There’s nothing like running a restaurant. It’s challenging, it’s exciting, it’s creative. If you’re a food lover and you decided to run your own establishment, then you’ll know that it’s not something that you’d change for the world. However, there’s no avoiding the fact that there are many challenges that can have you thinking about whether it really was the best decision of your life. This has been especially true over the last couple of years when the coronavirus pandemic presented even more challenges to an industry that wasn’t short on challenges to begin with.
However, while things might not be easy, there are always things you can do that’ll make things easier. For instance, by maximizing your profits. Sounds good, right? Of course it does. In this blog, we’re going to run through a host of tips that’ll put more money in your bank account. Some of them will add considerable amounts of revenue; others will have small impacts. But when you put them all together, you’ll see that your financial landscape looks a lot brighter.
Smart Food Inventory
You wouldn’t take money out of the cash till and set it on fire. Yet that is, in effect, what many restaurant owners end up doing. If you don’t have an advanced way to monitor your inventory, then there’s every chance that you’re throwing away more food than necessary. There’ll always be some wastage, but there shouldn’t be too much. In fact, if it’s even noticeable, then you’ve got an issue. You can probably put together a system that shows you which food you’re throwing away, so you’ll know that you need to order less of that ingredient in the future.
Your customers should absolutely be well fed when they visit your restaurant. All too often, restaurants try to cut down portion sizes to increase profits just for the sake of it, but that’s a short-term solution that causes long-term problems. If people don’t think they’re getting value for money, or they’re simply hungry when they leave, then they won’t come back. And it’s repeat customers that’ll provide the foundation for your success.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take another look at your portion sizes. If there is a dish (or a portion of a dish) that people always seem to be leaving on the plate, then that’s just a waste. Don’t take away what your customers do want, but you can clearly take away stuff that your customers don’t want.
Sell Gift Experiences
If your customers are happy with your food and service, then they may want to share that experience with a friend. A recommendation from a friend can be good, sure, but it doesn’t provide a solid incentive to visit the establishment. Why not allow your patrons to buy a gift card, which they can give to their friends or family? This is the simplest thing in the world to set up and can also be used as a short-term solution to cash flow issues. If you sell a lot of them, you’ll have to factor in that, at some point, people are going to come in for what is, in effect, a free meal.
Don’t Let Anything Go To Waste
We talked earlier about not letting food go to waste. By that, we meant fresh produce and the like, which just sits in the fridge until it goes bad. But what about the products that you’ve made that you don’t sell? Depending on the type of restaurant that you’re running, you may prepare a lot of food for the day, yet, come closing time, find that you haven’t quite sold them all. Many restaurants throw away this food (or take it home), but there is another solution. There are apps that allow restaurants to post deals on expiring food. List your dishes there, and you’ll be able to recoup some of the costs. There are other ways to make money from your waste, too. For instance, sites like Gfcommodities.com will pay for your yellow grease. That’s something that you would otherwise throw away, but just by getting in touch with the company, you can add some money to your bottom line.
If you’ve put a lot of thought and care into creating a beautiful restaurant, then, chances are, you’ve got a venue that people would love to host an event in. So why not make your venue available for birthdays, weddings, corporate events, charity events, and more? Of course, it’s important to check that it’s worth the effort. It would likely be worthwhile closing your restaurant for a private party on a Sunday when traffic is low, but maybe not on Friday or Saturday, your busiest nights. Still, though, if you learn the art of hosting events and can show people a good time, then you might just become your community’s go-to event host and make plenty of money in the process.
Sell Your Signature Items
Your patrons love to have your products when they’re at your restaurant. Maybe they’d love to have your products in their home, too. If you have a signature sauce, then why not look at bottling it up and selling it directly to your customers? It’s a simple enough process. You’re already making the product, of course. From there, it’ll just be about putting it into bottles, making up some labels, and then making it available to purchase.
Galvanize Your Marketing
Most (all?) restaurants engage in marketing. But not many restaurants market their establishments effectively. If you’ve been running pretty basic marketing campaigns, then take a look at stepping things up. You can do this for free by taking some time to learn the latest marketing strategies, or you could hire an outside company to do the job for you. A sophisticated, well-orchestrated marketing campaign can really help to push people through your door, so it’s worth spending some time on.
The coronavirus pandemic taught us many things, including that many people like to order delivery food. This aspect of the culinary world blew up during the pandemic, so it’s worthwhile looking to see which of your dishes will travel well. Not all your meals will be fit for delivery, but some will! It’s best to invest in your own online ordering system for your orders. There are plenty of delivery apps that will get you up and running quickly, but they’ll also charge around 30%, which will obviously eat into your profits! If it becomes popular, you can even create your own app.
You’ll be open for dinner, of course, but could you also be open for lunch? Depending on where you’re located, this could result in a hefty increase in your profits. You won’t be able to charge as much money for lunch as you would for dinner, but your overheads will also be cheaper. This approach works because it makes your restaurant more accessible. There are many people who cannot afford to go out for dinner but who can afford to go out for lunch.
You don’t need to be open all through the day. You could open for lunch from 12 – 3, for instance. Though opening for lunch can help to generate more money, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to work just as hard as you would for your dinner rush.
Improve Your Customer Experience
Finally, you can maximize your profits by simply getting more people through the door. We talked earlier about marketing your restaurant to get more first-time customers. But it’ll be your repeat customers that really help to generate a profit. A first-time visitor may only visit once if they’re just visiting the area for a week. Repeat customers may come every single week. So how do you get people to keep coming to your establishment? By crafting a pretty flawless customer experience.
To improve this, first, take a look at what your current customer experience is like. This can be a little difficult if you’re the owner; even if you pretend to have the customer experience, it’s probably difficult to have the necessary distance to really analyze what’s going on. One option could be to have a friend visit your restaurant (if they’ve never been before) and give their impression. You can also hire people to do this. Hopefully, they’ll have a broadly positive experience. But there are always things that you can do better! If your guests feel welcome, relaxed, and enjoy the food and drinks that you serve, then they’ll be more than happy to come back.
And there we have it! As we said at the beginning of the article, it can be a challenge to generate profits when you’re running a restaurant, and that has been especially true over the past couple of years. But as you hopefully already know, there are creative solutions for just about every problem that the business world can throw at you. While some of the tips above will require a change in your operations, they’re worthwhile pursuing.