We get it. It can be confusing to get started in foodservice or expand your current offerings. That's why we created this post to answer your questions quickly and efficiently. Let's dive into our frequently asked foodservice questions.
How do you measure the success of a restaurant?
Measuring the success of your restaurant or foodservice program starts with choosing the right KPIs. The main KPIs to focus on are:
- Gross profit margin - the profitability of your program, measured as a percentage of revenue left over after cost of goods. As a general rule of thumb, gross profit margin should be around 50%.
- Labor cost percentage - how much of total revenue is taken up by employee labor. A good percentage to be at (or below) is 20%.
- Waste - examine waste by meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). This will allow you to pinpoint what timeslots you are preparing too much food. Aim for 5% when calculating waste percentage.
How do I advertise my food business?
The best way to get started with advertising your food business is to understand your customers. Foodservice marketing is most effective when you know exactly who wants your products. From there you can run targeted campaigns that appeal to your ideal customer.
Some key ways to advertise your food business to your ideal customers includes:
- Setting up a website (be sure to include the menu!)
- Creating profiles on major local business and review sites (Google My Business, Yelp, etc.)
- TV commercials
- Radio ads
- Local ads with coupons in your paper or flyers to be passed out
How do I increase my online presence?
Establishing an online presence can be a great way to advertise your business and bring in more customers. Since the internet has no limits, you’ll be able to increase your reach beyond your brick-and-mortar store and communicate with potential customers who might not know about your business in the first place. Here are some tips for increasing your online presence:
- Build a website - this allows you to have a place where customers can check out your establishment, see the menu (be sure to include it on the site!), and even contact you if they have any questions.
- Facebook - setting up a Facebook page can allow you another avenue to reach and connect with your readers. This also gives you a platform to share exciting news, deals, and other news with your followers. Each time one of your followers shares one of your posts you’ll gain additional exposure to their friend’s list.
- Google My Business - setting up your establishment in Google My Business will help customers to find directions to you, view your website, and contact you. This will also help with discovery searches in Google such as ‘food near me’ when a potential customer is looking to grab a bite.
Check out our article, How to Increase Your Store’s Internet Presence, for more detailed information.
What equipment do you need for a commercial kitchen?
Choosing the right commercial kitchen equipment can make a huge difference in the profitability of your business. Kitchen equipment should be efficient, durable, and easy to use. We work with (and recommend) KitDel to provide the best kitchen equipment possible for your foodservice programs. While your specific needs will differ, the equipment KitDel produces can offer you:
- Ease of use - simple controls that everyone can understand.
- Durability - built using only premium materials, KitDel equipment is meant to last through years of continuous use.
- Dependability - parts and service warranties up to 2 years to ensure the equipment works right for you.
- Profitability - helps to minimize waste, produce high quality products, and maximize efficiency to affect your bottom line.
- Consistency - maintains food quality across different shifts, operators, and stores.
- High-quality - KitDel products were designed by deli specialists, so you know they’re built with efficiency in mind.
What do successful restaurants have in common?
There are a few qualities that all successful restaurants have in common, including:
- Problem-solving skills - restaurants run at a fast pace, and problems can arise in a split second. Being able to address them quickly and efficiently will help to keep things running smoothly.
- Customer service savvy - successful restaurants are able to address customer concerns in a proper way, even when the customer isn’t right. This extends to how the staff is treated as well. If upper-management is treating the servers and other staff with respect, that often trickles down to the customer as well.
- Knowledge of marketing for restaurants - building a digital presence is key to running a successful restaurant, and a strong local presence can keep you in the mind’s of your customers. A restaurant owner is in charge of either building that presence or outsourcing it while measuring and optimizing for greater success.
- Extensive knowledge of customer psychology - working with marketing experts can allow you to understand exactly what a customer wants. Then you can tailor your restaurant to your ideal customer.
- Leadership - being a leader in a restaurant means sharing successes with your staff without fear of replacement. Helping those below you will in turn help the restaurant as a whole. It’s not enough to just be a boss in today’s market.
How do I get more online reviews?
Getting more and better reviews can impact your rankings in your local area, which will help to show your business to more customers. Fresh reviews are great for local SEO in the eyes of Google, and getting reviews on Yelp can help reach customers who use Apple products (Apple Maps connects with Yelp to show reviews).
One of the best ways to get more reviews is to train your staff to ask customers to leave a review. Other great ways to get more online reviews include putting up signage in your establishment asking for reviews, add review links to your website and social media, and add review links to your receipts.
Check out our article on the impact of online reviews and how to get more of them for more information.
Should you respond to negative reviews?
In short, yes, you should respond to negative reviews. However, there is a strategic way to respond to negative feedback that will allow future customers to see that you are actively working to address issues that arise. Some great tips to add to your response to a negative review are:
- Acknowledge the issue
- Apologize for the inconvenience
- If necessary, provide an explanation
- Provide appropriate compensation for the issue
- Invite the customer to discuss the matter offline (provide contact information)
Remember, no business is perfect, so don’t be scared of a few negative reviews! For more information, check out our article on the impact of online reviews.
How do I find the right person to hire?
Finding the right person to hire can help to prevent turnover, increase profitability of your business, and help things run smoothly. Here are 3 tips for hiring the right person:
- Recruit A-players - A-players go above and beyond to provide an outstanding customer experience. It may take longer to find these employees, but they will help your business much more than just having a random person behind the counter.
- Adopt an ‘always recruiting’ mindset - employee turnover does happen, so it’s a good idea to be in an ‘always recruiting’ mindset. If you are at an establishment and a particular employee shows A-player qualities, leave them a business card with your contact information on it. This will allow you to proactively find great employees when you need them.
