Saturday, 26 October 2013

Getting Money for your Restaurant Concept !!!

I have had several readers enquiring about where to get the money to start their restaurant. While I would love to say that you can go to a bank and get a loan easily or go to a particular angel investor group and get the money, the real answer is what you already know - you will need to find the money on your own.

For a concept on paper, you will need to dip into your own savings, get money from friends and family (either as debt or as equity - I prefer debt as it is clean and you are very clear in your mind that this is a loan that you need to pay back, preferably with interest). If you own a property, banks will lend you money not so much for your business, but based on the value of your property. Essentially the property will be the collateral for your loan. Even these loans are not too easy to get as banks will be worried about the usage of the funds and need to be convinced about your ability to payback the monthly dues. They may want someone to underwite the loan - i.e. someone else takes responsibility of paying the monthly dues if you fail. Of course, if you have a few wealthy friends, you can coerce them into funding your business idea or underwriting your bank loan.

VCs typically look at this space once you have established your business, are operationally profitable and have demonstrated execution and scaling abilities. So you will need to get to a 8-10 unit level before getting any serious interest from VCs. Angel Investors may not have the appetitie for large Capex restaurant concepts.

In summary, you are pretty much on your own to find the funds required for your restaurant business concept.

How to Create Successful Partnerships with Your Food Suppliers !!!

restaurant kitchen Restaurant owners and managers know that their food suppliers are critical to their business.  However, the ability to rely on suppliers to consistently provide fresh and high-quality products at the right price point also comes with its challenges.
In a QSR magazine article, “The Supplier Marriage,” Richard Leivenberg, executive vice president for Jody Maroni’s Sausage Kingdom in Venice, California, states his relationships with food suppliers can sometimes feel like a rocky road of emotions.
“It’s very much like a marriage, there’s love, hate, and everything in between,” Leivenberg says. “With a good supplier, you can complain or argue and at the end of the day, you’ve corrected any problems and made up. If you can’t maintain a good relationship with them, if problems aren’t corrected, you have to reevaluate the situation and consider a divorce.”
And with the growing pressures of managing food costs and inventory, while continually meeting the discerning expectations of your guests, industry experts agree that building trusting and long-term partnerships with their food suppliers is the best path toward profitability.
As you navigate through your own food supply issues, below are tips to improve your supplier success.
  • Communicate: as with any strong relationship, open, honest and regular communication is paramount. When entering into any new supplier relationship, it’s best to be clear, honest and upfront in your needs and expectations. To make sure that both parties are on the same page, get it in writing. Any and all agreements should be written and formalized in a contract and signed by both parties to avoid confusion.
  • Don’t just let price drive your decisions: of course, staying on budget is important for any restaurant business, but choosing a supplier simply based on price can be dangerous. A good food supplier will help you to work within the parameters of your needs and budget in order to provide the best possible quality and freshest products to your customers.
  • Keep the number of suppliers to a minimum: while you won’t be able to get everything that you need from one supplier, when you start trying to manage multiple vendors, things might start falling through the cracks and make your job more difficult.
  • Closely monitor your inventory: keeping close tabs on your food inventory is the best way to make sure that you don’t overpay for extra food supplies that eventually get wasted. Talk to your supplier about your inventory challenges to determine a better strategy.
  • Negotiate product quality and cost expectations at the very beginning: when speaking to potential new food suppliers, don’t be afraid to negotiate and set your own expectations. You are entitled to get the level of product quality and service that you need at a price that will work for your business.
  • Put yourself in your supplier’s shoes: a WIN-WIN relationship works both ways and both parties have to feel good about working together. Get to know your supplier and their needs/expectations from the relationship. Ask what challenges they face and invite them to voice any concerns about working with you.
  • Go local when possible: choosing a local supplier that sources products from local farms is often the key to ensuring product freshness while keeping costs down.
Do you have a supplier challenge or success story to share? Drop us a comment below! Next up in our Operations & Management Series: theft and security/surveillance systems.

8 Ways to Make Your Restaurant Family Friendly !!!

Family dinner When a family comes into your restaurant, how do you and your staff react? Are you already annoyed, anticipating the extra mess and possible screaming tantrums? Instead of viewing families full of children as a bummer, try looking at them as a business opportunity. It can be hard for parents to find restaurants that accommodate their kids, so if your restaurant is ready and willing to handle them, you’ll have a leg up on the competition. Read these tips and tricks for some ideas to make your restaurant more family friendly!

