Thursday, November 19, 2009



Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Quick steps for resturants to save money
By Lorri Mealey,
See More About:restaurant kitchensrestaurant financesrestaurant problems
There are simple steps restaurants can take to save money.

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Everyone is looking for ways to save money these days. Restaurants are no exception. The good news is that there are a lot of quick steps you can take to save you money, either through cutting energy use or reducing spoilage. A lot of these tips are the same things your mom told you growing up.
1. Switch to energy efficient light bulbs. Subway recently switched all their light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs in all of their 2000 US franchise locations. Switching to an energy efficient light bulb can save up to $22 per bulb per year. This can add up to quite a savings over time. Also keep lights off when you don’t need them. If you don’t start serving lunch until 11 o’clock there is no reason to turn the dining room lights on until then.

2. Only run the dishwasher when it is completely full. This cuts down on water usage, soap and energy costs.

3. Soak the dishes. Rather than running hot water over them to loosen dried food, fill a sink and let them soak.

4. Install low flow faucets and toilets. This will save between 20 to 40 percent of water usage.

5. Turn down the thermostat. You can still be comfortable at 68 degrees rather than 72 degrees.

6. Switch from plastic to glass. Green restaurants have been following this tip for years. If restaurant uses disposable plates, flatware or cups, considering a one time investment for china, glass and silver. You will save on garbage (good for the environment as well as the restaurant budget) and save money over time.

7. Invest in energy efficient appliances. This is a lot easier said than done, especially in a sluggish economy. But consider that many states offer restaurants tax credits and other incentives for switching to energy efficient appliances. Plus, the savings on an energy efficient appliance can often pay for itself within a year or two.

8. Trim down your menu. Track sales of every menu item and remove menu items that aren’t selling. Also look for ways to cross utilize menu items, using one item for multiple dishes. This will help reduce food spoilage as well as keep food cost under control.

9. Take advantage of e-marketing. More and more people turn to Google to look for restaurants than the yellow pages. Take advantage of all the internet has to offer, from your own website to online advertising. Many companies offer inexpensive e-newsletters you can send to customers for a fraction of traditional prints ads.

10. Train your staff. Teach your staff to sort recyclables, turn off lights, let you know if there is a leaky faucet in the wait station. Ask them to bring in their own take-home containers instead of using the restaurant take-outs.


The bar is a hub of activity for many restaurants.

For many full service restaurants . It is where patrons gather to eat and drink, while wait staff pick up their beverages and cocktails. The set-up of a restaurant bar depends on your restaurant’s size, theme and liquor license. Some bars are service only, meaning it does not serve customers directly; it is just for staff to order drinks. Other full service bars offer drinks as well as a limited or full menu. Bars may double as a wait station, where servers can pour their own fountain drinks or it may be strictly off limits to staff, except for the bartender.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 6-8 Weeks
Here's How:


Check Your Liquor License

Liquor licenses vary and one license may cover all alcohol while others only cover wine and beer. If you are only serving beer and wine, a small service bar is more than adequate for your needs. If you plan to offer hard liquor as well as wine and beer, and are looking to expand business through bar sales, you should plan for a full service bar.

Figure Out How Much Space You Have For a Restaurant Bar

Ideally there should be about two feet of space in between bar stools to accommodate patrons. This means if you want eight seats at the bar, you need an eight foot bar.

Decide Where To Put The Restaurant Bar

A bar right at the entrance of a restaurant can do double duty as a waiting area. A bar in the center of a restaurant is easier for staff to access during the dinner rush. A bar placed at the back of a restaurant more intimate, away from the hustle and bustle of the front of the house. Decide which place is best for your bar.

Stock Your Restaurant Bar With The Right Equipment

Bars need their own reach in coolers, ice bins, hygiene supplies, paper towel dispenser, liquor wells, glass racks, wine racks and dry storage. Coolers should be big enough to hold bottled beer, white and blush wines as well as back ups of juice, milk and other beverages used to mix drinks. A restaurant bar also needs a beer tower and a place to keep kegs cold. You may have to run beer lines from the walk-in cooler if your bar doesn’t have enough space for kegs. Bar floors should be covered with rubber floor mats for employee comfort and safety.

Let Your Restaurant Bar Double As a Wait Station

Make your bar as self sufficient as possible. Outfit it with its own POS system, so that the bartender can take care of customer tabs right on the spot. An integrated POS also lets the bartender send food orders to the kitchen directly from the bar. Be wary of letting staff into the bar area, even if it is to use the POS system during a rush. Bartenders are typically territorial creatures and don’t like wait staff under foot. You may need to implement a rule that no wait staff is allowed behind the bar during the dinner shift (or whatever times you deem necessary).

Set the Mood With Lighting

Lighting in the bar should be subtle. Not so dark customers can’t read the menu, but definitely not too bright. Recessed lighting and track lighting with dimmer switches allow you to control the light, adjusting it for the time of day.

Take Advantage of Freebies

Your wine and beer salesperson can outfit you with free merchandise, like glasses, decorative mirrors, even those tacky neon lights that hang in windows. Find out what you can get for free before buying decorative items.

More Restauranting How To's
Suggested Reading

How to Deal With Drunk CustomersRestaurant Bar PromotionsHow to Host a Restaurant Wine Tasting

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Wait, Where are You Opening A Restaurant?
Wednesday April 23, 2008
I have said it before and I will continue to say it again…and again…and again. Location, people! It is all about location. Yet I know that there are people who aren’t reading this blog (pity the fool, as MR. T would say) because I continue to see restaurants popping up in awful locations.

Case in point: A little burrito joint is getting ready to open in my small, rural Maine town. Now, I like the Mexican idea. It is new niche in our area (we do not count Taco Bell as Mexican food here) and has the potential to expand and grow. I know this because I have researched opening my own Mexican restaurant.

This particular burrito eatery is located on the west side of town, which was once a thriving neighborhood of its own, but is now a run down span of half filled buildings. Strike One. I am guessing the rent was cheap.

There is no parking except right in front of the building. Strike Two. Now, there is a public parking lot across the street, but it is just far enough away to be a nuisance to walk to and from your car in cold or inclement weather. Parking is an especially big issue in Maine. We like to walk in the woods, along our beaches and through our parks. But we don’t like to have to walk far to eat. Unfortunately parking is often overlooked when choosing for a location for a new restaurant.

I hear the place is only doing take-out. Strike Three. This is just a rumor. I am waiting for the place to open to confirm it. I hope they are planning to offer some sit down service. Otherwise, they will be missing the most obvious opportunity to expand their products to a wider market.

I speak from painful and costly experience when I talk about the importance of a restaurant’s location. Just because a building is beautiful and/or cheap, doesn’t mean it will be a successful restaurant. But I also understand you have to take a gamble in this business. If we all waited for the perfect place & time to open a new restaurant, there would be a lot of hungry people in the world.


Choosing a restaurant name is as important as deciding what type of food you are going to serve. A good restaurant name is easy to remember and easy to spell. It may reflect your restaurant’s theme, its location or simply be a play on words. The important thing to consider when choosing a restaurant name is the impression it will leave on customers.

Naming a Restaurant After a Location

Often times naming a restaurant is simple. The owners take a cue from their restaurant’s location. For example, our restaurant is located in the former boiler room of an old New England shoe factory. Because of this historic link, we decided to call the restaurant simply The Boiler Room Restaurant. It is easy to remember and most of the locals know that it refers to the old shoe shop. Tourist’s passing through love that is was once part of an old factory.
The French Laundry, in Napa Valley, California is one of the countries most esteemed restaurants. Its name stems from the fact the restaurant building once housed a French steam laundry during the 19th century. The building was also once a brothel, but the restaurant owners wisely stayed away from incorporating that name.

Reflecting a Theme in a Restaurant Name

Choosing a restaurant name can also come from a theme or menu. Chinese restaurants do this perfectly, with names like Jade Palace, Fortune Fountain, and The New Great Wall. Each of these restaurant names let customers know that they serve Chinese food. Avoid calling your restaurant an ethnic name if you are serving a different type of menu. For example, if you are serving authentic Mexican food, calling the restaurant Giovanni’s will confuse your patrons, who may think you serve Italian food.

