July 15, 2024

While there will be problems with any business, in the restaurant industry a problem can be a disaster if you allow it. Rather than viewing a difficult situation as a problem, turn it around to make it work for you. Find solutions to common restaurant business problems that can turn them into opportunities.

A common opportunity in the foodservice business is downtime. After lunch and before dinner, or between breakfast and lunch, you will probably have at least an hour when no one walks through the door. Not only is this bad for your bottom line, but would-be diners who pass by may think your restaurant is empty because it’s poor. Therefore, you need to fill those tables as much as possible by attracting people to visit your restaurant between prime-time hours. You can offer a happy hour with free appetizers or a free buffet of chips and dips. A special mid-morning brunch will attract shoppers and passersby and once the business community finds out, your restaurant will be the perfect place for an early gathering. You can also have a special menu for those slow hours, perhaps half portions with corresponding prices or items that are not available at any other time of the day.

The weather is another factor that can prevent customers from dining out. Your job is to lure them out of their houses, into the heat, cold or rain and through your doors! This is a fun opportunity to get creative and get your staff involved. Pick a name for your promotion and perhaps turn it into a contest with a small incentive if the employee’s idea is chosen. Many restaurants in Phoenix, Arizona have promotions during the summer, when temperatures can reach 120 degrees and no one really wants to leave their air-conditioned homes or offices. They offer a percentage discount for each degree over a certain temperature, special menus with reduced prices or exotic drinks for a limited time. You can offer free iced tea during the hottest days of summer, a complimentary scoop of ice cream after a meal, or provide free valet parking or other services to minimize heat exposure. In the winter, you can greet your guests with free hot chocolate or hot apple cider.

Another headache for restaurants is the seating arrangement. Taking advantage of every inch of floor space means that some tables are in less desirable locations, such as near the kitchen, entryway, or bathroom. You can make these tables the most popular by offering free appetizers, desserts, or other perks to the people who sit there. Restaurants that turn this problem into opportunities for their customers often have those “undesirable” tables taken before the others.

Another problem that often comes up is selling a popular menu item before the day is out. If customers find that a variety of menu items are not available, they may just leave and not return. Turn this into an opportunity by apologizing to the diner and offering them a coupon that entitles you to get the item free of charge the next time they visit. Tell them about other menu items they might enjoy instead. They can find a new favorite!

Before starting your restaurant business, give some thought to the types of problems that can arise in the day-to-day running of your establishment. Successful restaurant entrepreneurs find ways to turn these problems into profitable opportunities!

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