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How To Sell Your Restaurant

How To Sell Your RestaurantThe time to sell your restaurant may come for many reasons.  Whatever the motives are behind this difficult decision, the process of selling your establishment needs to be handled carefully to make sure you get the right price at the right time.  Achieving that is often the result of a long, tedious process, with many pitfalls along the way.  Some tips to help you through:

Broker or go it alone?  The very first decision you have to make is whether to use a broker to market and sell your restaurant or whether you want to try to sell your business yourself.  Brokers have some great advantages.  They already have a network of buyers, they know where to advertise, and they can qualify potential buyers very well.  The downside of using a broker is they will take a cut of the sale price, usually to the tune of 10% – 25%.  If you go it alone, be prepared to spend A LOT of time fielding inquiries, managing advertising, and qualifying buyers.

Prepare your restaurant for valuation.  In an ideal world, you would have at least a year leading up to the sale of your restaurant to maximize profit and loss statements and make sure equipment and infrastructure are up to snuff.  In the real world, you may have much less time than that.  No matter what your time frame is, a few key factors will bring you the best price for your establishment:

  • Profit.  If your restaurant is making money, then you’re good to go.  Try to minimize expenses in the months leading up to the sale to boost your profits even more.  However, remember that fraudulently inflating profits is a serious crime.
  • Maintenance.  Make sure all your equipment is up to date on scheduled maintenance and that it’s in good working order.  Even if this means replacing that ancient range you’ve been riding for years, you’ll make that investment back when you sell.  Of course, these expenses have to be weighed against your profit statements.
  • Cash or charge.  Decide if you’re willing to finance a deal with a potential buyer or if you want all the cash up front.  Cash up front is much less risky and puts a nice chunk of change in your pocket all at once, but the buyer will expect a discount for paying a lump sum, often in the 20% – 30% range.  On the other hand, if you are willing to finance, you can charge a higher than average interest rate and still get a pretty hefty deposit without having to lower your price.

If you don’t own the building, talk to your landlord!  By far the biggest deal breaker in a restaurant transaction is your landlord.  They must be willing to assign your lease to your buyer for the sale to work.  If you lease, involve your landlord early and keep them involved throughout the entire buyer qualification process.

Qualify buyers.  Prepare a tiered system to filter out good buyers from bad buyers.  Start by getting some references and feeling out their business capabilities and professionalism.  Next ask for financial records that reflect their ability to pay the price you’re asking.  Finally, run them by your landlord if you lease to make sure he/she is willing to assign the lease.

If you have a broker, they will help you with this process.  If you don’t, be vigilant about qualifying buyers before you reveal financial information about your restaurant!  Only show your profit/loss statements to buyers who have been thoroughly vetted.  It’s also a good idea to agree on the price and have the buyer sign a confidentiality agreement before you show these records.  The last thing you want is private financial information getting back to your competitors.Get Help Selling Your Restaurant!

If you’re going it alone, get some help.  If you’ve hired a broker, they will probably require you to get a lawyer and an accountant or they may even provide those services.  If you’re going it alone, get a lawyer and an accountant!  You’ll need the lawyer to prepare the purchasing agreement.  You will especially need a lawyer if you plan on financing the buyer.  You’ll need the accountant to make sure you pay the proper local, state, and federal taxes associated with the sale of your business.  These services cost money, but they are absolutely essential to a successful sale.

Selling a business takes a lot of time and energy, but if you carry it out properly, you should be able to walk away with a fair price for your restaurant.  Making sure you have all your bases covered is the essential ingredient to getting you to a successful closing.

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Food Safety At Turley’s Part 2: Staff Training

Turley's restaurant in Boulder, CO

Turley’s restaurant in Boulder, CO

Earlier this week I ventured to get a feel for practical food safety practices in a real restaurant.  Turley’s, an iconic Boulder, CO eatery known for its eclectic menu full of healthy eating and fantastic international flavors, was kind enough to spend some time talking to me about their food safety program.