Adding a Personal Meaning to a Restaurant Name

Opening a restaurant is like having another child in many ways. Sometimes a restaurants name is a reflection of the owner’s name or someone dear to them. Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas, named his restaurant concept after his daughter. Perhaps your grandmother influenced your joy of cooking, so you might name your restaurant after her. What ever the meaning behind your restaurant’s name, be prepared to share it with the public, who love a good story.

Restaurant Name With a Play On Words

Paula Deen’s first restaurant business was called The Bag Lady, because she and her sons went around delivering bagged lunches to local businesses. This is a great example of playing with words. Fun restaurant names that have nothing to do with food are usually easy to remember, and pass on by word of mouth. Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck called his earliest restaurant Spago, (Italian slang for spaghetti.) Little in the name would tell you that it serves a fusion of Mediterranean and California cuisine, with a specialty in wood-fired pizzas. It’s just a great restaurant name.

Avoid Trademarked Restaurant Names

If your last name happens to be McDonalds, don’t call your restaurant that. You are just asking for trouble (ditto if your last name is Taco Bell, Burger King or Jack In The Box.) It may seem like a harmless gesture to name a restaurant something similar to an already established chain, but you’ll be asking for potential legal troubles.


Before you open your own restaurant there are many aspect that need to be addressed, to assure success. Here’s a list of available resources to help you in your new restaurant start-up.
Deciding if Owning a Restaurant is Right for You
Restauranting is hard work. It may seem glamourous and fun, but it all boils down to hard work. Ask anyone in the food business, and they will tell you about long hours they put into it. It’s important to understand all the various jobs that are involved in running a restaurant. From bookkeeping, to cooking to PR, as the owner you are responsible for it all.

* Is Owning a Restaurant Right for You?
* Five Restaurant Myths
* What it's Really Like Being a Restaurant Owner

Deciding on a Restaurant Concept
Deciding what type of restaurant you want to open will depend of a variety of things. Often times people who want to open their own restaurant want to serve food they like to cook, in an atmosphere they feel comfortable in. Other people are interested in Franchising. Restaurant franchises offer a number of benefits, including instant name recognition and built-in marketing. However, many restaurant franchises don't come cheap and owners must be willing to follow a stringent set of rules.

* Franchise vs. Independent Restaurants
* How to Become a Franchisee
* Types of Restaurants

Choosing a Location for Your Restaurant
Location is vital to the success of any restaurant. There are several factors to consider when searching for that perfect restaurant location, including population base, local employment figures and accessibility. Once you find that perfect location, you will need to make sure you negotiate the best lease possible for your restaurant.

* Finding the Perfect Location
* How to Determine Population Base
* How to Negotiate a Lease

Writing a Business Plan
To prepare for your interview with the bank, you need to do your homework. Creating a business plan that outlines your restaurant and how you plan to make it profitable, will show the loan officer you mean business. Also make sure you arrive at the bank with all the necessary paperwork, including personal income statements, tax returns and anything else the banker ask you for.

* Why You Need a Business Plan
* Writing a Restaurant Business Plan
* Get Ready For Your Bank Interview

Finding the Perfect Restaurant Name
Restaurant names may reflect a theme (Mexican, Chinese, Continental), a location, or simply be a play on words. The important thing to consider is the impression it will leave on customers. Select a name that will be easy to customers to remember and spell. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find a restaurant online or in the Yellow Pages because you aren't spelling it correctly.

* Choosing a Restaurant Name
* Restaurant Names That Inspire

Writing the Menu
Your menu is a huge part of your restaurant. After all, it is essentially why your customers keep coming back. They love the food. The layout and design is just as important as what’s listed on the menu. Avoid amateur looking menu designs, such as clip art or photocopied handwriting. Finally, knowing how to price the menu will help increase your profit margins, giving you more money to invest into your restaurant.

* How to Price Your Menu
* Menu Design
* Tips for Writing a Restaurant Menu

Staffing Your Restaurant
Hiring the right staff is crucial to any new restaurant. Good food loses much of its appeal if it accompanied by bad service. Knowing the basic employee roles of the back of the house and the front of the house will help you select the best candidate for the job. Experience counts for important positions, such as head cook, dining room manager and bartender.

* Hiring for Front of the House
* Back of the House Positions
* Five Rules Every Restaurant Owner Should Know

Equipping Your Restaurant
Outfitting your restaurant kitchen, dining room and bar is the largest part of your start up budget. Shop around for bargain deals of used equipment and leased equipment. Also understanding needs vs. wants is important in avoiding the pitfalls of buying unnecessary furniture and equipment, which can set you way over budget. Begin with the basics, and once you have those you can pick up a few extras.

* Five Tips for Stocking Your Restaurant
* Why You Need a POS System
* Benefits of Leased Equipment


A business plan is especially helpful to those new to the food/restaurant industry. As you research information for your restaurant business plan, you may encounter problems you hadn’t considered previously, such as licensing, health codes and tax laws.

Most business plans have the same general parts, but some sections of your plan should be geared specifically to the restaurant industry. Here is a break down of all the necessary parts of a restaurant business plan.

1. Executive Summary- Start out with an overview of your entire business plan. Think of it as your introduction. Make it interesting, to keep your readers attention. Here are some tips for writing an executive summary geared toward a restaurant business plan.

• You want to give the reader (a potential investor) the basics of your business idea. What is the style of your new restaurant, the name, the location?

• Explain why you are well suited for this restaurant venture. Do you have previous cooking experience in restaurants? If not, do you have any experience in the restaurant business? If the answer is no, then you need to tell them on the idea that despite your lack of experience, you are still the perfect person for this new restaurant business.

2. Company Description – This part of a business plan is sometimes referred to as a business analysis. It tells the reader the location, legal name and style of restaurant you want to create. This is where you get detailed and explain your local competition, population base, and other information you have gathered during your research.

3. Market Analysis- This part of restaurant business plan is sometimes referred to a marketing stategy. There are three parts to a market anaysis:

• Industry- Who are you going to be serving? Is your restaurant going to cater for the older folks at lunch time? Single professionals at dinner? Families with young children? Explain your customer base and why they are going to flock to your new restaurant, not your competitors.

• Competition- Who is your competition? Many people opening a new restaurant assume everyone will prefer their new establishment to the existing competition. Don’t undermine the other restaurants. They already have a loyal customer base, and luring customers from that base is not always easy. Find out as much as you can about your competition, including their menu, hours and prices. Then explain in a paragraph or two how you will compete with the already established businesses.

• Marketing- What methods do you plan to use to promote your restaurant? How are you going to target your core audience? Perhaps you will offer a kids eat free night, or free lunch delivery to local offices. What is going to set you apart from your competition? Give specifics on how you plan to advertise (newspaper, TV commercials, ect…)

4. Business Operation- Sometimes referred to as Products and Services. This is where you tell investors about your hours and how many employees you plan to hire. Here is where you explain the benefits of your establishment for customers, such as its convenient downtown location, or its close proximity to the local interstate exit. This is also a good place to mention any close ties you have to local restaurant vendors, such as food supply companies or local farms that will give you a competitive edge.

5. Management & Ownership- Who is going to run the ship? Are you going to be the general manager, bookkeeper, head cook and bartender? If so, how are you going to do it all? Many new restaurant owners either hire a general dining room manager or a kitchen manager (but usually not both). Explain who is going to do what, including any potential employees whom you feel will be a great benefit to your new restaurant.

6. Funding - Now the sticky part of a restaurant business plan. How much is this stellar business plan going to cost? Here you want to list the projected growth of your new restaurant. You should include a profit and loss statement that projects how much are you going to spend vs. how much you are going to make. This is a good time to once again point out all the great aspects of your new restaurant. Other items you should include in your funding report include:


1. How do I get a loan to open a restaurant?

Financing is often the biggest obstacle when trying to open a new restaurant. With a high failure rate, banks are not always eager to dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars to would-be restaurateurs. To help get an initial loan for financing, you should start with a through restaurant business plan. A business plan is a blueprint for success. It helps identify your core customer base, examine your competition and create a budget. More on Restaurant Business plans.

