What are the goals for your restaurant in the new year?
Happy New Year! What a wonderful and exciting year it has been for Pittsburgh restaurants in 2014. The food scene continues to evolve. Local chefs keep elevating the game with exciting dishes, collaborations, and pop up events. From Kate Romane’s Big Table to Cure’s Justin Severino chef collaborations (oh, by the way you don’t want to miss this James Beard Celebrity Chef event in March) we were presented with a myriad of unique dining experiences keeping us wondering what will be next! With the Pittsburgh restaurant competition heating up, I ask you, what are the goals for your restaurant in the new year? If you have not set any yet – here is some food for thought as you dive into 2015.
Your restaurant must evolve
As a restaurant broker, I have been engaged to help to sell some of Pittsburgh’s oldest restaurants due to declining performances. How does this happen? A few years ago you couldn’t get a seat at some of these places without a reservation. Now, they are out of business. In most cases the answer is – they didn’t evolve. Pittsburgh’s demographics have changed drastically over the past few years but these restaurants have not changed with them. Diners want a unique experience, healthier selections, and also vegan and gluten free menu items to choose from. They care about where their food is sourced. They want a comfortable and social atmosphere while enjoying a high quality dinner. Have you updated your menu and decor to meet the new demand? Be sure to understand the new market and make adjustments accordingly.
Evaluate your staff and customer service standards
I was having dinner with friends recently and we were discussing the importance of customer service to a dining experience. We all agreed that great customer service can save a less than perfect meal. We are all human and make mistakes and that goes for the most talented of chefs. I’ve experienced many dishes that had fallen below my expectations but the overall dining experience was saved by exceptional customer service. Conversely, I have had exceptional meals at places where my service was so poor that I have not gone back. Don’t under estimate the importance of your servers and bar staff. It’s not just about the food. For the new year you might want to think about a developmental or training plan. Find ways to keep them engaged and incentivized. They are critical to the success of your restaurant business.
Know your financials and statistics
Bottom line – you are in the restaurant business to make money. Sure, you may be passionate about cooking and food but at the end of the day you have to make a profit to stay in business. It is critical that you know your financials and business statistics intimately. You should be reviewing these items daily. Best practice is to develop a monthly budget and at the end of each month review actual results against your budget. If actual items vary greatly from your budgeted amounts be sure to understand why and make adjustments as necessary. What are your food costs? Overhead? Staffing? Is your revenue trending up? Declining? Staying on top of your financial results is a key component any business success.
Cheers to health, happiness, and success in the new year!