8 minimalist steps to a thriving F&B Business

Efficiency. Defined as 'minimum input, maximum output'. A restaurant business is a living organism, and every operator wants it to run as smoothly as possible. So that he does not have to work. So it does not become work. Though the hours are long, the rewards go beyond the tangible, and dare I say it, the passion will keep anyone going. Like anyone coping, we look for ways to make things simple, to reduce the stress. Have you ever looked into the word stress? Do you know why you use such a word. By my understanding, stress is a natural reaction to something that is unexpected. Unexpected. The key word here is unexpected. Whether good or bad, when you expect it, you are less stressed. So why be stressed when you expected it? It's just a cop-out because most people in the industry are not deliberate in their actions. I digress. 

It would be great if we have a restaurant template that we can set up out of the box. But then again, that would make every restaurant all the same. And that would not be good. I saw this printed on a shirt once: 'You laugh because I am different. I laugh because you are all the same'. Can this apply to the restaurant business? I believe so, considering the amount of copycats here in Manila. How many fried wonton places do we need? Apparently it's not enough. And the trend for burgers has not spared the metropolis. 

The following are what I think would make the restuarant operators' life a little easier, allowing them to kick back with a cold one and watch the world go by. Some are classic, obvious and boils down to common sense. Which one can you use? 

Set a clear goal - a goal that is not even remotely ambiguous. Follow the SMART philosophy: The goal has to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable or Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-based or Trackable. This allows you to focus on what is truly important, getting rid of other distractions.

Build relationships and watch cash flow - Avoid getting sidetracked by anything else. The restaurant business is a very personal business. Relationships are the lifeblood. Relationship building of course involves talking to guests, customers, employees, vendors, associates and investors and getting feedback. Monitor your sales. Tweak your marketing promotions. Nothing else matters.

Give your strongest, your best guarantee - Be confident in your product. Give the best. Don't worry about being taken advantage of. Most guests are honest, since they come to you for a great time, not for a fast buck. The unscrupulous ones populate the minority, hardly worth the effort. If you can't provide a guarantee, then you are admitting there is something wrong with what you are offering. Strive to that level where you can be sure of what you are doing.

Opportunity knocks - Chase them down. Look for opportunities. Create opportunities. Create the opportunity to get good ratings by giving something extra. Look for a thousand and one ways to reinvent your restaurant and make it better. This industry is so dynamic that a lot are not able to catch up, eventually going through a slow agonizing death. If you need to cancel and opportunity, cancel. You don't need the clutter.

It's people power - Your restaurant is driven by people, by their personalities. They are what make the restaurant, no matter how tehnologically advanced your kitchen is or how many millions is spent on the decor. But choose your people wisely. Be deliberate on who works for you, who supplies the salmon, who does your books, who comes and cleans the crud from the grease trap. Be precise in your requirements.  This way you will never have too much staff, too many freeloaders, too many crooks under your wing. Because you put them there deliberately, so you would not have to worry day in day out.

Be a match maker - Offer the right product to the right people. Match the right service to loyal guests and potential walk-ins. The crative use of upselling and cross selling can really make a difference. And you guests will walk away lightyears ahead of just being satisfied. 

Just look at two KPIs - Key Performance Indexes in a fancy way of measuring on how well you are doing. If you are juggling several figures at any given time, you are definitely going to experience burn out. And the two that can let you sleep after each service? The day's revenue and guest feedback. Other's are summarized in your monthly statement. These two are the only ones you look at each day, that act on each day. And it just takes 15 minutes.

Subscribe to the Five Levels of Service - It's about people thinking about taking care of people. It is what differentiates on restaurant to another. It goes against celebrating mediocrity. The five is a straightforward way of assessing what you are doing now, and where you should be. Ask yourself what would it take to get to the 'Trademark' level.


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