2. How do I choose a restaurant location?

Location, location, location. It can make or break a restaurant. If no one can find your restaurant, it doesn’t matter how great your food and service are. Before you settle on any location first examine the area population base, to determine if there are enough potential customers in the area. Another indicator of a good location is the other businesses in the area. Is the restaurant location in a thriving downtown or is it more like a forgotten ghost town. More about choosing the right restaurant location.

3. How long of a lease should I sign if I am renting my restaurant location?

Start with a year long lease, two years at the most. Any longer and you can run into serious legal trouble with your landlord if you can’t make rent. A year to two years will give you more than enough time to determine if the location is a good choice for a restaurant. More on negotiating a restaurant lease.

4. How do I choose a restaurant name?

Naming a restaurant is like naming a child; it should be given careful consideration. A restaurant name can reflect its location, theme, or local history. It can be play on words, like The Bag Lady (Paula Deen’s first catering business). More about choosing the perfect restaurant name.

5. Should I buy new or used restaurant equipment?

It depends on the piece of equipment and how used it is. Some commercial kitchen equipment have short life spans, like ice makers, and are better suited to leasing or buying new with a warranty. Other pieces of kitchen equipment, like gas ranges, are like dinosaurs that live forever with minimal repairs and can be bought used with confidence. More about buying new and used equipment.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Save the Environment and Money
By Lorri Mealey,
See More About:stocking a restaurantopening a restaurantgreen restaurantsenergy star program
Restaurant's Can Be Earth Friendly

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It is no secret that most restaurants are not exactly environmentally friendly. They use a tremendous amount of energy and water and produce huge piles of garbage. However, today more and more people entering the restaurant industry are environmentally conscious. They grew up with recycling bins at school and at home. They know the dangers global warming and pollution. And many of them are prepared to do something about it.
It’s Not Easy Being Green

Kermit was right. It’s not easy being green. Going green for a restaurant can feel like climbing Mt. Everest. Insurmountable. You can’t just upgrade all your restaurant equipment to Energy Star models (though it wouldn’t it be awesome if you could) and you can’t train your staff to separate paper and plastic overnight. Going Green takes time and patience. The good news is that a lot of Green measures are easy to implement and won’t break the bank. Here are a few tips that the Green Restaurant Association recommends for Going Green:

• Get rid of Styrofoam. Styrofoam in most restaurants is found in the form of take out boxes, soup and coffee cups. Get rid of the Styrofoam, which never biodegrades and switch to recycled paper products.
• Install flow restrictors on faucets. A flow restrictor limits the amount of water used in hand washing sinks, on dish machines and dish sinks. B.R. Guests Restaurants, out of NYC, saved 5 million gallons of water a year by installing flow restrictors as part of their Go Green effort.
• Purchase sustainable foods. This means food products which support the long-term maintenance of ecosystems and agriculture for future generations. This includes organic and locally grown foods, both of which reduce use of toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and pollution associated with long distance transportation. So touch base with your local farmers and find out what produce they carry and when.
Other ways to go green include composting and recycling. Composting is not always a practical option for restaurants smack in the middle of a downtown, but recycling can be done most anywhere. According to Christopher Giarrputo, Executive Corporate Chef at B.R. Guests, the key to recycling in a restaurant is to have stations set up in all areas, such as the kitchen, wait station, bar and office. The next important step is training the staff, which can take a little time, but is worth it in the end.

Big Ticket Items To Help You Go Green

If you are looking to open a restaurant and have the capital, or are in need of upgrades, consider purchasing the following items, which help restaurants save energy, money and the environment:

• Low Flush Toilets
• Energy Star Appliances, such as fryers, steamers, broilers, griddles and ovens.
• Energy Star Refrigeration- These models have better insulation and use almost half as much energy as older models.
• Energy Efficient Ventilation

Friday, July 31, 2009


The CEO of RESTAURANT DE ODENEHO, MR. AGYEN ATTA SAMUEL, a 24 year old graduate from the Institute Of Professional Studies, (IPS), Legon, Accra realized his potentials in the restaurant industry having worked with various Beach Resorts, Hotels, Restaurants and Drinking Spots. The ideas, visions and the passion to run and owe a restaurant after school came to mind when my dear friend Esther Awereh Nyarkoh briefed me on the restaurant industry after I had confronted her for a business plan which was supposed to be written and submitted to my entrepreneurial lecturer (level 300), April 2009.
However, I had a plan of becoming an entrepreneur someday and therefore ceased the opportunity to build on this carrier. The name RESTAURANT DE ODENEHO was chosen because ‘ODENEHO’ meaning; independent motivates me daily as I keep on telling myself that I can do it no matter the circumstances; hence ‘nothing comes to pass until all conditions are right’ and surprisingly this name is my Nicky in school ‘ODENEHO AGYENGO II’.
the location of the restaurant will be known later

To be the established leader in restaurants in Ghana; satisfying customer’s expectations and shareholders by providing a full range of cost-efficient and high quality services nationwide.


I wish to run my restaurant in a classical manner under a conducive environment by giving much attention to the continual improvement in the services provided to highly delight my customers nationwide.

For the achievement of this mission, the restaurant is committed to;
1.Employing people with the aim of reducing the unemployment rate in the country.
2.Provisions of first class services.
3.Focusing on the core business / competencies.
4.Constant improvement in customer satisfaction.
5.Ensure that staff are motivated and have conducive working environment.
6.Tailoring services to suit customer needs as well as expectations of stakeholders

There has always been an enormous increase in the restaurant industry in recent years, due to rapid penetration of entrepreneurs in this industry; the fact remains that mass media, quality services, good customer management relationship and other factors when utilized correctly can still dramatically the fortunes of the restaurant and that will keep it function for the years.
Having numerous works and responsibilities as an individual, I will like Esther Awereh Nyarkoh to take full control over the restaurant. I found her competent because she as a trained teacher and once a worker and a cook to one important personality of Bogoso Gold Limited, has the managerial skills, experience and human resource to manage the restaurant. Philomena Enimil, a cousin who gave me some ideas in drawing my plan, having worked at Akroma Plaza and currently working at Standard Hotel, a restaurant and a hotel industry at Takoradi will be employed as the Chef of the restaurant whose responsibility will be to manage the affairs of the cooking, waiters and waitress department. She has the capabilities and the required skills having worked for about five years. A reputable person shall be employed as the bartender and that person should be someone who has managed a drinking spot before. The growth of every industry depends solely on its financials and as an employer I will employ a staff who is an accounting degree or diploma holder to see to the books of the restaurant. The person will be someone of experience, have some marketing background and be prone to figures.
Even though, all employees will be contributing their quota to the welfare of the industry, these four key employees mentioned above are the potential workers whom I feel will be a great benefit to my restaurant. As an infant industry, capital will be a major problem so to cut down on expenses; I wish to employ twelve workers to be categorize into manageress, chef, accountant, bartender, five cooking staff and three waiters and waitress. It is in my plan to double the management team in the next two years when the industry has gain wider consumer acceptance and taking its share of the market. Increasing employees means increasing profit. Thus when the restaurant’s customers had increase, services are expected to go high since the need to add to already existing employees. The restaurant’s objective is to delight its customers by serving the food and non-food items that it purports doing. The restaurant will be operating from eight O’clock in the morning till day break.


Name: Agyen Atta Samuel
Business name: Restaurant De Odeneho
Motto: Truly Africans
Location: Not yet
Contact: Box Mc 15, Takoradi.
0248034948 / 0272389869 /0209314164

Thursday, July 30, 2009


A good restaurant menu design is key to any restaurant's marketing plan. It expresses your eatery personality, focuses your overall operations, promotes profitability, establishes your budget and keeps your brand fresh in your customers mind.

