The restaurant industry isn’t an easy place to succeed, and if you’ve ever looked at statistics about restaurant failure, they aren’t exactly comforting. There’s a prevailing myth that 90-95 percent of restaurants fail within the first year. This isn’t exactly true, the actual number, according to a study by Ohio State University, is around 50-60 percent, so at just over half of restaurants failing within the first year. Sadly, the truth isn’t much better than the myth.
It’s no wonder that restaurant owners are looking for any way they can gain an advantage in the industry. It’s not always an easy bet to make, though, when you’re gambling with your bottom line. It’s important to consider what your restaurant could easily incorporate when strategizing ways to get ahead. It’s equally important to adhere to the age old secrets of a successful restaurant before anything else.
Adaptable Trends to Consider
The Local Factor
Now, more than ever, consumers are looking for something they deem to be authentic and healthy. A huge trend right now are restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients in their offerings, especially those that are creating innovative and healthy dishes. While this might seem intimidating, it’s probably easier than your think. Introducing some local fare doesn’t require a whole menu overhaul, start with one ingredient easily sourced in your region and go from there.
Online Rewards and Discounts
According to restaurant.org, 50% of adults use discounts or rewards when they eat out and three out of four adults would go to a restaurant during off-peak times if they had an incentive (essentially a discount) to do so.
It might be time to consider offering a discount online using social media platforms like Yelp, Facebook, Instagram or anywhere else you think your customer demographic might be virtually “hanging out.” This is a great way to fill tables, especially at off-peak times.
Here’s another eye-opening statistic, the majority of customers try a new restaurant because someone recommended it to them, but the second most popular way people find out about new restaurants is through social media.
Give Your Servers Tablets
No, not for being great servers… although hopefully they are, but these are to be used for work. In fact, according to restaurant.com (again), 68% of customers said a handheld tablet improved their dining experience. It makes sense, because orders are guaranteed to be more accurate and sent back on time more frequently when they’re taken directly on a device from the guest’s table.
The 3 Secrets of a Successful Restaurant
With so many complex things to consider when trying to make your restaurant a success, it might be hard to believe that the three secrets are pretty basic. We’ve identified the three core things you need to get right if you want to see your restaurant succeed whether you’re just getting started, or you’ve been doing this for a while.
- The Right People
Never, EVER underestimate the power of hiring the right people. We know that restaurant turnover is high and it can be difficult to keep good people around, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. So many restaurants are just trying to keep enough servers on the floor, that they lower their hiring standards. Don’t let that be you.Instead of lowering your hiring standards, try creating incentives for your wait staff to stay. This could include more competitive pay, running recognition programs, or getting rid of management that’s causing people to leave. Whatever you need to do, do it. Your servers are your first line of defense, and often, these people can make or break your customer experience. You can find tips to reduce employee turnover here.
- The Right Menu
There are so many things to consider when it comes to your menu. How many offerings should you have? Should you focus on one type of cuisine or several? What should your menu look like? Though the answers differ depending on your concept and customer base, the simplest version of your menu is probably the right one.The best way to run your restaurant into the ground is to try to please everyone. It’s best to have a focused, relatively small offering that pleases one specific group of people. Of course, it’s a good idea to have a couple of items that will work for the pickier eaters in the bunch, but for the most part you want to be focused.
- The Right Technology
The kind of technology we’re talking about here is restaurant management technology. It’s easy to get so caught up in the external customer experience, that you forget to create a way to seamlessly manage restaurant operations.You could have the best atmosphere, the perfect menu, and a great group of servers, but if you’re constantly running out of popular food items, well, let’s just say – it’s probably going to end up on a Yelp or Google Review for the whole world to see.
And supply chain isn’t the only thing you’ll be managing with your technology, you’ll need it to manage your labor, sales, accounting and even your security. All of these things are critically important and you need to make sure that the software you choose doesn’t leave anything out.
Finding the Balance
We’ve covered a lot in this article: people, atmosphere, technology, social media…but don’t get overwhelmed. Yes, there are a lot of things to consider when you’re trying to run a successful restaurant, but the good news is that you can take it one step at a time.
You can start simple by revamping or creating a new menu, then brag about it on social media and offer an incentive. Maybe you really need to start by upping the game with your management or servers. Or it could be time to find the right technology to get everything straight on the back-end.
Wherever you feel you need to improve, the key is to start. Don’t let yourself become one of the depressing statistics we mentioned earlier. If you feel that your restaurant needs to make some changes to be a success, then you’re probably right, and the time is now.