What is Most Important for 2014?

Over the years I’ve seen what various operators do to enhance their business for (1) cost controls and (2) sales. I’ve put together what I’ve seen be the more successful of these two major items. The belief and the results are that the items below are not particularly groundbreaking but seem to be more of a matter of diligence and follow-through on a daily basis. Sometimes we as operators get caught up in the day-to-day operations and we don’t necessarily plan out specific goals and objectives. You may need to be more specific in your objectives and tasks to make a larger impact on your results.

Control Costs
Firstly, since the cost of goods and labor comprises 60%+ of your sales, this should be your primary focus for 2014.

In regards to the cost of goods, I’ve seen the following initiatives cause the most reduction:
• Visit with your prime vendors 2-3 times per year to discuss your costs and what might they do to help you lower your costs without compromising your quality.
• Review your recipes and see if both the kitchen and the bar staffs are adhering to them. Secondly, you might review the actual recipes to see if they are optimal for your use.
• Look at your portion sizes. If a portion is too big then there is less of a reason for the guest to order additional items such as appetizers, desserts, side dishes, etc. Sometimes less is better.
• Spend more time in the kitchen and the bar. Look at how things are being stored, prepped, and cooked. You might be surprised at your findings.

Raise Sales
Improve the guest experience. How are your guests being treated? What are the comments from the public? Survey your guests to see how they feel. Send in a couple of secret shoppers and gain their opinion. Once you gather all of this data you can see your soft spots and train to them to achieve a better customer experience.
Increase your guest check average. Firstly, this is a matter of determining what the existing GCA is for each service staff member, determining what the new levels could be, setting the goals and coaching and training to achieve these levels. Charting daily results is mandatory to get all of the staff fully engaged in this process. As a matter of tangible results, we do have a client who has several operations and, with this program instituted, has seen sales increase from 5%-17%. I would say this is nothing short of remarkable.
Value Added Propositions. There are a number of ideas: Kids eat Free, Martini Mondays-all Martinis and Manhattans are $5, half-priced wine night, $7 express lunch on Tuesdays, etc. You are trying to gain more guest count, thereby enhancing your loyalty base. If the new guest or even the existing guest likes the promotion they will come back more often.

What I’ve seen happen is that the companies that have been diligent in their efforts and stuck to their pathway have seen better results. I know it is easy to get going in a number of different directions and not to follow what you are setting out to do, but I think it is really a matter of focus and discipline. I can quote from Jim Collins book, Good to Great: “disciplined people, disciplined thought and disciplined action”. If you would like further help in achieving these results, please contact the Restaurant Group.

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