What is the goal of a well-crafted restaurant menu?
Your menu is your primary means of representation: It says exactly who you are and what you hope to convey personality-wise. It also should create enough of an impression so that it stays with your client long after the waiter or waitress walks off with it. In addition, it must convey your restaurant?s brand in a manner that makes diners excited to be there, want to come back and recommend it to family and friends.

What steps should I take before designing my restaurant menu?
As with most creative endeavors, proper results can?t be achieved without sufficient research. In the case of designing the right menu, that means collecting data from various sources. Examine your own numbers first, such as your restaurant?s prospective financial and marketing numbers and its sales mix. Then look at your competitors: Examine their Web sites, menus and marketing efforts and try to see where they went right and how you could compete successfully with those traits. Also, look at vendors and see how they handle similar challenges, and read industry sources (trade publications, published research) to evaluate trends and successes.

After that, consider your location and how it relates to the immediate neighborhood around you. Eighty percent of a typical restaurant?s business usually comes from the residents living within a 10-minute drive of that location. Knowing this, ask yourself the following:

What can my restaurant menu offer that others in the area do not?

What menu items do we have in common?

How does our pricing match up?

Does my menu offer more variety than theirs?

Determining these factors will help guide you towards designing the right menu for your restaurant.

How should I design my menu?
There are no rights or wrongs in restaurant menu design. What works with some establishments fails at others. However, as mentioned before, your menu should be an expression of your restaurant?s personality. In designing it, think about how it will best represent your image and objectives. Are you classy and sophisticated? Fun-loving and wild? A small, plain text menu can be used to enhance a restaurant?s impression of elegance or simplicity. A thick, flashy, image-intensive menu can emphasize a location?s festive side. Once you determine your restaurant?s personality, you can easily begin crafting the look of your menu to match that.

How should I arrange items on the menu? Should I use merchandizing techniques to help?
Design your restaurant menu in a way that mimics the dining experience. Arrange items sequentially, with appetizers, salads and soups first, then entrees, then desserts. Place star items on pages that contain more visual flair than others, and set markers or photographs around featured items to further draw attention.

Merchandizing techniques will further help this agenda and create a menu by allowing you to easily spotlight specialty and signature items, introduce newer selections and invoke an appropriate sense of personality. In turn, the techniques also make these items easier for your clients to find and recognize.

What are some tips I can use to design my restaurant menu?
Place your best selling items, or those you want to have the biggest draw, on the Prime Sweet Spots of the menu. These areas refer to the spots where the average client brings his or her eyes to first -- and thus receive one?s first attention. Also, arrange your menu in columns, depending on your restaurant?s image: One column inflects a sense of sophistication and elegance; two columns brings forth a sense of playfulness, etc.

Highlight spotlight or signature items in a way that draws attention to them: Boxing selections off within your menu works well at this, as does adding colors, photographs, labels and logos.

Naming items specifically or creatively (ex. Rojo Chicken Salad), and using active descriptions of the ingredients in the dishes, makes the food sound more enticing and exotic for the client -- and may induce future visits.

What are some common mistakes in restaurant menu design?
If your menu creates problems for your clients, they will become apprehensive and less likely to return. Common mistakes include: Menu print that is too small to read easily; menus that are too big to handle easily; menus that lack English translations for non-English words or phrases; menus that look antiquated in presentation; menus without daily or weekly special insets; entrees that don?t look like their photos; generic clip art; and misalignment of brand and menu.

How should I price my menu?
Diners are savvy, and often they?ll know how your items match up value-wise against your competition. In light of this, keep your more everyday items (dishes you can find anywhere, really) approximately $1 more or less than your competition. Many customers do not perceive such increments to be significant, especially with dishes above $5, so there is some leeway there. Likewise, items unique to your restaurant can be a little higher but also should not exceed the other items excessively. Doing so will make the latter more enticing to diners, especially those who visit your establishment regularly.

Also, to get a better feel for the sense of value you are promoting, take a picture of each item on the menu in a way that mimics the actual presentation on the table. After doing so, ask yourself: Do the items look like they are worth the price you are charging? Could a change in presentation justify an increase in price? Is there consistency with the overall look or does there seem to be a wide range or inconsistency in the price versus its presentation? You?ll be amazed at what you discover when you look at the entire menu collectively through the customer?s eyes.

How often should I update my menu design? How about menu profitability?
To keep your menu fresh, relevant and profitable, you need to know how each item is performing and how it stacks up against your competition. Conduct an analysis of your menu every six to twelve months. During this evaluation, look at profitability analysis and competitive menu analysis and determine what works best and what isn?t working at all. Then make the proper adjustments so that your changes reflect your research.

Comparing your menu with that of your competitors also helps. It not only opens more doors towards pricing your menu, it offers you a solid foundation on how to measure your profits. Performing a cross analysis helps uncover strengths and weaknesses in your pricing plan, specifically in terms of the way your items are priced and presented. By doing this, you determine which items are most popular, which are most profitable, which need extra emphasis, and which need to removed or replaced.


Example of content

Table of Contents
- Business description
- Business formation
- Directors
- Management team
- Business goals/mission
- Business philosophies/identity
- Geographical markets
- Vision of the future

Executive summary
- Main objectives
- Sales summary
- Strategic positioning
- Strategic alliances
- Licenses
- Key advantages
- Funds required

- The product mix
- Sales estimates
- Analysis current product mix
- Competitive research
- Market analysis
- Marketing goals & strategies
- Pricing policy
- Advertising & promotion
- SWOT analysis

Historic analysis
- General view
- The market position
- Income statement historic
- Balance sheet historic

The organizational structure
- Management and personnel
- Administrative organization
- Contingency planning

Restaurant operations
- Restaurant identity
- Restaurant location
- Restaurant premises
- Restaurant layout

Financial plan
- The investment budget
- Statistical data (ratios)
- The return on investment
- Financial projections

Risk management
- Risk reduction
- Exit strategy

- Personal income statement
- Other

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


10 Ways to Run Your Own Advertising Campaign

Taking on your own advertising campaign is no easy task. You can do it on your own but get ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Your Marketing Plan Nothing can help you identify your goals more than your marketing plan. You learn a lot about your company, your competitors and your long-term goals by creating and following your marketing plan. This is crucial to knowing what type of advertising is best for you.
Create a Plan of Action Once you have your marketing plan, you must create a plan of action. This model shows you how freelancers and agencies put their own plan of action in place. Your plan of action also gives you crucial info you can use in executing your ad strategy.
Define Your Advertising Budget How you advertise depends on your ad budget. You need to strategically use your advertising money. If you're only allowing a small portion of money to advertising, you wouldn't want to throw it all into the production of one commercial that runs at 2 a.m. Know exactly how much you will spend on your advertising first so you can make wise decisions in the creation and placement of all ad mediums.

Hunt for Affordable Opportunities Running your own ad campaign means you have to be your own media director. You've got to find the best ad placement and the most affordable opportunities to fit into your budget. If you're limited to a very small budget, you can find many ways to bypass high advertising costs.
Know Your Target Audience You can't advertise effectively if you don't hit your target audience. Know who they are before you start creating your ads. If your company sells scooters to seniors, you don't want to invest in cable ads to run on MTV.

6 Ways to Find Out What Your Competition Is Up To

How to Gather Competitive Intelligence on Your Competitors
One fast way to hamstring your small business is to ignore your competition. While you're busy ignoring them, they may be chomping away at your market share. If you don't know what the competition is up to, you can't make the intelligent decisions that will keep the customers you have or entice new ones. But as a small business person, how can you gather the competitive intelligence you need to keep or expand your market share? Here are six ways:

1) Pay attention to their ads.

Of course you read the local newspapers, watch the news, listen to the radio, and spend time surfing for information about your industry. But when you do, don't just pay attention to the articles; "read" the ads, too. Your competitors' ads can tell you a lot about the particular audience they're trying to target and what particular products or services they're trying to promote - useful information indeed when you're planning your own promotions or advertising campaigns.
2) Visit regularly.