I sat down with second and third generation Turley family members and managers David and Sandy for an extremely informative chat on practical food safety applications in a working restaurant.  What I soon discovered is that procedures and guidelines are all well and good, but if you don’t promote a food-safe culture through staff training and pure vigilance, all those rules aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Turley’s staff start their food safety education with a S.T.A.R. (Sanitation Training Assistance for Restaurateurs) course through the Boulder CountyServSafe Office of Public Health.  The course covers six fundamental food safety concerns: viruses and bacteria, potentially hazardous foods, time/temperature control, personal hygiene, cross-contamination, and sanitization.  Turley’s management are also ServSafe certified.

However, it’s not enough to just teach staff about food safety issues once and then get on with the hectic life of the restaurant business.  “We have goals, not rules,” says David, “And it’s an ongoing thing.  We’ve got to be a food safety driver, because if you’re not willing to commit, the issue just goes away.”

Turley’s keeps food safety front and center by carrying out campaigns on specific topics, starting with the daily shift meetings.  One recent campaign focused on disposable gloves for staff working the line.  Because cross-contamination and hand washing are vital concerns, but also extremely hard for management to constantly police, disposable gloves are required for anybody on the line in Turley’s kitchen.

At first, everyone wore the gloves with few exceptions.  But as time went on, busy kitchen staff sometimes forgot to put on the gloves while prepping food, and the disposable glove policy started going by the wayside.

Turley’s management responded with a campaign, reminding kitchen staff at the shift meetings to wear their gloves at all times on the line, and soon the repetition of the campaign turned glove wearing into second nature for the staff.

David sometimes feels like a broken record, but the harping has paid off, and the management’s commitment to following through on campaigns is a vital follow up to the basic training courses.

Food safety campaigns for the front of the house are a little more difficult because turnover in a college town like Boulder makes training new staff a constant chore.  Turley’s management continues to focus on education, however, and take a mentoring rather than policing approach.  Every shift meeting presents a new challenge and a new opportunity for improving the awareness of the front of house staff.

The evolution theme is probably the most important lesson about an effective food safety program that I took away from Turley’s.  Even as I learned about all the things the restaurant does every day to manage food safety, the management was already looking ahead to the next campaign, and the next strategy.

David is thinking about conducting self inspections: unannounced walk-throughs of the entire restaurant with his health inspector cap on, looking for things that are hard for management in their normal roles to catch.  It’s just one more way Turley’s works to keep the restaurant in top shape for their customers every day.

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Restaurant Management Tips: How To Deal With Employee Theft

Tips on How To Deal With Restaurant Employee TheftAs anyone in the food service industry knows, staff turnover is a constant problem.  Hiring and training employees is important but often tedious work, and keeping your team motivated and happy can also be a challenge.  Yet these “human resources” tasks are not nearly as tough to deal with as employee theft.  An employee who is caught stealing presents two problems for your restaurant: first, someone is stealing from you, and second, something in the process of hiring, training, and retaining quality staff has broken down and led to theft.

The problem of losing money to theft should be dealt with first, obviously.  However, dealing with the employee in question must be handled properly in order to minimize the impact of the problem and ensure other employees understand the consequences of stealing without feeling alienated in the process.

Some tips on how to confront an employee who is stealing:

Make sure you have adequate proof.  Account sheets, video surveillance, eyewitness testimony, or a combination of damning evidence is key to leveling accusations at an employee.  You should be able to prove theft beyond a reasonable doubt before you ever confront the employee.  If that requires you to wait a while in order to catch him or her red-handed, then so be it.  When you do have that confrontation, you want to be ready with substantial evidence so the rest of your staff immediately sees your case.