1. Train your servers.

If your servers are annoyed by kids, it will definitely show, and your customers probably won’t bother to come back. Train them to treat all customers with respect, regardless of age. Also make sure that they give families larger tables when possible. Since families often have lots of gear, they’ll appreciate having some extra space to spread out.

2. Give kids stuff to do.

This can include crayons and coloring books, digital arcade games, or toys. But always be sure to ask the parents first if they want you to bring these things out! If a family has to wait for a table, try to make sure any children have games or toys to keep them occupied then, as well.

3. Have plenty of high chairs and booster seats.

The last thing you want to do is run out! If you truly anticipate lots of families coming in, you’ll want to have enough seats for every small child.

4. Have a kids-eat-free day.

This is one simple way to attract families to your restaurant. For every adult meal purchased, offer a free kids meal. Since kids meals are relatively small and cheap to prepare anyway, you won’t lose much money on this deal.

5. Be flexible.

As you probably know, kids are picky, and these days more and more children have food allergies. Always be willing to offer substitutions. You should also be prepared to give ingredient information to curious parents.

6. Offer healthier kids meals.

With the current child obesity epidemic, many parents want to provide their kids with healthier choices. Although you don’t have to remove the typical French fries from your kids menus, you should also offer some lighter options, like veggies or sliced fruit.

7. Serve food quickly.

No one likes waiting a long time for their food, and this goes double for children. By bringing out food as quickly as possible, you can minimize temper tantrums and boredom.

8. Don’t forget about the parents.

Remember that the parents brought their children to your restaurant so that their entire family could have a great meal. Be sure to check in with them often and make sure they have everything they need.
Going out for dinner can be an ordeal for families. If you can make it easier on them by following these tips, you’ll be their go-to spot!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Top Things All Bartenders Should Know !!!

bartender Being a bartender can be a tough job. Although learning how to make drinks is obviously important, there are tons of other little things that bartenders need to know in order to really take it to the next level. Read on to find out ten things all bartenders should know.

1. Happy customers are your number one goal.

Don’t focus too much on getting tips—your most important task is making sure customers are happy. If you can keep them happy, you’ll be sure to get tips, and they’ll be sure to come back.

2. You’re in the spotlight.

As a bartender, people are watching everything you do all the time. Sound like a lot of pressure? It can be! Remember that all eyes are on your, so you need to make sure your behavior is always professional.

3. Looks are important.

Of course, your dress code will depend on where you work. But no matter what, you want to make sure you look clean and put together. No one wants to buy a drink that’s mixed by someone with dirty fingernails or stained clothing.

4. The environment matters.

Is your music too loud or too quiet? Is the bar too hot or too cold? These things can make a big difference in the bar’s environment, which can make a big difference in your business! If you have any control over these elements, make sure you’re keeping customers comfortable.

5. Wash your hands often.

Think about it…you’re preparing tons of drinks and touching the ingredients. You want to make sure you’re not spreading germs. Wash your hands often, but make sure you’re doing it in a place where customers can see you.

6. Be careful when you sneeze or cough.

Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze into your elbow. All those things your mom taught you when you were little are doubly true when you’re a bartender. And definitely don’t wipe your nose on anything. Customers will notice stuff like this, and they’ll be grossed out.

7. Keep your bar clean.

Keep booze organized and make sure there aren’t spills or crumbs everywhere. Dirtiness and sloppiness will turn customers away.

8. Learn to small talk.

You don’t have to be a comedian, but you do have to know how to banter with customers. Your service is how customers decide how much they’ll tip you, so you want to be on their good side. And it’s way easier to build up a loyal clientele when you’re actually getting to know people.

9. Keep your hands out of the drink.

Even if you’re washing your hands regularly, customers still won’t like it if you’re regularly dipping your thumb into their drink as you hand it to them.

10. Keep glasses clean.

Nothing’s a bigger turn off than dirty or lipstick-stained glasses.
By keeping these tips in mind, bartenders can keep customers happy and keep them coming back!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Billing System & Printers for Restaurants

Do you need a billing system and a billing printer for your restaurant?

