Restaurant Solutions for Independent Restaurants

As a restaurant coach, I'm on the phones every day with independent restaurant owners, and I'm going to tell you one of the things in our conversations that happen almost on a daily basis.

“Hey, David, what are the best restaurant solutions for an independent restaurants?”

That's a conversation I have over and over and over again. And I bet you're trying to figure that out, too. 

Watch the video below or keep scrolling to read about the five restaurant solutions every restaurant must have in place to ensure they make money.

There are five restaurant solutions every independent restaurant must have that are critical to your success. 

The number one thing you must have in place, the best solution you're not going to be happy with is your point of sale system. I know right now either you went, “Yeah, I love my POS system!” Or you went, “Oh, I hate that gosh darn thing.

Well, the truth of matter is it is the most important piece of equipment you will ever buy in your restaurant. It’s not just the most expensive cash register you'll ever buy. It is the most important business tool we have because the numbers coming from it allow you to use all the systems to proactively manage your business. It's your rearview mirror. It has all your history. It knows your gross sales. It knows your comps and discounts. It knows what you've collected, your accounts payable. It knows how the money has come in to control your cash.

It also has things like the ability to give you your product mix, which later with other pieces and other solutions you need to have. It can tell you where your labor cost is going to be to control it. It can help you know where your food cost is, your pour cost. It shows you whether you’re selling bottled beer, draft beer, wine, or liquor all separately.

It can also help prevent theft by implementing simple tools like a transfer report, a no-sale report, and a comp report. You can see whether people are trying to steal.

The second important restaurant solution is labor scheduling software. I don't care which one you're using, as long as you can see the numbers. The two most important systems any restaurant must have are budgets and recipe costing cards. The budgets allow you to proactively manage your business. I teach you a budgeting system called the Restaurant Payroll Guardian that tells your managers how many hours and dollars they have to spend to go into next week to be on budget instead of the more common method of bringing everybody in and praying you’re busy. You shouldn’t have to hope you hit your numbers and when you don’t, cut like crazy to try and save on labor.

With a budget in place and using labor scheduling software, you know how many hours and dollars you’re spending. So that budget compared to your actual allows you to see where the variances are and how to make small changes. Plus you’ll be to copy and paste the schedule from one week to the next, making small adjustments. Your employees are going to be able to swap schedules with your approval. They're going to be able to submit a schedule request that doesn’t get missed.

The third solution is food and beverage software. Again, whether it's an individual package or it's an all-in-one package, I don't really care. I care about the one you’re going to use.

I just said the two most important systems are budgets and recipe costing cards. The recipe costing cards are critical because how do you know if you're making money without them? Setting up recipe costing cards can take upward of 100 man hours. And by the time you're done, they're out of date. Even if you use a spreadsheet. When you use software, you can upload invoices which then automatically update your recipe cards. Then your next orders are up to date, your next inventory is up to date, and you have real flexibility to adapt when prices go up on important items. You can react to that because you know what's going on.

In addition, since it's automated, it gives you all your critical numbers. You get your actual food cost and when you’re tied to that POS system, you get a product mix report so you can know what your ideal food cost is (if there was no waste, no theft, no spoilage, a perfect restaurant). You can find your budgeted, ideal and actual food costs and use these numbers to make proactive changes to lower costs.

The number four restaurant solution is restaurant accounting software. I know accounting isn't something you want to do, and I don't want you to do the accounting (Call the best restaurant accountant Anne Gannon at The Largo Group for your monthly flat-fee restaurant accounting). So why do you need good restaurant accounting software? Because you can't use a shoe box or a spreadsheet. That which you measure improves. If you have a budget where your targets should be and you have your actual from the software and it's accurate, then you know where you hit or missed your numbers. It gives you the ability to change and keep working the systems.

And the number five most important restaurant solution is checklists. They’re critical because they allow you to impose your will without being there. How do you think chain restaurants almost never have an owner in them? They have checklists for everything that needs to be done in their restaurant.

The checklists are so detailed it’s like someone is standing over your shoulder telling you how to do the work. It's critical to your success.

A lot of restaurant owners will tell me that checklists don’t work, and I always say it’s because their restaurant checklists suck. They’re not detailed enough and/or you’re holding the wrong people accountable to the checklists and the work. If an employee doesn’t get their work done or doesn’t follow the checklist and then manager lets them go home, guess who has to do the work? It’s not the next day’s opening team. It’s the manager. Your managers are there to ensure the process is working and the checklists tell them how to do it. I'm not going to hold the line employee accountable. I'm going to hold the manager accountable.

To make sure checklists are successful, you have to check them every day. And this is another great example of the usefulness of software. You can put all kinds of stopgaps and check-in points in the software checklist.

If you want to learn more restaurant solutions like these and how to get your managers to do the work, sign up for my free four-part video learning series where I go into all of this in more depth.

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