How to Prepare for Massive Increase in Restaurant Sales

Let's talk about the massive increase in restaurant sales that is coming for every restaurant along with the quickest path to prepare for it. As vaccine shots go into more arms and restrictions are lifted in more cities and states, everyone who has been abiding by the stay-home recommendations is going to be flooding businesses like restaurants. They want to eat in restaurants, not just order take out from restaurants. They want drinks on the patio, not the take-home version of the cocktails you serve. They’re coming. Are you ready? Do you have the staff you need? Do you have the systems in place to maximize every dollar that comes into the restaurant? Click below to listen to the podcast or keep scrolling to read the nine things to do right now to prepare for success as well as learn more about a fixed mindset and a growth mindset and why it matters.

As states start relaxing restrictions and shots are going in arms, I have members who are sharing with me that they are experiencing record sales. Are you in a position to handle the surge in business?

I am going to share with you not only the key systems you need to have in place, but the mindset shift that is critical to your success. The beautiful part about this episode is that everything I'm going to share with you has already been put into place by hundreds of restaurant owners before you. You can achieve similar results.  

There's a storm coming. People can't stand being confined to their homes. And after a year of restrictions, people want things to go back to normal so badly. What does this mean for you, the restaurant owner?

For one, you probably don't have enough team members to handle the business that's coming. For example, I just had a group coaching call where three or four of my members talked about having record sales. I'm not talking about pandemic record sales. I'm talking about record sales. As businesses start opening back up, people want to get back out. And the truth of the matter is, even for my members, they were in a position where they had to jump in that business to handle it. No they’re all racing to get people hired and enough supervisors in place.

It's been touch and go in the restaurant industry for a year. Maybe like some of my members, you aren't looking forward far enough and you’re going to find yourself unprepared for the flood of customers coming your way. They’re coming, and I want to help you prepare for them.

As a restaurant coach, my goal is to fire you from the day-to-day work in your restaurant. I want you to work on your business, not in your business. But the pandemic forced us into a position where we had to do whatever had to do. You were on the line again. You were serving people. You were doing whatever it took to survive. And I can understand you not wanting to jump the gun and hire a bunch of people. Things still aren’t stable. Depending where you are in the country, you've either had really lax rules and it's been no big deal, or you've been in damn near full shutdown on and off several times. I can understand there being a little bit of fear. But I’m warning you the new storm is all the people coming your way.

What do you need to have in place to be able to handle the oncoming storm?

First you have to change your mindset or make sure you've got the right mindset. It’s important to lean more toward a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset? A fixed mindset is something that is extremely limiting to you because fixed mindset people think they can’t learn more, there is a limit to their abilities, that they’ve done the best they can do with what they know or their special skillsets. But running a restaurant is not about natural ability. It's about a willingness to learn, even from, or especially from, our failures.

I can tell you to a person, the restaurant owners I work with are driving their businesses and lives using a growth mindset. A person with a growth mindset expects they can learn to do anything they want. There are no limiting beliefs. There are no social stereotypes. It doesn't matter: education, race, nationality. Somebody with a growth mindset can learn anything because they want to. These people look at challenges and see challenges as a way to grow and evolve. There are always challenges in the restaurant business and it’s better for success to put yourself in a position where you look at these challenges not as problems, but as opportunities. People with a growth mindset say their effort and attitude determine their abilities. They try not to let their thought process go negative. They’re inspired by others’ successes.

What do you think? Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Do you see the advantage to your business to have a growth mindset? You can change from a fixed to a growth mindset with practice. If you're stuck with a fixed mindset, your job is to do everything to break that cycle, you must open your mind to possibilities. If you are already in a growth mindset, keep on trucking, baby. Keep moving forward on your journey of growth.

Now let’s talk about how you plan to come out of the pandemic and ready your restaurant to serve the influx of customers coming your way.

Number one, you need checklists. Opening and closing side work checklists for every position. The goal is to change your restaurant’s culture into a culture where the details matter and where people are held accountable. The managers are responsible for everyone's checklists, not the employee. See if you can't put a checklist in place, if you can't get managers to follow the checklist, what makes you think the bigger systems are going to be put in place and people are going to do them on time to your expectations? Checklists are the beginning of you imposing your will without being there. That's why the chain restaurants kick our ass. They make sure everything is done their way even when there's no owner in that building.

