Millennials make up the largest segment of today’s labor force, with even higher representation in the food and beverage service industry, which means it’s becoming increasingly important to have a good idea of who we are and what we expect and desire in a workplace. By now I’m sure you’ve grown used to the tired portrayals of a generation entirely composed of lazy, entitled snowflakes, the reality is (would you believe it?) a bit more nuanced than that. Let’s pull apart some common myths and see what the data really has to say about the most written about and puzzled over generation to date.
Understanding and keeping up with your businesses health is, frankly, necessary to your success. It's important to know how various benchmarks for your specific restaurant, cafe or brewery. Prime costs benchmark is 60%. Now, you might be reading this and saying, "Now, remind me, what is prime cost again?" That's why I am writing this blogpost. Here are the four things you need to know, to get out of financial panic, and into financial calm and success.
8 Ideas for you to refresh what stories you are telling. Put those stories in your restaurants' newsletter.
A regular newsletter is your best, most direct contact with your guest in between their visits. A newsletter has one main purpose: now regulars and new guests can keep in touch with your restaurant. That newsletter needs to be written with intention. You are proactively inviting guests to visit.
But what do you tell them? You need to tell them your stories. It takes effort to maintain your monthly newsletter, but your efforts will pay off.
It can all be daunting.
So here's help. I’ve collected some of the formulas you can use to create the type of news your potential and returning customers will want to read. Use them exactly or tweak them to fit your unique restaurant.
SIX WAYS TO IMPROVE FOOD COSTS:
This topic is always fresh, always necessary. If you want better profits, focus on food costs.Double checking your food costs never goes out to style. It’s the most direct way to profitability. Any good independent or chain is forever working on improving food costs.
1. RECEIVING PROCEDURE—do you know that your staff is checking in items, checking dates, rotating products whether it is for dry storage or in the walkin. START NOW: stand with your staff member in charge of orders. Observe and check how they take in the order. Correct anything that is not done correctly. This techniques reminds the driver that you do check the orders. Nothing can be missing or too close to “out-of-date”.
2. RECIPE COSTING—do you know the cost of your best seller and your worst seller. Can you recite that food cost now? Don’t make this a daunting project for your chef of your staff, until you’ve done some good analysis yourself. START NOW: look up your best and worst sellers. How is you food cost? 25%? Congrats, and begin to market and sell more! 40%? Well, now you need to start deciding—raise the price or determine how you can make your food cost work… maybe “add a drink for $1” will make the combination price work. Make sure you have a Recipe Costing Card in a kitchen prep book so staff can review and check for accuracy. Double check on how a recipe is being made, just so you know new staff are being trained, and long-term staff are not shortcutting.
3. YIELD—do you really know what your yield is on a batch of cookies/soup/mac-n-cheese? You need to follow a recipe all the way from prep to completion. You may learn that there is waste happening along the way, that you never knew was happening. START NOW: Let’s say you have a chili recipe. Weigh and check ingredients at the beginning. Observe how the prep people are preparing it, and measure out the yield. That chili may yield 3 or 4 more portions with the appropriate prep.
4. PORTION CONTROL—do you spot check portions? Your staff should want portion control so that food is served consistently no matter who is on staff, and no matter which customer is being served. START NOW: Order an item from the kitchen. Check that the portion is correct. Compliment the prep staff and chef, when it's correct. Set a time to correct it, if the portion is wrong, because correcting in the moment will not change the kitchen habits.
5. WASTE SHEET—do you have a waste sheet? If so, is it in use? Do staff reach for that clipboard daily? Does staff report to you/supervisor to discuss waste on a daily basis? You change your buying habits based on the waste. START NOW: Here is an example of a waste sheet. Put it onto a clipboard, hang it in the kitchen, assign a manager to filling it in, and check your results daily, with the manager.
6. INVENTORY—do you have regularly scheduled inventory? It’s necessary. It’s the best way to check that food is moving through your establishment. START NOW: use your order sheets as inventory sheets, marking it "INVENTORY date/year" so everyone understands what is being done. Make sure you do a monthly check of every item in the house. Some odd items on the shelf? Talk with your chef to decide how best to use that item—on a lunch or dinner special. Don’t throw items away, if you can possibly avoid it.
Your staff, once again, is your biggest ally in putting these food cost checks in place. You lead your staff by showing them how to complete these six ways to improve your food costs. Staff should be encouraged to talk about each of the new methods, allow them to digest the material. Always help your staff by guiding them to the best practices. You’ll need to share “why” they should follow the six ways to control food cost. It they understand the "why" of good food costs they will ensure that food costs stay under control, and will alert you when food costs derail. Put these into action over a month. Slow and steady..
GUEST BLOGPOST - Andrew Gazdecki
Mobile Isn't Just for Starbucks - Mobile Solutions for Independent Restaurants. There is no better food or drink ordering mobile app than the Starbucks app. It has more users than any other restaurant app and has a lot of competitors, including titans like McDonald's, taking notice and looking to replicate a similar mobile experience for their own customers. For an independent restaurant owner, this may feel like an impossible task. After all, Starbucks has a lot more resources at its disposal and a team of mobile-focused developers to continue ensuring the future growth and success of the Starbucks app.
Training staff in a busy restaurant, cafe, or bar is not hard if you are consistent, and you give your staff a reason to come to work. Again, it's the "why" -- why did we hire you? why do you love working here? If your staff aren't asking those questions then you should read on!
