Business Bookeeper
22-Mar-2021 By - team

By focusing on increasing efficiency in certain areas of your business where lots of time is spent, you can reduce your waste, keep staff happy and motivated, increase profits and improve customer experience.

Here are my top 20 ways to improve restaurant efficiency.

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1. Get organised

There’s always a million things to do when running a restaurant or cafe, but it’s important to take the time to plan out your days and weeks actively so that you can prioritise tasks and make sure you can coordinate your schedule in a way that allows you to get everything done

Make a to-do list for the week, check in with it each morning, assign tasks, and watch your efficiency skyrocket.

2. Keep staff motivated

Happy staff are efficient staff, and efficient staff are what it takes to keep your restaurant running smoothly.

Try identifying opportunities for improvement and then set up incentives for team members to achieve the goals you’ve set.

Whether it’s driving up their average transaction value (ATV) or maximising table management, keeping your staff motivated to excel in the areas that drive your business is key to operating efficiently and successfully.

3. Reduce human error

Integrating your POS to your payment systems so staff can’t key in wrong values is a significant step to take when you’re considering how to improve restaurant performance. Prices are set and updated consistently, which drastically reduces mistakes and avoids negative customer interactions.

4. Upskill your team

Training your staff when they start is all well and good, but you mustn’t forget about ongoing training.

Giving team members space and opportunity to upskill themselves not only helps your business run more smoothly but it’s an excellent way to improve employee retention and reduce the need to start from scratch with new employees continually.

Use POS reporting to spot your highest grossing staff by ATV and empower those team members to teach others.

5. Make it easy to cash out at closing time

The traditional end-of-day process can be a laborious one, fraught with lots of time spent looking for that stray five bucks.

By implementing an integrated payment solution, you can automatically reconcile your takings at day’s end, so you save an hour or so a day per site.

6. Integrate your accounting software

Anything that makes that world easier to understand that makes that world less painful to view and limits the amount of time we need to spend tapping numbers into a computer, the better.

Centralised reporting, invoice management, tracking overheads, security and cash flow management are just some of the many benefits of integrating your accounting system with your POS.

Don’t let manual processes slow you down and get in the way of restaurant efficiency. Don’t spend unnecessary time on entering data by hand – integrate your accounting software with your POS to gain an accurate, real-time view of your business’ performance.

7. Spend less time managing staff logistics and more time running your business

Labour is one of the most significant expenses in your business, and as it gets busier, it gets a lot harder to know precisely when you should be cutting or adding labour hours to match all that extra demand.

Syncing your staff management program to your POS is a simple and efficient way to run your team, which will save you time and a lot of headaches.

Done correctly. This software setup allows you to build rosters off historical sales data, so you’re always staffing the right amount of staff and cutting back on unnecessary labour costs. Plus, there are tools to better communicate and allocate assignments among your team, keeping efficiency high.

8. Leverage loyalty

Turn customers into regulars and increase restaurant efficiency by offering innovative incentives that will keep them coming back – whether it be discounts, freebies or gift cards.

Check with your POS provider to see what they can offer in terms of a fully automated loyalty and referral program and whether it syncs to your POS. Such a solution makes it easy to incentivise repeat business while also building your email database.

9. Make your data work harder

It’s all well and good to know your sales numbers, but the key to running an efficient restaurant is to understand why the numbers are what they are.

Drilling into your data helps you complete the puzzle and use real, quantitative information from your business to make informed decisions that will keep your customers happy and help you make money.

10. Get everyone on the same page

Effective communication with your team is essential in order to run a smooth restaurant operation.

Hold a daily staff briefing that allows everyone to be across any important news or issues, so everyone knows the lay of the land. Make sure your team are in the loop about any changes and the reasons why.

Having this knowledge avoids confusion and also makes team members feel confident about what’s going on around them.

11. Make purchasing stock simpler

Purchasing and managing your stock is one of the most important, and time-consuming, parts of your business.

Your team should always know when and what to order, who to order it from, and what’s due for delivery – regardless of who’s on shift.

Using purchasing software will help you keep over-ordering and therefor rendering wastage to a minimum. It also allows your team log issues with anything that should have been received but wasn’t so you can follow up with suppliers as soon as the flag is raised.

12. Streamline food prep

Efficient food prep is a critical component in any successful kitchen, and there must be clear and consistent processes in place to make sure that the way the kitchen operates is the same no matter which staff are working or what’s on the menu that day and that the quality of the end product is always high.