Number two, you need a budget. How do you expect to figure out your plan for success if you don’t have a budget specific to your restaurant? A budget is a plan for success. And while I know you'd rather probably poke yourself in the eye with a pencil than create a budget, it is critical because it's your plan for success based on your location, your price point, your style of service, your product quality, your set of core values and your state regulations. Do you have a $15 minimum wage, or do you still have $2.13 an hour service because of a tip credit? That justifies where your prime cost needs to be and all that is decided in your budget.

It doesn't doesn't matter what else I give you, if you don't have checklists creating that culture where the details matter, if you don't have a plan for success, how do you know what success looks like? Once you have a budget, you can move onto systems that will change your world.

For example, number three, Restaurant Payroll Guardian, also known as a labor allotment system. This systems allows you to tell your managers how many hours and dollars they have to spend. Then you couple that with the restaurant labor discrepancy finder, otherwise known as a schedule variance. Schedule like you always do, put it next to your budget, and if you find you’re over budget, you cut hours.

Number four, is the calculation I call full time equivalents. It’s not for mandated health care, but the old school way of determining how man hourly employees for every 40 hours somebody can work. If I have two part-timers at 20 hours a week, the two added together is one full time equivalent, equal to one full time employee. Consider this when looking at your servers. They want to work as few hours as possible to make their money. So instead, they’re broken down into five shifts. If you have somebody who works three shifts part time and somebody two shifts, they equal one full time equivalent. You take their schedule availability and what your schedule needs are and calculate how many full time equivalents you need for your schedule. I teach restaurant owners to have two FTEs more. That sounds like two extra employees, but it could be any number of part timers, but yes, two. When is there a week that an employee doesn't ask for time off? Do you ever find yourself on a busy Friday night and that server cries and quits and then you're like a chicken with your head cut off because you don't have enough employees? Looking forward into the next couple of months, you need to be looking to create those schedule templates and see how many FTEs you need and then calculate how many you have. This will show you how many people you need to hire. That is critical.

Number five is great training systems. It doesn't matter if you hire good people if you don't train them well. If they don’t know the job and what you expect of them, you’re going to think they’re all idiots. By the way, if you ever call your employees idiots, I want to remind you something. You selected them, you hired them, you trained them, and you managed them on a daily basis. We don't hire idiots. We create idiots.

Number six, start developing your next supervisors and managers because with great supervision, our employees do more. They do their best work. They love structure. What they hate is the inconsistency in management enforcing rules. It is extremely important that now, as we put these systems in place, that you’re training others to do them. You can't do everything yourself. You must have other managers help you.

Number seven, implement the Restaurant Checkbook Guardian. Many of you have heard me refer to this in the past as the purchase allotment system. When you have a budget, you know your food cost and how it’s allotted across bottled beer, draught beer, wine, merchandise, where those costs of goods sold should be. By putting some numbers into the spreadsheet, you can tell your managers how much money they can spend by category, how much food they can purchase on their next order, which gives you the ability to give up ordering without giving up our checkbook. That is critical.

Number eight, for the kitchen and the bar, put the key item tracker in place. Count the five to 15 items every single day that affect every shift to make sure they don't get stolen.

Number nine, use a Waste Tracker so you can track dumb ass mistakes on a day-by-day basis and fix them that day, not 15 days the next period. For example, maybe John has been burning burgers, which gets entered as waste on the Waste Tracker. You can reposition John, retrain him before he hits the grill independently.

When you put these things in place, you set the foundation for all of your systems from there. These things could drop your food costs two to three points, drop your labor costs one to two points easily. It can ensure that you have managers who know what their job is, how to do it, how well it should be done, more importantly by when. You create a culture where the details matter.

The most dangerous phrase in your business is That's the way we've always done it. You get to choose. Are you going to let that storm come and crush you? Or are you going to build a structure, a foundation to take on the storm and use its energy to propel you to success?

Click the podcast player above to listen in, or you can watch the video on YouTubeclick here to download the latest episode.

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