Have you ever had a favorite restaurant that always seems to be busy but then one day like magic, it's gone... closed for business! Unfortunately in the restaurant industry, this happens ALOT and if you're like most people, you've probably wondered about what happened. There are two primary and very basic reasons as to why a restaurant will typically close..... either the restaurant isn't generating enough revenue or the restaurant is failing to control its cost!.
Here are our five tips that just might help you get past it all, and beat the odds.
1. Control the Bottom Line
Before you make a decision to shut your doors, you'll first want to make sure that all of your expenses are under control. We suggest a labor cost that doesn't exceed 30% of your total revenue and a weighted average inventory cost that doesn't exceed 30% of your total revenue (yes even if you serve BBQ). If either one of these expenses is higher than our suggested budgets, then you'll know that there's room for improvement.
Next, you'll want to make sure that your restaurant is generating enough revenue to cover your overhead and operating expenses which should be no more than 25% of your total sales.
Controlling your restaurant's bottom line isn't an easy task but using technology can always help. We suggest investing in inventory software like Skrible to help control your inventory cost, 7Shifts to help control your labor cost, and Quickbooks to control it all.
2. Be Known for Something
If you build it they will come....... wrong!! A restaurant without an identity or a brand is almost always going to struggle to drive people through the door. What do I mean.... we all have our top 5 restaurants which we visit when we decide to take a night out and each one offers that one special thing that they do just a little bit better than the next guy and you should too!
For example, your restaurant might be known for having the best burnt-ends in the city, the best patio for people watching, or the best cheese-infused hot dogs on the planet. Regardless of what it is, you need to have it and be known for it and this isn't always easy. It starts with you but is driven by your customers.
3. Reduce the Number of Items on Your Menu
If you're finding yourself in a really tough spot you can always try implementing a limited Covid-19 Menu. Reducing the number of items on your menu isn't an easy decision but it can help reduce and control your overall cost! With a reduced menu you have an opportunity to avoid purchasing items that will sell slowly, improve ingredient freshness and streamline your labor. In addition, your cooks will be happy because they can produce more food faster which could result in more revenue.
4. Study the Market
Understanding what other restaurants are doing is always a great way to capture new ideas. I can't begin to tell you how common this is. For whatever reason, the restaurant industry almost operates like a spider web in the sense that they tend to all pick up a few tidbits here and there from each other.
For some people, this part might feel a little weird or unethical but it's just business. You should always be looking for new opportunities and new ways to improve so don't feel weird and start doing your homework.
5. Talk to People
If you're not getting sufficient business at your restaurant, get out and start talking to people in order to figure out why. Get feedback from your customers regarding what you could do better or differently. Often times a person will never visit a restaurant because they simply had no reason to or they weren't aware that the restaurant even existed.
Whether you struggling due to Covid-19 or your struggles started before/after Covid-19, owning a restaurant or bar is tough but neither Covid-19 nor the competition down the street has to have the last say!