Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Common Sense Has Left The Restaurant Industry

Restaurant IndustryMy brother came over this morning and he started telling me about his date Saturday night...well not so much about his date but about the great experience he had at The Yard House...the exceptional service, truly well prepared food and did he mention the awesome service...which got us on to this jag about the state of "service" in our Industry...not a new one to us or anyone else who decides to go out to eat in a full service restaurant these days.
We are all aware that the day of the 6000-15000sf restaurant is largely a thing of the past...even the popular casual dining chains have lessened their footprints to 3000-4500sf. The reason...Labor takes a large staff and the willingness to spend on employees to properly staff a large building in order to give good, much less great service.
In addition to downsizing the units the corporations kept growing and the need to pay the higher corporate costs put pressure on the the in their infinite wisdom the concept of "Minimal Staffing" was enacted and budgets were made order for anyone to make a bonus, not to mention keep their jobs, the focus turned from the dining room to the clock...and this friends was the end of service as we knew it!
Now, with their heads buried in the books and corporate ass saving, the people in charge have forgotten that by definition they are THE "Service & Hospitality" Industry, where exceptional service is what brings people back again and's what differentiates... Now we are in the business of cutting labor to meet a budget in order to pay people at the top large bonuses....
Restaurant IndustryAs to the Guest...well the corporate attitude is "there are plenty of people where they came from... hey we can throw out some coupons and discounts that will not affect our labor dollars...lets do that to get new people...and don't forget...people are stupid...they'll come back anyways..."
(Coupons...that's a whole other rant...)
When we came up in the Industry we all had budgets...every business does...but when the organizations get so large that in order to sustain them the individual unit's labor budget is cut to the point that service is an altogether thing of the past...and then to make it worse...EVERY year the labor budgets are less than the year past...
Lets look at a simplified example of how this works...
#1 Rule in the Industry - Hot Food Served Hot
- need an expeditor to organize the food coming out of the kitchen in order to not get cold
- need a food runner to take the food out to the dining room
- need a server to take order, bring drinks, serve food and care for guests
In order to save labor dollars most companies have directed their units through aggressively cut budgets, to eliminate the Expeditor and Food Runner and have the servers pick up the slack...and hey...while we're at it, let's get rid of the Pantry Person and the servers can make the salads as well...hey and we really don't need to have a hostess on all the time...let's have the servers watch the front door and answer the phone as let's tell the managers that they need to work harder to displace labor in case it's needed...but be available to pick up coupons from every table and don't forget to "touch every table"...and make sure that you call the supervisor to explain why your labor is off....

Friday, August 24, 2012

Customer Service in the Food and Restaurant Industry

Customer service goes a long way
Restaurant Industry
In a tough economy, people are thinking twice about whether to eat out or cook at home. Don't let bad customer service be the reason they decide on the latter. Customer service provides a quick and lasting impression of your business, and in a competitive industry like the food and restaurant business, first impressions can be everything. Give your customers a reason to stay loyal to your business by providing excellent customer service in addition to excellent cuisine.
Why is good customer service so important?
Customer retention is one of the biggest goals for any company, and quality customer service is an easy and effective way to achieve this goal. According to the Institute of Food Technologists, a nonprofit scientific society whose members work in food science and technology, a customer will tell five to seven other people when they experience an unpleasant incident. Poor customer service can result in not only losing the customer who experienced it forever, but it can also deter potential customers from considering your restaurant the next time they are craving a double cheeseburger.
Tips for creating a positive customer experience
Customers know that their business is vital to your success, and they also know that they have the power to take it elsewhere if they do not receive the service they deserve. Fortunately, it's the little things that make a customer feel their visit was worthwhile. A genuine greeting and a smile when they walk in is a good start. The appearance of both the store and employees should be neat and clean. For regular customers, try to remember their names and orders if they always get the same thing. You can even use customer service as a means to increase your profit. Politely offer to up-sale a meal, or offer a suggestion to complement an entrée, such as a bottle of wine.
What if the damage has already been done?
If you have a customer who is unsatisfied, do not get frustrated. Exercise patience, listen to their problem, and apologize for any mistakes on your part. If there was a relatively small mistake, offer a discount off their meal. For larger mistakes, consider giving them their meal at no charge. In addition, a good way to convince a customer to come back after a bad experience is to offer them a free or discounted meal on their next visit.
Encouraging employees to comply
Because your employees have the most contact with the customer, it is important to have a clear set of expectations for customer satisfaction, and make sure every employee is aware of it. A rewards program or bonus program can help to boost employee enthusiasm. Consider throwing a staff party if a month passes without any customer complaints. Likewise, if a customer compliments one of your employees for providing an exceptional experience, see that they receive some sort of bonus or recognition.
Service your way to success
Restaurant Industry
Providing excellent customer service has always been an important ingredient for success, especially in the food and restaurant business. Eating out has become more of an unnecessary luxury than it was considered even a few years ago, so it is more important than ever to let your customers know that you appreciate their business. Provide your customers with exemplary customer service to keep them coming back for seconds.
Linda Hansen has over six years of journalism experience and currently markets promotional products at Absorbent, Ink -- the promotional products people.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

