Ask the Experts: Summer 2018
Problem: My servers are order-takers, not salespeople.
Solution: Change your culture. Foster, empower and reward a culture of salesmanship. Hold shift meetings daily. Prepare a featured appetizer, entree and dessert, then instruct staff to practice selling those items to their peers during a shift meeting. Create schedules based on performance. Acknowledge top performers and reward them with giveaways, such as shift meals, new server aprons, uniform shirts or the freedom to choose their days off.
Benefit: Increased sales, better execution, increased traffic from improved customer experiences.
Problem: Customers want more vegetables than simple side dishes.
Solution: Take advantage of local summer produce for entrees and salads. Cut broccoli, zucchini and cauliflower into thick slices, grill or roast and then toss in a vinaigrette with herbs and a salty cheese like feta. Also try seasoning with Middle Eastern spices, such as sumac and za’atar, which are huge right now.
Benefit: You’ll win over guests and close out the season with good food costs by purchasing in season.
Problem: Labor costs are creeping higher.
Solution: On-call scheduling.
Benefit: When your forecasted customer counts are inaccurate, scheduled labor must be adjusted up or down to meet productivity standards. Employees wait to be called; If they don’t receive a call by a certain time, they know they’re not needed. Employees greatly prefer this to coming in only to be sent home.
Problem: Sales decline during off months, such as when students leave a college town for the summer or other change-of-season fallouts.
Solution: Software with forecasting features.
Benefit: Analyzing sales and labor history can help anticipate needs for slower or busier months. History can provide insight on the impact of a hot or rainy summer to help with scheduling and food costs.
Problem: Inconsistent presence on social media. Everyone forgets when the restaurant gets busy. Is it even worth the effort?
Solution: Try Perch. It’s Hootsuite on steroids.
Benefit: Hootsuite allows for a set-it-and-forget-it approach. You line up the posts to go up according to a predetermined schedule across multiple channels. Perch does the same but also tracks the social activity of neighboring businesses, so operators can see what their competitors are doing.
Problem: Can’t keep up with the restrooms during busy times.
Solution: Create a schedule for regular checks, which include emptying trash, wiping down counters and replenishing supplies. To ensure that the schedule is followed, assign the responsibility and check during busy times.
Benefit: Happier customers and a better overall reputation. Yes, customers judge bathroom cleanliness.
Got a question for the experts? Send your challenges, comments and suggestions to ask@FoodFanatics.com.