The world of dining has evolved over the years, and customers now prefer a more relaxed and casual experience without having to compromise on the quality of the food and service. In response, restaurant owners and chefs will need to focus on the importance of simplicity and doing less, but doing it better. This approach involves going back to the basics, having a solid brand plan, and making strategic changes to streamline the business for better profitability. In this article, I will explore the concept of simplifying your restaurant business, offering practical tips and insights to help you stay ahead of the game in today’s ever-changing dining landscape.
The landscape has changed
The demands of the diner have changed. High-end, special-occasion dining will always have a place, but now people want to celebrate in a less intimidating, more relaxed and casual way with fewer frills, foams and less froth. They do not, however, want to compromise on the quality of the cuisine or service.
Many diners state that they want fewer, but more engaging interactions with service staff. – Jenny Handley
It’s time to simplify
I am often called in to advise a restaurant wanting to elevate its offering and become more profitable. Less is more. Going back to the basics and having a solid brand plan, are essential. I start with a few questions:
- Can you define your brand? What are you known for and what is your point of differentiation?
- Are you responding to a need and desire from the public, or simply doing what your dreams are made of?
- Can you combine the two?
- What changes can you make that don’t require additional investment?
Do less, better
Chefs are not running a restaurant, but a business, which needs to offer a return on investment for stakeholders, staff and the diner. Everyone wants good value. A business needs to be profitable. As a restaurant owner, you need to know what to change and what to keep. Not every restaurant needs to be setting and following trends, as being steadfast in your offering can make good business sense too. Sometimes simplifying a menu and the offering makes better business sense than adding something new – following the philosophy of doing less, better.
Not every restaurant needs to be setting and following trends, as being steadfast in your offering can make good business sense too. – Jenny Handley
As every season changes, one regular client calls me to advise their chef on perfecting their dishes, presenting their menu in the most appetising way and training their team on how to present it at each service. This intervention has resulted in a fully-booked, burgeoning restaurant in which the owner, chef, team and diners are all seeing the best results. Our modus operandi remains unchanged – don’t change something if it is not broken!
Look at the four Ps of your business
- Position: Negotiate a reasonable, sustainable rental in a high-traffic area. Or if you have a destination restaurant, then market it appropriately – and charge a deposit.
- People: The better your brand, the more likely you are to attract talent. People want to work for winners as part of their personal success strategy. Are you treating your staff well and encouraging personal development? People and engaging service can save a mediocre meal. The result: Happier staff, then happier diners and a happy owner who is seeing the streamlined business make better business sense.
- Profit: Do not be scared to talk about money.
- Planet: Is your business practising ethical sourcing, reducing wastage and trying to reduce its carbon footprint? It’s not the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do.
Remember, if you cannot change something, change your view on it. If you cannot change your team, you can change their attitude – with training. They are, after all, your best investment.