When I meet with consulting clients, they are all about solutions. A take that I find quite refreshing after years in the restaurant business. Too often, in the passive aggressive world of restaurants the emphasis is put on blame, not on solutions.
I teach on many different subjects–all relating to the restaurant biz–and a theme I find myself returning to over and over again, is ‘what are you going to do about it’?
It is not enough to me, for my students to understand how to put a budget together, or how to read a P & L statement, or to understand that the sales aren’t high enough, or that the costs of food or labor are too high, I want them to go beyond that and figure out what they are going to do about it.
That is the key
What ARE you going to do about it? I met with a consulting client who happened to have a labor cost that was 89%! of their sales. (In case you didn’t know, that is WAY TOO HIGH. It is even possible that they were high when they put together the schedule.)
They needed answers, and they needed them fast. Get immediately past the blame phase and go directly to the solution phase. Start by taking advantage of your salaried employees. That is why you have salaried employees. Chef–schedule one less line cook per shift and get behind the line and start cooking!
Manager–don’t schedule a host. You are now officially the host. Those are just a couple of ideas right off the bat on how to gain control of your labor cost.
Sales are too low? What are you going to do about it? How about starting with some suggestive selling? Don’t just have servers who are order takers. Train them to suggestively sell. Recommend things. Up sell. Cross-sell.
Have them meet regularly with the chef. Talk about the menu. Let them try things on the menu! How can they sell stuff that they have never tried?
By getting the chef involved you will accomplish at least two things: The servers will know more about, and be able to talk about, the food; plus you have also taken a big step in eliminating that front-of-the-house, back-of-house ridiculousness that goes on.
It doesn’t stop there
I consulted with a place that had a $2500 linen bill for one month. That would be fine, but they don’t have tablecloths! What are you going to do about it? For starters you can stop going through 100 (!) kitchen towels a day. Allot 4 towels to each person in the kitchen and let them know that is all they get. They won’t like it, but they will sure learn to cut down on their towel usage.
Before you get that new menu printed, make sure that it is proof-read by someone, or maybe two people. That way you can stop printing the menu twice every time you change it. Or three times.
Yes, this business is about controlling your product and labor costs, but there are at least a thousand other ways you can save money. You can then use some of that savings to take care of your employees. If you are taking care of your employees, they will stop stealing from you–saving you more money!
Don’t be satisfied with data. Find solutions.