Combating Minimum Wages 2017

“Restaurant start-ups, Restaurant turn-arounds, and Profit-improvement”


It is upon us as we speak. We can grumble about it and get angry, but at the end of the day it is going to happen.

What can we do as operators to “overcome and benefit” from this?

1. INCREASE SALES EFFICIENCIES – If you are not tracking sales/man-hour on the Service staff, I suggest you do this. Ongoing reviews with staff members showing them how they are tracking on sales per guest (guest check average) are vital to enhance your overall sales. I found that building your sales brick by brick in this manner will increase the sales.

Coaching and training are vital. This needs to be done daily. Have ongoing dialogue with your staff in regards to them suggesting new ideas. Try to be less top down driven and more flexible to allow the staff to facilitate the process.

2. INCREASE YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS – This does not necessarily mean spending more money, but more about pinpointing what is effective and what is not. It is a longer discussion, but each time you do a marketing program, you need to track your data to see what the return on investment is or is not.

Based on what I see and the trend that is working well are social media, mobile websites, delivery programs, neighborhood outreach, and loyalty programs. Keeping up the continual dialogue with your current guests and the marketplace in general will spur on sales growth.

3. SIMPLIFY FOOD PREP/ELIMINATE COMPLEX FOOD ITEMS – Ask vendors to see how you may be able to provide what we call value added products to eliminate some of the prep work in the kitchen. This is going to be a trade-off for higher food cost, but less labor.

4. BE RUSH READY – Be sure to have pre-shift meeting each and every shift.

5. OBJECTIVELY DEFINE LABOR REQUIREMENTS/SCHEDULES – Ensure the needs of the business is met.

6. STAFF – CROSS TRAIN – MULTI TASKABLE – Provides flexibility by giving your staff the capabilities if they need to “fill in” roles outside their primary job duties.

7. AS A LAST RESORT, RAISE PRICES – Since it is public knowledge that wages are going up we now have the “liberty” to selectively raise our prices. When doing this we must have a dialogue with our staff on why we are doing this. Essentially wages levels are increasing by double digits.

I suggest you look at your pricing every 6 months and make determinations of increases and decreases. I also suggest if you do raise the prices that you infill with some less expensive items so that the guest does have more options to choose from.

We are working with several restaurants on combating the minimum wage hike now and we’d like to be able to offer you some of the labor saving devices we have instituted.

Please contact us: Arnold at 206.679.1037 or Taylor at 206.650.8097 or email [email protected] for further discussions.

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