For a customer, the restaurant business appears to be very simple and attractive. And I bet most of the working professionals, at some point or the other, have thought about starting their own restaurant either by quitting their boring jobs or as a post-retirement plan. Keeping all aspirations aside, do you think starting and managing a restaurant is that simple? The answer is a clear ‘NO’ and this article will tell you why.
The major aspects in managing a restaurant can be broadly classified into:
Store – Where all the raw materials are kept
Kitchen – Place where the magic happens
Service floor – Chef’s preparation finds expression in front of the customer
Marketing – How you position yourself and reach out to your target audience
Billing – Where data of transactions/orders is stored and processed
Customer Engagement – Making customers happy, from providing service to collecting feedback
Every aspect here comes with its own challenges; such as fraud, enraged customers, low service quality etc. For the restaurant owner to have control over all these things is a complete nightmare.
Store level Inventory Management Challenges
(Wastage, Mismanagement and Fraud)
It takes the best of ingredients to make quality food, which will leave your customers craving for more. When it comes to inventory, there is a lot of leeway for uncontrolled wastage and theft. This will never be detected unless you, as a restaurant owner get into the store level details of purchasing and monitoring its use personally. As a restaurant chain owner, you mostly depend on the loyalty of the manager to ensure there is no wastage and fraud.
The best way to tackle this is to have a proper Production planning and recipe management mechanism which will help you track raw materials from the store level up until the customer’s plate. For instance, recipe management modules will help you plan your production by breaking down how much raw material you will need in order to produce 1 plate of a menu item, so that you can plan and track inventory accordingly.
Take Dosa for example; a recipe management module will help you do the following:
1 plate of dosa contains
30gm coconut chutney
30gm tomato chutney and
150gm dosa batter.
So now you know for a demand of 100 dosas on Monday, you will need:
15Kg dosa batter
3Kg coconut chutney and
3Kg tomato chutney.
Similarly, you can drill down for each of the chutneys and buy raw materials accordingly. By measuring the total sale for the day and the leftover products at the end of the day, this method reduces the opportunity to commit fraud.
Kitchen Challenges (Order Mismanagement and Wastage)
In most of the restaurants, the only way to communicate the customers’ orders to the kitchen is by having the waiter write down the order on a piece of paper and pass it on to the chef. This type of process may cause many of the orders to be misread and result in wastage. The owner may never find out about the chaos in the kitchen. Sometimes, there are also cases where the food prepared in the kitchen will not be billed, resulting in loss of revenue.
Having a KOT and table management module with a wireless Bluetooth connected printer in the kitchen will help you generate the order Slip or K.O.T’s directly at the chef’s counter without having the waiter leave your customers.
Marketing the restaurant is quite a difficult task, which requires a lot of time and effort from the owner. Traditional means of marketing involve pamphlets and bill boards that cost a lot but do not yield effective results. Also, there are no effective means to measure the performance of said campaigns except when discounts are offered.
Modern means of marketing is the one stop solution for restaurants. Make sure your restaurant info is present on all popular restaurant aggregation sites. Food bloggers have a very good fan base and influence in the food industry, so inviting a few of them to review your restaurant will get you a lot of footfalls. You can also try organizing some food events at your restaurant premises.
Loyalty programs are a very strong means to get your customers to order more from your restaurant and spread positive word of mouth. In western countries, this is very common practice and the trend is catching up with India as well. Get a POS terminal which supports CRM & Loyalty modules and you will be on your way to creating loyal customers in no time.
(Read more about restaurant marketing tactics)
Monitoring your restaurant might not sound like a difficult task when you have a single restaurant outlet. But the same task can become exasperating when you have more than 2 branches. You tend to lose control over branches when you do not have trustworthy managers. Misreporting of sales is the most common problem. Furthermore, some managers don’t care about the customer and keep you ignorant of customer feedback and preferences.
The only way to tackle any fraud at the sales level is to have a POS terminal, which allows you to remotely monitor sales of all your branches through your mobile. After every biller closes his shift, a session sale report should be sent to you. It would be unjust if the billers are siphoning off your hard-earned money without your knowledge.
Here are some sample sales and session close reports
(Rude Waiters, Delayed Food, Unhygienic practices, etc.)
The service floor refers to the actual restaurant dining area. In the hospitality industry, you need to show value to your customer right from the moment he walks into your restaurant, be it the way he is being escorted to the table, the way his order is taken or the way food is served. One lapse in the service may make you lose the customer forever.
So, it is extremely important for the waiters and managers to respond promptly. It is even more important for you to have real-time knowledge about anything that goes wrong at your restaurant.
Equip your managers with a table management POS system where they can directly generate KOTs from the customer’s table to the kitchen via Bluetooth connected printer. This helps them be with the customer throughout his meal, providing an impeccable service.
Have a feedback mechanism available to your customers who walk into your restaurant. It can be as simple as displaying your phone number with name and designation or have an app through which they can provide feedback. This is the only way to show your customers that you care and act on their feedback.
“It might take months to find a customer, but only seconds to lose one.”