The answer is "YES" - any restaurant (however small) will need to give its customers a printed bill. A manual bill looks ugly, is prone to errors and misuse and you pretty much can't track anything. So you would atleast need to buy a bill printer, if not an entire billing system which you can connect to a bill printer.

You have fancy "Restaurant Software" with tools for billing, inventory management, Order management etc. (A google search will give your some results). You will need a standard computer to run these applications. The software if used well, can give you extensive reports for analysis e.g. Revenue by item, Revenue by time of day etc. From an investment perspective, such software will cost you between 15K to 50K atleast with an annual maintenance contract of 15-20% of the license value. In addition you will need to invest in a computer with a genuine Operating system (totally about 20-30K) and a bill printer for printing out the bills (about 4-10K). You will need to buy a POS (Point of Sale) printer (Wipro Peripherals, TVS Electronics & Epson offer quite a few options at various price points)

For starters, I highly recommend the standalone Wipro Retail Billing Units and NO - I don't have any relationship or commission arrangements with Wipro for this. In my opinion, they just have a great & unique product suited for practical Indian needs - especially for small retail units. Their system does the job well, is inexpensive (around 8-10K) to buy and run (cheap cartridges and printing paper rolls), does not need a computer or any software, provides basic reports for analysis.

Once your operations are stabilized, you can evaluate and buy a good system patiently. If your overall project is large, then evaluating and buying a suitable system upfront will be required.

Will a first floor not really work out? !!!

Will a first floor location for my restaurant business not really work out? I keep getting asked this question often.

The answer is simple & straight-forward: "No, It won't work out - Don't do it". The sooner you accept this the easier your decision making process will become. It is not worth the Risk, especially for a first generation entrepreneur with a new business concept. Wait till you find a place that meets your needs and your budget. Be prepared to make some compromises such as taking a smaller space in a ground floor prominent location.

There is a huge-huge difference between a ground floor and the first floor. It is a case of minimizing your chances of failure and maximizing your chances of success.

Check out for yourself how many successful restaurants are in the first floor - pick 100 and I will bet that over 95 will be on the ground floor. There is obviously a very specific business reason for this - every business would love the lower rentals of a first floor, but they still don't do it - How many McDonald's, Dominos or Coffee Days have you seen on a first floor?

Am I saying that there is no way you can be successful by opening a restaurant on the first floor? I am sure you can invest in a penny stock and become a billionaire - it is just a question of the probability of success and failure.

Tips To Attract Customers To Your Restaurant !!!

Generally a restaurant is place to enjoy food and spend a memorable time with friends and family. The ability to attract and maintain customers is essential to the success of a restaurant. You need a constant flow of customers coming into your restaurant on a daily basis. Just posting an”Open” sign in the front window is not enough to attract customers. You need to have a strategy to bring in customers.The following are a number of tips to attract customers to your restaurant:
Market your restaurant: There are a number of different things you can do to market your restaurant. You can market at nearby hotels, motels, and other accommodations. You can provide a discount coupon for hotel guests. Use local flyers and newspapers to advertise special discounts. Hand out restaurant menus in public places or though the mail. You can also sponsor different events such as sporting or charity functions. You can also enter your staff in a charity event. The publicity will be very beneficial. Holding contests such as the chance to win a meal or gift certificate will attract customers.
Food: The food you serve is a key element to attracting and keeping customers. Make your dishes unique and stand apart from the other restaurants. Quality at a reasonable price is essential. Because more people are embracing a healthy life, offer some healthy dishes. Try serving samples in public areas such as supermarkets. As well, hand out a menu flyer with the samples.
Staff: It is essential to hire vibrant, friendly, and hard working staff. They are on the front lines of the restaurant and reflect the restaurants vision. Customers will return to a restaurant that has great staff. Colors and decorations should be appealing. Restaurant atmosphere: Make sure your restaurant is warm and inviting. The restaurant should be clean, including the bathrooms. The temperature should be comfortable and the seating should be relaxing and comfy. A dirty table should be cleaned and reset quickly. Special deals: It is important to offer special deals regularly, even daily. This will keep the customers returning. You can even often free appetizers such as bread, chips, or finger foods. You can also have special such as a free meal on one’s birthday.
Gift certificates: A gift certificate is a great way to acquire new customers. They also make for great gifts for such holidays as Christmas. Make sure you have an expiry date on the certificate. Customer loyalty programs: Loyalty programs are a great way to build a customer base. You can send out newsletters, special deals only for them, coupons, or a complimentary meal deal such as a buy 2 get 1 free meal. You can also send out a discount offer on a new menu item. Acquiring customer emails is a great way to keep in contact with them.
Without new business, your restaurant won’t be able to grow. You need a constant stream of new customers to replace those you lose as a result of customers relocating, switching jobs, or changing dining habits. A restaurant’s success depends on the volume of customers coming through its doors. It is important that you implement a plan that shows customers that their patronage is appreciated and valued. Actively promoting your restaurant will result in long term success.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Revenue Sources for a Restaurant !!!