Whatever disciplinary action you take, do it discreetly.  There’s no reason to “make an example” out of somebody by staging a big confrontation in front of other employees.  Bring the employee who has been stealing into a private area, confront them with the evidence, and present the consequences.  If that involves termination, allow the employee to gather their things and leave of their own accord.  There’s no reason to be forceful or aggressive, as this will only allow the employee to gain sympathy by looking persecuted.Communicate Effectively With Your Staff

Hold a staff meeting.  After you have taken disciplinary action, call your staff together and explain exactly what happened, present the evidence you have, and explain the action you have taken.  This will prevent rumors and gossip from driving employee perceptions of what happened and presents you with an opportunity to show the rest of the staff how serious you are about employee theft.

Dealing with the second part of the theft equation isn’t nearly as easy.  Finding the root causes behind the theft and improving prevention is a much more involved process.  And a good prevention program is never going to be 100% effective.  However, that doesn’t diminish the importance taking steps to prevent theft in your restaurant.

Tips for preventing employee theft:

Vet candidates when hiring, train new employees well, and create a positive work environment.  Taking the time to find and train the right candidate will screen most potential problems.  Many operators get into trouble with problem employees because they need to fill positions fast and the hiring process becomes compressed.  When it comes to existing staff, maintain a close but professional relationship that emphasizes teamwork and community.  Employees that have a good relationship with the management and feel like their contribution to the team is appreciated and that they are well compensated for that contribution are much less likely to steal.

Communicate clear guidelines for employee behavior.  This also helps with other staff issues like poor performance, disputes, tardiness/absence, etc.  Make sure your staff receives a clear set of rules that outline exactly how problems will be handled, including theft.   When administering discipline, stick to the rules and reemphasize the standards you have already set.  Consistency will go a long way towards maintaining your employee’s respect and help you manage problem employees more effectively.

Trust but verify.  No matter how good your hiring, training, and employee expectation policies are, you will probably encounter a bad apple sooner or later.  Have systems in place to monitor cash, comps, and inventory.  You should always know exactly how much of each is coming in and going out of your restaurant.  And try to limit the number of people who control or handle all three.  That will make the job of tracking what went where much easier.

Hopefully employee theft is something you rarely have to deal with.  Following the tips above will help make sure it is indeed a rare occurrence.

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Restaurant Replenishment: Don’t Get Caught With Your Pants Down

Restaurant ReplenishmentEver noticed the paper towel dispenser spinning uselessly in your restaurant’s bathroom, ventured into some dark back storage area to retrieve a new roll, and discovered – to your horror – that replacements were nowhere to be found?

Stuff runs out. Stuff needs replacing. And there are much, much worse things that can (and probably have) happened in your restaurant than forcing customers to return to their table with wet hands.

Ever fired up a fryer a few hours before the dinner rush and watched the pilot poof out time after time?

An even more enjoyable scenario is the fryer burner that refuses to cut out when the oil reaches temperature – making for an oil bomb just waiting to go off.

Common parts and components in all kinds of restaurant equipment will die on you at some point. The worst part is, you can’t just run out to the store and get a replacement. Parts are a whole different animal, and that’s why you should really think about keeping some common parts on hand so your equipment doesn’t leave you hanging out to dry.

Some common parts that are really, really nice to have around:

You can also learn how to troubleshoot and fix common problems with common restaurant equipment by reading these Back Burner articles.

Ever completely forget to change out the water filter cartridge for your ice machine, steamer, or beverage equipment? Nothing beats white scaly mineral deposits building up in your equipment and making beverages taste funny.

Water filters need their cartridges replaced every six months. If they don’t get replaced then minerals in the water don’t get filtered out, and when those don’t get filtered out those minerals don’t get filtered out they leave scale in the water lines of any piece of equipment that uses water, and after awhile that water starts tasting bad.

Even better, that scale can cause breakdowns and void warranties. So don’t get caught with your pants down: replace those water filter cartridges when you’re supposed to.
Ever been in the depths of a busy dinner rush and walked in back to grab a couple water glasses and found a stack of empty glass racks? Have you then proceeded back to the dishwashing area and been forced to grab a couple steamy hot glasses right out of the washer?