- Hire for attitude - it is much easier to teach skills than it is to teach attitude. If a potential employee has the right skills but doesn’t share the same mindset that you wish to uphold, it’s probably best to move on. A good attitude beats knowledge in these situations.
For more information, check out our detailed article on tips for finding the right person to hire.
How do you retain staff in a high turnover culture?
Foodservice tends to have a higher turnover rate than other niches. It’s tough enough to try and find the right employees to move your business forward, and retaining them is another battle entirely. Use these tips to retain staff in a high turnover culture:
- Make a great first impression - you only get one, so take the chance to share what makes your company great with new hires.
- Involve multiple people - using only the HR department for hires can create some disconnect. Instead, try to include people from different perspectives to offer some great insight to the new hire, as well as open up the opportunity for your new hire to make some meaningful connections.
- Spread out onboarding events - use this opportunity to stay in touch with your new hires throughout their first couple months. This will show them you care and allow them to become acclimated to company culture in a much smoother way.
- Provide a consistent experience - utilize tools and checklists to keep all of the onboarding team on the same page. Your new hires will be much happier knowing the team is up to date with where they are in the process.
- Make your process memorable - get creative here. Try to utilize multiple methods to reach your new hires.
Starting off on the right foot is the best way to keep employees engaged in your company culture.
You can learn more best practices for reducing turnover here.
What is a customer centric culture?
The customer is why any business exists. Without customers, you have no one to buy your products or services. A customer centric culture is a mindset that the customer experience is the core of a business. This means that customer service (and the customer experience) is constantly being measured, improved, and rewarded to ensure growth and satisfaction.
Check out these 5 key steps to building a customer centric culture.
Why do company values matter?
Setting clear company values lets your employees and customers know what you stand for. Your company values will help shape company culture, and having these laid out will help guide your employees and help them to know what they’re working for.
Want to learn more? Check out our article on why mission, vision, and core values matter.
What is an employee owned company structure?
Generally speaking, an employee owned company is one in which employees own shares of the company. This can be the extent of it, or the employees can also have the power to vote on business goals and more. This structure can often strengthen the relationship between the company and the employee since the employee has a vested interest in the company’s success.
Check out our article on the benefits of working with an employee owned company for more information!
What is open book management style?
Open book management is a form of management in which employees are treated as partners, having access to metrics such as revenue, profits, and cost of goods. This allows them to make better business decisions that affect the company, as well as understand how their decisions directly impact the company. This form of management works great with an employee owned company structure.
For more information, check out our article on how open book management can help your business.
How do I create a comfortable work environment?
Creating a comfortable work environment has a lot to do with listening to your employees and helping them based on their needs. A few tips for making your employees more comfortable at work include:
- Make a great first impression - making your new hires feel welcome from day one is very important. Show them that the company culture is one they’ll be happy to join!
- Post scorecards - share important metrics from the company with your staff. This will open the floor to collaboration and get everyone excited to work on a common goal -- improving those metrics.
- Celebrate - from birthdays to hitting milestones, be sure to make time for celebration. Allowing your team to feel appreciated will help them love their work environment.
Want some more details? Check out our dedicated article on creating a comfortable work environment.
Why are food regulations so important?
Food regulations are in place to protect the health of the consumer, protect the consumer from fraud, and ensure quality of foods. Without food regulations, those with dietary restrictions could be at risk, consumers could be sold improperly packaged or mislabeled foods, and more issues could arise. While food regulations don’t fully address all related issues (for example, the term ‘natural’ is still not defined by the FDA, so ‘all-natural’ could mean many things), but they do help tremendously to ensure we are aware of what we are eating.
For more information, check out our article on the 4 must know foodservice regulations.
How do restaurants reduce waste?
Waste is found in nearly every establishment, regardless of how careful you and your staff may be. A good rule of thumb is to shoot for a waste percentage of 5% or lower. Some tips restaurants can use to reduce waste include:
- Make fewer food items at a time - preparing less food items more often will ensure that you always have fresh product available, and you will also have a better handle on how much product is available. This will prevent large amounts of food leftover at the end of the day.
- Have a PM shift cook - rather than having one cook prepare a large batch of food before leaving, hire a second cook for afternoon hours. This ensures the right amount of product is being prepared.
- Take detailed notes - writing down what you make each day as well as how much is leftover is a great way to optimize your business and reduce waste. Once you know roughly how much product you’ll need each day you’ll be able to more accurately make the correct amount.
- Cold pack - repurposing leftover product is a great way to reduce waste, such as using leftover proteins for wraps, soups, or salads. Packaging your leftovers in single-serving packages also qualifies them for EBT purchase, which is not available for hot items.
For more tips on reducing waste, check out our 7 ways to reduce restaurant waste article.
What makes a good signage?
Your brand can benefit from not only quality signage, but the amount of signage as well. Successful signage is usually oversized and has a contrasting color combination that brings attention to it. Remember, one or two signs won’t do it for your business. You’ll need to make sure you are placing signage everywhere you can catch your customer’s eye. For more tips, check out our article, Marketing Signage and Your Location.
How do restaurants increase revenue?
There are quite a few ways that restaurants can increase revenue. Using some (or all) of the tips below can help improve restaurant revenue:
- Edutainment - creating educational videos about your product and displaying it at your establishment can help engage customers and get them to want to buy.
- Unique value proposition - what is it that makes your product unique and valuable? Focusing on these aspects and communicating them to your customer can help boost sales.
- Analysis - what gets measured grows. Keeping detailed track of your revenue and costs can help you to optimize what's already coming in, improving your bottom line.
- Signage - creating and displaying eye-catching signage can help increase awareness and sales of your product. Be sure to use many signs, one or two won’t cut it!
For more revenue increasing tips for restaurants, check out our two part series on the subject: click here for part 1 and here for part 2.