During challenging economic periods it is important that your performance is at its best to maintain continued success in your operation. Good operators realize that during tough times it is more challenging to get customers into their restaurant as they tend to be more conservative in their spending habits during these periods. Here are some tips to help you stay on top during challenging economic times:
1. Maintain High Standards – During difficult times customers have a tendency to eat out less often and/or to trade down (i.e. eat at lower priced restaurants). In order to maintain market share you must always make the customer feel welcome and appreciated and provide the customer with a good price value experience – providing the customer with a consistent quality product at a reasonable price. Additionally you must keep the premises clean to insure the restaurant looks at its best at all times as well as keeping the equipment well maintained.
2. Emphasize the Details – a. recognize customers when they enter the restaurant with the proper greeting, b. give the customer prompt and courteous service, c. use suggestive selling to increase the guest check average (would you like French fries or a salad with your sandwich?, would you like dessert?, etc.), and d. thank the customer when they leave and ask them to come back again.
3. Be Creative in Reaching Customers – a. use trade dollars to advertise -offer newspapers, and radio stations, etc. food certificates for your restaurant in exchange for advertising and this will result in you paying approximately 33 cents (the cost of your food) for each dollar of advertising; b. implement menu specials for different seasons and special holidays; c. have sales contests for food servers to improve suggestive selling (the food server that has the most improved guest check average for the month wins a prize); and d. have contests for employee of the month to help motivate employees
4. Maintain Proper Controls – a. emphasize proper portion control with all food items in the kitchen and in the dining room and b. implement an energy conservation program – 1). put light timers in restrooms, storerooms and in other back of the house areas, 2). Convert lighting to energy efficient bulbs and convert conventional light bulbs to fluorescent lighting where possible, 3). turn off gas burners when not using them, 4). install time clocks to control lighting, HVAC systems and compressors, and 5). minimize heat and air conditioning loss by using insulation and proper window coverings.
By practicing the above points you will have a good chance of maintaining and increasing market share and keeping your business in the black during challenging times.