2019 Restaurant Goals & Resolutions: Keeping the Momentum
As we kick off another year in the restaurant industry, it’s time to take a good look internally and realize that what we’ve been doing in the past may not be the best option to carry us into the future.
Let’s recap some things that helped create a successful 2018, so we can build on that momentum and create meaningful 2019 restaurant goals & resolutions.
Last year we saw a rise in off-premise dining options and restaurants capitalizing on this new revenue stream. Off-premise dining is everything from carryout options to curbside pickup and delivery. You can incorporate any off-premise dining through various tweaks or full-on technology investments in your operation.
The first step is optimizing your carryout strategy. To do this:
- Build a destination in your POS that highlights or prints differently so the kitchen and service team members know it’s a takeout order.
- Research new packaging options for carryout items. Green alternatives are more popular than ever and boast the number of recycled materials on each piece. Improvements in bowls, platters, and options for fried products are less expensive now than they were in the past. These moves can make the presentation of your menu items more like dining in-house and leave a positive impression on your customers.
- Create an area in your kitchen and service area for carryout orders. Doing this will help the new stream of revenue have less impact on your in-house tickets. If this goes well and you begin to see sales and revenue improvements consider making this Curbside carryout.
- Designate a couple of parking spaces for curbside carryout. This simplifies things.
- Schedule at least one person to manage both expedite and delivery pieces of the curbside process.
- If you don’t take payment via an app or online consider making a small investment in a handheld device to process payment curbside. Doing so will speed the process along and make your customers more comfortable.
Restaurant Delivery Trends
The next step is delivery. You don’t necessarily have to hire drivers, change your insurance and buy magnetic signs for their cars. You can hire a third-party delivery service to take your menu items right to your customer. Uber-eats, Amazon Eats and GrubHub, are just a few of the options available that will pick up a customers’ order and deliver it to their home or office. They allow any restaurant to take advantage of delivery without hiring drivers, managing schedules and parking and everything else.
Keep in mind when instituting a delivery strategy:
- There will be a fee to use these third-party delivery services, so consider adjusting order prices to cover the cost.
- Make sure that delivery orders are available when you said they would be. This ensures drivers aren’t waiting around to pick up the food for delivery.
- Be aware that you have no control over the customers’ interaction with that driver. They aren’t your employees, so if the experience is good, the praise may not get to you. However, if the experience is terrible, this criticism may fall on you. Find a vendor you feel comfortable with and maintain communication with them to avoid situations that can put your reputation in jeopardy.
Another low-cost trend is menu engineering. The menu engineering process starts with understanding your menu item cost. Creating a menu that balances low and high-cost items to calculate sales and profits. There are many menu engineering resources to help you know how much each menu item costs to prepare and keep on your menu. They can also help you determine if you are charging enough for the food on your menu. If an item is high cost and not selling, you risk raw ingredients going bad. Even worse, you may not have it on-hand when you need it. With social media today, the latter is almost worse than food waste, both are costly issues.
For a solid menu engineering strategy:
- Review your menu sales and determine what percentage of those sales is the cut off for keeping an item available. For example, you could remove anything that’s less than 5% to boost the sales of other menu items.
- Pair complementary foods together to balance their high and low-cost. For example, maybe pair a high-end item with a suggested sale cup of soup or side salad with significantly lower food cost.
- Be mindful of the layout of your menu online vs. in-house. Customers in-house are enjoying an experience with you and your team members. Lay out your in-house menu by course.
- When posting it online, place your entrees first then add suggested sales for appetizers and sides. Many who purchase online are more likely to accept the suggestion and add them to their cart.
- Add a few pictures of signature menu items but don’t over-do it. Customers won’t read menus that are too busy. They’ll skim over, and customers may miss great options than creating the situation where items don’t sell.
If you’re part of a larger restaurant brand, you may not have direct control over these decisions. Collecting the data and presenting it in a digestible way could be a kick-start to review their menu or to do the same research on a larger scale. Re-engineering the menu doesn’t cost much in finances, just the time to do research and reorganize remaining menu items to maintain customers’ interest.
More Restaurant Technology
If you can invest capital in technology, consider an online ordering partner or an app for customers to order from you without needing a team member to be on the phone. This partnership will allow a team member to expedite orders or improve the customer experience by with them when they come to pick up their food.
Look into an advanced kitchen display system that can help with pacing orders to the kitchen, splitting menu items to the correct station for preparation and even providing quotes to online customers for more accuracy. Using paper tickets for online orders is risky if they get mixed in with dine-in customers. These quotes could be off if your kitchen volume is busier than the POS realizes, creating a situation where customers or delivery drivers are waiting for orders, or dine-in customers are waiting while seeing carryout guests leave with food.
If you are a table service restaurant, invest in a host stand solution that will free your hosts up to talk to guests. This setup keeps them from guessing wait time quotes or about where to seat the next party. Adding technology to the host stand will also provide restaurant data. With this data, you can better understand table turns, party sizes, and wait times. In fact, adding any technology will provide data that you can use to improve operations, streamline processes and re-allocate team members.
Take some time in the New Year to reflect on your successes from the prior year, but don’t allow yourself to become complacent. The future is here and setting restaurant goals for 2019 will bring you even more successes in New Year!
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About the Author
Shari McCauley is the Product Training Specialist at QSR Automations. She focuses on educating employees and customers on the benefits and uses of QSR technology. You can reach Shari at firstname.lastname@example.org.