Top 3 Fundamentals of
Running Vital Restaurant Operations

Some may look back on 2020 as the year that fundamentally changed the hospitality industry – and they wouldn’t be wrong. Between documenting team member wellness to modifying your roster to accommodate changing consumer demand, operating during a pandemic has certainly challenged the way we view success. So what remains from what we once knew and loved about this industry? A lot, actually.

We’re highlighting three fundamentals of running vital restaurant operations that logistically may look different today, but are rooted in what’s always made this industry successful – hospitality.

Measure & Maximize the Guest Experience

Perhaps your customers, loyal and new, have been welcomed back to your business. But greeting them are your team members, now wearing PPE. And if you’re a full service restaurant, your workforce is checking on their tables less – on purpose – to reduce the risk of contact.

While ensuring that you’re adhering to the evolving government mandates can be time consuming, in the end will support safe operations so you can deliver great guest experiences. But what defines a great guest experience these days?

  • Making guests feel comfortable and safe by establishing clear compliance expectations up front, on social media and web pages
  • Understanding what new food and beverage offerings are your top seller based on your ticket sales data (because we bet it won’t be the same as last year’s), and stretching the value of that menu item
  • Extending the shelf life of each guest visit by implementing new survey opportunities, or updating existing surveys to reflect the new environment and required procedures

Here’s where the hospitality comes in – providing service that is felt or seen, not spoken. Focusing on actions with guests throughout their visit to show their time and investment is valued will go a long way for repeat business.

Evaluate and Optimize Performance

What are the two biggest factors that make the most significant impact on financial stability and performance? Surprise! They still are sales and labor. However, the factors behind producing a great P&L have changed. Now it’s about maximizing investments and resources within the constraints of a pandemic. So it’s time to shift our focus to the elements within our reach:

  • Focus on ASPH/transaction value, GP and NPS over just getting butts in seats
  • Remove time-consuming processes, like manually tracking team member health at the beginning of their shift in order to increase your team’s capacity to focus more on service
  • Find out what your optimal labor is in order to staff sufficiently to meet your financial goals

Eventually, these short-term attainable goals will need to be scalable and become sustainable. Leverage best practices from year’s past to adapt the framework for your current workforce operations. Here’s how:

  • Document and standardize task lists to uphold the new compliance or operational expectations across your organization
  • Prioritize team communication – if your teams do not know what you are planning or doing, do not expect them to like, understand or support the changes when they come
  • If you operate multiple locations, group businesses together for comparison, support, and benchmarking analysis in a consolidated view to identify trends and opportunities to save on costs

And the best way to save on labor costs in an economic downturn? Keep reading.

Watch Out for Analysis Paralysis

When posed with a conundrum, analysis paralysis has a sneaky way of overriding logic. This can stall necessary decision-making and welcome the inevitable acceptance of operating at status quo. However, momentum is not generated through the conditions we operate in, but in the way we decide to operate in the conditions.

Unfortunately, not being able to look at historical data to predict your (pandemic) sales and labor forecast poses a great challenge for operators today. There are a few ways you can remove some of the fog:

  • Take KPIs from yesterday and last week, and apply them to tomorrow and the following week. Start small, then expand to two weeks. Document any anomalies that occur along the way

  • Review your roster. Know who is on deck each day and always have a plan B if someone is out sick to keep operations running smoothly and your team staffed accordingly
  • Identify your stand out performers. Take the time to point out team members that are doing a great job and recognize them. Understand exactly what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and then apply that understanding across multiple locations

If history repeats itself (like it tends to do), applying the 3 fundamentals of running vital restaurant operations and documenting the results will build your crisis management toolkit – should you ever need it. 

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