Glasses, dishes, flatware, and bar supplies all break, disappear, and just simply wear out. Being short a few glasses is maybe not as bad as an overheating fryer, but believe you me it’s also not a problem you want to have on a consistent basis. Replacing common supply losses is just one more area where you have to be on the ball or you will get caught with your pants down.

Tundra knows how busy you are.
That’s why we’ve developed a simple way for you to make sure simple products are always available. If you buy common replenishment and replacement products from us, we’ll send you a simple reminder a few months down the road, letting you know it’s probably time to stock up again on whatever it is you bought last time.

We’re not trying to be pushy – just helpful. A note in your inbox with a quick link to the products we’re pretty sure you need might be just the thing that saves you from a pants down moment later on.

So keep an eye out for your friendly reminders from Tundra. And definitely don’t get caught with your pants down.

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Fryer Oil Maintenance: Tips To Make Oil Taste Better & Last Longer

Commercial Fryers Must Have Their Oil MaintainedThe fryer is one of the central cooking appliances in many restaurants and commercial kitchens.  And central to every commercial fryer is the shortening or oil in the vat.  Maintaining that oil is key to producing great-tasting product every time.  Oil maintenance is more involved than you might think, and if done properly, can add significant time to the productive life of your fryer oil and improve the taste of your product.

Fryer oil is an organic compound.  That means it breaks down naturally over time, just like any of the food product in your walk-in.  At over 300 degrees Fahrenheit, that degradation process is accelerated.  As if that weren’t enough, three things contribute to the even more rapid deterioration of fryer oil:

  • Oxidation – contact with air makes the oil “stale” over time, just like a bag of chips.
  • Hydrolysis – the presence of water in fryer oil is unavoidable when frying food product, but as water interacts with the hot oil, acidic compounds form that can really affect taste.
  • Polymerization – As oil breaks down, compounds form and bond together, which leads to surface foaming and the further breakdown of oil quality and taste.  This process is made even worse by food particles, which will inevitably collect in the oil as product is cooked.

There are several things you can do to combat the three enemies of oil quality.  Here’s some tips that address each one specifically:

Fighting oxidation: minimize fryer oil contact with the air whenever possible.  The most common method for doing this is to cover the fryer vat when the unit is shut down.  Also regulate oil temperature so that it doesn’t exceed 360 degrees Fahrenheit.  During lulls, reduce heat to 280 degrees.

Fighting hydrolysis: don’t fill fryer baskets directly over the fryer vat.  This is especially true for frozen product, because ice crystals will end up in the oil.  Of the three, hydrolysis is the hardest to fight, because there is going to be water in everything you cook.

Fighting polymerization: again, don’t fill fryer baskets over the vat.  Food particles speed polymerization, so a good technique is to load the fryer basket away from the vat and give it a few good shakes to allow any free particles to fall away before the product takes the plunge.  Another polymerization agent are seasonings, especially salt.  Add any seasoning away from the vat to keep them out of the oil as much as possible.

Of course, no matter how hard you fight, eventually it’s going to be a losing battle.  Water, air, and particulates are going to end up in your fryer oil no matter what you do.  Your only choice is to take them back out before the oil breaks down.  You can do this effectively with a good filtration system.

How much you filter your fryer oil depends on what you’re cooking, in what volume, and how often.  In general, breaded foods like fried chicken or fish mean you should filter more often, because of all the food particles that are going to end up in the oil.  French fries are much cleaner and therefore the oil can handle a lot more rounds before filtering.

A Portable Fryer Filter MachineNo matter what, you should develop a filtering schedule.  Fryer oil test strips are the best way to keep track of oil quality, and they’ll give you a starting point for your filter schedule.  Filtering fryer oil greatly extends the life of the oil, and smart restaurant operators filter the same oils several times to get the maximum life out of it before having to refill.