Some owners don't know what this hipster term means: Mindset. Or perhaps you don't know how it works in restaurants or cafes. That's because there are so many tasks for a cafe or restaurant owner: improving sales, marketing, keeping up with changing food costs, changing the register keys, and training staff. This list goes on! You know that! This blog is not trying to be the Encyclopedia Brittanica of ownership. This blog is to help you in very real ways. Help you know what to do when you get stuck. Help you when you feel blue. Help you when you need help on sales, marketing, etc. You CAN be the boss, and be happy, and profitable. On a mediocre Monday, or a disappointing Thursday all you'd like is someone to remind you of exactly what you need. Help to stay motivated. Help to keep your eye on the prize. Hence, MINDSET TRAINING.
This post takes you inside Curry Leaf Cafe in Kemptown, and it's chef-owner Kanthi Kiran Thamma. He is building on the momentum of two ongoing restaurant successes. The latest incarnation of Curry Leaf Cafe is shared plates and small plates, of the street food of southern India. There's even a small masala dosa on the menu.
Marketing for your restaurants is an individual journey. Yes ,it's your story to tell. The story is central to growing your business. You'll be developing your story, which in turn creates a florishing business. Make that action active, but not urgent. Do it right, don't keep doing it over and over. Be patient. Slowly and consistently share your story. In fact, it's alot like a slow food dinner--where the food takes hours to prepare, bring good people to the table, and community arises and is nurtured. If that image, that tiny story, helps you start to market your restaurant, awesome. Now, read on, and you'll find that you have it inside you, but it's about to develop into your unique skill set, that works for your exact restaurant!
Sixth Pillar Approach -- one of the pillars is about your customers' experience. This digs into how to give your customers a great experience, and keep them coming back.
Baltimore has a habit of being ahead of the curve. Going Cashless is Baltimore's new topic -- eliminate cash from your restaurant or cafe, and shift your business to credit cards only. Guests and customers will be facing this reality. The phrase for this action? Going Cashless. Here are pros and cons, plus examples of businesses who already have hopped on the bandwagon.
REASONS to GO CASHLESS
- Handling cash is a dirty business. As owners, we already know this. Customers are aware of this! Asking a staff member to stay at the cash register, to ensure the germs from money handling are not transferred to the food you are selling, is standard procedure, yet that's a dedicated job. Labor costs are associated with that dedicated job.
- Eliminating cash, eliminates frequent bank visits/deposits. Eliminating the need to run to the bank to get bills, and make change daily does have an impact on monthly bank charges. Certainly each owner has wished they could relieve their business of that nuisance charge.
- There is no drawer counting. Staff no longer have the tedious end-of-day drawer counting. Gone are the managers worries over a $27.88 unrecorded paid out. Gone too, is the double checking that the right bills are back in the drawer, and "do we have enough quarters". While all those items are not a huge struggle, time is saved, and labor costs are saved.
- Focus is now squarely on the customer. Instead of counting back the twenty, a staff member who recognizes a customer can proceed right on to a friendly interaction.
- Cash is simply becoming the only part of our economy that is untraceable, and unrecorded, which also means it's largely illegal activity. Improving credit card use will also put more pressure on less than savory activity.
- Wave of the future. In 2016, only 22% of all transactions in the US were conducted in cash.
- Sales will go down with credit card only transaction. Actually the opposite phenomena happens. Yes, a few people only have cash and have to be turned away. This is a small percentage, and we are facing this cultural shift already.
REASONS YOU'LL RESIST GOING CASHLESS
- "Cash carriers". We all know, that there are just those people who prefer to purchase their coffee in cash. What would you do? Let that over ride all the positive reasons to go cashless? Or come up with a plan that is inclusive for cash transactions--gift card, for example.
- "It'll never work". Going cashless sounds like you just stepped into the Jetson's high-tech, space age world. We cannot possibly be in the future already. Fact is, we are probably going there now, so consider the pros and cons. If you decide to go cashless, like anything else in your business, set a date when you plan to go cashless, and find all the avenues to share that idea.
- "No one else is going cashless". That may seem true in this very moment, but "Going Cashless" is gaining a following among owners. Tune in to the discussion. Here are some case studies that will help you understand why other owners have hopped on this bandwagon.
- "Credit cards cost our businesses so much". This is a real problem. Fact is, we are receiving this charges whether we are cashless or not. The time and money of not having to run to the bank, and receive bank charges makes for an efficiency.
- The owner of Park Cafe and Coffee Bar chose to go cashless after facing repeated robberies. It was a recurring robbery, by the same individual. Eliminating risk of yet another robbery tipped the scales for David Hart, the cafes' owner. Was it the perfect solution to eliminate robberies? No. Police needed to catch the repeat offender. However, it did take a huge factor out of the equation.
- Sweetgreens created this model, and is completely satisfied with their decision. They switched to credit card only as a 2017 policy. Their reasons? Staff security was their primary reasons. That is attractive to applicants, and shows that the owner values staff safety.
GOING CASHLESS -- NEWS ARTICLES
Chris Mim of the WSJ just wrote this story from a tech perspective.
DC area Sweetgreens has been a topic of interest since the experiment began one year ago, Jan 2016.
The concept of a Cashless Society is global fascination with India at the forefront of the movement.
Catch those images when they happen, then you have materials ready when you need to post or send a newsletter