There are typically 5 sources of revenues for a restaurant/food business:

1) Walk-in Customers - Unless you are a take-away/delivery only unit, this will probably be the biggest component of your revenue. You need to figure out a way to get repeat customers and referral customers - the effort for getting new customers all the time is too much.

2) Take-away customers - For reasonably priced/budget restaurants, this could be a reasonable revenue source. This will also depend on the product offering and how convenient you make it for your customers to pick up the food (easy parking for their vehicles - atleast for 2 wheelers, is a big criterion for good take-away joints)

3) Door Delivery Orders - Customers in India expect most restaurants (even some of the fine dining ones) to offer door delivery services. Unfortunately, this one appears easier to do, than it actually is. The dynamics and operational issues related to door deliveries fascinate me and I will write a separate post on this.

4) One Time Party/Bulk Catering Orders - This is a very profitable source of revenue for most restaurants. From what I know, most profitable restaurants get a few party orders every month and this really boosts their profitability and helps them tide over lean days. Here quality of service and felxibility are key. If you can figure this one out and do a good job, it could generate significant repeat/referral orders.

5) Regular Meal Catering Orders - This is one of those very attractive looking revenue sources that a lot of new restaurants try to get into, but in reality turns out to be worthless in most cases. Typically the pricing is so low for these orders that if you include the food cost, the effort for large orders and the transportation, the numbers don't add up. I believe this needs to be managed as a separate business not linked to a restaurant for it to make business sense. I will write a separate post explaining this in detail.

What exactly happens when you order something in a restaurant? !!!

Once again, I am going to talk about the old style Pen and Paper approach – not the fancy electronic touch pad systems that are now available. Having said this, you will notice that most restaurants in India (including the fine dining ones) still use the “Paper & Pen” approach.
  • The Waiter notes down the items that you want to order – usually most restaurants will have their own short name for each item that all the staff understand. E.g. Gobi Manchurian could be G.Manch.
  • The pad/paper on which the waiter notes down the order is called KOT (Kitchen Order Token/Ticket). Usually, KOT books are printed as a 2 copy (Duplicate) or as a 3 copy (Triplicate) – i.e. The first sheet could be white, the second sheet will be of a different colour (say yellow) and the third sheet (if it is a 3 copy KOT) will be in yet another colour (say blue) – then the sheets repeat themselves in the same colour order. There is also a serial number generally printed – 1 number for one set of 2 or 3 pages to enable tracking if required.
  • KOT books are usually of A8 size (one fourth of a A4 sheet) or of A5 size (half of a A4 sheet).
  • The waiter inserts carbon sheets to make automatic copies – 1 if it is a 2 copy KOT book, or 2 if it is a 3 copy KOT book. Nowadays you get self copying paper (i.e. a carbon sheet need not be inserted to make a copy) at reasonable prices. Most banks now issue check books of this nature.
  • The waiter starts with writing down the table number (in most restaurants, the tables are numbered and allotted to waiters – i.e. one waiter is responsible for a set of tables – say Tables 4 to 8). The waiter then notes down the order.
  • One copy of the KOT is given to the cashier (for billing purposes). Another copy is given to the kitchen for preparing the dishes - Usually, to the “Barker” in the kitchen. The waiter keeps the third copy with himself. In small restaurants, a 2 copy KOT is sufficient as the waiter does not need one and can always refer to the cashier’s KOT if there is any confusion with the orders.
  • The role of the “Barker” is to collect the KOTs, literally shout out the orders to the respective kitchen staff (i.e. for juices, he shouts the order to the guy in the pantry, for starters to the cook who is responsible for making the starters, for the entrees to the main cook who prepares the entrees etc.). Once the respective food items are prepared, the barker then assembles the dishes according to the KOT and hands over the prepared dishes to the respective waiter.
  • Having a good barker is very critical in most restaurants – especially during busy times. Think of the Barker as a Orchestra Conductor. The Barker also makes decisions on whether to send an order in full or in parts – e.g. if a table has ordered drinks, starters and entrees, the barker will make a decision to send the drinks and the starters first and then the entrees. In some cases, if the food order is going to be delayed, he may send some of the entrees earlier.
  • The waiter then hands over the dishes to the respective table.
  • Additional orders are noted down on a new KOT, with the same table number and the process is repeated. The cashier collates all the KOTs received by table number and when the waiter asks for a bill, the cashier prints out the bill.
  • Once the payment is made, all the KOTs for that particular table are stapled and filed. At the end of the day, the cashier and the manager are expected to compare the KOT orders with the bills that have been generated to ensure that all orders have been billed. The kitchen is also typically instructed not to prepare any food without a KOT for audit/control purposes.
So the next time you go to a crowded restaurant, be a little more nice to the staff – most of them are typically on their feet most of the time and are trying their best to keep things under control.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

