For many people, it’s the dream to own your own business. Yet, the reality, controlling your own hours, creating a business with your values and having total control over the direction of a company brings hidden stresses and concerns. Elements such as financial insecurity, recruitment issues and supply chain difficulties can cause undue tension and worry.
In the world of catering and hospitality, it’s very evident when a business isn’t doing so well; empty tables rarely attract footfall and can be disheartening for all staff members. If you’re running an independent restaurant and want to up your table turnover, have you thought of the following?
Sourcing top quality ingredients
When faced with money woes, it may feel tempting to cut back on costs in your supply chain — opting for cheaper ingredients and produce. However, this may turn out to be a false economy: customers’ enjoyment of your food will rely on the raw products you use. A happy customer will return, a dissatisfied one may not.
For the best chance at repeat custom, keep investing in top quality ingredients for as long as you possibly can.
Promote yourself on social media
Increasingly, social media is the top destination diners are visiting for choosing where to breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. As such, it’s absolutely crucial that your restaurant has a presence on at least one social media platform.
If you take great pride in the presentation of your dishes, or have a certain aesthetic in your store interiors, you may find that Instagram is the ideal place to attract new visitors and get tables booked out. Make sure you update frequently, sharing delicious images of your best selling dishes, and use hashtags to appear on the feeds of people who don’t follow you yet.
Facebook is also a great platform for independent restaurants, as it conveniently displays your address, opening times and, as with Instagram, is a perfect place to share mouth-watering photographs of your menu.
Ask for reviews
Further to the need for social media, another paramount tool for increasing turnover will be positive customer reviews.
Indeed, reviews are so influential that a writer in London recently got to the top rated spot on TripAdvisor with a restaurant that didn’t technically exist! For your restaurant, however, asking happy clientele to share their experience, whether on TripAdvisor or Facebook, will be a powerful influence for prospective customers.
Don’t worry if you get a few less positive comments, the most important thing to respond and show top class customer service. If you feel you’ve been mistreated, and the review isn’t fair, you’re within your rights to defend yourself, however you should do so with careful language and empathy.
Host specialty meals or menus
Variety is, as they say, the spice of life. So, even if your daily menu is selective, you’ve got a great opportunity to diversify and attract a new audience by hosting weekly, monthly or ad-hoc specialty food events.
View the current trends in food and dining — plant-based, clean eating, certain cuisines — and assess how you could hold an event that answers this need, but still feels suitable for your brand. For instance, if you’re an Italian restaurant, could you host a special vegan menu for Meat-free Mondays? If you specialize in Japanese bento boxes, how can you promote the inherent healthiness of your offering?
Hosting a breakfast, lunch or supper club can be a great creative challenge to motivate you and your staff, and bring new customers into the restaurant. Should these events prove a success, you could look to increase their frequency and even add some of the dishes to your every day menu — do what you can to bring this new audience in on a weekly basis.
Invest in technology to smooth processes
Investing in new technologies will help streamline the process of running your restaurant on all levels, Kitchen Cut of software solutions that provided help with everything from over costings to kitchen management . Their technology can also be customer-facing too — part of their offer is to digitize menus, so customers order on a tablet from their table. This technology also offers a savvy social media link up, so you can make sure your marketing materials are consistent with what’s happening on the restaurant floor.
After all, less time you have to spend on ordering stock, managing reservations and organizing shifts, the more time you’ll have to dedicate to developing the business and bringing in more custom.
Hire out your space to community groups
If you know that certain evenings, perhaps at the start of the week, are your slowest time, why not look to alternative sources of income during these times?
Research in your local community for independent groups — say, writer’s clubs, poetry groups, art classes, etc., — who need a venue to meet in, and offer part of your space to them for a small fee. Not only will you earn from renting out the floor, but you’re also bringing in previously unknown customers into your restaurant — do your best to impress them now, and they’ll think of you again in the future.
Train your staff for the best possible customer service
While the dishes are important; customer service is essential when running a successful restaurant. Some studies have even shown that the level of service is more important to clients than the quality of the food. Thus, you should endeavor to deliver best in class customer service to every patron who comes through the door.
Consider sending your front of house staff on customer service training days and frequently check in on them to make sure they are performing as restaurant staff ideally should.
Increasing your table turnover…
Seeing empty tables in your restaurant at peak time can be disheartening, but it can also be avoided. Take an honest look at how your business is running currently — where can it be improved? Making small changes, such as advertising yourself more vehemently online, can be just the difference you need.