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Cheat Sheet

Starting & Running a Restaurant For Dummies (UK Edition)

The restaurant business is an exciting one, full of challenges and opportunities. And whether you’re a seasoned restaurant veteran or just out of catering college, you can gain some top tips and helpful reminders from this Cheat Sheet.

Making Your Restaurant a Great Place to Work

To make a success of running your restaurant, you need to have a great team on your side. And to get – and keep – a great team on side, you need to make your restaurant a really great place for them to work. Here are some top tips:

  • Educate employees about your products and concept.

  • Let them taste the food on a regular basis.

  • Praise, praise, praise them.

  • Encourage communication.

  • Carry yourself well.

  • Encourage staff camaraderie.

  • Run targeted incentive programs and contests.

  • Cross-train your staff to keep it interesting. Cross-training gives you a lot of flexibility as the manager, and it keeps staff members engaged and interested about new areas of your business.

  • Be consistent. Your staff should know what to expect from you and what you expect from them. Apply policies and procedures consistently across the board.

Spotting Signs of Dissatisfaction among Your Restaurant Guests

The last thing you want on your hands are unsatisfied guests in your restaurant. Remember these top tips for spotting and dealing with diners who may have a problem:

  • Human periscopes: Look for people looking up and around and then back down. Typically, people do this because they don’t have something they need.

  • Leaving food on the plate: Maybe the customer plans to box it up to go home, but confirm this. You want empty plates going back to the dish area.

  • Waiting on a refill: People like full glasses of drink, especially nonalcoholic drinks, so replenish the water, pop, and iced tea regularly.

  • Watch gazing: Customers who keep looking at their watches may not be wondering where their food is, but investigate the situation anyway.

  • Waving and snapping: If you see any of these gestures, it’s not good. Try to get to the customer quickly and sort the problem before they leave.

  • Safe orders: If customers order chicken in your seafood restaurant, they may be afraid of the menu and simply need some educating. Don’t let them miss what you do best.

Simple Steps for Resolving Your Restaurant Customers' Service Issues

When you run your own restaurant, you obviously want your customers to leave after their meal having had a great experience. Sometimes this doesn’t happen, and you’ll want to resolve whatever problem they may have had. Follow these four steps to deal with any customer service issues that may arise in your restaurant:

  1. Listen. Let them talk and don’t interrupt.

  2. Apologise or thank them, depending on situation.

  3. Rectify the current situation.

  4. Develop a long-term solution to avoid future customer-service problems. This step also reinforces to your diner that you heard their issue and acted on it.

Staying Competitive in the Restaurant Business

Running a restaurant has its challenges – amongst them is dealing with the competition. Diners don’t have to come to your restaurant – they could always go somewhere else. You need to remain mindful of this and do all you can to remain competitive. Here are some points to bear in mind:

  • Play up your strengths and make them matter to your diners.

  • Analyse your competition, determine their deficiencies and exploit them.

  • Close the gaps on your own deficiencies.

  • Continually create new points of difference.

  • Know your audience, how your points of difference matter to them, and how to reach them.

Writing Restaurant Menu Lingo that Sells

Writing a great menu is a true art form. Get it right, and you’ll have a restaurant full of diners on your hands. Get it wrong, and you could struggle to get people coming through your door. Here are some tips on putting together a menu that will really sell what you have to offer:

  • Many great menu-item names start with the preparation method. Words like braised, seared, pan-fried, oven-roasted, wood-fired and poached lend a level of prestige to a dish that increases a diner’s perception of its value.

  • Incorporate reasons the dish is special, different or unique into the name. Is your beef aged to perfection? Are your eggs farm fresh? Is your bread baked in-house each morning? Is your produce locally grown or organic?

  • Great ingredients make for great descriptions. Are there any oustanding or hard-to-find items? Does a dish contain seasonal items that you should highlight?

  • Highlight where the ingredients come from. Scottish beef and Roscommon oysters mean something to people.

  • Be more specific. Of course you’re serving pasta, but what kind of pasta? Tell the guests whether it’s fettuccine, linguine, capellini or fusilli. And that sauce you’re serving tonight is probably great, but be more descriptive – ragout, coulis, demi-glace or reduction, for example. Getting down to specifics has the dual advantage of providing more information and enhancing the diner’s perception of the dish.

Discovering the Personality Traits of a Successful Restaurateur

Making a good job of running your own restaurant takes skill and talent. It also helps to develop a number of personality traits to boost your chances of success:

  • Tolerance

  • Business sense

  • Positive energy

  • Ability to hold (or hold off) booze

  • Leadership skills

  • Schmoozability

  • Passion

  • Presence

  • Persistence

  • No life (outside the restaurant)

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