3 Billionaire Franchisors and How They Did It, a Focus on Enterprise Management !!!

14659534We pride ourselves on providing restaurant management apps, software for both corporate entities and independents — this week we are going to turn our attention to Enterprise Management by spotlighting 3 Billionaire Franchisors and their keys to success.

Michael Ilitch — Little Caesars Pizza
Net Worth: $1.5 Billion
Key to Success: A continued focus on operational efficiency and ingenious marketing programs like their $5 Hot-N-Ready pizza deal.
Jack C. Taylor — Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Net Worth: $6.5 Billion
Key to Success: Take care of your customers and your employees first, and the profits will follow.
Fred DeLuca — Subway Sandwich Shops
Net Worth: $1.8 Billion
Key to Success: Subway Franchises continues to expand at a dramatic clip, bolstered by growing consumer desire for healthy food and slam-dunk marketing campaigns like the $5 footlong and weight-loss phenom Jared Fogle.
How is this relevant? Where does the rubber met the road?
Restaurant management software, apps like WhenToManage are an effective way to achieve this type of success…here’s how:
  • Increasing operational efficiency by automating tasks like ordering by leveraging BIG Data
  • Cultivate an atmosphere of collaboration by sharing tasks like scheduling using an online calendar
  • Manage multiple locations down to the check level from one screen

The Power of Helping vs. Selling to Increase Restaurant Profits !!!

waitress Prompt and excellent service is one of the quintessential requirements for any profitable restaurant. With so much riding on how your servers interact with guests, as the restaurant owner or manager, it’s important that you’re able to teach your service team how to effectively sell by simply being knowledgeable and helpful. The key to success is suggestive selling.
Here are five subtle upsell techniques to impart upon your service staff during every customer experience.
1)  Train servers to ask the right questions: when greeting a table, the first questions that your server asks can make or break a prime sales opportunity. For instance, asking the question: “Can I start you with a couple of drinks?” is a lot different than asking “would you like to try one of our signature cocktails or a bottle of wine to get started?” Or say a guest orders a martini. The server should always be suggesting top shelf alcohol choices versus just taking the drink order and walking away.
2)  Make sure that servers know your menu inside and out: there’s nothing less appealing to restaurant customers than a server who cannot explain available dishes on the menu or who does not know the answer to the common question, “What is your soup of the day?” Being able to knowledgeably guide their guests through the menu will ensure that servers are presenting their customers with every opportunity to add to their check, while being perceived as helpful and consultative.
3)  Give servers guidelines ahead of time for dealing with special requests: when customers make special requests, which are very likely, it’s important that the server feels empowered to make executive decisions on the fly to accommodate them. For example, a customer requests a vegan dish, although there are no vegan menu items, per se. Your server should already know some vegan alternatives to suggest, without having to first clear it with the kitchen staff.
4)  Reinforce to servers that upselling helps them to make more money: obviously the bigger the check, the bigger the tip. And if your servers are making more money, they will be more likely to make upselling a priority. Or take a step further by introducing some healthy competition that rewards servers with prizes or a bonus for generating the most sales at the end of the month.
5)  Encourage a positive attitude: being happy and friendly goes a long way in the restaurant business, and making sure that your servers have a positive attitude starts from the top! Lead by example and always stay positive and calm, even during chaotic rush times.
For additional reading on this topic, you may also find these other articles helpful:, “The Basics of Up-Selling Menu Items” and Food Service Warehouse, “Top 10 Tips for Successful Restaurant Upselling.”
Do you have a selling technique to share or a question about training your servers to sell? Drop us a line in the comment box below!