The best competitive intelligence is current intelligence. So if your competitors have brick-and-mortar stores, make it a point to make regular visits. Dropping by is a great way to keep your eye on what products or services are being promoted, check on prices, and even get display ideas.
Does your competition have a website? Visit it regularly, too. Websites can be particularly rich mines of information, telling you more about your competition’s plans, marketing strategy and even the company's personnel than you could ever find out in a single visit to their physical plant. For more on gathering competitive intelligence through competitors’ websites, read watch 'Em Through Their Websit.

3) Ask your business colleagues.

The next time you're with your networking group or socializing with some business colleagues, ask some of them individually what they know about your competitors by name. You may say, for instance, "Have you heard of J.B.'s Big Business?" Or if you know the person is aware the business exists, you might say, "Hear anything about J.B.'s Big Business lately?" Keeping your ear to the ground this way might net you some advance knowledge of your competitor's plans, such as a coming sale, a personnel change or even a wish to sell the business.

4) Ask their customers/clients.

This doesn't mean you should hang out outside their store buttonholing people when they come out. But some of their customers/clients may be your customers/clients. Or you may encounter some of their customers/clients in social situations. It's easy enough to ask someone if he or she has ever dealt with your competitors. If a person says he has, ask what he thought of the service he got or the work the competitor did. What your competition's customers tell you might be something your business could improve on or give you an idea you could adopt.
Don't be afraid to delve; remember, you're looking for information that you can use. If someone says, "The service was great", that doesn’t tell you anything except that he liked it. Dig deeper by asking a question such as, "What did you especially like about the service?" or "What do you think they did especially well?"

5) Be a customer.

It surprises me that more people don't do this as it's such a great way to keep on top of whatever new products and/or services your competition comes up with and find out just how your competitor's customers are treated. If I'm selling coffee and someone else is selling coffee at the other end of the street, wouldn't it make sense for me to go over and have a cup of coffee? Besides being able to compare things such as price, products and customer service on the spot, I might even gather some great tips about how the other guy does things that could improve my own operations.

6) Sign up.

Your competitor's business may offer customers some sort of membership or customer loyalty program. Membership usually includes being notified of sales or events by mail or email. Don't pass up this opportunity to keep up with what your competitor is offering her customers. Also sign up for your competition’s newsletter, if there is one. It's another super easy way to gather competitive intelligence.
When it comes to your competition, the more you know about what they're doing now and what they're planning to do in the future, the better decisions you'll be able to make about your own small business. Gathering competitive intelligence on your competitors needs to become one of your regular habits.

More on Competitive Intelligence

8 Rules for Good Customer Service

Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, your business won’t be profitable for long.
Good customer service is all about bringing customers back. And about sending them away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then try the product or service you offer for themselves and in their turn become repeat customers.
If you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach to customer service that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else. The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a relationship that that individual customer feels that he would like to pursue.
How do you go about forming such a relationship? By remembering the one true secret of good customer service and acting accordingly; “You will be judged by what you do, not what you say.”
I know this verges on the kind of statement that’s often seen on a sampler, but providing good customer service IS a simple thing. If you truly want to have good customer service, all you have to do is ensure that your business consistently does these things:

1) Answer your phone.
Get call forwarding. Or an answering service. Hire staff if you need to. But make sure that someone is picking up the phone when someone calls your business. (Notice I say “someone”. People who call want to talk to a live person, not a “fake recorded robot”.) For more on answering the phone, see Phone Answering Tips to Win Business.

2) Don’t make promises unless you WILL keep them.
Not plan to keep them. Will keep them. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. If you say, “Your new bedroom furniture will be delivered on Tuesday”, make sure it is delivered on Tuesday. Otherwise, don’t say it. The same rule applies to client appointments, deadlines, etc.. Think before you give any promise – because nothing annoys customers more than a broken one.

3) Listen to your customers.
Is there anything more exasperating than telling someone what you want or what your problem is and then discovering that that person hasn’t been paying attention and needs to have it explained again? From a customer’s point of view, I doubt it. Can the sales pitches and the product babble. Let your customer talk and show him that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, such as suggesting how to solve the problem.

4) Deal with complaints.
No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time”. Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time - and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service.

5) Be helpful - even if there’s no immediate profit in it.
The other day I popped into a local watch shop because I had lost the small piece that clips the pieces of my watch band together. When I explained the problem, the proprietor said that he thought he might have one lying around. He found it, attached it to my watch band – and charged me nothing! Where do you think I’ll go when I need a new watch band or even a new watch? And how many people do you think I’ve told this story to?

6) ) Train your staff (if you have any) to be ALWAYS helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable.
Do it yourself or hire someone to train them. Talk to them about good customer service and what it is (and isn’t) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so he never has to say, “I don’t know, but so-and-so will be back at...”

7) Take the extra step.
For instance, if someone walks into your store and asks you to help them find something, don’t just say, “It’s in Aisle 3.” Lead the customer to the item. Better yet, wait and see if he has questions about it, or further needs. Whatever the extra step may be, if you want to provide good customer service, take it. They may not say so to you, but people notice when people make an extra effort and will tell other people.

8) Throw in something extra.
Whether it’s a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a genuine smile, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And don’t think that a gesture has to be large to be effective. The local art framer that we use attaches a package of picture hangers to every picture he frames. A small thing, but so appreciated.
If you apply these eight simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its good customer service. And the best part? The irony of good customer service is that over time it will bring in more new customers than promotions and price slashing ever did!

How to Deal With Drunk Customers

If you are planning on serving liquor at your new restaurant, than you should be familiar with all the laws and responsibilities that come with it. While liquor laws vary from state to state, in most cases if a person is involved in an accident while drunk you, as the owner of the establishment that served them, may be held liable as well.
The best way to avoid any potential lawsuits stemming from drunkenness is to not serve a customer who appears inebriated. Of course, some people can hold their liquor very well, and your staff may not realize the patron is drunk until it is too late. If you are faced with a customer who has had too much to drink, here are some tips for handling them:
• STOP serving them immediately. If the customer has wandered in from another bar or restaurant, you can refuse to serve them. They may claim you’re acting illegal, but your not. You are acting responsible. • Offer the customer some coffee and some food, as an alternative to a drink. • Call a cab or another ride home for the customer. Do not let them drive! • If a customer becomes belligerent or angry, escort them outside of the restaurant and call the police, who can look after the customer, until he or she is safe and sober.
TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) is a program that teaches restaurant staff about the responsible sale of alcohol. It gives advice on how to identify if someone has had too much to drink, and how to deal with them effectively. Visit the TIPS website for more information training your staff.

Guide to Restaurant Catering
Everything a restaurant needs to start their a catering business
Catering lets you bring your food to the customer, outside of your restaurant.
Longtime readers know that I am a firm believer in restaurant catering. Not only do restaurants have a built in catering clientele in their customer base, they have all the resources – food, equipment, staff- for catering potential big and small events. Restaurant catering offers you a chance to increase both your sales and your customer base. People already love your food, so why not capitalize on that and offer catering services as well? To help readers get started, I’ve put together a quick guide to restaurant catering. I’ve also added information garnered from the Guide to Event Planning, Rob Hard.
Four Rules of Successful Catering
There are four basic rules every restaurant should follow when offering catering services. They include:
• Organization• Headcount• Time limits• Minimum number of guests
Day-to-day operations of any restaurant require a tremendous amount of organizational skill. So does catering. You prepare and serve a large number of meals at one time, and orchestrate other aspects of the function, such as pouring champagne toasts, cake cutting and serving and overseeing the bar. Requiring a final headcount, setting firm time limits and requiring a minimum number of guests will ensure that you are making a profit on each catering job.
Basics of Restaurant Catering
The basics of restaurant catering include a breakdown of what equipment is needed to cater both large and small parties, how much staff is needed, the types of parties that restaurants typically cater as well as how to go about writing and planning catering menus. Both on-premise and off-premise catering has become increasingly common for many restaurants. Restaurants with private dining rooms and banquet facilities can increase sales by catering private parties and large functions such as weddings, holiday parties and business conferences. Off premise catering is another area of the restaurant industry that continues to grow.

