The Importance of Setting New Year’s Resolutions for Your Restaurant

4 Sublime Suggestions to Help You Secure Sustainable Success


The Importance of Setting New Year’s Resolutions for Your Restaurant | Tabulate

Research states that almost half of us set New Year’s Resolutions each year, but only 8% of those resolutions are kept. While that low success rate might be acceptable for your personal goals to lose weight or get better with your own finances (the two most common resolutions), you can and should do better for your restaurant or bar.

Tabulate has decades of experience working with all manner, shape, and size of food-related businesses. As a result, we’ve created a clear set of actionable steps that ensures your restaurant starts January on a path to success and follow it through December. And the best part? You can re-use these 4 resolutions every single year – as long as you have access to your financial data and insights into your performance metrics.

1) Improve Your Systems and Processes

It really can’t get more basic than this one. To truly improve the overall efficiency and efficacy of your staff – both in the kitchen and on the floor – you should locate every opportunity to revisit, review, and refresh how you work. This includes:

  • Inventory
  • POS
  • Bookkeeping
  • Payroll
  • Kitchen Workflow
  • Scheduling
  • Placing and Running Orders

And just because something worked last year doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. You can’t afford to sit still on past performance if you want to achieve growth in the future.

It doesn’t mean you have to re-invent the wheel. Simply find ways to improve the day-to-day operations of your establishment, which helps your employees, your books, and your customers.

2) Enhance Your Online Presence

The Importance of Setting New Year’s Resolutions for Your Restaurant | Tabulate

Unless you’ve been around for literally decades serving only regular customers without ever seeing anyone new walk through your doors, your restaurant or bar needs to be on the Internet. Not only do people increasingly place orders online through restaurant websites, but they use the Internet to learn about your business – whether you’re there or not.

A few introductory suggestions include:

  • Create a website that contains your hours, locations, contact information, and menu.
  • Choose the social media platform where the bulk of your audience hangs out and post LOTS of pictures. And by audience, we mean both your current customer base and the people you WISH were your customers.
  • Have an account on the major online review sites and respond to every review – especially the negative ones.

Getting your place online doesn’t have to be difficult, but you must be strategic and pay attention to what’s happening online.

3) Recruit Your Regulars

Yes, this suggestion isn’t new. In fact, you should always seek ways to increase traffic from your favorite customers. But in a digital world where even one bad review can spell doom for a business, you should seek out new and interesting ways to turn your regulars into your best salespeople.

In an age where influencers are the new marketing currency, restaurateurs will find greater success by deepening their relationships with your most loyal customers. 92% of people say a friend’s recommendation is their most trusted source of information. Hence, your restaurant or bar being at the top of mind for your regulars will go farther to increase sales than the most glowing of professional reviews.

4) Create Clear Revenue Goals

The Importance of Setting New Year’s Resolutions for Your Restaurant | Tabulate

Your goals must be specific. They can’t be something vague like “Increase revenue,” “Increase sales,” “Turnover tables faster,” or “Decrease overhead.” You need to dig into your numbers from the past year to determine what worked and what didn’t work to determine how you can be more profitable in the coming year.

We recommend options like:

  • Increase YOY Sales by X%
  • Decrease Food Waste by X%
  • Increase Weekend Bar Sales by X%
  • Decrease Employee Turnover by X%
  • Increase Margins by X%
  • Decrease COGS by X%

As one of our favorite marketing gurus frequently states, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” You must know what’s happening in your books if you have any hope of creating and meeting your revenue goals.

This is where Tabulate can help you shine in 2019. As a comprehensive back-office solution, we provide expert bookkeeping, payroll, and financial services designed specifically for the food service industry. Our staff has over 75 years of experience working exclusively with restaurants, bars, and related businesses. We can balance your books, process your payroll, pay your vendors, deal with the TABC, and help you understand your financial and performance data better than ever before.

If you think your establishment needs help setting and achieving its goals for 2019 and beyond, contact Tabulate today!

Happy Holidays!

Set the Table for Server Success During the Holidays

3 Terrific Tips for Helping Your Staff Thrive All Season Long

Set the Table for Server Success During the Holidays | Tabulate

With any luck, you followed a few of our holiday marketing tips, and the customers are now filling up your restaurant to take advantage of your seasonal promotion. Before you get too excited about the promise of increased sales, visits from regulars, and an influx of new patrons, you should first ensure that you’re creating an environment primed for server success during the holiday season.

Yes, you do need people to visit your establishment for it to thrive but having a superior staff to take care of those customers is the foundation to a sensational holiday season. With our 3 tremendous tips, you can prepare your people to deliver top-quality service, food, and beverages to your customers with holiday flair.

#1 Be Upfront with Scheduling and Staffing

To put it another way, remember that your servers and staff are real people who also want to be with their friends and family for the holidays. Yes, you want to have more than enough people to cover the above-average traffic that usually comes with holiday dining, but you won’t find server success if you over-tax your people during one of the most stressful times of the year.

This will require some forethought and planning on your part:

  • Investigate your numbers from previous seasons.
  • Determine when you’ll need more people and how many people that will be.
  • Calculate if you have the space in the budget to bring on seasonal staff.
  • Discuss with your long-term staff what the holiday schedule will look like and when the best times might be for any time off.

Your staff will appreciate that you trust them enough to be reasonable about staffing and holiday time off. Give them the option to make deals and trades with each other – as long as the floor is covered to the level that you deem best. It’s still your restaurant, but your servers and kitchen will like having a bit of voice in their schedules.

