Navigating Restaurant Challenges in Q4 2023 & Beyond: Strategies for Success
Constantly growing operation costs
Managing a restaurant is no easy feat. The costs keep adding up from paying for the site, the employees, the ingredients, the overhead cost, the marketing, the insurance, etc. In addition to all these obligations and responsibilities, since the pandemic, we have been experiencing an increasing level of inflation that made the price of everything go up.
One of the biggest challenges currently faced by restaurants is maintaining their physical locations open when everyone seems to have moved online. A great solution is to focus on selling more food online to increase your profit enough to pay for real estate, utilities, and everything else needed to serve guests in person. For that, you need an efficient online ordering system that can help you streamline your ordering process and market your business to online guests.
You can also consider going fully digital to maximize your top-line sales and bottom-line profit. Let go of your restaurant’s location and open a ghost kitchen. You will significantly reduce your costs with a small location that is just a kitchen and a delivery set-up area, with fewer team members and no place to serve guests. Use an effective and streamlined online ordering system to effectively increase your revenue by offering delivery and pick-up from your virtual restaurant.
Not enough new guests
For your restaurant to be successful, you need a constant stream of new guests. But how do you get them? How do you reach a new audience and convince them your business is a great place to visit and order food from? –With efficient marketing! And it all starts with your restaurant’s website. Think of it as your online location that you want people to find when they search on Google for keywords related to your cuisine and dishes that you offer. The higher you rank in searches, the bigger the chance to get a new order.
Create a website and optimize it with relevant keywords inserted in texts, alt images, and headlines to help you rank high in searches; a website that loads fast and adapts to every type of device so it can be used without problem on desktops and smartphones. Furthermore, a website that is designed to sell, to encourage people to click on it, browse the simple-to-use online menu, and order.
Be active on review platforms: create an account on the review platforms available in your area such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. Invite people to review your restaurant and respond to every review, be it negative, or positive to show potential customers you are trustworthy.
Create a community on social media: put in the effort to post constantly on social media and interact with your followers. People spend a lot of time there, especially when they are hungry, so you can entice them to order from your restaurant with mouth-watering food pictures and videos.
Difficulty in getting loyal guests
Because there is only a limited number of people in your area, you will bump into one of the most popular challenges faced by restaurants: getting repeat guests. How do you convince a guest they should order from your place again? –It all starts by offering them a great experience that makes it worth it for them to return. Keep these in mind:
- An efficient online ordering process, where they can find the menu easily and place their order in just a few clicks.
- Transparency for the whole ordering process. With our online order-taking app, you can give guests an estimated time of arrival when you accept their order and keep them in the loop.
- Amazing food that transports well so guests can enjoy your delicious food like they would if they visited your restaurant.;
- A table reservation system for when they want to reserve a table, but don’t have time or don’t want to speak to anyone in person.
- Another solution to get more loyal guests is texting and email marketing. You can attract people in by sending them targeted promotions or reminders to finish the order they started.
Retaining and attracting productive Team Members
It is safe to say that one of the biggest challenges currently faced by restaurants is the team members shortage. Many restaurant owners and operators complain that they cannot find people to fill their open positions and they have a big problem retaining the ones they do hire. This can happen due to a couple of reasons:
- Unfair pay and no benefits. Ensure you pay your team members a living wage and offer health insurance to keep them happy and productive.
- Problematic scheduling. Make sure every team member is scheduled to work when they are available and the whole process is transparent. However, this task can be difficult without the proper team members time management resources. If you don’t stay organized, you’re going to have a bunch of team members that either can’t make their shifts or quit due to scheduling conflicts. Try to be flexible when asking for your team members’ work schedule, as it’s impossible to expect open availability for all team members.
- Bad management. Most team members don’t quit because of money, but because they don’t get along with their managers. Train the people in positions of power to be fair, yet understanding to keep team members satisfied.
- Inefficient work sharing. Take advantage of technology to take the load off your team members. For example, using an online ordering and table reservation system instead of having team members answer the phone is a great first step. You can also change your old paper menus with a QR-code one to allow team members to get rid of jotting down orders and focus on serving clients.
Rising food costs due to the inflation
The inflation made food costs grow constantly over the last 3 to 4 years, making it hard for restaurants to maintain a profit. But it also affects the guests’ purchase power, pushing them to try to save money and order less from restaurants. Here are some changes you can do to ensure your restaurant’s success despite the rising food costs:
- Reduce portions size: we don’t mean to make menu items fit for kids, just to make the portions smaller so you use fewer ingredients, reducing food costs in the progress. Furthermore, you also reduce food waste with smaller portions with no leftover food on plates that gets thrown out.
- Make your menu smaller: smaller menu, fewer ingredients, less money. A smaller menu is easier to browse and makes your restaurant seem more trustworthy because it guarantees all the ingredients are fresh. It leaves room for experimentation, yet it helps you save money.
- Increase the price: guests expect a price change for your menu items as they can see every food they buy is more expensive. The trick is to do it with small increases, over some time, so as not to shock loyal guests and deter them from ordering.
In these trying times, there are many challenges faced by restaurants, but you shouldn’t let them stop you from owning and/or operating a successful business. Whether you love managing and operating a restaurant, whether opening a restaurant was your dream, whether it is a family business passed down to you or maybe you just wanted to venture out of your comfort zone. No matter the reason, you are now a restaurant owner, operator or manager that is faced with countless challenges, just like many others in the industry.