Take, for example, a new staff member. If you or your most trained staff are no on-site, will they know how to make all of your food items to a T?

Staying on top of how your kitchen operates gets much easier when you’ve got the right tools to do the heavy lifting.

Features that can facilitate a smoother kitchen workflow are now built right into cloud-based POS software.

13. Keep tabs on your tables

One of the most crucial restaurants efficiency tips is implementing a system that allows your team to know what’s going on in your restaurant at all times.

Often it’s not easy for staff to see all tables at once, so you must have a table-management solution that allows your waitstaff to quickly see what tables are available to seat people efficiently and promptly.

The right solution will make this easy by allowing you to view all tables and see tables’ status in real-time. This awareness means that staff can keep on top of orders, identify issues, and fill spaces, which keeps customers happy and the restaurant flowing.

14. Communicate with the kitchen

No one likes to be kept waiting for their meal, so your restaurant must have an effective system and process in place to ensure the waitstaff can communicate with the kitchen so that meals arrive at tables when they should.

Believe it or not, there are products available on the market that handle this as well.

Such software features allow waiters to press a button to let the kitchen know when a particular table is ready for their next course.

This means meals will spend less time waiting around, getting cold, customers will receive their food promptly, and waitstaff will spend less time running back and forth to the kitchen to chase orders.

15. Get the layout right

How your restaurant is designed is a critical factor in how efficiently it runs. Your floor plan must allow for easy circulation of staff and customers. The different sections are positioned in a way that makes sense and reduces unnecessary back and forth.

Make sure not to overlook factors such as space between tables and the waiters’ route carrying the food to the dining area from the kitchen – this should be as straightforward and clear as possible to ensure quick and efficient service.

16. Remove unnecessary steps

Constantly be on the lookout for ways to trim wastage out of your processes. If specific tasks are sucking up a lot of your teams’ time, look at them critically and ask yourself if there’s a better way to go about it or a tech solution that could make them more efficient.

It’s easy to do things as they’ve always been done before, but continuously taking stock and evaluating your regular jobs’ efficiency will mean a much more streamlined business in the future.

17. Understand your products

Having a handle on which products are working the hardest for you is an essential part of becoming more efficient. For example, if a product’s consistently underperforming, but it takes a long time to prep or includes many ingredients, it might be worth ditching from the menu.

Look out for modern POS, inventory and specialist hospitality software that include analytics capabilities. Done correctly, you can see at a glance what your top-selling products are by pulling your restaurant inventory management tracking report at any given time to determine which products are worth investing the time in.

18. Take payments to the table

These days, customers expect to pay their bill at the table, as soon as they’re ready for it, so it’s wise to make sure your payments solution is up to the task.

You want your POS and ordering software available on any device and integrates with fixed and mobile payment terminals to allow you to accept payments wherever your customers need to pay you, ensuring a seamless experience for them, making your teams’ life more manageable and increasing restaurant efficiency.

19. Take online reservations

People want to book online these days more and more, so this feature must be available.

Allowing customers to quickly and easily jump online and check availability on their preferred date and time, not only means more bookings, but it also reduces the time needed for staff to man the phones and take manual reservations.

20. Upgrade your POS system

A good POS will have efficiency-minded features like table management, faster payments, and pretty much all of the above points. Still, the real benefit of an exemplary POS is how it helps you stay on top of all your costs, like staffing, inventory, and more.

This type of solution will help you save on costs while giving you a lot more time to do the things you really should be focusing on. And that’s something we could probably all get behind.

Ten ways to boost your restaurant’s marketing strategy

Marketing is different in hospitality. Diners like to think they have the inside scoop, and that the quality of the restaurant should be its advertising. We both know that’s not true. So how do you advertise without being seen to?

Here’s how to boost your awareness and your diner numbers.

 

   Step 1: Socialise online

 

Most of your target market hang out somewhere online. And 88 per cent of them are swayed by online reviews and comments. It’s not just about boosting a Facebook or Instagram post and hoping for the best, though. 60.7 per cent of people need to hear from you two to four times before they buy. That means your social presence should be all about sustained, engaged effort – you’re there to build relationships, not just sell your restaurant.

Social media action plan:

  1. Claim all your accounts. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, all the things.
  2. Update them all with your opening hours, phone number, menu, links to your website and other social media sites.
  3. Post to build your tribe online. Sprinkle morsels of information about yourself, the chef, or the dishes. Ask for people’s opinions on a new dish (people love to give opinions). Share an insider tip, like how your chef poaches the perfect eggs.

