Restaurant management during tough economic times is challenging. Every customer is likely to be more critical of the food service establishment where hard-earned discretionary income is being spent. The staff is probably stressed about losing their job and/or they may be working more hours or jobs to overcome financial shortages. The owners are may be financially hypercritical. Finally, the suppliers could be less willing to offer discounts.
However, anyone who has been in the food service business is painfully aware that nothing ever easy for the administration of an eating establishment, even in the best of times. Consider saying, “I better put in some additional overtime this week,” when 65 hours is already your normal workweek. This concept basically defines restaurant management parameters. Accomplished restaurant managers are essentially married to the place, unless they have become enlightened to alternative methods of restaurant management. This can be accomplished by training in a manner that “transforms good intentions into great performance”. By educating in a way that says all employees are honest, dedicated and highly respected, the workload is evenly distributed and success assured.
What Else Besides Location, Location, Location?
If there was a restaurant management bible hidden in a pyramid or vault, it must have stated: “Rule #1: location, location, location.” Making that statement surely comes through experiences over a long period of time. That is the only restaurant management advice I have consistently heard for 40 years.
Admittedly, I love the story of an exceptional man who was determined to become wealthy selling food. In the 1970s, he rented a 10-foot-by-10-foot corner storefront in what might be called a “red light district.” It was also a popular place for buying and selling marijuana. The man installed a bank cashier’s style bulletproof window with a one-way drawer under the cash slot. As the location was a corner, he installed exhaust fans blowing out into either side street. His sign read, “Fresh Donut Holes – 10pm to 6am – Seven Days a Week.” The first night he made his tiny donuts, there was a line around the block. This location was one factor making it possible for him to retire in two years. However, location was not the only factor in his food service success.
The donut hole man was innovative. He solved a problem for people: hunger. Repeat consumers always found him open, as he worked every night. His marketing costs were low: two exhaust fans. Consumers trusted him because they could see the ingredients and the product manufacturing process. He had no employee disputes because he was the only employee. He chose a product and a delivery method that overcame the security factor: small donut holes fit into the one-way drawer. He had no competition: other stores were either non-existent or closed. He had many repeat customers: working girls, their clients and drug buyers and sellers. He knew the basic restaurant management secrets for a small food establishment: a simple quality product, ready when needed, easy delivery, cost appropriate and motivated labor.
Restaurant Franchises Work for Many Reasons
Consumers are hungry several times a day and a food service business is a problem solver. People appreciate brand recognition because marketing and trust are already established. Historical franchise surveys and records drive food quality, serving quantity and choices, food preparation and delivery options, store locations, interior designs and layouts, employee and administrative training programs, limited promotions and normal pricing decisions, national and zonal marketing programs, and contractual restaurant management criteria.
Modifications to the franchise system are based on local and/or regional trends. Each change is thoroughly verified and implemented by professional consultants using a wide range of data. The knowledge, experience, and/or personality of one person have little bearing on the success of each location of a franchise. In tough economic times, even the best franchises close as their sales shrink.
Satisfaction is the Key
Restaurant management is a valuable service business, even more so when sales are weak. Consumers are always fickle. That trait is exaggerated when meals eaten away from home are less frequent due to fewer dollars available for eating out. A restaurant can only disappoint the customer with a meal or service once (maybe twice if they have been pleased several times in the past). Restaurant management must never forget that fact!
Every successful food business began with a great idea that was tried and eventually worked well. That original location became a success story when it included all the factors previously mentioned in the franchise section, including employee training. The key to a solid ongoing food service business, a unique location or another franchise, is facilitating employees (on the service floor or in the kitchen) in a manner that keeps consumers coming back.
Every employee needs to be appropriately trained and continuously respected by the administration. Restaurant management keeps in mind that if the wait staff employees are extroverted, people-oriented, dedicated to high-quality service, loyal, team players the results will be obvious. Kitchen help can be introverted but still need to be dedicated to high-quality service, loyalty and be team players. If restaurant management considers any employee “easily replaceable” that message will degrade moral and then destroy the business like a brush fire. Prevent that disaster by being clear, concise, detailed, generous with training and respectful of every employee. Work smarter, not harder, when outside financial stress is present.
Restaurant management should be prepared at all times to change anything (1) but the quality. Times of financial hardship are not the times to let clients down. It does not matter if the restaurant being managed is an annual volunteer run fundraiser in a park located in the worst section of town or the most upscale food service option found in New York City. The attitude of restaurant management is the deciding factor that determines the distinctive food and service presented to the consumer. The more oppressive the economic woes that are coming down on the restaurant management, the owner, all employees and each supplier, the more vital it is for the restaurant management to be as highly professional and respectful of the staff and clients to make a success the goal.