Rare is the guest who orders off the menu without making adjustments to avoid dairy, gluten, sugar, or other common offenders. It’s possible – and profitable – to accommodate discriminating clientele without frustrating your team. Foodable recommends you review your food prep checklists – it may save time to prep one ingredient for use in a range of dishes instead of assembling several ingredients and having a guest’s modifications require you to start from scratch. It can also pay for servers and the kitchen team to understand the basics of Paleo diets and similar plans like the Whole 30, the report says. Roasted vegetables and meats with sugar-free and dairy-free seasonings can satisfy guests on those diets and also be integrated easily into your regular offerings.
Cost-trimming tactics to boost profits
Summer is officially over and it’s back to business. It’s a good time to analyze your restaurant’s costs and trim excess expenses. Profitable Hospitality recommends these money savers: Cut stock levels of two stock items (like expensive proteins or items bought in bulk), run a cost analysis of a menu item that is likely too expensive or time-consuming to be worth keeping, display your gas and electricity bills and challenge your team to suggest ways to cut energy costs, contact your phone company to renegotiate better plans and bundled offers, confirm that your portion sizes aren’t oversized, and quietly add $20 to the till to confirm that it’s $20 over when balanced – it could help identify staff who shave excess proceeds off of your daily totals.
What sparks full-service sales?
Toast recently released a report that studied 700 full-service restaurants for a week to find what items sell the most and why. Guests are buying food (62 percent), alcoholic beverages (23 percent) and non-alcoholic beverages (15 percent), and those who buy add-on items like appetizers, alcohol or dessert spend an extra $2.34 per minute, on average. All add-ons aren’t equal, however. Guests who added alcohol tended to spend 101 percent more on their bills but also 48 percent more time at the table. Guests who ordered desserts or appetizers added about 50 percent more to their bills, but with a quicker table turn rate.
21 states challenge pending overtime rules
The U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rules, set to go into effect in December, are generating opposition from a growing number of states. Restaurant Hospitality reports that 21 states have joined a lawsuit calling the rules illegal because they are set to increase the threshold for overtime eligibility automatically every three years. The suit also alleges the rules will substantially increase labor costs for many states, local governments and businesses, leading to job loss. The legal challenge could lead to a delay in the enforcement of the rules for restaurant operators nationwide. The National Restaurant Association has not yet joined the lawsuit but is currently considering its options, the report says.
Ramp up wine sales
Your restaurant’s wine list – and how you’re pricing it – can mean the difference between high margins and low ones. Uncorkd recommends you consider these facts when setting goals for your wine list: For 72 percent of consumers, price is the most important factor they consider when deciding whether to purchase wine. Common mark-ups over wholesale prices are two to three times per bottle, depending on the local market, level of restaurant and state laws. The price of wine by the glass is typically the same price as the wholesale price of the bottle. When developing your list, think about how you want guests to view your offerings and consider using a small- to mid-size distributor who is dedicated to your restaurant and can help you identify stand-out wines for good values.
When in doubt, add coffee
The coffee craze is alive and well – and restaurants continue to get creative with coffee on every part of the menu. Behind the bar, it is being mixed cold with lemonade and hot with liqueurs to warm up autumn menus. Ground beans are being used for rubs and glazes on bacon and steak, as well as in gravies. On the dessert menu, Reserve reports espresso is being mixed with vanilla gelato, and coffee flavors are making their way into truffles, toffees and macarons.
Help new managers get up to speed
Only 10 percent of new restaurant managers have restaurant experience, according to the National Restaurant Association, yet your guests’ experience is in their hands. Fortunately, you can provide training and tools to help even the greenest managers succeed. Toast recommends the ServSafe Food Safety Program for Managers, Penn Foster Career School’s Online Restaurant Management Career Diploma Program, and the ICE’s School of Culinary Management. Internally, your training should include everything from managing employees and responding to guest complaints to understanding your restaurant’s point-of-sale system and knowing what to do when a piece of kitchen equipment malfunctions or needs repair.
Use tech to track hand-washing practices
Careful and frequent hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of norovirus. Unfortunately, that won’t necessarily motivate your staff to do it. But Food Safety News reports that technology is beginning to provide the motivation needed to make conscientious hand washing a sustainable practice. It reports that technology that logs actual hand washing is often doubling the rate of hand washing, and it’s becoming easier and more cost-effective for foodservice operations to collect and report this sort of data wirelessly. Hand sanitizers, provided the right product is used, can also be part of a norovirus prevention protocol with set standards and tracking to ensure compliance. Visit www.handwashingforlife.com for information and resources.
Tech apps to boost business
If you like to stay abreast of tech trends, Restaurant Hospitality says these apps may help sales: Uber Local Offers recently launched a loyalty program with Visa that lets guests earn a point for every dollar spent at registered restaurants towards a free Uber ride. ShiftPixy acts an outsourced employer for restaurants, providing all employee benefits, so employees can take all the shifts they need at participating restaurants and operators don’t feel pressured to reduce hours to avoid federal mandates for healthcare coverage. ChowNow Google ordering allows customers who Google a restaurant from their smartphones to order from the restaurant’s business profile and navigate to the restaurant’s menu, turning mobile searches into sales – and it’s free to restaurants.
Reap the benefits of in-house online ordering
When restaurants use in-house online ordering through their point-of-sale system, check sizes increase 23 percent, according to Toast. What’s more, NPD Group found that more orders will soon be placed online than over the phone. If you’ve been hesitating or delaying system improvements, consider that online ordering will help you improve the accuracy of your orders, and your staff will also be freer to focus on efficiently preparing orders and helping guests, so their opportunity to provide positive customer interactions improves. Toast says it’s best to offer online ordering in-house – you keep the profits, you won’t lose business to competitors promoted on third-party sites, and your platform can coexist with those sites if needed. What’s more, you’ll collect valuable data on what your customers like.