2020 was the year literally everything changed in restaurant business operations. This is not an exaggeration. You probably had to adopt new sanitization procedures; add new services like curbside, delivery, outside dining and meal kits; comply with expanded government mandates; work through supply chain challenges; add touchless points of service; and more.
In other words, restaurant operations managers have a lot on their plate as we move through 2021. No one knows what the future will bring, but it’s clear that restaurants must continue to respond to updated rules and regulations, ever more flexible business models, and shifting customer expectations.
Here are some ideas for weathering these challenges along with information on how the latest digital solutions can help your restaurant business adapt and thrive.
The Best Basics
This is a great time to take stock of your operations and decide what to build on as your business moves forward. Following are a few best practices for restaurant operations in 2021:
- Keep it simple. Try to keep your menu tight; use only the staff you need to meet customer expectations.
- Consistency is key. Standard procedures and guidelines should be enforced and quality should be checked every day. All staff across multiple locations should be held accountable for adhering to these guidelines.
- Stay on top of costs. Avoid waste and inventory shrinkage whenever possible. Review your liquor cost, food cost, prime cost, labor cost and overhead expenses regularly.
- Adjust your business plan. As noted above, a lot of things have changed recently; update your plan as needed so it can continue to serve as a blueprint for your future.
- Build customer relationships. Your customers will make or break your business; listen to them to understand their needs and wants so you can serve them better. Better relationships with customers pays off with short-term sales and long-term support from your community.
- Measure restaurant performance. Take an honest look at how your locations are performing and make cuts or adjustments – or capitalize on opportunities! — to achieve business goals.
- Engage your staff. Your employees each have their own unique challenges and understanding of your operations. Regularly seek their feedback and you’ll learn things you’d otherwise miss; for instance, maybe there’s an opportunity to teach your staff how to upsell and increase profits.
- Embrace technology. Today’s restaurant technology options can lower operational costs, help train employees, increase customer satisfaction, and save time. Now let’s take a closer look at how this can happen.
Keeping It Clean
While a clean restaurant won’t automatically be a successful restaurant in 2021, a dirty one certainly won’t be. Industry experts expect the public health and safety measures brought about by the pandemic to remain the standard. This is largely because your guests now equate sanitation with safety, so this becomes the foundation on which they place their trust in your business.
Therefore, ensuring all your employees in all your locations follow all your restaurant cleaning checklists and procedures is mission one. New digital, mobile checklist apps are making it quick and easy for your employees to fill out checklists, and also easy for your managers to see how compliance is being upheld in real time.
The New Customer Experience
Beyond cleanliness, your customers have other high expectations. At minimum, they expect:
- Expanded delivery options, but that the food delivered be just as hot and delicious as it would be in your dining room.
- Responsive and effortless online ordering options, and that includes their mobile experience with your business.
- Your staff to be fully versed in all safety and touchless protocols but also polite, welcoming, knowledgeable, and capable of providing a consistently great customer experience.
Deficiency in any of these areas opens your restaurant to the potential for poor online reviews. And the more locations your business has, the more difficult it is to develop consistent excellence across every shift at every location.
A digital, mobile audit app supports consistency by making best practices available to all employees at all times. When their actions are visible throughout your network in real time, it develops a culture of transparency and accountability; in addition, action plans to fix any issues can be enacted on the fly, complete with reminders and automatic notification when the plan is complete.
In addition, the best mobile apps pull all your locations’ data into clear reports that make it easy to see trends throughout your organization or for just one location, even one shift. It becomes easy to spot deficiencies before they become serious, as well as best practices that can be duplicated at additional locations.
Train and Retain
Good restaurant operations managers are well aware that their customer experience depends on the training of their employees. However, staff upheavals due to COVID-19, as well as traditionally high levels of turnover in the restaurant industry, make retaining your experienced staff an ongoing concern.
Digital, mobile solutions allow you to consolidate all your employee training and customize it for each position; employees train online and only for their specific job responsibilities. When new standards or training modules are put in place, they roll out to all employees simultaneously, and the app tracks which employees have acknowledged the updates. The easier, more relevant, and more meaningful you can make your training, the easier it is to retain good employees. In addition, feedback options make the communication between employees and management a truly two-way street, which supports higher levels of employee engagement.
Staying Up to Date
It’s clear that building flexibility into your restaurant operations is essential to success in 2021. Managing your locations, and the work taking place in each of them, requires a high level of organizational skill and connectivity. Digital restaurant audit solutions like MeazureUp allow restaurant operations managers to function as if they were physically in each location, even in multiple locations simultaneously. Thanks to the app’s documentation options including photos, videos, time stamps, geolocation, input from smart devices like thermometers, and more, managers have a real-time window into what’s going on in each location, giving them more control and oversight than ever before.
MeazureUp is a digital, mobile field audit solution designed to supply all the technological advancements you need to increase visibility into each location, ensure standards are being met, increase both accountability and engagement among your employees, and develop a strong, consistent customer experience throughout your locations. Contact us today!