EPoS Systems For Contemporary Restaurant Industry

Restaurant IndustryCreating your mark in restaurant industry is not an easy job. This sector of hospitality is highly competitive and labor intensive. That is the downside of running a restaurant - it takes years to build up a strong reputation but it wouldn't take less than a week for your customers to remove you from their good books. There are several aspects that can annoy a customer like less than excellent food quality, unsatisfactory mannerisms of your hotel staff, mixed up orders - the list can go on.
With the introduction of EPoS technology things have changed. EPoS stands for electronic point of sale. EPos has simplified business process in various sectors of our industry; however, its contribution in organizing transactions in catering industry has been most remarkable. In fact, you might find that the EPoS terminal installed in a fast food store or restaurant is more advanced than those employed by other forms of retailers. Restaurant EPoS systems are specially customized for specific purposes. It allows the house staff to interact with chefs and waiters attending the kitchen. EPoS also facilitates instant tracking and processing of orders and overall management of stock.
Restaurant EPoS facilitates effective communication transmitted via wireless terminals. This wireless system connects the staff stationed at various parts of a hotel or restaurant. Thus messages and orders can be passed on without any delay. The waiter who takes the order enters the details through EPoS machine, and the list will be instantly printed out at the terminal installed in the kitchen. The system reduces the clutter created by the staff members as they need not move around anymore while attending to the customers and executing their orders.
Restaurant IndustryBy using EPoS machines, the cashier can speed up the entire billing and payment procedure. This saves a lot of time for the customers as they can clear off immediately after finishing their food. Consequently, the customers waiting for tables can now get through the queue quite faster.
Roadside restaurants and fast food outlets have truly benefited from the implementation of EPoS systems. This is especially true in case of drive- through restaurants and quick service fast food stores. In such places, there are lots of customers to be satisfied but within an extremely short span of time. Right from the process of recording orders to paying the bills, the entire communication between the in-store personnel takes place through wireless messaging device. This makes the working quite faster and allows the restaurant to serve more number of customers. Even the customers become happy because they need not wait for their turn to have the menus delivered or bills processed. Also, the staff can avoid making mistakes in taking orders and creating bills.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Investing in Restaurants - Trends in the Restaurant Industry for 2011

Restaurants that show the farm sources for their food or are located on farms have also soared in popularity. Farmers have been made into celebrities; celebrities have become farmers in an attempt to follow up massive sales in books about returning to whole foods. Pleasing health food fans, environmental activists, and the tide of citizens wanting to return to real food rather than highly processed chemical equivalents, these types of restaurants or restaurant chains are expected to perform well for investors venturing into investing in restaurants.Restaurant Industry
From food trucks to back to the farm restaurants, as the restaurant industry climbs back from the abysmal years of the economic crash, there are investment opportunities galore for investing in restaurants. Investors who want to start investing in restaurants might want to take a look at predicted trends in the restaurant industry. Some formerly widely popular restaurants have peaked out, but there are some emerging trends that are slated to explode the next few years. So, what are the big ideas expected for 2011 and 2012?
Mobile food has been big business in 2010. Food trucks touting everything from tacos to sandwiches to Italian cuisine have found success with low overhead and the ability to take the food directly to a crowd of potential customers. Well-known restaurants have expanded into this area with catering and recognizable brand food trucks as well. 2011 is expected to bring increased governmental regulation of this niche of the restaurant industry which may affect profit margins. However, it is still expected to be a good bet for investing in restaurants.
Southern comfort food, soul food, and Old Italian favorites are also making a strong come back. When the economy has tanked and everything is feeling somewhat uncertain, people turn back to the favorites that marked their childhood memories (or, what they wished their childhood memories were). Investing in restaurants that specialize in these types of food can be very profitable. However, with any of these trends, investors should do appropriate amounts of research themselves. Some well-known comfort food restaurants are in heavy debt and have cut all expansion. Some food trucks do not maintain an efficient enough bottom line, even with low overhead, to sustain substantial profits. The location of a farm restaurant may not have access to a large enough customer base. There are exceptions to every trend, especially in the highly risky business of the restaurant industry.For more information on investing in investment opportunities usually or normally not found in the marketplace, click here!
Sean Johnson is an Investment Advisor for an Investment Referral Service for investors requesting information on specific investments.