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Happy New Year … and Now the Resolutions

Welcome to the New Year and to the new opportunities that lie ahead for you and your business.

While your mileage may vary, last year was generally considered a good one for the foodservice industry. At the time of this writing, not only do numerous industry indices show strong year-over-year financial gains, but analysts anticipate a strong Q4 highlighted by a profitable holiday season. Hopefully you not only saw similar results, but learned a few things along the way that made you smarter about how you are going to approach 2015 and ultimately next year’s holiday season.

With 2015 forecasted to be another strong year for restaurant operators, now is the time to make your New Year’s resolutions to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. Resolve to take the steps necessary to make your customers happier through improved service. Commit to making your employees happier and more productive by creating a culture that aligns values and employee behaviors so they feel, and truly are, important. And, of course, determine to make more money this year than last?

So what resolutions can create these revelations? Let me suggest a few that we should all be able to agree on.

  1. Resolution #1 – Put together an employee manual. Create a manual that aligns employee behaviors with your organizational culture and core values. A server manual teaches upselling and stresses the importance of side work. Focus the hostess manual on engaging customers and setting the tone for their experience by smiling, listening, and answering the phone properly. Follow the documentation with focused training to make sure everyone is on the same page, and provides consistent service whether or not you’re in the restaurant.
  2. Resolution #2 – Establish checklists! You know the routine. The day shift grumbles about the night shift, and the night shift thinks the day shift doesn’t care as much as they do, all because they believe the other shift isn’t carrying their weight. Increase productivity and customer service and put an end to the complaints by standardizing responsibilities using customized checklists. Stop asking if an employee put toilet paper in the men’s room. Instead ask them to see their completed side work checklist.
  3. Resolution #3 – Invest in your technology. If you are underutilizing that huge investment you made in POS, ask yourself why? The vendor promised you reduced food cost, a reduced labor cost, and real time tools that would make you more efficient, right? Are you getting those benefits out of your investment? Realizing them now may not require spending additional money, but it will require your time, and the time of the people who made the promises. Your POS investment may be a sunk cost, but it can still be money well spent. Resolve to realize the ROI you were expecting, starting NOW.
  4. Resolution #4 – Get married to your reports. Integrate them into your business life and use them to reduce food costs, theft, and labor costs, while simultaneously improving service. If you are not utilizing analytics and mobile apps, you are genuinely still in the stone ages compared to the young “whipper snappers” who embrace the cloud, and manage using real time, actionable reports. Over the long term, they will avoid the expensive mistakes you might make and build equally thriving businesses faster and with less effort than you can. Over time, those who embrace these technologies will identify trends and launch not only more locations, but also new concepts as their decision-making will be more timely and accurate.

The common thread in these resolutions is proactivity. Don’t think about your New Year’s resolutions as things you would like to do, but instead as commitments on what you will do, and then act to make them a reality. The result will maximize your potential to capitalize on the market opportunities that exist in 2015.

Be well and Happy New Year!

About the Author

Henry Pertman is Director, Hospitality Consulting at CohnReznick, located in the firm’s Baltimore, Md. office. He can be contacted at 410-783-4900 or henry.pertman@cohnreznick.com.

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