After the hectic rush of the holiday season, you might be ready for a long break. What was likely one of the busiest seasons for your restaurant usually fades into a bit of calm during the months of January and February. This downtime is the perfect time to assess your restaurant and its overall performance, especially since you’ve just experienced a period of business.
Take a look at what went well and where problems arose. Where are you seeing achievements, and where are you struggling to reach your goals? What do regular customers return to you for, and why have you lost customers in the past?
While you make resolutions for the new year, don’t forget to include your restaurant’s resolutions. Take the start of a fresh year as an opportunity to reassess, recharge, and revamp your restaurant for your best year yet.
Get New Menus
How long has it been since you’ve updated your menu? A restaurant’s menu is the primary selling point for most customers, so it’s a pretty important detail to consider. For the new year, here’s how you might want to revamp your menus to improve your restaurant overall:
Improve Your Menu Design
If your menus are old, worn, or dirty, this is a good time to consider ordering a fresh batch of fancy new menus for the new year (from MustHaveMenus). At the same time, you might want to consider optimizing the design of your current menu. A cleaner layout, brighter colors, or more images could help make your menu less confusing and better for sales.
On that note, it’s also a good idea to re-do your menus with your most updated prices — because the only thing that gives off a worse impression than clumsily hand-written or crossed-out prices on menus is incorrect prices on menus.
Consider Your Inventory
The new year is a good time to shape up your offerings and prune what’s not productive. Take a good look at your menu and your sales trends, and get rid of items that are too costly or that don’t sell well. You might also find that your recipes could use revamping or that it’s time to introduce some new, exciting menu items to your customers.
Optimize and Digitize
If you’re re-doing all of your menus, make sure that includes your online menus as well. It’s becoming increasingly popular for consumers to check out your menu online before visiting your restaurant, so ensure that your online menus are updated, mobile-friendly, and easily accessible.
Improve Your Technology
As technology improves at a rapid pace, it can be difficult and costly to keep up. If you’ve been putting off technology updates for a while, the new year is the perfect time to equip your store with an efficient array of top-notch technologies.
Your restaurant is only as successful as its operations are. No matter how great your food is, issues like long wait times, unorganized staff, bad communication, and order errors will be what customers remember your restaurant for.
This is a good time to make sure you have a speedy, updated POS system and computers that run smoothly. You also might want to update or replace broken or outdated phones. Finally, if wait times or seating plans have led to frequent conflict, it could be helpful to introduce an online reservation system to help organize and easily manage reservations.
Do you offer online ordering services? If not, now’s a great time to introduce them! Whether you link online ordering forms directly to your website or install a third-party service, this can increase efficiency in your restaurant exponentially. Similarly, if you don’t already offer delivery services, it’d be helpful to implement a third-party delivery service like Uber Eats or DoorDash. Doing so can increase your visibility online and provide you with an entirely new market via delivery.
Customer-facing problems are usually easy to identify, but don’t forget that your kitchen has to run smoothly and might need updates as well. Even if you have to splurge, replacing outdated or finicky appliances can make a huge difference in your kitchen’s efficiency and overall performance. Consult with your kitchen staff to replace or fix things like ovens, burners, dishwashers, refrigerators, and other necessary tools.
An attractive, comfortable atmosphere is necessary for customers to want to continue to dine at your restaurant. Remember that you’re not just providing customers with food. You’re providing them with a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Make sure that that experience is one they’ll want to return to!
Start with the basics. How clean is your restaurant overall? The new year could be a great time to go in for a major deep-clean of the entire place from floor to ceiling and corner to corner, including dining areas and bathrooms, kitchens, staff quarters, waiting areas, and outdoor property.
Assess whether or not your dining room floor plan could be safer, more efficient, or better looking. Consider your customer base and whether your table sizes and placements suit their needs. For example, maybe high-top tables are used more frequently than large booths, or maybe you frequently need to pull tables together to accommodate large parties. Likewise, you might want to carve out space for a waiting area or remove tables that are too close to the bathrooms.
Upgrade Your Interior
To really revamp your space, you should refresh your decor. Get rid of those pesky, wobbly tables and those chairs you’re constantly fixing. Replace faded or outdated signage, broken floor tiles, antiquated light fixtures, cracked windows, and squeaky doors. Moreover, a fresh coat of paint always brightens up your space, and it can never hurt to spruce up the place with new greenery or artwork.
Strengthen Your Staff
An inefficient, problematic staff can be your restaurant’s downfall. While securing adequate staffing and employee retention can sometimes be difficult in the restaurant industry, this new year is a good time to take preventative measures that will help strengthen and stabilize your team.
Assessing Your Team
Consider your team as a whole, and then consider each individual. If there are individuals who’ve consistently caused issues between staff or with customers, this is the time to weed them out. Conversely, it’s also a good time to take notice of who has really helped your restaurant succeed and consider promoting employees internally for a stronger staff overall.
If hiring is on the horizon for the new year, don’t go in blindly. Come up with a solid plan for training all new employees and even consider re-training your current staff for your future goals.
Helping Your Team
Help your team, and they’ll help you. A team that feels appreciated, heard, and valued is one that will put in the effort to help your restaurant succeed. Implement incentives, raise wages, or show appreciation for your staff before you begin your revamping process — if they’re not on board, your efforts will be wasted.
Aside from monetary rewards and appreciation practices, you can help your team by listening to their concerns. Hold a big staff meeting to assess what can be done better in the new year, or go with a good ol’ suggestion box. Things like better scheduling processes, time off request procedures, new uniforms, clearer task delegation, and more might make work easier or more enjoyable for them, which helps your restaurant in the long run.
Revamp for Returning Customers
When planning your restaurant revamp, don’t forget to consider the people you’re doing it all for! Head to your Google business page, Yelp, and social media to check out your customer reviews and gather important feedback. You’ll learn why customers return and why some don’t, which helps immensely when deciding where to invest your time and money in the new year. No matter how well your restaurant is performing, there’s always room for improvement, and a fresh year is a perfect time to return anew.