 

   Step 2: Take control of reviews

 

Now you’ve got your social media humming, start asking your regulars for reviews. Log in to review sites once a week and respond to everything with warmth and professionalism. Pop over here to read more on how to manage reviews properly. Honest reviews from your diners are Important (note the capital ‘I’), so don’t skimp on this.

   Reviews action plan:

  1. Claim your restaurant on all review sites.
  2. Ask your regulars for reviews.
  3. Share your review links so people can easily find you.
  4. Acknowledge and answer all reviews with professionalism.
  5. Invest in review management software to help you.

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   Step 3: Build (and connect) with your database

 

As well as cultivating that social media following, you need to build your database. Why? Because you don’t own your Facebook and Instagram followers – one false move and the platforms could kick you off. Suddenly, you’ve lost all that hard work and your customers’ ears.

Running the occasional mail-out with a run-down of a new menu or an exclusive offer will give you an extra way to worm into your customers’ minds next time they’re planning a meal out.

   Database-building action plan:

  1. If it fits your restaurant’s tone, ask people to pop their business cards in a bowl for a shot at a monthly draw.
  2. Online ordering system? Make sure it adds email addresses to your list.
  3. Run a Facebook competition that gathers email addresses, then follow up with entrants.
  4. Give your website visitors the option to add themselves to your newsletter.
  5. Give incentives for people to refer their friends.

 

  Step 4: Create loyalty

 

Creating a loyalty program rewards your regular customers and keeps people coming back. It could be as simple as a punch-card for the tenth coffee free, or something far more elaborate to better suit your brand. A digital loyalty system will naturally boost your database, too. Your POS system should be able to make it easy to keep track of points and rewards.

Building-loyalty action plan:

  1. Think about rewards that promise extra service, rather than just free stuff – first dibs at tickets to your events, free coffee-tasting mornings, or an invite to a new menu launch.
  2. Let people earn rewards fast, at least at first.
  3. Make sure your POS system has the functionality to make this all super easy.

 

Step 5: Specials

 

Now you have a database, time to do something with it. Promotions can be more than just filling tables on quiet nights. Offer some genuine value to your diners. Can you team up with a booze supplier and run an entire tasting night? What about an event to benefit your favourite charity?

If you’re giving a discount on the final bill, make sure your POS can handle it, so you’re not doing mental gymnastics while the diner is tapping her card at you and sighing.

Specials action plan:

  1. Find a promo that works for your business and customers.
  2. Tell your database about it.
  3. Make sure your POS system handles it quickly, so customers aren’t inconvenienced.

   Step 6: Create a PR buzz

 

 

PR buzz is restaurant marketing gold. When you stay in the media, it keeps you top of mind and on people’s dining list. The trick? You have to do stuff worth buzzing about.

PR-buzz action plan:

  1. Partner with relevant brands to do some collabs. Get on their bandwagon for a charity event, run some pop-ups or run a promo. It’s a great way to cross-pollinate your networks, get free press and get people talking.
  2. Enter awards. From illustrious barista or cocktail awards through to the best pie comp, if you win, splash it around social media, be available for comment and put that trophy up somewhere people can see it.
  3. Make friends with critics and journos. You need to be on their radar, and in their publications. Identify journos that align with what you’re doing and do a teensy bit of Twitter and Instagram stalking to make connections. Comment on their posts, so they know who you are.
  4. Get an influencer on board. A good influencer is a word-of-mouth on steroids. You can reach a large audience of people interested in what you’re selling. The trick is to choose an influencer whose demographic and style matches yours – they might talk about you in exchange for a free meal, or you might want to explore a direct pay-per-post deal.

 

   Step 7: Get on TV (and famous)

 

If you (or someone in the kitchen) are personable, use that to create some video content. You don’t have to be Heston Blumenthal – anyone with a bit of personality and a nice manner in front of the camera will do.

It doesn’t matter if it’s making the perfect martini, boning a duck or chopping an onion, just create a short, fun video and you’ve got some engaging content. Then next time the breakfast show is looking for a new chef for their cooking segment, you’ve already got a demo reel and someone who’s camera ready.