10 Differences between Advertising and Public Relations

If you're searching for a career or trying to promote your company, you may have questions about advertising vs. public relations. These two industries are very different even though they're commonly confused as being one and the same. The following ten properties just scratch the surface of the many differences between advertising and public relations.

1. Paid Space or Free Coverage
Advertising: The Company pays for ad space. You know exactly when that ad will air or be published.
Public Relations:Your job is to get free publicity for the company. From news conferences to press releases, you're focused on getting free media exposure for the company and its products/services.

2. Creative Control Vs. No Control
Advertising: Since you're paying for the space, you have creative control on what goes into that ad.
Public Relations:You have no control over how the media presents your information, if they decide to use your info at all. They're not obligated to cover your event or publish your press release just because you sent something to them.

3. Shelf Life
Advertising: Since you pay for the space, you can run your ads over and over for as long as your budget allows. An ad generally has a longer shelf life than one press release.
Public Relations:You only submit a press release about a new product once. You only submit a press release about a news conference once. The PR exposure you receive is only circulated once. An editor won't publish your same press release three or four times in their magazine.

4. Wise Consumers
Advertising: Consumers know when they're reading an advertisement they're trying to be sold a product or service.
"The consumer understands that we have paid to present our selling message to him or her, and unfortunately, the consumer often views our selling message very guardedly," Paul Flowers, president of Dallas-based Flowers & Partners, Inc., said. "After all, they know we are trying to sell them."
Public Relations:When someone reads a third-party article written about your product or views coverage of your event on TV, they're seeing something you didn't pay for with ad dollars and view it differently than they do paid advertising.
"Where we can generate some sort of third-party 'endorsement' by independent media sources, we can create great credibility for our clients' products or services," Flowers said.

5. Creativity or a Nose for News
Advertising: In advertising, you get to exercise your creativity in creating new ad campaigns and materials.
Public Relations:In public relations, you have to have a nose for news and be able to generate buzz through that news. You exercise your creativity, to an extent, in the way you search for new news to release to the media.
Customer Service
Customer service is an organization's ability to supply their customers' wants and needs.
Customers and business managers alike like to talk about what good customer service is (and isn't), but I think this definition by ACA Group sums up what excellent customer service is beautifully: "excellent customer service (is) the ability of an organization to constantly and consistently exceed the customer's expectations."
Accepting this definition means expanding our thinking about customer service; if we're going to consistently exceed customers' expectations, we have to recognize that every aspect of our business has an impact on customer service, not just those aspects of our business that involve face-to-face customer contact.
Improving customer service involves making a commitment to learning what our customers' needs and wants are, and developing action plans that implement customer friendly processes.
Common Misspellings: Customer service.
Examples: Providing excellent customer service is one way a small business can distinguish itself from the competition.

Top Considerations When Choosing Restaurant Venues

Event planners organize a range of special events throughout the year in the private rooms of restaurants. Whether it's a business seminar to announce the latest product updates or a rehearsal dinner for the big social event, restaurants are a popular choice.
However, it's important for planners to make sure they are choosing the best venue for their event. Consider the following before signing any agreements.

1. Conduct a Site Visit.
It is highly recommended that everyone conduct a site visit of all venues under consideration for a special event or meeting. When the catering manager provides you with a tour, please keep a close eye out for each of the following:
Estimate that the room layout can comfortably accommodate your group.
Consider the ventilation system's ability to maintain a smoke-free environment.
Identify the proximity of restrooms and their ability to handle the group size.
Ask when the carpets were last updated and look for signs of wear.
Ask about other events that are scheduled concurrently.
Check out the additional suggestions listed on #6 below.

2. Meet the Chef.
Depending on the event, it is important to have a chance to taste test the menu when meeting with the catering manager during a site visit. And frequently the executive chef will join you during various courses or at the end of your meal to discuss your preferences. Many chefs enjoy customizing their menu to an event's specific needs, such as incorporating corporate colors or addressing menu preferences.
When meeting with the catering manager, ask questions about the establishment's executive chef and pastry chef for your program. The chef plays an extremely important role in the success of your event, so go so far as to request that he or she be responsible for the program in the event contract itself.

3. Ask About Staff Turnover.
It is common for restaurant management and staff to have a high rate of change, so there’s a significant chance that someone who you speak with today may not be around to execute your program in six months.
Although it’s impossible to guarantee that the same team who you meet will be around for your event, ask about the length of time that employees and managers have been in place. And, just because you had a great program there this year, don’t assume the same staff will be around next year.

4. Investigate Health Inspection Reports.
Contact the city's department of health and find out if they post food inspection reports online. Many cities provide you with the ability to search restaurant names directly online; others provide limited information online. Regardless, feel free to contact the city's department of health and ask for food inspection report information about any restaurant of venue under consideration. This is considered public information.
For example, the following cities publish the inspection reports of restaurant and other venues for public access (consider investigating the restaurant in these and other locations):

5. Ask for References and Call Them.
Groups usually like to host events at new venues to vary the locations of where they are hosting their attendees. That means many planners frequently schedule events at restaurants and other venues for the first time.
Even if a restaurant has a reputation for being trendy today, that doesn’t mean they could be the best location for a specific event. Newer restaurants often don’t have the experience at handling a range of programs and events, so their management and staff could spend their time learning on your dime.
However, event planners should also be cautious about scheduling events at a venue that has been around for many years but hasn’t refreshed their facilities and/or menu.

6. Arrive Unannounced and Check All Facilities.
After a site visit is concluded, but prior to contracting any facility, spontaneously arrive and check out all facilities. Consider the suggestions listed in item #1 above. If possible, sneak a peak into the room under consideration – especially if another group is there – and consider the following:
Listen for noise levels and acoustics.
Scan the room for setup and flow.
Look at the condition and cleanliness of the floors.
Observe the staff in action, especially their personalities.
Step into both men’s and women’s restrooms and check how well the stalls, sinks, garbage, mirror, soap and other supplies have been maintained.

7. Pull Credit Reports.
Regardless of the actual statistic, it is generally accepted knowledge that many restaurants fail within their first three years, and cash flow is frequently tight in some establishments.
The best method to avoid these risks is by having your procurement or accounting department run credit reports on the venues under consideration. The information found during this process may help caution your decisions.


Good Customer Service Means Losing the Battle
Watch Your Customer Service When Dealing With Customer Complaints
Dealing with customer complaints, problems and issues is a fact of life when you sell a product or service. And every person in sales has certain customers who are more challenging to deal with. Some customer service situations start as minor difficulties but quickly escalate into huge drawn-out battles. Unfortunately, many sales people unknowingly cause customer complaint situations to escalate. Here is what I mean.
My wife overhead a conversation in a local grocery that escalated into a customer service disaster even though the customer's original concern was well-handled and properly taken care of. From what my wife could gather, the customer had bought some fruit (seven plums) that were not to her satisfaction. She wanted to exchange them and the 'customer service' person told her to get the replacement plum and verify them her with before leaving the store. The customer did so. End of story. Problem solved. Quickly, easily and without hassle.
Well, not quite.