Portable fryer filters provide an easy way to filter fryer oil without slowing your busy kitchen down too much.  And when you’ve squeezed every last minute of cooking capability out of that vat of oil, dispose of it safely with an oil transporter.  Finally, use a Smart Spout for pouring new oil into the vat without spilling.The Smart Spout Oil Pourer

Before you refill with a new batch of oil, however, you’ve got to clean that fryer vat out.  It’s a thankless job, but someone’s got to get in there and remove as much of that great friends of polymerization, food particulates, as possible.  Especially focus on cleaning the “cool zone,” the area underneath the burners in the vat where particles are intentionally concentrated in order to prevent them from heating up too much during cooking.  A water/vinegar mix is a great way to make sure detergents are neutralized after you’ve thoroughly cleaned the vat.

Maintaining fryer oil quality takes a lot of work.  But in the end, it’s worth the extra effort because you get a lot more mileage out of each vat of oil.  And if saving money isn’t enough of an incentive for you, then the prospect of serving great tasting fried foods to your customers every time should do the trick.

If you’re in the market for a new fryer, check out this commercial fryer buying guide.

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Casual Dishonesty: Any of These Need Your Attention?

Restaurant Management TipsEver seen staff help themselves to food, drink or cash, and they seem to think it’s OK?

You call it shrinkage, waste, ‘unders’, discrepancies or theft. What do they call it?

It’s the grey areas that cause problems: drinks or food for friends and family, sloppy work that results in waste, or taking home left-overs. Grey has to become black or white. Does the culture you’ve created reward honesty, or overlook those who break the rules? Do the consequences encourage the behaviour you desire?

Don’t beat around the bush – make it clear what’s not acceptable. And let’s tell the truth – sometimes it’s the boss’ shortcuts or bad example that encourages staff to make the wrong choice.

What would your ruling be on these situations?

* Free drinks or meals for friends or family who come to visit.
* Special prices for staff visiting from other hotels, cafes or clubs.
* Staff drinks at the end of the night that go one more than the rules allow.
* Sloppy writing up of the Stock-transfer Book so the stocktake makes no sense and is disregarded – again.
* Cook allows something to burn because she won’t get properly organised.
* Beer lines contaminated and keg wasted because cleaning procedures not properly followed.
* Using the computer at work to write up your resume to apply for another job.
* Using the ‘Open Key’ on the Cash Register because it’s quicker and easier. As a result sales count figures at the end of the week are invalid and stock usage can’t be checked.
* ‘I’m just putting the money in the till while we’re so busy – I’ll ring it all up later’.
* A staff member says ‘I won’t charge you for that because I know the service you got wasn’t very good’. A better tip follows…
* Kitchen worker asks the bar ‘can I have some beer for my buddies in the kitchen?
* The Till is ‘over’ – so it must have been a tip that we forgot to take out.
* Employee overstates hours or changes times because the hard work she’s been doing is going unrecognised.
* Signing for lesser quality meat or produce and ‘we’ll fix it up on the invoice next time’ – which we forget to do.
* Personal phone calls received or made in work time.
* Keeping free samples from vendors eg food samples, bottles of wine or liquor.
* Serving adults at junior or senior prices ‘because they can’t afford it’.
* Chefs or bar managers expecting personal gifts from suppliers to secure an account.

Code of Conduct – it’s one of the important sections of the Staff Manual you can download from the Staff Management Forms and Downloads. In Word format, you can modify it as much as you like – it’s a solid start to prepare this essential policy document.

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Restaurant Management: Are You A Sergeant Or A General?

For those of you who do not know me personally, I have a confession to make.  I am a huge history nerd.  This means that The History Channel’s “America: The Story of Us” is taking up a large portion on my DVR.

I was watching the episode on World War II the other day when a particular statement from a General caught my attention.  He talked about the reasons soldiers fight.  He said that beyond all other reasons soldiers almost universally fight for the guy in the foxhole with them.

As a server, I can relate to this.  When the entire restaurant goes down in the weeds, you don’t fight through it for the sake of corporation or their shareholders.  You fight through it for your coworkers. You fight through it for those people who are fighting with you.  After the fight it is a bond you share.