Monday, 21 October 2013

5 Types of Promotions Restaurants Should Never Run !!!

no Running a promotion might seem like a great way to get more customers into your restaurant. Discounts, contests, or other special attractions can only be good things, right? Well, not exactly. Although drawing attention to your restaurant is usually good, there’s definitely such a thing as the wrong kind of attention. If you’re not careful, your restaurant promotions could lose money, get bad press, or even put you on the wrong side of the law. Read on to find out what promotions your restaurant should never run (as well as a few examples of restaurants that learned this the hard way).

Anything illegal.

Customers love happy hours and drink specials, but check your state/city regulations to make sure the promotion you’re offering is legal. Different areas have different alcohol laws, and it can be illegal to offer drink discounts, specials, or free drinks. Breaking the law might bring in a few more customers, but it won’t be worth it if you end up with a hefty fine.

Restaurant week.

Participating in your city’s restaurant week seems like a good idea on the surface. You get visibility, tons of new customers, and you show that you’re part of the community. But does this promotion actually benefit your business? Many restaurants can’t make up for the deep discounts they offer during restaurant week and they end up losing money. What’s more, the customers who buy meals at a significant discount often don’t bother to come back later to buy the same meal at full price.


While all-you-can-eat deals work sometimes, restaurants must be very careful to make sure they’re not losing money. In 2003, Red Lobster offered an all-you-can-eat snow crab leg deal that ended up costing the company $3 million. Not only did Red Lobster vastly underestimate how much snow crab each customer could eat, but they also launched the promotion when snow crab costs were up. The lesson to learn here? Always do research if you decide to offer an all-you-can-eat deal so you’ll be sure to make money. Chances are, your restaurant can’t afford to lose $3 million!


Coupons can be great—after all, who doesn’t love a discount? But just printing coupons without any other promotional strategy to go along with them isn’t effective. What’s worse is that it conditions customers to expect your food at a discount. Promotions with a bit more creativity and customer involvement are much more successful.

Anything that gets the wrong kind of attention.

All press is certainly not good press when it comes to restaurant promotion. Sure, you want to get your restaurant’s name out there, but not at the cost of your reputation. Don’t ever do anything that compromises your customers’ privacy or takes advantage of people or animals. This might seem like a no brainer, right? It wasn’t for one LA restaurant that decided to chain a donkey to a fence outside the restaurant in 85 degree heat as a Cinco de Mayo promotion. You want people talking about your restaurant, but not if it also involves a PETA protest. Before running a promotion involving anything living, be sure to consider if there’s any way it could be considered offensive or harmful.
When you’re coming up with restaurant promotions, keep these ideas in mind. Remember that while you want people to talk about your restaurant, you want them to talk about the right things. The real focus should be on your food and service, not on an embarrassing promotional stunt that loses money, business, or respect. Follow these tips next time you’re ready to plan your next promotion.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

How to Select a Restaurant Consultant in India? !!!

Restaurant consultants produce good results if restaurant consultants are competent in serving the client and clients in using them.

The points follow a Plan Do Check Act cycle and are listed below.