Don't Make Customer Complaints Escalate
You see, as the store employee bagged the new plums she said a condescending tone, "You know, we normally charge for the difference in price. So you're lucky today." I guess she was assuming that the weight of the customer's new plums weighed more than the returned ones or perhaps the price had increased since the original purchase.
As you can well imagine, this did not go over well with the customer. She immediately exploded, "I should be happy? You should be paying me for my time and trouble and be happy that I'm not shopping at your competition. In fact, based on your tone with me, I will go to your competitor." And she stormed out of the store.
It was obvious to my wife that the customer service person made an unnecessary comment. The interesting thing is that this occurs more frequently than people think. When dealing with customer complaints, too many sales people feel that they have to point out a customer's mistake or get in the last word to show the customer how much effort went into solving the problem. But your customer doesn't care about that!
If the problem was caused by you, someone in the company, or a defective product, it was your fault! And if the situation is your fault then you owe it your customer to solve it quickly and without hassle. They don't need to know why the problem occurred or how difficult it may be to resolve. They just want a solution. And if your customer service doesn't give the customer what he wants, he’ll go elsewhere.
Poor Customer Service Hurts Your Bottom Line
For instance, my wife and I used to buy two to four cappuccinos per day from a well-known coffee chain and the barista frequently added too much milk for our liking. When we questioned how the coffee was made we usually got a response like this; "Oh, it's made properly, you just want a dry cappuccino." No, we didn't because a dry cappuccino does not have enough milk. Because of the hassle, we invested in a cappuccino machine and now make our own.
From time-to-time, I get calls and emails from people who order my audio CD's. While I take great pains to ensure high quality, sometimes the sound quality is less than perfect or the CD simply does not play. When someone contacts my office, we do not challenge them or ask them twenty questions before we issue a replacement. We send out a new item that day.
This may sound like a simple concept to apply when you're trying to provide good customer service. However, the challenge is your ego. Most people feel the pressing need to get in the last word. They want to make it clear to the other person where that individual went wrong because it helps them feel less taken advantage of. Many sales people have large egos. After all, this helps deal with the rejection and challenging customers.
However, it is critical to recognize that customer complaint situations are not about you. They are about helping one of your customers get what they want and resolving their problems.
Behaving in a manner similar to one described above may make you feel better and lessen the pain of dealing with a challenging customer. But let's look at the financial impact for a moment. The comment from the baristas at the coffee chain caused us to buy our own machine which represents a financial loss of fifteen to twenty dollars per day for that particular coffee store. That's $5400-$7300 in lost revenue every year for that store!

The Last Word on Customer Service
Here is the bottom line when it comes to customer service. Getting in your last words may help you win the battle. However, even if you do win the battle, there is a good chance you will lose the war. That means your customer will find a reason to jump ship and shift their business to one of your competitors. Are a few last words that make you feel better worth that loss?

Is There a Right Time to Open a Restaurant?

Just as there are certainly bad time to open a restaurant – Christmas Eve, the middle of a recession and the first day of the World Cup spring to mind – so there are particularly good times.
Although essentially you will need to accept that whenever you choose to open your own restaurant there will be something that conspires to make things a little bit tricky for you, you can try to aim to open your restaurant business at the best possible time with a little forethought and some strategic hospitality research.

Spring and Autumn
Spring and autumn are good times to open a restaurant as they give you a little breathing space before the next major event – summer and Christmas. You do not want to start a business in the restaurant trade at these times because any issues can be far worse at a busy period. By opening your restaurant in spring or autumn you can deal with any teething problems before you are at your busiest, so you will not forfeit great chunks of much needed profit.

Local Boom Time
By concentrating some of your hospitality research on understanding when your target area (or perhaps why you choose a particular target area) is going to be enjoying an especially up beat time. Perhaps your local region is going to be featured in a magazine, or a celebrity chef has opened a restaurant there. Whatever is going on locally, make sure you know about it and make it work to your advantage.

No Family Worries
Of course, when you have a family there is never really a time without any worries at all, but some times are certainly less fraught than others. Do not choose to open a restaurant when a close family member is seriously ill or when your wife is about to give birth to your first child. Any family issues that you are aware of should be taken into account, although you cannot plan for every eventuality.

No Money Worries
Again, that golden time when you have plenty of money and plenty of time to enjoy it is not all that likely, the best we can hope for is to grab the good times as they come along. However, starting a restaurant business will take up a large amount of your ready cash, so try to plan it around children starting at university or your daughters wedding.

Buoyant Economy
Rather like the ‘local boom time’ option, think about the current economic climate when you research restaurant trends. Are people tightening their purse strings because less good times are predicted, or are people able to enjoy a little more disposable income at the moment?
Either way, a restaurant can still be a positive business venture as long as you take social issues into account. Maybe people still want a blow-out for their birthday, or are keen to treat themselves with a decent pizza every now and then – as long as you are in tune with the economic climate you can tailor your marketing to suit.
Should Server’s be required to Tip Out General Management?
Thursday April 23, 2009
I was recently talking with a good friend who waits tables part time. She was venting because the wait staff at the restaurant where she works is required to tip out the general manager. The GM often works the bar, so he is already making tips from the bar customers. While my friend has no problems tipping out staff who helps her, like bartenders, hosts, and bussers, she did not feel it was fair for a salaried worker to take tips, especially when wait staff in Maine make less than $4.00 an hour. What do you think? Should the wait staff have to tip out general management, who are on salary? Share your thoughts at the Restauranting Forum.

April 23, 2009 at 8:09 pm
(1) gina says:

NO, I don’t think management should get tipped out. I am in the same position working for a University Pub. The management staff should not get tipped out because they make more money than we do and they are getting tips from the patrons if they are also working the bar. They are essentially taking the bar tender job away from a bartender. The manager should not accept tip outs, especially from servers, we already tip out the kitchen 4% of food sales and I have NO problem tipping out the bartender if they are in my same position, but management, No way! If management wants to be tipped out for bartending they should apply for a bartending job.

April 24, 2009 at 4:17 pm
(2) Bobby Fitzgerald says:

I have operated in eight states plus D.C. and in every one of those places that is illegal. A quick check with the states restaurant association will confirm.

April 28, 2009 at 10:28 pm
(3) Springs1 says:

“The GM often works the bar”
Since you said that, what the “GM” makes is MEANINGLESS to what’s FAIR. If the general manager is doing the bartender’s job, he’s (assuming this is a man) the bartender, so OF COURSE it’s fair.
It’s unfair that you look at the “SAME JOB” that is being done by the GM as to what he gets paid per hour. That doesn’t matter.
It’s kind of like at Starbuck’s, where you see tipping going on. Do you see a tip jar with money when you go in(if you do)? Do people care what these people make per hour (which over here about 4 yrs ago, it was $6.50/hr plus tips)?
Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you get paid per hour. It only matters if the SAME JOB is being done.
I worked at a donut shop about 10yrs ago. We had to split tips evenly with the other counter person or others (on the weekend I’d work with more people). Sometimes, the counter worker didn’t show up, so sometimes my boss or one of the kitchen staff workers worked the counter with me. I split the tips with my boss or the kitchen staff lady when they worked with me. It’s only fair. They did the SAME JOB, WHY NOT GET THE SAME PAY? They were serving customers, why shouldn’t they have been entitled to the tips since they WERE ACTUALLY HELPING SERVING THEM?
It doesn’t matter what you get paid.
gina“The manager should not accept tip outs, especially from servers, we already tip out the kitchen 4% of food sales and I have NO problem tipping out the bartender if they are in my same position, but management, No way!”
That’s because you are SELFISH!!! The manager should receive tip outs if they are doing the same exact job as the bartender. It’s only fair. They ARE a BARTENDER if they are serving customers, therefore, they should be treated the same exact way as a bartender. If you were a manager, wouldn’t YOU want more money if you could have it? Be honest now?
It’s only fair they get tipped out if they do the same job. Now, if they are just being a manager, NO WAY it would be fair. I am talking about that in this situation, the **MANAGER WORKS THE BAR***. If the manager works, the bartender, HE IS THE BARTENDER!! Same rules should apply for ANY bartender regardless of if he’s normally just the manager. It’s only fair. It’s unfair for him not to receive tip outs, because HE IS THE BARTENDER in this situation.
I had to share my tips with my boss at the donut shop. Did I care what he made per hour? He was doing the same job that my co-worker that wasn’t there would have done, therefore, the situation should be treated the same exact way to be FAIR. I shared my tips with the lady in the kitchen when she’d have to work the counter with me when workers didn’t show up or it got so busy that we needed her help.
What’s fair is fair and what isn’t, isn’t. You are selfish to say that the manager shouldn’t get tipped out just because he’s a manager. He wasn’t just being a manager. He was working the bar, therefore, should be treated as if he worked the bar. Now, if he only worked the bar an hour of the shift, the only an hour of the shift should he get tipped out of the sales for that hour. If he worked the entire shift as the bartender, then his tip out should be based on the entire shift. It’s only fair and none of this should be based on what someone makes an hour.
Pros and Cons of Buying Used Restaurant Equipment
One of the biggest expenses of opening a new restaurant is buying equipment. A $100,000 loan might seem like a lot of money when you are first getting ready to open, but too quickly it can run out. Stoves, ranges, grills and coolers all represent thousands of dollars spent. In addition, much like a new car, these items depreciate the minute they leave the showroom. When you begin shopping around for restaurant equipment, you will soon find out how expensive new pieces are. Selecting gently worn second-hand equipment can save you a lot of money. However, used restaurant equipment does present a few liabilities. Read on for the pros and cons of buying used.
Pros of Buying Used Restaurant Equipment
Moolah. Buying used equipment will save you precious start up cash that you can put toward your first food order, payroll, or insurances. • Due to the high failure of new restaurants (not yours, of course) many second hand pieces of equipment have only been in service for a year or two. If you go to a restaurant auction, do your homework and find out how long the place was open. Examine the appliances, looking for tell tale signs of wear and tear like rust, missing parts, ect. If you are really lucky, you can still get the warranty with a piece that is not too old.• Haggling. Dealers of used restaurant equipment are often open to price negotiations. If you are good at haggling then don’t be afraid to counter their offer. • Freebies. If you are buying several pieces of used equipment from the same vendor, ask for a freebie, such as prep table, a mixer or toaster. They may throw it in as a sign of goodwill.
Cons of Buying Used Restaurant Equipment
Warranties or lack thereof. Used restaurant equipment is usually sold “as is.” Meaning, if you hook it up at the restaurant and it doesn’t work, you’re out of luck. This is the gamble you take when buying used. The good news is that many pieces of restaurant equipment are nearly indestructible. If one small part goes, it is easy to replace. • Spending more money. If you do buy used equipment that breaks, then you may end up spending more money than if you had just bought it new. However, certain items are better suited to buy used, and have a better chance of working properly for a long time to come.
The following items are all good candidates for buying used:
Gas Ranges and Ovens – Gas ranges have a pretty long life span as far as restaurant equipment goes. If it is missing some knobs don’t fret, they are easily replaced. Electric models are not well suited for restaurants, because of the long time they take to heat up, and they have lots of bits and pieces just waiting to break.
Fryers- Ditto for fryers. Gas is better than electric. You just want to make sure the fryer is calibrated and get the instructions on how to change the oil.
Tableware- Salt and peppershakers, centerpiece vases, dishes, glasses and such can all be purchased second hand with confidence. The only problem you will face is finding pieces that fit with your restaurant d├ęcor.