There are many former coworkers out there I don’t particularly like as people, but will always respect because of the battles we went through together.  I would lend them a hand when they need it, because I know I could count on them when I need it.

To take the military analogy further, there are two types of restaurant managers: Generals and Sergeants. Generals send you into battle.  Sergeants lead you into battle.  You fight for Sergeants and you curse Generals under your breath the whole time.  Managers who fight with you and for you as Sergeants make you want to fight with and for them.  Managers who command as Generals will find a staff unconcerned with helping them win their battles.

It all comes down to one very simple principle:

Strong managers gain respect by their actions.  Weak managers demand respect because of their title.

With this in mind, here are three ways a manager can transition from a General to a Sergeant:

Get in the Battle: A manager who is on the floor running food and bussing tables will command the respect of their staff.  You cannot lead the troops from the host stand or the office.  If you don’t find it important enough to join in the battle, then your staff will feel their battle is not important to you.

This does not mean being a food runner during slow times.  It means helping out when the battle gets heated for your staff.  If you are not willing to help your staff when they need you, you can expect the same level of help in achieving your objectives.

Show You Care: Serving is different than most jobs.  Most jobs start with an agreement to pay a certain amount for a certain level of performance.  Servers agree to charge far less (sometimes less than minimum wage) with the understanding management will put them in a position to make far more in tips.  That is why servers take the job.

If you show your staff that you do not care about the amount of tips they make, you can not expect them to care about the parts of the job they are making minimum wage or less for.  When you show you care about them making more in tips, they will care more about the additional things you need them to do.

Be Willing to Apologize: Servers and managers are both experts at apologies to guests. Both generally stink at apologizing to each other.  Managers are forced to make judgment calls that can impact server’s income on a nearly shift-by-shift basis.  Even great managers get these calls wrong sometimes.

The reason they are great managers is because they are willing to own up to these mistakes.

Nearly all of these mistakes can be forgiven with a simple, “I made what I thought was the best call and I got it wrong.  I am sorry.”  This goes a long way in showing that you care.  This does not reduce your authority, but instead increases the respect for the decision.  Trying to stand behind and defend a decision that turned out poorly is a fool’s errand that shows you are more concerned with being in charge than being correct.

As a manager, a vast majority of your objectives depend on the effort and cooperation of your staff.  Having them fighting with you makes achieving most of these objectives far easier.  Managers who feel they must have an adversarial relationship with their staff will find little help in achieving their objectives.  This does not mean that the staff must love a manager who acts as a Sergeant.  Sergeants are not necessarily liked, but they are respected.  The troops respect the Sergeant though because they are in the battle with them and therefore are much more likely to fight for them.

Do you work for a Sergeant?  Any Generals out there want to tell the other side?  Any other suggestions from servers on what they appreciate in a manager?  Any former server turned manager who wants to share some insight?  The comment section is yours!

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5 Ways to Turn Your Staff into a High Performing Team

In a restaurant, it takes the concerted efforts of an entire team to create a great dining experience. Everyone has a part to play.

If your team breaks down, or isn’t working together effectively, it will impact your customers. But it’s also likely to impact individual employees, resulting in dissatisfaction, lower performance, tensions or animosities, and even higher turnover. All of which are bad for business.

If your team works well together, people feel supported, better enjoy their work, and are likely to be more engaged and productive. That means happier employees, happier customers, and happier owners.

Here are 5 things you can do to help your staff function as a high-performing team.

1.    Set Performance Expectations for Each Role

It’s important for everyone to know what their role is, what’s expected of them, how they interact with or impact others, and what they can expect from other staff. There are three important ways that you set and communicate performance expectations: job descriptions, competencies and goals.

Right from the start, you should create clear job descriptions for every role in your restaurant. Job descriptions help everyone understand their key responsibilities and tasks. You should also share all job descriptions with all your staff, so they understand their role on the team and their interdependent relationship with other team members. Understanding your role on the team is the first step to being part of a high-performing team.

