for you!

If you’re on the fence about the how, why, and when of digital ordering for your establishment, consider the following tips to see if it’s the right fit for you.

online ordering
  1. Improves Efficiencies – Digital ordering will not tie-up phone lines or require staff to stand around taking manual orders.  This will allow staff to be more productive in terms of food preparation and other customer service requirements, especially if the ordering method is tied right into the point-of-sale system. This will undoubtedly and effectively control labour costs while improving communication amongst your team and your customers.  Speaking of preparation, digital ordering methods often allow customers to ‘pre-order’ hours ahead of time, allowing the kitchen more time to prep, just like traditional table reservations would for a full-service restaurant.
  2. Improves Quality Control – Digital ordering will also reduce human error often associated with phone or counter orders (due to background noise, customer accents, or simple misunderstanding), resulting in higher customer satisfaction rates and often quicker customer return rates.
  3. Improves Mobile Presence – With digital ordering, you instantly have a mobile app while improving your mobile and online presence, which then improves your SEO, marketing, and overall customer satisfaction. Use this updated technology to ensure your website, social media, and online efforts work FOR you, not against you.
  4. Improves Competitive Advantage – You’re not alone when it comes to not having online ordering methods implemented. It is likely true, many of your hyper-local competitors are ‘behind,’ as well. This means that introducing this technology will give you an immediate advantage while also positioning you to compete at a higher level with the larger mainstream brands in your area.
  5. Improves Overall Revenue – When customers are given more time to order and can view all of the different menu options available to them, they tend to spend more money. Digital ordering increases impulse purchases through effective up-selling. Imagine what adding even just $2-$4 could mean to your bottom line!
  6. Improves Marketing Efforts – Lastly, digital ordering collects data that is highly beneficial. Many of the applications offer ways to track previous orders, create customized profiles to predict sales, and understand which neighbourhoods are buying and which ones are not. It also provides an avenue to improve social media efforts by driving sales directly through these platforms.
ordering food online

Introducing digital ordering methods can, however, come with their challenges for operators and these challenges are not necessarily technology driven. Here are some to consider.

  • Menu Setup – It must be easy for customers to navigate your menu. If there are customizable dishes (for example, a hamburger), it must be very easy for customers to decide which toppings they want and don’t want. In addition, typical food sensitivities or allergy alerts need to be clearly visible to the customer on your digital application. The solution is to keep your menu simple.
  • Delivery Options – With digital ordering as an option, the expectation of delivery often presents itself to your customer. It’s not mandatory, but something to consider as an operator. Delivery can create more immediate questions than answers, though, as one needs to decide on using either a delivery app company or hiring their own set of drivers. This, then, poses insurance questions and another potential increase in costs. Delivery can be expensive and difficult to ensure food is delivered as advertised— meaning your style of to-go packaging will need to also be reviewed for quality assurance.
  • Venue Layouts – With an increase in digital orders or to-go orders, in general, a restaurant's layout may need to be adjusted. This could mean less tables and larger pick-up areas. It could also mean aligning kitchen equipment differently and even creating specified digital ordering pickup parking spaces to ensure these customers are in and out, as quickly as possible.

The entire premise of digital ordering is to simplify the ordering sequence, for both the restaurant and the customer. If you cannot promise a high level of customer satisfaction, then you’re not ready.

Don’t start to offer digital ordering just because others are offering it. It needs to be thought through and planned for before it’s launched. In summary, customers must enjoy the digital ordering experience just like they would if they were dining in.

By Doug Radkey, Industry Expert

The Main Dish: Houston-Based Restaurants Respond to Hurricane Harvey, How to Adopt Japanese Flavors, and Other Highlights

In the age of information overload, refinement is key. That was the thought behind The Main Dish — a quick compilation of the most bookmark-worthy links from the Foodable Network. Aside from our usual daily content, every Sunday, The Main Dish will serve a fresh batch of handpicked pieces of the most appetizing lists & literature that you may have missed.

Japanese food

Getting Past the Labor Crunch Affecting the Restaurant Industry

Forget why it happened — or continues to happen — but there is a very real shortage of kitchen labor. You can have a shimmering five-star Yelp rating, a filled dining room, and the best craft beer list around, but without staff to make food and make drinks, you are nowhere. Throwing your hands up in meaningless desperation because ‘there aren’t people out there!’ is less than productive. Instead, get real about plugging employment holes.

12-Year Local Brand Urbane Cafe Thinks There's Room for Growth in Fast Casual

On this episode of On Foodable Weekly, host Paul Barron talks to Tom Holt of Urbane Cafe about why he decided to take on a full made-from-scratch menu in Ventura, California 12 years ago. In 2003, Holt was a professional motocross racer and couldn’t find a healthy fast casual in Ventura. He took that as inspiration to create his own. And thus, Urbane Cafe was born. Everything at Urbane is made from scratch from the bread and the sauces to the dressings. 

How to Adopt the Flavors of Japan

Guests are increasingly adventurous with the help of social media, which is educating and luring guests to establishments that are offering delightful new flavors. These flavors comfort, intrigue, and perhaps confuse a little–all at the same time. Adopting the flavors of Japan, even when used in non-traditional ways, is a way to offer guests an authentic flavor that satisfies and doesn’t have to add much to existing food costs. 

 

Hurricane Harvey.jpeg

Everytable: The Oasis Found in U.S. Food Deserts

Foodable met up with some of the great minds in hospitality at this year’s HUB conference in Southern California. On this episode of On Foodable Weekly we hear how CEO Sam Polk started Everytable and how the company stays profitable. Everytable creates healthy grab-and-go meals and sells them for cheaper than the price of local fast food. The goal is that everyone, even those in food deserts, can afford to feed their families nourishing meals.

How Houston Restaurants are Giving Back to the Local Community Post-Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane season is upon us and as another beast of a storm comes tumbling our way, Texas is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. People’s houses, businesses, and even lives has been destroyed in a matter of days. But out of the bad comes the good. In these times of hardship, we really see America’s charitable spirit. Millions have been donated and there have been so many volunteers after the storm that they are being turned away.

The First Step To A Better Restaurant

Do you want a better restaurant? Of course you do. You wouldn't be reading a blog post like this if you didn't. You can have a better restaurant today. Actually, right now. It starts with one simple decision. Just three powerful words: raise your standards. While it sounds simple on the surface, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. Saying you want a better restaurant and actually getting a better restaurant can be the challenge. 

The First Step To A Better Restaurant

The First Step To A Better Restaurant

Do you want a better restaurant? Of course you do.

You wouldn't be reading a blog post like this if you didn't. You can have a better restaurant today.

Actually, right now.

It starts with one simple decision. Just three powerful words: raise your standards.

While it sounds simple on the surface, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. Saying you want a better restaurant and actually getting a better restaurant can be the challenge. There are a few things to get out in the open before you can make that jump to the next level.

They say that what lies between desire and results is action.

Many people think that the road to success is a fairly straight line. The reality is success is more like a winding road with peaks, valleys, a few roadblocks, detours, and an occasional sinkhole thrown in. Even Ray Kroc, the ‘founder’ of McDonald’s, was quoted as saying, “I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night.”

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