Control Costs and Increase Profits In Your Restaurant

Start Planning for 2013 NOW If You Haven’t Already….

 

cutting costs in your restaurant

The end of the year approaches and what a year it has been!! The economy is still in the dumps, although there has been some rebound in some parts of the country, most restaurants and food establishments are still not back to where they were a few years ago.

With the end of the year close it is now time to start planning for next year, in fact if you have not already done so, you should start now and I do mean now!!

Forget what has been and start to visualize how you are going to grow your sales and cut your costs for the coming twelve months. It is a new start and hopefully you will get a kick over the holiday period to help you put away a bit of money for promoting your business.

What do you plan for? Let’s assume you have done a complete budget for next year. Sales, costs, maintenance, recruitment, etc, etc. Now comes the planning for how you will achieve the sales and costs budgeted.  We all know that the two ways to ensure your business is healthy financially is to…. Grow Your Sales and Control Your Costs.

Sales growth comes from service and product excellence as well as marketing your business to keep existing customers and gain new ones. Sounds pretty simple but we all know that it is not. Trying to find time to run your business, worry about staffing issues and all the 1001 things that it takes to keep the doors open all fill your day from start to a very weary finish.

I suggest you take the time away from your restaurant business, even if it is one day to spend planning your strategy on saving costs and growing your business. Get someone to cover for you. If you have never let anyone look after your business before, then it is about time you started!! Sometimes it is necessary to spend time working for your business rather than in the business.

Decide on three major projects that will help you achieve these goals for the first half of the year, one long term or ongoing, one medium term and one short term. Plan to start them all by the end of January and ensure they are monitored to gauge their effectiveness. The sales growth part should start with the next six months of LSM campaigns and the budget for each. The cost control part is dependent on your circumstances but I would strongly suggest weekly stock takes and cost percentage reviews as a priority if you are not already doing so.

Still a bit lost as to what to plan and how to go about it?

I can help! I have just completed a guide “50 Ways to Control Costs and Increase Profit” and it is currently available for Kindle. Click Here to get your  Kindle copy.

In the next 10 days the book will be available for PDF download from this website with some very interesting and helpful bonuses such as:

  • A free copy of my LSM ebook
  • A Cost Control Worksheet to help you track your savings
  • An Excel worksheet Break Even Analysis
  • 50 Ways to Control Costs workbook to help you plan which of these great ideas you are going to implement

Both of these guides and the additional tools are perfect for planning the year ahead and assisting you in making the profit you deserve.

Good planning and a Happy Holidays!

Rod Smith

Product Sampling in Your Restaurant

Product Sampling

The next subject on my list of Local Store Marketing ideas is product sampling.

What is product sampling? Giving away small portions of your menu items as a taste test to new or existing customers in the hope of either promoting trial of your restaurant or enticing existing customers to use you more often.

Sampling to existing customers, dependant on your concept usually means:

1. Adding a small plate of samples either at point of purchase or point of payment for coffee shops and other establishments that require the customer to order or pay at the counter
2. Delivering a trial sized plate to the customer at the table while they are deciding their order
3. Giving the samples after the meal at the table.
4. Sampling outside of your establishment. Normally at the edge of your lease line or close enough to control usage and your team.
5. Any other means to bring your product to people as a trial.

What should you sample? Anything that will retain its quality when not served in the usual manner and will still have eye appeal when served in small portions.

Here are a few sampling ideas that I have seen work in the past:

• New menus or significant changes to a current menu can be stressful, so prior to releasing it try a sample plate on your regular customers and get their feedback. It not only helps you to test your ideas and weed out some of those mistakes we all make, it makes your customers feel special.

• Bakeries or any business that sells pastries, cakes etc., can easily cut a pastry into small pieces, arrange on a doily and plate, stick a toothpick in the piece and have a team member go for a walk. Make sure that the team member is well trained on the product, pricing and ingredients.

• Coffee shops can buy sample sized paper cups and give out these to existing customers with new products or specials or as in the bakery scenario have a team member go for a walk.

• In one very large coffee concept who uses the sampling method on a regular basis, they were dumbfounded to find out that when sampling two new cold beverages prior to summer that the number one comment coming back from customers was “we didn’t know you sold cold beverages.” Sampling works!!

• If you have products that are almost at the end of their shelf life use them to sample. They have to be discarded anyway so why not use them to build sales.

Assuming you have decided to try sampling, remember to:

Spend the time training your team on the correct way to sample. Use team members with personality rather than product knowledge, you can always teach that prior to the sampling process. It is almost impossible to teach personality.

Spend time on packaging. A well presented sample will induce more trial than a tired piece of cake on a plastic plate, for higher priced items you may even want to look at individual sample packaging.

Run sampling on a regular basis, especially during slow periods, and add a discount for coming into your establishment on the day of sampling. A 10% discount card for the specific product can be given to people who have sampled your product and in the case of the large coffee chain I mentioned, they wrote the date and $1.00 off on every sample cup for a full sized beverage.

Good luck adding sampling to your LSM and if you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

RStevens

Local Store Marketing to Students

The next installment from my guide…

LSM for Students

The summer break is just ending and the kids and their families are thinking about the start of a new year of school. This means that local malls will be full of kids after school and food establishments around schools and colleges will be busy again.

LSM will usually involve some sort of give away, discount or other incentive to bring people into your store and this incentive will be even more important when talking about college kids or younger. You will have to be smarter about how you cost these incentives and how and who you aim the message to. Kids are more likely to go for bulk than quality which can even itself out in cost but you do not want to be a food provider that is known for giving kids cheap, unhealthy foods. Always have a healthy option, the moms will love it and if you are creative, can be cost effective and tasty.

Marketing to these students can take several forms; here are a few that have proved successful for many small restaurants, café’s, franchise businesses and independents.

  • Advertise in the school newspaper and be specific. Have a call to action for the kids so they know exactly what you are offering. 10% off when presenting your school ID, free beverage with any purchase over $x. Buy one get one free between three and five pm. It doesn’t matter what the offer is, as long as it is there and you can track it.
  • For smaller kids have coloring sheets / place mats with cheap crayons or pencils. You will be amazed at the number of moms that will visit just to have a bit of quiet while the kids spend a few minutes coloring. Pizza Hut used this successfully for years.
  • Bundle meal sets designed for kids or families. Feed a family of four for $x. Snack, beverage and cookie for $x after school.
  • In malls put up signage in your store to advertise to the younger crowd. Make it colorful and relevant.
  • Start a kids club with discounts , birthday specials and fun give aways. A discount for the kids club member when they bring the family with them can still be very profitable.
  • Use social media to advertise your kids specials.
  • Set up a Facebook page and remind your customers to “like“ you. Use Facebook to promote deals to all ages, it’s not just kids who use social media.

Learn from those who are expert at it. The big burger guys are the experts in marketing to kids. They have been doing it so long that the kids of the kids of the kids that they first started marketing to are now the ones bringing their kids into the store!

Of course you do not have the budget that these guys have but you can use some of their ideas Such as:

  • Colorful kids containers for carryout.
  • Package specific products together to appeal to kids while keeping mom reasonably happy. ( One healthy option)
  • Check out some of the websites that sell overstocked or surplus items for give aways. You will be amazed at how cheap some of this stuff is.

Talk to kids of all ages, ask them what they want and what the price point should be, after all it is them that you are trying to attract. An imagine how happy they will be when you as a business owner/manager asks them for advice!

Best of luck with your restaurant local store marketing and remember to keep trying new things and keep it fresh!

RStevens

P.S. and another shameless reminder that you can buy the guide this tip has come from by clicking the Amazon link on the right side of this page!