Next you should identify the competencies (sometimes called skills, values or behaviors) that are critical to success and high performance in each role. You may find it helpful to identify core competencies that everyone should display – these help build your restaurant culture and brand – as well as job specific competencies. However you choose to do this, every employee should clearly understand what competencies you expect them to display on the job.

Finally, you need to set and assign clear goals for each employee. If you do this in collaboration with each employee, they’ll likely be more committed to their goals. Every employee goal should in some way be linked to a higher level organizational goal. This gives every employee a context for their work and helps them feel like they’re part of a team working on a larger effort.

By setting clear performance expectations for each employee you identify their role on the team, their relationship with every other team member, and give them a context and parameters for their work on the team.

2.    Provide Training and Cross-Training

To build a high performing team, it’s important to provide everyone with training in their particular role. The training can be to address identified skill gaps or to further expand or deepen existing skills. The training doesn’t have to be formal classroom training. It can include things like job shadowing, mentoring, reading, observation, podcasts, etc.

When assigning development plans to your employees, consider the power of cross-training to build team relationships and strength. Cross-training allows you to “walk in someone else’s shoes” for a period, and gives you an understanding of the workplace and team from their perspective. Having a waitress work a shift busing tables or doing prep in the kitchen can give her a broader perspective of the work that another team mate does, and how her own work impacts others. There are ways to do this effectively, on slower days or shifts, so that service to your clientele is not disrupted. Cross-training employees like this invariably gives them a better understanding and deeper appreciation of the challenges their team mates face – and results in better teamwork and communication.

3.    Give Everyone Ongoing Feedback and Coaching on Their Performance

Every employee need to hear, on a regular basis, what they are doing well, where they can improve, and what you expect from them. By giving all your employees feedback and coaching on their performance, you help improve their individual performance, and that of the team.

4.    Gather Feedback on Performance from Peers and Coworkers

In a restaurant, with its busy work environment and varied shifts, it’s almost impossible for a manager or owner to have broad and deep knowledge of each employee’s performance. By gathering 360 degree feedback from those who work most closely with each employee, you can get a better perspective and understanding of their performance. You can also better understand how they are functioning on the team, and how they are perceived by the team. This invaluable information can help you and the employee maximize their performance and address any problems.

5.    Recognize and Reward Team-Focused Behaviors

If you want to encourage strong team behavior and performance, recognize and reward it. Get everyone one board with this initiative, encouraging praise, “thank yous” and recognition for individual work well done, in support of the larger team. If you do recognize and reward good performance publicly (in front of the team) rather than privately, your acknowledgements and rewards will serve to motivate the entire team to perform. And sometimes, when the whole team is performing well, it’s important to recognize and reward the team as a whole, not just the high-performing individuals. If you want to encourage good performance, recognize and reward it.

These 5 things are really core elements of good employee performance management that fosters employee high performance. In a restaurant, where you need everyone working together as a high performing team to deliver a great dining experience, you can use these techniques to improve both individual and team performance.

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A Smaller Supply Chain Means Bigger Savings

Supply ChainGoing back to 2008 there has been a growing trend among suppliers of charging a flat delivery surcharge on all orders to help defray the cost of fuel. There was some relief in the past few years from this tactic but with the dramatic rise in gas prices over the past year the surcharges reappeared.

This is just one example of how restaurants are faced with rising transportation costs within their supply chain and while gas prices may have peaked according to AAA, it is more than likely that restaurants will continue to feel the pinch moving forward.

The problem with rising costs in the supply chain is that managing them can become increasingly difficult without having to eventually pass on the additional expense to your customers. Unfortunately, more often than not, your customers will already be feeling the same pinch that you are as a business.

You can pretty much bet that just as rising fuel costs make business more difficult for you, they also lead to more customers eating at home rather than going out in hopes of saving money.

To help combat these issues companies can look towards ideas based on procurement theories. When you talk about procurement for your business there are 5 key rules that you want to keep in mind. You may not be able to meet all 5 at all times but when purchasing any item you want to get as many as possible; this means finding it at the right price, at the right time, in the proper quantity and quality and getting it where you need it.

