Globally, nearly 60% of adults make resolutions for the new year. Do you have big plans for your restaurant in the coming year? Traditionally a slower month in the restaurant business, January offers owners and operators time to evaluate processes to determine what’s working and what needs to be done differently to grow revenue and maximize success. Typically, only 8% of resolutions actually create lasting change. Consider not only what you want to accomplish, but also how you’ll get it done to increase your odds of success. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you identify and strategize around your business’s 2023 resolutions.
Evaluate Your Menu
January’s “New Year, New Me” diners aren’t the only ones who will be making careful food choices in 2023. More restaurant patrons are demanding healthful options than ever before and this “feel good” trend shows no signs of slowing down. Meeting these new expectations can boost profits. Many multi-location operations already post calorie counts on menu boards. One survey concluded that transparency around nutritional content is preferred by more than half of diners. More than 100 million Americas follow special diets. Menus that include vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free choices are popping up with great success everywhere from quick service to fine dining establishments. Local and seasonal ingredients are not only a priority for diners; periodically updating your menu of offering specials to incorporate these items can reduce your food costs.
As the world stayed at home, curbside pickup and delivery helped many restaurants survive the pandemic. While in-restaurant dining figures have rebounded, one fact remains: takeout isn’t going anywhere. Many patrons prefer to enjoy restaurant food from the comfort of home, as evidenced by a tripling of the delivery market since 2017 to a current value of over $150B. Experts predict that industry growth in the coming year will continue to be fueled entirely by off-site consumption. You can use this trend to your advantage. Instead of treating your to-go services as an afterthought, make them a priority. Help customers with cutting-edge online technology including exciting menus, mobile ordering, and ways for them to let you know they’ve arrived for pickup or track their delivery.
Cut Down on Food Waste
Kitchen food waste generated by overordering, overcooking, or poor preparation techniques costs your restaurant money. Improper storage is not only similarly wasteful, but also puts diners’ health – and your restaurant’s reputation! – at risk. Commit to saving money and protecting patrons in 2023. Carefully examine your kitchen’s food handling and safety processes as well as the ways in which you provide oversight, then make revisions as appropriate.
Attract and Retain a Great Staff
Few sectors have been as hard hit by the labor shortage as restaurants have. Three in four restaurants were experiencing staffing challenges before the pandemic. Now, restaurant workers are changing jobs an average of every 56 days. Compared to the U.S. average job stay of 4.2 years, this figure is shocking and is causing ripples across the food service industry. Restaurant managers cite a lack of recognition as a major factor driving turnover, yet fewer than 40% of businesses invest in professional development for their employees. There are plenty of potential employees out there, but you’ll have to entice them with tangible appreciation, reasonable hours, fair pay, and great benefits.
Improve Operations with Technology
The restaurants that thrive in 2023 will be those most willing to invest in the technology that patrons crave. While third-party delivery apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash will continue to be important, restaurants will need their own integrated apps and online platforms. You can implement an online system to ensure a smooth reservation and confirmation process, use QR codes to replace paper menus, add a digital kitchen board that links directly to your POS system, and opt for contactless ordering and payment systems. All of these improvements will help diners feel safer in your restaurant and will alleviate the burdens created by staffing issues.
Cultivate Repeat Business
Studies demonstrate that attracting a new customer costs between 5X and 10X more than retaining one who already frequents your business. Not only do those returning customers cost you less, they spend 33% more per visit and they build your business by bringing friends and family in the door. You can generate return business by rewarding your most loyal diners and by implementing a brand standard management system that ensures a consistently high-quality experience at every visit.
Manage Inventory More Efficiently
The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that a poorly managed inventory system is one of the major reasons small businesses fail. Despite this potential pitfall, 46 percent of small businesses with 11 to 499 employees don’t have any kind of system to track the goods they have in stock. This is even more dangerous for restaurants, where the majority of stock is made up of potentially-perishable food item. Poorly managed inventory eats into profits and puts your business at risk. Money is wasted replacing food that spoiled because you ordered too much or had to buy more at higher cost to compensate for under-ordering. Staff time is squandered as they look for items that should have been easily accessible. Worst of all, inefficiently addressing inventory needs leads to spoilage, jeopardizing diners’ health and safety.
Up Your Social Media Game
Word of mouth is the oldest form of marketing in the world, and it’s still critical for restaurants. These days, most word of mouth is happening online. Positive online reviews will drive people to your restaurant and negative ones may hurt the bottom line, but there’s something you can do to mitigate the damage: respond. A whopping 94% of diners consider online reviews when choosing a restaurant. ReviewTrackers discovered that nearly half of consumers searching online are more likely to visit a business if the owner or manager responds to negative reviews. Check your online reviews regularly. Thank patrons for positive reviews. If you spot a negative review, don’t take it personally. Instead, respond rather than react. Apologize publicly, invite the patron to return, and move the conversation to a private forum.