Restaurants have been hard hit by the pandemic. Workers have contracted the virus and staffing has become a distinct issue. Yet, people need good, cooked food and are willing to pay premium prices for the meals they enjoy. But again, the advent of delivery services can cut into a restaurant’s profits. In the new normal that the pandemic has created, it takes a person with both passion and drive to keep a restaurant not just afloat but successful. They need to ensure quality no matter the situation outside the restaurant. Customers come to expect a certain level of quality from a restaurant and they seek that familiarity. Everything from food to garnishes must be just right. Prioritize companies that provide maintenance on the products they supply such as with Scottsman ice machine parts where you can rely on them for after-sales support services. If your customers prefer a certain cut of meat, you need to prioritize the butcher who delivers it. Even the hostess who greets customers must maintain a degree of consistency to ensure that customers keep coming back. It is about creating an atmosphere that leaves customers wanting to experience it again. This means learning how to manage every aspect of what it takes to make a cohesive and well-run establishment.
Focus on Your Staff
Employee turnover is at an all-time high right now. It is critical that your restaurant maintain the staff you have and work to ensure that you do not have to hire new staff. Trained staff who are experienced with the way your restaurant works can save you a great deal more money, even with a raise, than hiring and training someone new. It can take up to six months for a new staff member to finally integrate into your restaurant system fully. That is six months of missed opportunities and lower revenue that in you had prioritized keeping the trained employee.
First, give everyone a raise. You can never do better for your bottom line than to have motivated employees who know that their work is appreciated. Being paid a good wage is the best way to show the employees that you recognize their efforts. Everything else you do from an employee of the month programs to staff discounts are extra benefits and do not replace the need for a good salary.
Employee of the month programs do have the possibility of engendering healthy competition among staff if you offer a reasonable benefit to joining in the competition. A bonus paycheck or gift cards to a good retail store or a mall are great motivators.
Incentive Programs to Encourage Employees
You can also institute new policies aimed at helping employees to have a more supportive work environment. Allow servers and delivery people a free drink of their choice during their break, make it clear that if their drink of choice is alcoholic, they can take it home with them but must not drink it on the premises.
Offer employees working double shifts or on the holidays free meals and a token gift card to show that you appreciate their efforts. These are not large expenditures for a restaurant and can easily be accounted for in daily expenses. But it can go a long way towards making your employees dedicated to staying and working their best for your business.
Have a set menu that is consistent and never-changing with side dishes and some mains that adapt to the seasonally available fruits and vegetables. This will give your customer base the core consistent dishes it has come to expect with the added temptation of new dishes that change seasonally. People are much more likely to buy an additional dish because they want to try it if they know that it is only available till a certain time. If they then enjoy this dish and have to wait for the season to come back, it heightens their anticipation and you can count on increased orders for the dish when it makes it back on the menu.
Dedicate a third of your marketing efforts to acknowledging the situation we are all in and to let your customers know that you commiserate with them. Highlight that not only is your establishment working hard to stay open and serve customers, that it is giving back to the community.
People need to know that the companies they support with their money share their values. This is even more valued in the time of social media where every company has a social media presence. By humanizing your restaurant by sharing the work you do to give back to people and help the disenfranchised, you can connect with customers on a deeper level. They will see buying from you as part of their outreach efforts for the community.
When the pandemic passes and things return to normal, people will remember that you were right there with them. The kind of loyalty this will engender among customers as well as the quality of social media content it will generate for your business can not be adequately quantified.