Take for instance this Ruth Chris Steak House in Atlanta that has seen the price of their meet increase up to 11% over the past month.

There’s not much they can do about purchasing this product because, not surprisingly, steak is the most popular item on the menu. So despite the fact that they aren’t getting the product at the right price the restaurant must continue to buy the product. However, for many businesses I believe there is an extremely viable option to improve their supply chain – local vendors.

By moving towards a locally focused supply chain, restaurant owners can hope to achieve two things: lower costs and more control. Here in Reno many restaurants are looking to local suppliers to save on costs while simultaneously getting a higher quality product.

Take for instance a Reno restaurant called Campo and their push to focus on local suppliers. The key of going local is that your food travels a shorter distance and in many cases you can pool your orders with other businesses to help save on transportation costs.

The overall goal of going local is to threefold. First, you are able to cut down on costs by working with local vendors who have lower overhead and other fixed costs than the larger suppliers.

Second, you can control quality by dealing directly with the farmer or rancher who is supplying you with your inventory. Finally, your customers will feel a deeper sense of commitment to you when they see your commitment to sustainability and the local economy (not to mention reasonable prices and higher quality menu offerings).

So while rising costs are probably not going away any time soon, there is an answer to help alleviate the strain. By shrinking the size of your supply chain you can look to create savings while also increasing your ability to control more of the risks.

Supply chain management is all about realizing the risks inherent in running your business. The restaurant industry comes with more than its fair share of variables that must be constantly monitored – from labor costs to inventory and quality control.

Looking towards the local community to help is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to create better controls while maximizing your customers’ experience.

That is a win-win.

Matt Molinari blogs about supply chain management and the Food & Beverage industry on his blog and is always looking for new and interesting ways to better manage a business through innovation. You can connect with him on Twitter @matt_molinari

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Restaurant Inventory: Tips To Increase Efficiency and Boost Profits

menuAs a restaurateur, you probably struggle with inventory on a regular basis.  Balancing walk-in space, fast-selling menu items, and slow moving items can create a constant headache.  Some of your product moves quickly, some does not, and inevitably some ends up sitting in the walk-in for far too long.

That sitting product is costing your restaurant money, because you’ve already invested money in it but you aren’t seeing any return in the form of sold entrees to customers.  Even worse, it’s taking up room in your walk-in while it costs you money.  So how to turn frozen product into dollars in the cash register?  Some tips to help you manage inventory:

What do you need?  What do you already have?  It’s very hard to manage inventory when you don’t know what you’ve got and what you need.  More than likely you use a POS system to help you manage existing inventory and to track sales so you know what you need more of.  However, it’s important to supplement any POS tracking with a regular manual inventory of your stock.  That way you can double check what the software is telling you while also checking that food quality has been maintained.  A regular inventory schedule will also let you track trends in your inventory, like items that sell better or worse seasonally and product that you consistently have too much or too little of.

Get creative with what you’ve got.  Once you identify the food products you’ve got more than enough of, you need to think of a way to move that product from walk-in to plate.  That means getting creative.  Develop specials and supplemental menu items that feature your excess product at a sale price.  This strategy has multiple benefits: it adds some variety to your menu, it turns sitting product into dollars, and it can provide a little easy market research.

Variety and selling product are pretty self-explanatory.  The most exciting benefit is testing new items made from product you already stock on your customers.  You never know when you’re going to stumble across a hit that really sells well.  When you do, adding it to the menu is easy because you already buy the product and you know how to prepare it.  The best part is, you’re taking extra inventory that was sitting around and moving it out the door, all while giving your customers something new to rave about.

Effectively managing and utilizing your inventory first takes accurate data.  Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can apply the best of your creative process to maximize the efficiency of your kitchen.  The opportunities the extra product lying around your freezer represent an exciting way to hone your menu into a selling machine with very little waste.  And once you get your restaurant operating at that level of efficiency, better sales, and better profits, will follow.

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