Top 10 factors for success in the restaurant business

Business-critical issues that make the difference

Many independent restaurants and chains are built on a simple idea — great food, a unique atmosphere and outstanding service. Menus, decor and staff make a huge difference to income and customer reviews.

But it’s often the behind-the-scenes ‘business’ of running a restaurant that can decide whether it succeeds of fails. Many restaurants and managers don’t fully grasp this … to their cost 

“Chef Robert Irvine said it’s unfortunately a common occurrence for him to ask owners of a ‘Restaurant Impossible’ location about their food and labour costs and how their revenue and profits stack up only to receive a dumbfounded look.”What Food Network show Restaurant Impossible discovered …

So here are the areas where restaurants must take control

No.1 Seeing the real picture

It’s essential that restaurant bosses see into the gritty business realities of their operation on a day-to-day basis — to check they’re actually turning in a profit. Relying on monthly spreadsheets means you’re always playing catch-up and you’re never totally sure if the figures are correct.

Instead, you need detailed, accurate metrics on everything from daily sales and inventory levels, through to payroll expenditure and pain points such as voids or meals arriving late. Then if business partners or stakeholders ask: ‘How’s the business going?’ … you’ll be able to give them the clearest picture possible.

No.2 Managing multiple sites skilfully

It’s vital that bosses participate in restaurant operations. No-one can be an absentee owner or manager and expect their restaurant to thrive. You must be involved and leading. But this gets especially complicated when you have multiple sites. You can’t have eyes and ears everywhere.

However, with the right restaurant technology, it’s possible to monitor performance across your company — even if you only spend a quarter of your time at each location. So if there’s something going wrong somewhere, your mobile app will let you know. With the kind of information we’ve just talked about coming from every restaurant, you can make better strategic decisions too.

No.3 Controlling costs relentlessly

Maintaining cash-flow is essential, but it’s easy to overspend. So you need tools and processes in place to control labour costs — and make sure staffing levels fit your needs. Similarly, poor purchasing, over-portioning and food waste can eat into your profitability. Often, you won’t know it’s happening. But the right tech can suggest the right levels of expenditure and enforce limits.

No.4 Managing inventory precisely

So often, restaurants rely on a ‘gut feel’ of what’s needed. Perhaps the head chef or someone else wanders around, checks fridges and makes a few ad-hoc orders. But this can lead to blind ordering, careless bulk buying and stock wastage. You can miss out on sales too — by running out at critical moments.

But savings of up to 15% are achievable by controlling inventory properly (and by using accurate forecasts). With right tools, you can track inventory and food use at all your locations — and pass spare stock between them easily. You can even predetermine preferred suppliers and place orders in a controlled way.

No.5 Knowing what’s most profitable

Do you know which dishes are your most profitable? Do you know which staff perform the best? And can you predict your busiest times — when the largest slice of your income is generated?

With an end-to-end restaurant management system, you’ll know the cost of every shift, dish and ingredient. This will help your table staff to steer diners towards dishes with the greatest margin. You’ll also become more aware of opportunities to create specials/new menu items to use the stock up before it expires.

No.6 Forecasting with pinpoint accuracy

Being able to predict demand is possible based on past operating data that can include sales, guest numbers, staffing and seasonal patterns. Then you might want to factor in weather forecasts, special events, holidays and the opening/closing of nearby competitors.

With the right tech, you can even generate the orders, staff schedules and food prep plans you’ll need over coming weeks. All of this allows you to optimise operations and maximise productivity.

Near-perfect predictions

A restaurant chain with 100 locations trialled an automatic forecasting solution over five months in 2018. Working alone, the system could achieve a forecasting accuracy of 92%.

When calendar details and events were added, this increased to 95-96%. With a small amount of manual fine-tuning each week by managers, the accuracy hit 98-99%.

No.7 Standardising processes

It’s great of restaurants define the best way of managing their operations — and teach people carefully to stick to the plan. But things often go awry in the heat of the moment because of pressures, new staff arriving or a lack of attention to detail.

The ‘secret sauce’ of any restaurant tech is the ability to automate systems,
streamline processes and then replicate them across sites, so everyone has to abide by them — with zero wriggle room. This can include everything from the front of house to the kitchen … from checking inventory in seconds on a tablet, through to seeing recipes on screen, and preparing dishes on time.

No.8 Creating new revenue streams

It’s important that restaurants — especially those that also deliver food — find an easy way to incorporate third party apps and social media platforms.

But to boost demand themselves, restaurants should be keeping track of customer preferences and past visits — and introducing incentives and rewards programmes. A good POS device will enable staff to upsell naturally. Customers’ buying behaviours can also help to influence new menus and special offers.

No.9 Improved staff management

We’ve touched on the importance of staff schedules and labour costs already, but it’s also important to find ways to monitor staff performance — each employee’s attendance rates, satisfaction scores, how many discounts/refunds they give away and how well they work at busy times. This issue is tightly linked to profitability.

The right technology will also help you to move your workforce between sites easily, without creating complexity. And having a system that can be used by staff (with some restrictions) can enable employees to view their shifts and enter requests fairly without this becoming a major drama for managers.

No.10 Providing the best guest experience

Customers want less time waiting for tables and bills. Addressing them by name and knowing their preferences will make them feel more valued. And getting their orders correct and delivered on time will help you to retain their loyalty.

The right restaurant tech will enable you to track every touch-point across the guest experience, from seeing on a floorplan on the POS device which table has been booked, through to letting them split the bill in as many ways as they wany.

Looking for answers? Look no further

The daily operations of every restaurant, pizza place, bar and food delivery business can be enhanced by a well-integrated POS management system. You can increase productivity, enhance customer experience and boost profits.

More than 30,000 restaurants and cafes in 29 countries have chosen iiko for their daily operations. If you want to see next-generation restaurant tech in action, then contact our team for a demo.

Call our expert UK team on 020 3880 9977 or email us at hello@iiko.co.uk