Friday, July 17, 2009



A business plan is described as a thorough research and analysis of what one intends doing in the market that comprises customers and competitors. Thus, an entrepreneur needs a business plan in order to know the in depth of his business, ranging from sales, financials, market surveys and others.

Restaurant business plan helps the prospective entrepreneur who wants to go into the restaurant business to bring his ideas and concepts on sheets. This helps the restaurateur to express his conscience and passion for the business.

The main purpose why every prospective entrepreneur should draft a business plan is to;
v Call for investors (banks, suppliers and private individuals) to look at your ideas and provide their support.
v To know your market as well as your competitors.
A good restaurant business plan should consist of

This portion of the plan describes all sections of the business briefly. It thus outline the ideas, concepts and passion you for the restaurant. It talks about the general overview of the business, business name, address and phone number, brief description of managerial and key people.

Investors and others are interested in how you wish to run your business. Therefore, be specific about your vision and missions, your objective and future of the industry should clearly be stated.

This section of your plan explains whether the economic situation at the time of establishment will support your ideas and concepts. The inflation rate of the country of establishment should be stated as well as the contributions of the food and non-food groups to inflation. This will help you analyse and best suit yourself in this saturated industry. The population of the country as well as that percentage who are in your area of interest. This research will help you know the number of people to target as a business oriented being.

This part of the plan outline how you want your business to be. By this, the restaurateur need not to forget the current state of the restaurant industry since it will serve as a foundation for building up. The category you want to fit and suit yourself – thus, is your restaurant a local or continental that makes you odd from your rivals. Identify your major customer groups, barriers to entry and the life cycle of your restaurant (start-up, growth, decline).

This section of the plan describes how you want to place yourself in the market. Know your pricing policies, promotion strategies and others that contribute to your restaurant’s success. Know who your potential competitors are, their pricing policies strength and weakness which will give you an opportunity to capture them quickly. Do proper marketing analysis by knowing how much your sales will be, the advertising policies to be implemented, the distribution channels etc.

You must have a detailed plan of how you will operate the restaurant in a continuous manner. Include in this section your products and services, what benefits customers and consumers of your product and service should expect, measures or what makes you unique from your rivals. Talk about your suppliers and people you think can provide you the needed materials for your daily operations. Tell them about your brand options.

This portion should describe your management team and other key people whose quota contribution towards your industry will best fit your success. Insert in this section your organizational structure by making customers your major focus since without them you do not exist. Make sure to add to this section, the background of your team members, their fields of experience, skills and capabilities. This will make investors eager to invest in your business since without good management team, your restaurant cannot run profitably.

The restaurant’s plan should read to the minds of potential investors how the funds being requested for will be allocated and distributed to their various sections. Be specific about the amount needed and its use for pre-opening since its first existence. The cost of opening a restaurant will be low or high depending on the class you want your restaurant to be, it is therefore necessary to including costs such as labor, sales and marketing, menu design, public relations and other developments to be initiated.

The he financial estimate of tour restaurants business plan should consist of cash flow statement which will tell the investors about the inflows and outflow of cash, profit and loss statements showing whether your operation will yield a profit, a balance sheet showing the amount of capital to be carried forward to the following year. Include your mode of financing the restaurant either through debt or equity and the schedule for payment.

This section outline when you want your plan take effect and the time you will like to bring the business to customer view.

Should you serve great food before your restaurant will be successful?
Obviously you are contemplating on whether to serve fabulous meal or marginal meal. It is good to serve great food but remember that will not earn you much hence the success of your restaurant does not depend largely on just great food. You can check for yourself those restaurants, spots and others that are serving great food aren’t very lousy. To be successful offer products and services that best suits your customers and their ability to buy..

Is it true that spending on advertising makes a profitable venture?
This is something that is running through the minds of many restaurateurs. They are confused as to whether make costly adverts or minimize it. Yes if you are not careful you will run into the hands of these salespeople who are now in abundance and reinforcing this to restaurant owners. These people from TV, Radio, Coupons Newspapers, Advertising people as well as website developers will run to your door steps when you open your new restaurant. Do not think that your competitors are doing so and it therefore affords you the privilege to do so. If you do this in business, you will fail. Never respect the saying in business that ”JUST BECAUSE” its what everyone is doing, you will fail. There are several ways you can run your own advert that can lead you to successful venture which is cost effective.

Will word of mouth advertising make your restaurant profitable and successful?
It is however stated above that, do not spend too much on advertising but it doesn’t necessarily mean that one will not spend on advertising. Many restaurateurs believe in this myth. You don’t have to depend solely on your one to one advert alone since the days of old are gone. In this global economy, busy customers will not have time waiting to listen to your word and as such will cause you to close down your restaurant since it will not be profitable. Anticipating that your restaurant will be profitable just by word of mouth isn’t productive. It’s a passive way to run a restaurant. Relying on word of mouth advertising to build your business is the kiss of death. It’s a great way to increase business overtime, but it isn’t something to base your restaurant’s business plan and success on.

Must one acquire a different skills and capabilities to be a successful restaurateur? If you are great with people, a great chef, a real motivator, good at accounting and a hard worker, you have an advantage. But the truth is that even if you have none of those skills or attributes, you can still be an extremely successful restaurateur. One thing in this word I will always not forget is the addict that two heads are better that one. Let face the fact, there are people you can hire to do almost everything in your restaurant. You can even find someone who can do things better than yourself. Your competitors will make you believe you don’t have much skills to be successful.

Is opening a restaurant costly?
There are many ways to open with no or very little money.