#2 Increase Your Communication

Set the Table for Server Success During the Holidays | Tabulate

Let’s take tip #1 a few steps further. We’ve seen far too many restaurateurs share the details promotions with their customers via marketing efforts but forget to do with their staffs. This creates confusion on the part of the patrons when they ask for your seasonal special, only to have the server not know what’s happening. In turn, this creates resentment with your servers because they looked uninformed and unprofessional when presented with the customer’s order.

Ultimately, your poor communication can result in decreased tips for your staff, lower revenue when people can’t order the high-margin special, and bad reviews when your staff can’t fulfill the terms of the promotion to the customer. All the planning you put into your promotion will be for naught because you didn’t put equal effort into cultivating server success.

#3 Invest More Time and Attention Than Usual

Any restaurant manager worth their salt knows exactly how busy and stressful the holidays can be in the food service industry. Just think of everything going on all season long:

  • The customers might be overtly joyful, but underneath, they’re probably stressed about money, family, and schedules.
  • More people are visiting your restaurant, which can mean longer wait times, packed seating areas, and simply more activity in an average shift.
  • Your staff is working longer hours than usual while dealing with the increased customer count.
  • You have to prepare well in advance for any sort of promotion, especially if you’re changing what and how you order from your suppliers.

To truly prepare your servers, staff, and restaurant for holiday success, you need to be an even better leader than normal, and it’s your job to help your people be the best they can be. We recommend the following steps:

  • Create consistent messaging around any promotion or special
  • Take time to train seasonal staff sufficiently
  • Give increased latitude to senior staff to be problem-solvers
  • Address the big issues directly and with clear answers
  • Deliver sincere praise to your staff
  • Provide constructive criticism when something can be improved

Each of these tips increases the burden on you to execute your vision with increased patience, care, and attentiveness, your staff depends upon your leadership to guide them into the great success everyone hopes to achieve. Server success means giving your staff the tools and resources they need to help your customers more effectively, which directly increases the likelihood those visitors spend more on that holiday visit and then return in the future.

Increase Your Sales with a Good Holiday Promotion

4 Tips to Help Your Restaurant or Bar End the Year on a High Note

Increase Your Sales with a Good Holiday Promotion | Tabulate

The holiday season can make or break your business. Much like a retail outfit, the 6-8 weeks at the end of the year can account for a substantial portion of your annual sales numbers. From businesses and families holding holiday parties to people needing a meal while they’re out shopping, this is a time of year you and your staff can shine. We’ve assembled 4 recommendations that can guide help restaurant or bar drive up seasonal sales with a successful holiday promotion.

#1 Start Early

This might be the biggest obstacle for restaurants and bars, especially because it’s easy to get in the weeds with day-to-day operations and weekly COGS goals. But if you want your promotion to have any sort of success, you must plan early and often. This is a multiple-step process:

  • Agree upon the idea. Whether it’s a holiday menu, a special night, gift card push, or something else entirely, you must have a clear idea for what you want to do.
  • Set the terms and keep them. Changing things midstream is a recipe for disaster.
  • Be prepared. Make sure you obtain the necessary supplies, produce, and materials in time for the promotion’s start date. And if you’re running a multi-week event, be sure your suppliers won’t run out midway.

The biggest one? You must start talking about your event at least 6 weeks before it starts. That’s right – you must promote your promotion, and you must do it actively. This one is so important it gets its own bullet later.

#2 Be Creative

Increase Your Sales with a Good Holiday Promotion | Tabulate

Unless you’re an established business running a holiday promotion that’s achieved sustained, year-over-year success, you should not attempt a run-of-the-mill promotion. A generic seasonal offer won’t set you apart from your competitors, especially since they’ll probably attempt something to attract increased holiday traffic.

To be clear, this doesn’t have to be a full-court press that dramatically changes the identity of your establishment for 6 weeks out of the year. It could be a single new dish or drink, an event that lasts for a single weekend, or a targeted gift card campaign. The point is to try something interesting, do it well, and track the results.

#3 Prepare Your Business

Increase Your Sales with a Good Holiday Promotion | Tabulate

We referenced this earlier in terms of buying what you need for the promotion well in advance of the event, but you also need to prepare your staff and facilities to ensure success. Your people must become advocates for the promotion, and your POS system must be updated with your holiday special. If not, you’ll lose sales from customers who weren’t pitched the item by their server, and your inventory and costs will be impacted because you’re not tracking ingredients properly.

And for goodness’ sake – if you’re going to have any sort of holiday promotion, please make sure your establishment look like it enjoyed holidays. You don’t have to go “Full Griswold,” but a few decorations and some light holiday music for 4 weeks will go a long way.

#4 Advertise Effectively

Here’s the big one: you must start advertising your holiday promotion at least 6 weeks before it happens. You need time for the details of your event to sink into the consciousness of your potential customer base, especially since many people have jam-packed holiday schedules.

There are several methods you can choose – radio, television, print, social media, direct mail, e-mail, public relations, pay-per-click, and more – but what matters is that you use what’s the most relevant for your audience. The marketing strategy employed by a family-friendly restaurant should be different than the one employed by the hipster-friendly dive bar. Determine the one or two channels that are currently most effective for your establishment, create specific advertisements about your promotion, and make a big push.

Increase Your Sales with a Good Holiday Promotion | Tabulate

Ultimately, a successful holiday promotion will always be more dependent upon execution than ideation. Just like your restaurant in general, you can have the best concept in your neighborhood, but if you can’t realize the idea, that promotion will not work. Take time to create detailed plans so your staff and facilities are set up to exceed expectations – both for your customers and your sales numbers.