As we emerge from a devastating pandemic period, those in the food industry are poised to rack up huge profits as they serve a dining-deprived general public. Consumers are expected to spend over $548 billion in restaurants this year, a jump of more than 10 percent compared to last year. That means restaurateurs must be prepared for an onslaught of new business and the day-to-day challenges that come with it.
As we all know, the restaurants that thrive are the ones that can handle the rush periods with ease. A clunky, inefficient setup means slow service, bad food, a dirty kitchen and — most importantly — angry customers and bad reviews. But there are some changes you can make to revolutionize your business and keep the profits in the black. Creating a more efficient ordering system and simplifying back-of-house processes can help eliminate problems and inefficiencies that hold you back.
From upgrading your point-of-sale (POS) system to investing in extra thick garbage bags, there are a few small and large things you can do to streamline operations so you adapt to the new demand with ease.
1) Switch to On-the-Floor Ordering
These days, servers don’t have to go all the way back to the cash register to put in orders and ring up their tables. Instead, they can ring out guests right from the comfort of their tables using portable POS systems. Whether it be a tablet-based system or handheld device provided to you by the POS company, tableside processing helps eliminate time between tables and minimizes server-to-kitchen miscommunication. These systems also have features that simplify time-consuming tasks like bill splitting, helping the whole process run more smoothly for staff and guests.
2) Offer Online Ordering
The fact of the matter is many food and beverage establishments were forced to shift to mostly takeout, at least for some portion of the pandemic. That forced the industry to find new ways to streamline, simplify and market carryout offerings. Customers and employees alike appreciated the convenience and are not likely to give it up anytime soon. Make sure you keep your takeout processes in place and keep offering essential conveniences like online ordering moving forward.
3) Use Digital Menus
If you run a fast casual or deli-style business, you’re probably looking for simpler ways to easily change what’s on the menu for the day. Investing in a digital menu board allows you to create attractive, attention-grabbing menus you can edit and adjust as needed. If you were previously spending lots of time and money hiring chalk artists or having your staff constantly altering the menu board, this is a great solution. For sit-down dining, consider switching to a permanent QR code system to keep your menu up-to-date at all times and to eliminate the cost and hassle of paper menus. Many options allow you to control the menus remotely so you can edit it from home.
4) Streamline Inventory Management
The days of using handwritten inventory sheets are long gone, and these days there are software and app options that keep track of everything for you. In most cases, your POS system will be the best bet for updating to a better inventory management option, but there may be additional tools and apps to consider if you have specific needs. The great thing about POS systems with integrated inventory management is they can track ingredients in real-time because they’re linked to your menu. In other words, they automatically calculate what needs to be ordered when so you can eliminate miscalculations and put your time to better use.
5) Invest in Higher Quality Supplies
Changing the brand of 55-gallon trash bags or bar towels you use doesn’t seem like it would make the biggest impact on your business, but if you spend time observing your back-of-house staff, you’ll see how much time they spend correcting mistakes caused by low-quality supplies. The same goes for your utensils and appliances. Don’t feel limited by your restaurant supplier, either. These days, you can find a huge variety of well-priced bulk restaurant supplies online without high markups.
6) Label Everything and Update Signage
One of the biggest changes restaurateurs are going to see in this new phase of business is a surge in new employees who will be thrown in the middle of all the action, likely with less than enough training. A great way to help new and seasoned hires adjust is to create labels for everything in the kitchen and update your signage. Something as simple as using clearly labeled recycling bags instead of unlabeled ones will help your team members move through tasks quickly without searching for items.
7) Switch to a Scheduling Software
Many businesses have resisted the idea of switching to automated logging and scheduling software for fears it costs too much, takes too much time to train or isn’t reliable. However, the latest and greatest restaurant scheduling apps can do it all for you and don’t cost an arm and a leg to implement. These solutions not only help you get your staff on the schedule, but they also offer great features that help you track and balance employee costs. Some also feature notes sections to keep managers up to date between shifts as well as great features like vacation scheduling and shift swaps.
8) Offer Reservations
According to research from KelloggInsight, taking reservations can bring some benefits to restaurants, but only in certain cases. For example, if you tend to have a highly variable number of guests each night, offering reservations can help you better anticipate your crowds. Since you can anticipate the exact number of guests you’ll be hosting, you can adjust inventory, staff, etc. accordingly. Reservations also eliminate risk factors for guests, making your establishment more appealing to a broader group.
Restaurant owners and managers know, to create a kitchen that runs like a well-oiled machine, your staff has to be equipped with the right resources. That may mean making large-scale investments — like portable tableside POS systems — or small changes in the way you do things behind the scenes. Regardless of if they’re massive or minimal, these adjustments will set your team up to succeed so your restaurant maintains its good reputation well into the future.