Whether you're an independent or part of a chain, check this list of strengths and opportunities. Some may be rusty through lack of use, but most of them can be active within a few days. Winners are flexible, and losers will be waiting (and waiting) for the waves to subside...
Always Flexible - when you notice a shift in customer purchasing or preferences, you can adapt within days. Two likely challenges: 2008 menus and pricing may be out of date, and the closure of nearby businesses will eliminate customers. Work on new food, drinks, pricing deals, ways to order and deliver - always offering better value and convenience.
Tightly Focused - there's more fame and profit to be made by concentrating on a narrow market segment and offering an excellent product. The best coffee, coolest cocktails, tenderest steak, richest chocolate cake or the friendliest with children. Have you fallen into the trap of trying to please too many people?
Personal Service - your smaller size and flexibility allows you to adapt and provide personal services without consulting the rulebook or head office. A special dessert, menu changes for a function, BYO wine for a large party or flexible hours - no problem!
Happy Surprises - notice that someone is having a birthday, or celebrating a win with their team? Thrill them with a Gift Voucher, T-shirt or whatever your specialty. Don't make this something that always needs manager approval - set up a system that can be run and enjoyed by all the staff.
Open to Partnerships - small operators often find this difficult, as it takes time to build relationships. The hairdresser or gym may want to swap promotions, or the marketing company needs somewhere informal for meetings. The better your own customer list , the more sort-after you will by other complimentary businesses. You have what they all want - good food and drink!
Reduce the Tedious Work - better POS systems, online booking & ordering, smarter payroll management, automated coffee machines. Automation helps to eliminate expensive labour and brings new accuracy to routine tasks. It also gives more information, faster, about what's really happening with sales and costs.
Use Information to Build Trust - have plenty of detail on your menu or website about food & beverage origins and flavour, your passion for food safety, function facilities (including photos and downloads), customer testimonials and management qualifications.
Local Connections - share personal information about the staff (with a group photo) and start an online diary to share the life of the business (some excellent new ones added to the cafe blog list). Name tags are important, as is more support for local 'good causes'. Play up local product origins and suppliers on menus and wine lists.
People Love What You Do! - even if you work long hours for low money, there are many people who envy your job...the food, drinks, people, bustle & laughter! There will be scary moments in 2009, but when you're 'on stage' with customers, keep smiling and share a positive message. They've come to escape hard times, not hear about yours!
Print this and share with your staff
Profitable Hospitality offers management and cost-control systems (Manuals & CD-ROMs) for restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars and clubs. The systems are based on the extensive consulting and operating experience of CEO Ken Burgin, and enable busy owners and managers to set up complete operating and cost-control systems in minutes, not months. Profitable Hospitality also runs regular management training workshops in the areas of kitchen profit & efficiency, restaurant marketing and functions management. A free monthly e-newsletter keeps you up to date on the latest industry management issues. www.profitablehospitality.com.
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