1. Whats the Problem?
A running frestaurant has problems and its important that you recognise the problem and recognise that you need the help of a restaurant consultant.Define the problem explicitly, or at least as how you see it. But recognise that what you see as a problem in restaurant may be just the symptoms and the real root cause mujst be addressed.
Where there is a problem there is an opportunity and my advice is that you should'nt be blind to it. Calling a consultant to fix a problem so that you move to status quo may be less desirable as a good restaurant consultant may see an opportunity and move you to a whole new level of competence by opening new market, new technology, new methods of working.
Recognising that you need special talent to resolve the problem of restaurant development or operation reveiw is first part of the problem. There is a need for people who can see the historical background or operational references to see relationships.
2. Define your purpose.
If there is a problem, then there is a root cause but there is also a greater purpose. Greater purpose thinks of larger questions what is the purpose of solving the problem? Where does the restaurant want to go? the efforts required and learning objectives. Restaurant consultancy must result in a transfer of knowledge and so a client must be cler what he wanst to learn.
3. The right restaurant consultant.
Too often a lot of restaurant consultants know a lot about too little!! In this restaurant business one needs to know a little about a lot. I am not advocating superficaility of knowledge but a capacity to integrate various disciplines into one core objective of a successful restaurant. Think about that!
Choice between a restaurant consulting firm and an individual .. both can deliver. The key point is that you must able to trust and enjoy working together. Try and build a selection criteria, keeping in view the problem, purpose your learning needs. It will help you to evaluate the restaurant consultant and dare I say yourself!
There may be and perhaps will be a need for more than one consultant in restaurant development or review of restaurant operation but they must have an integrated view.
The right consultant must have
1. an understanding of the business
2. be a team player
3. Someone you like
4. Is committed.
5. is resourceful
6. shares your passion
7.loves the restaurant business
4 Work Jointly
Evaluate the proposal given by your consultant. Negotiators will tell you that everything is negotiable!! This is specially true when the restaurant consultant or other specialist give you packages. determine the true value given to you.
Plan and evaluate the assigment together. You must be able to determine areas of improvement. Your role and the role played by the restaurant consultant. The phases of the assignment and the responsibilities. The time table , deadlines to be met.
The financial aspect must be discussed ambigiously. the restaurtant consultant fees can be percentage of total purchases , per square foot or per seat or flat fees or perecentage of sales. Perecentage fees are quite poular but I feel that there may be a conflict of interest in food service consultant choice of recommendations. A smart restaurant consultant shlould help you save money.
A written contract!!! its a communication tool. It need not be a legal document going to number of pages but in writing there is an opportunity to rationalises expectations. An opprtunityto line all the dots.
Partnerships formed among people with different talents complement and add to the overall effectiveness.
6 Your Cooperations
A modern restaurant consultant uses a process approach. He recognises that restaurant consultancy is co-creation and implies an active particpation by client with a new restaurant startup or a seasoned restaurant owner.
This requires efforts!!
Work proactively to improve the design of assignment. Cooperation does not mean delaying decision or second guessing your restaurant consultant. You need to make right people available to him. In an existing restaurant provide all information and the right people.
7. Restaurant Consultant and Implemenation
Wether its a restaurant consultant for new restaurant operations or restaurant consultant for a restaurant operation diagnosis, itis imperative that the consultant is involed in the implemenation of the solution. Too often implementation is left to the client who may or may not be able to make it work. Degree of involvement may wary. He may work lie a project manager and be the director or be aguide to the employee implementing or may be called in to evaluate the implementation and take corrective action. The idea of implementation needs both the consultant and the client to be ionvolved.
The need for implementation by the consultant is because their stakes are not as high as yours.
8. Monitoring or verifcation
This is a concept form the quality movement and implies whether the "what has been agreed been implemented." Some of the dimension you need to verify are related to quality of consultant , quality of your own performance, quality of the organisation involvement, quality of financial delivery.
Quality of consultant: Check whether he understands the organsiation, is obeserving the time table, is he sharing information, acting with itegrity and exeperiencing lack of conflict.
Your own performance refers to you respecting committments, keeping pace with restaurant consultant and is your team being an asset to this consulatncy. The spirit in which the work is being done cannot be ignored.
Financial aspects: the billing must be crystal, on time and on agreed terms. Period!
9. Validation or evaluation
This imeples the overall efectiveness of the consultancy. Verification and vaidation have a difference. Verifcation refers to "what has been planned, been done" and validation refers to "has the plan being implemeneted fulfills the supreme objective of fulfilling customer requirements". To illustare this further, a restaurant consultant agrees to make a dish, the verifcation refers to whether the dish has been prepared according to recepie or desired tast, has the training being done. Validation look at whether the created dish is liked by the guests and fullfills the ethos of the restaurant.
Verifcation and vaidation are simple but powreful concept and can be applied to any process, activity.
The vaidation must also look at the opportunities missed, your learnings, your approach.
10. Over depedence
A restaurant consultant must result in the transfer of knowledge , develop your capabilities. if you are calling the consultant for review of the same problem again two things have happened 1 you have not learnt 2. the problem may not have been solved effectively in the first place. However, a consultant can be a sounding board or an advisor your trusted advisor. The essential idea is that the buck stops with you.

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