The Chaser: Restaurant News

The Chaser Restaurant and Bar Weekly News-1
// By Jordan Brydges // , Oct 25, 2019

Topics: Restaurant Management

Unnecessary costs to your restaurant, menu hacks to increase profits, and drink trends for your menu.  

You Will Not Believe What Is Costing You $14,469


Source: Restaurant Business


How many times have you stuck a napkin or something underneath a table to prevent it form wobbling?  Chances are probably a lot because no one likes eating on a teeter-totter.  Turns out those teeter-totter tables are ruining your bottom line.  Not only are they annoying, but they increase labor costs, ruin customer experience and retention, cause shrinkage and damage furniture.


Luckily there are already innovative solutions to your wobbly tables that also help with:

  • Dissatisfied customers 
  • Wasted labor costs 
  • Breakage and spills 


Unfortunately when customers dine out the whole experience has to be perfect or it'll leave a bad taste in their mouth.  And yes this means stable tables.  It sounds a little dramatic but if they spend the whole time fidgeting with the table, everything else is lost on them, including the good food and service.  This might prevent repeat customers or bad reviews. 


Labor costs involved in fixing and stabilizing tables everyday can cost $13,687 over three years.  If you think about it like that, its quite a bite in the budget for an already low-margin industry where every dollar counts.  


Another figure you might not like, replacing food and drinks and refunding unhappy customer costs $782 over three years.  That isn't even counting replacing the broken dishes. 


So next time you see a wobbly table, remember in three years it'll end up costing you $14,469 or more. 


3 Menu Hacks to Increase Profits by 15%


Source: FSR Magazine 


Having a game plan for your menu design can increase profits by 15%.  The best way to think about it is that your menu is a map for your customers and you want to guide them where you want them to go with these three hacks. 


The first, is drawing attention to high-margin items.  Customers do not spend long looking at menus so grabbing their attention quick is the key.  Put decorative boxes around high-margin items and it will draw the attention of your customers.  Draw their attention to the "Golden Triangle," customers typically look in the middle of the menu before looking to the top right and top left. 


Second, pinpoint your pricing to increase overall spend.  There's a few do's and don'ts when it comes to menu pricing.  Obviously you don't want to emphasize your prices or draw more attention to them than need be.  Putting them at the end of your item description is the best option.  Another thing you can do is put an expensive item in the "Golden Triangle."  When customers see this price they probably will not order that dish, but they will use it as a comparison for other menu items.  This can help justify getting another drink or dessert since they saved money compared to other dishes.


And lastly, keep your menu simple, have about 7 items in each category.  Not only is it simpler for your guests to quickly read, it's easier on your kitchen staff and front of house to learn and make recommendations.  A smaller menu gives off the impression that you are the expert on a couple dishes, instead of doing too much for average tasting food. 


49% of Consumers Who Order This Dish Do so at Least Once per Month


Source: FSR Magazine 


There is nothing like getting cozy with a bowl of soup, even as far back as 20,000 B.C.E. they were getting cozy with soup.  Something must've been passed down from our ancestors because about 17% of younger consumers say they will eat soup for breakfast or a snack.  Of course the most popular kinds of soups are those that have more of a comfort-food feeling like broccoli-cheddar, baked potato, and chicken noodle.


Remember when the Paleo diet was all the buzz?  That's when the popularity of bone broth came into play.  The bone broth comes from simmering animal bones and connective tissues to produce the highly-nutritious stock that can be transformed into a base for soup, stews, and sauces.  


Since no one likes dried out meat, broth can also be used to keep dishes moist.  Depending on how rich the flavor should be, making a bone broth from scratch can take up to 12 to 48 hours.  One way to get around this if you don't have the time is to buy pre-made stocks to keep your dishes flying out of the kitchen.  


Especially heading into the holiday season, people now more than ever will want to order soups from your menu so get your kitchen cooking with bone broth to give your menu items a rich and full flavor.  


Are These Drink Trends on Your Menu?


Source: Forbes 


Cognac and Tequila are seeing increased popularity during these cozy fall months, while rosé and sparkling wine are only seeing slight increases.  Cognac (up 8.9%), Tequila (up 8.8%) and Irish Whiskey (up 6.8%) are leading growth trends across the spirits category.  Looks like people are wanting more Margaritas, Sazeracs, and Irish Coffees.  


This "Cocktail Culture" comes from consumers wanting bold and unique flavors, which spirits have been able to tap into more so than wine or beer. Giving the consumers something to experience is more important than ever when trying to make a point of differentiation for your bar. 


It might not be rosé all day anymore, but rosé still remains healthy with an increase of 12.2% with a slight decrease.  Within the wine category, rosé holds 2.7% which might not seem like a lot, but makes it a pretty significant player. 


This decrease in wine sales comes from the popularity of speciality cocktails and ready-to-drink or pre-batched cocktails both on and off-premise.  Since bars and restaurants are providing their customers with more spirit options, this is sparking their interest in off-premise purchases of canned cocktails as well.


How to Plan for Seasonal Ups and Downs


Source: FSR Magazine 


By the time you change your menu, increase inventory in anticipation for a busy holiday season, and hire new staff, you don't have a lot of wiggle room for any other expenses.  Yes having tons of extra cash on hand would be ideal for a restaurant but unfortunately that is not a reality for most so there are some other ways to make up for that by:

  • Investing in technology
  • Train staff to upsell 
  • Improving marketing efforts
  • Attract and retain staff
  • Finance expansion and growth 


We all love nostalgia but if your POS system is from the 90s it is just not allowing your restaurant to perform to its potential.  To grow their customer base, many restaurants are investing in digital loyalty programs to encourage frequent purchases and attract new customers.  Embracing new technology trends and staying up-to-date with POS systems is important to keep up with competition.


Food costs are an obvious cost challenge and entering into the holiday season and unexpected rushes more than ever with having more inventory on hand.  Most restaurants will adjust their menus for this seasonal peak by removing less profitable items and increasing prices, but upselling, especially with alcohol will be vital to get you through the holidays.  Training your staff to upsell rather than sound like a pushy salesmen will drive consistent sales.  


A lot of restaurants think they don't have to market themselves and people will just come flooding in the door.  How do you think people hear about you?  Through marketing campaigns.  A lot of successful restaurants use coupons to engage customers during non-peak hours, but there is a fine line in attracting customers with coupons and abusing that so customers will only come if there are coupons because it is expected.  Multiple marketing campaigns that are trackable will be useful to see what gets customers in the door.  


High staff turnover is an issue at almost any restaurant.  How can you avoid this turnover and keep workers happy?  Fair wages, good working conditions and a staff that works well together.  Hiring way before the seasonal peaks might be tricky as you have staff on hand way before needed, but then you don't have to hire and train new staff during peak season.  


If you are thinking of growing or expanding, forecast your costs and needs way before your peak season and develop partnerships by arranging funds in advance.  It might seem far away but really it is just around the corner and we all know its never fun to play catch up.


More Headlines From This Week


In case you have more time, here are some other headlines going on you might be interested in.  


Seasonal Hires: Retail or Restaurants, Where Would They Rather Work?


Chick-fil-A in the U.K.? More Like No Way 


The Legal Process for Opening a Restaurant 


Customers Want Shareable Meat Dishes on Appetizer Menus


4 Simple Ways to Increase Margins Across Dayparts 


Jordan Brydges

About the author, Jordan Brydges

Jordan is a marketing intern at Backbar and a business student studying marketing. She has been working in the restaurant industry for 8 years and developed a passion for cooking and a love of red wine.

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