It isn’t pleasant to notice a drop in sales when you run your own small restaurant business. Whether you have only recently started, or have been going for some time, a decline in profits can feel like a blow to any ambitious business owner. While restaurants can and do fail, there are also plenty of methods that can help to bring your establishment back from the brink and attract more customers again. Here are nine practical tips to help you improve your restaurant and keep on track.
1. Evaluate Where You Are
Knowing what to improve upon means identifying current areas that are lacking in your business. It is important to take notice of aspects that you can envision being better than they already are. Pay attention to what specifically could be letting you down, such as your punctuality on service or an overcrowded restaurant floor. It is also important to take note of what is currently working, so that you can use this as a measure for the rest of your improvements. If there are reviews about your restaurant, take on board both the positive and the negative points for a well-rounded view of how you can do better and what already works.
2. Don’t Make Rushed Decisions Based on Panic
When you first notice that your restaurant is not moving forward in the way you had hoped, you might be tempted to rush into changes to make quick improvements. Avoid this urge, as it can lead to further damage to your reputation. Don’t let panic overrule your business mindset. Instead, be calm and patient when reevaluating your business plan and deciding on your next steps.
3. Start with Small Changes
Even if you are not actingout of panic, it is more sensible to take your time and introduce changes gradually, rather than attempting a complete and sudden overhaul of your business. This will allow you to test the waters and assess the customer response to each change as it happens. For example, you could replace items on your menu in small batches, rather than rewriting the whole thing overnight.
4. Rethink Your Menu and Ingredients
If you have noticed that your food is no longer attracting many customers, it is time to change up your menu and play to your strengths. Perhaps by swapping a few menu items for updated versions, you can regenerate interest and excitement in your brand. This can start with improving the quality of your ingredients. For example, something as simple as finding bulk garlic powder that meets your standards will help to elevate the dishes that use this ingredient. While atmosphere and service are also important parts of the restaurant experience, the food should always be the main focus.
5. Redesign Your Interiors
A new restaurant layout and updated decor can make a huge difference to the business. For customers, visiting a restaurant is as much about the atmosphere and setting as it is about the food itself. By refreshing your interiors with attractive designs, you can capture the attention of passers by and increase footfall. Of course, you will also need to back this up with good quality food.
6. Hire New Talent
Unfortunately, sometimes, the reason for a restaurant’s decline is the staff. Whether it’s the head chef or the waiter, every person who works in a restaurant can impact the success of the business. Invest in either retraining or recruiting new talent to your business, so that every aspect of service and management is optimal. It can be difficult to make changes to your personnel, so make sure to use fair and unbiased human resources experts to make the process simpler. Try not to settle for employees who don’t have the skills you require just because you want to see a quick improvement. Take your time and interview plenty of possible candidates before settling on your final decision.
7. Reallocate Responsibility
If you opened your small restaurant business as the owner, the manager, and the head chef, being overwhelmed by these very distinct roles is understandable. It can also be the main reason for your restaurant’s struggles. Spreading yourself too thin across your business can make sense in the beginning before you have the budget to hire more employees, but the sooner you can hire people to share the responsibility, the better. Look for a business manager who understands how you want to run your restaurant, a chef who shares your culinary vision, and waiting staff who can provide consistently superior service.
8. Make the Most of Your Online Presence
Every business in this day and age needs to take advantage of the hugely valuable resource that is the internet. Set up a reliable and attractive website for your restaurant, so that customers can see the menu and what the venue looks like before booking. This can also be helpful if you accept orders for take away or delivery. It is useful to have a strong social media presence on various platforms so that you can maintain contact with customers. These channels are ideal for listening to customer feedback and learning what people think of your business.
9. Treat Every Customer Like a Critic
Some restaurants that have been running for a long time can eventually lose the verve and enthusiasm that spurs them on to create an exciting experience for their customers. Forgetting that each person who walks through their doors has the potential to make or break their reputation can endanger a restaurant in unseen ways. This is why you should make the effort to give every customer a positive and memorable experience that fully adheres to your restaurant concept.
Noticing that your restaurant is not performing as well as it once did can be upsetting for ambitious restauranteurs no matter what stage of business ownership you are at. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to step back and refocus your efforts, so that you put your restaurant back on the path to success.