The restaurant business is one that will never go out of style as long as people are willing to pay for good food. And yet, there are several gaffes that new, rising, or even well-known restaurants make that can cost them business or even hurt their image. As such, restaurant owners need to be aware of these most common yet costly mistakes:
#1 Catering to Everyone
While the thought of your restaurant reaching to as many people as possible seems like a good concept on paper, it may end up being a recipe for failure. There’s a reason why restaurants have categories (casual dining, premium family style, fine dining, and so on), and it is to cater to a specific market by providing an appropriate menu and experience for the restaurant’s target market. Without a target market, your marketing efforts would be strained, and it would be difficult to come up with a ‘concept’ for your restaurant. That said, you need to make up your mind about whether or not you wish to set up a fine dining restaurant, or wish to have something more casual — this would help direct your decisions in terms of staffing, menu, restaurant setup, and so on.
#2 Not Securing Your Supply Chain
A restaurant is nothing with its ingredients, and if you fail to secure your supply chain, you’re left with a restaurant that has a lot of unavailable dishes on the menu — and that can turn off a lot of customers. Imagine being a restaurant known for its gourmet cheese curd burger, and you don’t have reliable, high-quality cheese curd suppliers. In the restaurant business, it’s important to the main supplier for your bread, meat, produce, condiments, and every other ingredient, but it’s also just as important for you to have a backup plan just in case your supplier can’t deliver or can no longer keep up with your restaurant’s demands.
#3 Not Listening to Reviews
Listen to your customers by reading online reviews about your restaurant. Go on Yelp or even your restaurant’s social media accounts to see what customers say about your restaurant. Make sure that you take not of criticisms and learn from them. Some restaurants provide high-quality food and ambiance but can be ruined by rude or incompetent staff, so it’s best to ensure that you won’t be one of those restaurants by actively reviewing every feedback you can read about your restaurant.
#4 Quality Control and Consistency
You can make a dish a thousand times, and it’s going to have a thousand tiny differences — it may have more salt or fat than usual, or it’s cooked a few seconds too long, or it may be tastier than your customers remember. These differences differentiate fast-food chains from restaurants; it can be difficult for a restaurant to provide the same taste every single time, whereas food chains have made it possible to ‘mass produce’ their products and strictly ensure uniform taste and quality. And yet, even if it’s difficult to ensure uniform quality in the restaurant business, your restaurant should still strive to ensure that every dish is up to standard through standard recipes (from portion sizes to temperature guidelines), properly training cooks, and having consistent-quality ingredients.
#5 Lacking Menu Description (and Lack of Menu Knowledge)
A lot of restaurants don’t bother describing their dishes as the names of the dishes often simply what they are. But even the simplest of dishes, say ‘Southern Fried Chicken’, can seem more appealing if you provide a brief yet appetizing description on how the dish is made and what goes into making it (it may also be important to include any allergy-inducing ingredients in the menu for the customer’s health and safety). Lastly, it’s also important for all your waiters to be well-acquainted with each dish on the menu so they can properly describe them to the customer and answer any query about the dish; consequently, your waiters’ lack of knowledge on the menu can translate to poor customer satisfaction.
Running a restaurant isn’t easy, but by being aware of these common mistakes, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions that can help you bring in more business and even grow (or at least preserve) your brand.