Getting famous action plan:

  1. Sign up to YouTube and open a channel for your restaurant.
  2. Buy a smartphone tripod and lapel mic – they’re surprisingly inexpensive and make a massive difference in the quality.
  3. Brainstorm a list of exciting clips you could create, then start filming, posting and sharing regularly – the more you do, the more comfortable you’ll feel, and the easier it will be.
    Keep an eye out for TV opportunities and be quick to put yourself forward.

 

   Take time to do it right.

You can’t rush this – don’t buy followers or try to engage influencers without forming a relationship first. Ultimately, you can’t cheat the process.

So, get started today and chip away at creating a loyal tribe online. Then, add on collabs, influencers and video content to generate some buzz and get famous.

Restaurant marketing is just like running a restaurant. It’s about authenticity and connection over the long term.

Choosing a delivery model for your restaurant or café

Understanding the various delivery models and service providers available to you as a hospitality business owner may help you get ahead of the competition.

In late 2015, a shift began to appear in Australia’s hospitality scene. November 2015 heralded the arrival of global home-delivery giant Deliveroo, followed by the introduction of UberEats in early 2016. With the launch of these two platforms, now estimated to be worth over $690 million worldwide, Australia’s dining scene (and much of the world) would never look the same again.

Since 2016, not too much has changed when it comes to home delivery.

Deliveroo and UberEats have dominated the game, with smaller companies such as Menulog securing just a fraction of Australia’s market.

In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic reached Australia, and the dining scene shifted again. With diners now unable to physically dine out, many venues felt they had no other option but to switch on a home delivery service. This increase in demand encouraged immediate innovation, meaning Australia has now seen a new wave of delivery services competing for a slice of the Deliveroo and UberEats pie.

Large service providers

For many restaurant owners, the size and reach of companies like UberEats and Deliveroo justify the 30 per cent or more commission fee. Several restaurant owners expressed that they felt the higher turnover was worth the additional commission and that they view the extra costs the same as they would marketing expenses.

In addition, these larger companies often offer a range of included add-on items that companies want. For example, Deliveroo’s ‘onboarding services’ include a smart tablet, existing point of sale integration, food photography, regular menu updates and an account manager to assist with optimisation, marketing and industry best practices.

Mid-sized options

There are some mid-sized delivery companies which, thanks to COVID-19, are gaining more traction in the market.

Menulog is 100 per cent Australian owned and has been around since 2006. Menulog began operations by offering ‘self-delivery’, but in 2018 they launched a secondary business stream that included Menulog drivers.

Today, the company claims to service a whopping 92 per cent of Australian delivery addresses.

DoorDash is America’s biggest food delivery service launched in Melbourne in late 2019 and expanded to Sydney shortly after that. Their model is a little separate from the big players, and Business Insider reports that ‘As a restaurant owner you don’t need a signed contract with DoorDash for them to deliver your food. DoorDash will still work as a courier service, and unless a restaurant explicitly asks DoorDash not to deliver their food, they will do so.’

Hyper-local

As well as the more prominent players, there’s been an influx of smaller, localised companies that offer a similar service type at around half the rate.

Love Local was launched in Sydney on 26 March 2020. Founder, Hamilton Kings, initially created the concept to help his Potts Point restaurant, Honka’s, get food out to its customers. At the time of their launch, Kings had managed to sign two other restaurants to his app, and in less than two months, increased that count to over 20 restaurants.

Love Local charges 12 per cent commission, including GST. Customers place with the restaurant via an app. A delivery driver employed by Love Local will collect the orders on an e-bike, and deliver those direct to the customer.

Due to the hyper-local nature of the service and others like it across Australia, this setup is only suitable for a small number of venues in specific areas and not always beneficial for companies in more regional areas.

Opting out of deliveries

One venue, confident in their choice not to offer delivery, is Dead Ringer in Sydney. Owner Rob Sloan explained that their team did not want to erode their brand equity by providing a delivered product that they believed would be sub-par in Sydney’s saturated dining environment.

Sloan and many other ‘experience based’ or ‘fine dining’ venues share the same views and despite. Despite loss down during the pandemic, they have backed their decision to avoid offering home delivery altogether.

Ultimately, choosing whether to offer home delivery and then which service to use comes down to the individual venue setup and their works.

Unfortunately, there is no singular success guide for venues when it comes to delivery. Each venue must consider their product offering, the style of customer they have and their facilities.

Whatever the outcome, the inflated demand does work in the venue’s favour, and it’s worth shopping around and understanding all of your options before signing on any dotted lines.

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