Why Restaurants Fail
Restaurant Operational audits are very important in pinpointing areas of opportunity and strengths. In my professional view these audits are important in recognizing and correcting issues throughout the restaurant which includes the back of the house, front of the house, outside surroundings, management records, profit and loss, prime cost, menu analysis, food cost and labor cost.
I am going to mention several areas of opportunities along with the fixes in the post.
One of the most important areas that management and staff members need to focus on is the initial greeting of your guest.
Why is this important?
The customers will form in their minds an opinion of the service that they are about receive. I have done dozens of operational audits which start with the greeting of the guest. There have been many times that I have walked into the greeting area of the restaurant and there was no one to greet me within an acceptable time frame. I have witnessed managers, servers, cooks and dishwashers in plain view, walking past me without acknowledging me. This tells me that they do not care and the service I am going to receive most likely will be mediocre. This sort of operational behavior is unacceptable and will affect repeat business.
Simply put, train your entire staff the meaning of greeting customers. The customers should be greeted immediately, if not within 10 seconds. The more the customer waits the more agitated they get, believe me this is bad for business. Install a bell, buzzer of chime at the front door to inform staff members when the guest arrives at your restaurant. This is a cheap fix to correct the issue. During the off peak time of your restaurant is where most issues occur because fewer employees are scheduled and the employees are too relaxed. If you can get the greeting done correctly, then you have successfully passed the first initial impression in your customer’s minds.
The other area that I want to touch base with in the post is the server service. The customers should be seated when a table is available immediately. Remember, when the guest sees open tables they expect to be seated. If a server is overwhelmed do not seat a customer in their section because they will receive bad service. Instead, seat the guest in a seasoned server section. These servers most likely can handle more tables than the newer employees of weaker employees. Next, the server needs to greet the table quickly or within 2 minutes.
Knowledge is the key to success. The server should start the initial greeting by stating their first name, for example, “hello my name is Judy and I am you server for this evening”. Next, the server needs to mention to the customer if they have visited the restaurant before, if they say no, then use this towards your advantage by notifying management and the cooks so they can treat the guest as if they were VIP’S. Top notch service, will impress the guest and will create repeat business.
The server should first mention the daily food and drink specials. Next, the server will mention appetizers by suggesting a specific appetizer to the customer. Make sure you correctly describe it to the guest. By describing it to the guest, it creates an awesome picture of the food item in their mind. This method will increase the check average and revenue for the restaurant. Both the server (tips) and the restaurant will benefit. Try to get the drink orders and food orders at once, the quicker the better for delivery time frames. Most of the time, the customer may not be ready to give you the food order at that time. Either way, enter those orders as quickly as possible into the (POS) system.
The manager needs to visit table’s as much as possible, ensuring top notch customer service. The server needs to run all drinks and food within the restaurants ticket standards. Most restaurant time frames are:
- Breakfast – 8 to 10 minutes or less
- Lunch – 10 to 12 minutes or less
- Dinner – 15 minutes or less. The exception is if a customer orders a well done steak that takes longer to cook. The server needs to advise the guest that the item may take longer to prepare due to the request. The other exception is if you are making a complicated dish from scratch.
- Drinks, salads and soups – 4 minutes or less
- Appetizers – 7 minutes of less
- Desserts – 7 minutes or less
When delivering food to the guest check back within 2 bites or two minutes to ensure that the food was properly prepared and hot or cold. Also, do refills frequently when the glasses are half empty.
Make sure you are watching the tables frequently, when the customers are almost done with their entrees, ask the guest if they are ready for some awesome dessert. If they do not want the dessert drop off the check quickly, also, the server should write a quick note on the back of the check saying thank you for visiting us today and return soon. It also might be a great idea to have the server name on the back of the check. As the customers leave the restaurant train all employees to say to the guest thanks for visiting and have a great night. The table needs to be reset as soon as possible, 4 minutes or less. Remember, you don’t want customers to see unbussed trashy tables.
In the next series of post, I will go into more deeply about why restaurants fail.
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