Who Can Help Me With My Restaurant in Baltimore?
The Top 11 Dead End Myths That Kill Most Restaurants Before They Open
This is the question we here constantly, whether in Baltimore, Washington DC, Canada, North Carolina or the Caribbean. Entrepreneurs opening new concepts as well as existing restaurateurs who’ve hit a wall, and need outside expertise to solve their problems come to Modern Food Arts Consulting for help.
Opening a restaurant is accompanied by a host of complex challenges and requires difficult decision making that can make or break your business and future! If a first-time restaurateur, expect to make hundreds of decisions before you open the door the first time for business. With such complexity and multi-tasking, I guarantee one thing, you will make mistakes. The critical path requires that you make quality decisions based on experience and research and on important issues, while avoiding the backbreaking mistakes that can cripple your business before you even open the doors.
With than in mind, the list below are the top 11 dead end myths that kill most restaurants before they open their doors:
If I design a beautiful restaurant, I’m guaranteed success-
The only certainty in this business, is uncertainty! This is a complex and fast moving business that frustrates and bewilders the most seasoned of entrepreneurs. Here’s the real formula, A beautiful restaurant, great food and beverage, and the right price/value proposition equals, a fighting chance to succeed, nothing more. As a business owner in this industry, leave nothing to chance, and take nothing for granted! What will give you a leg-up on success is the building of a raving fan base, BEFORE you open the doors, so when the doors do open, guests will flock to see if the hype meets reality. You get one shot at making a first impression…don’t screw it up!
I don’t have to research my true costs as compared to retail prices I charge…it will all work out-
Open your concept (or launch a new menu in an existing concept) without understanding what the true cost is of the plates you’re offering, you’re already the walking dead! Wondering how much the meal you just served to your guest actually costs? You’re in serious trouble! What’s worse are those who think they know the cost, but used flawed data or formulas to calculate their costs! Here’s a hint, do you know what your yield is on raw chicken that you roast and use in a stew, soup or chili? If not, you’re flying blind. When we’re asked who can help me with my restaurant in Baltimore or anywhere for that matter, we remind potential clients that they can quite often help themselves without paying for a consultant!
In many, and maybe most restaurants, menus are created by chefs or cooks who only care if the dishes they create are flavorful and aesthetically pleasing. If they tell you that the food cost is X without walking through the math, be afraid, very afraid! When I opened my first restaurant as an executive chef, I sold a steak dish that was a sensation with our guests. I found out however when experiencing poor food costs results for the next three months, that I hadn’t taken yield and associated costs of sauce and garnish into the calculated cost, which resulted in a 42% food cost vs. the 31% without those two key ingredients.
I was amazed to find out how much a demi-glace sauce and porcini confit garnish can add to plate costs! Needless to say, I learned that lesson and hundreds more over the next decade as I realized how much I didn’t yet know. Those who don’t take the time to calculate true yield and complete plate costs to produce your menu, food cost issues will eat you alive quickly, and turn your dream business into a nightmare in a hurry! Poorly managed cost controls are often the kiss of death for restaurants.
Preparing Demi Glace
I only have to hire a few employees before I see how busy I’m going to be-
The harsh reality is that understaffing equals underperformance. When initially hiring for your restaurant, your inclination will be to hire the minimum number of employees to keep labor costs low….I mean, why pay people to stand around? Wrong answer! Always hire twice the number that you need to run your restaurant. I’ll explain why this is an absolute must. Twenty percent of those you initially hire will quit in the first two weeks, when they realize that they don’t like you or the position.
You’ll find another 20% aren’t worth keeping during that same two-week period when you realize that they have no interest in our industry. Prune the hiring tree immediately, and rid yourself of dead wood! The remaining 60% will become the core team that you invest in and the chemistry between you, them and one another is positive and aligned. That 60% that’s left will provide the full team plus a measure of contingency as they come to you and want or need time off or coverage. You may think you did well screening people during the initial interview and hire process, but in this hospitality business, the “flim-flam factor” is enormous, act accordingly. Think you’re the exception, trust me, you are not immune.
I can do it all myself and save money on managers and supervisors-
So you’re a modern day Superhero with boundless energy, focus and an all-seeing eye! Come see me in 90-days! I haven’t met ONE superstar that figured out how to do it alone. Do so and you will be stolen from, lied to, ripped off and your guests will bare the brunt of having no leadership within your restaurant. When you initially try, and you probably will, you’ll burn out like a shooting star and your restaurant and guests will suffer.
What you must do is to focus on ownership issues that require your direct attention and involvement and execute the responsibilities and duties that match your specific skill set. Then, find a trustworthy second in command to delegate other duties to that match up with their skill set and experience! Before asking who can help me with my restaurant, ask yourself if you’ve done all you can with the resources that you already have!
I own the place, so I don’t have to be here…I’ll just come in for dinner with my friends-
No, no, no… don’t rely on a new or untested supervisor or manager to operate your dream business and restaurant for you, thinking it possible to just sit back and cash in on all the money that will come in. The restaurant business isn’t kind to absentee ownership. Even a celebrity restaurateur or chef with a sizeable team of studs and operations experts must be directly involved to create the required habits of success. There are those who seem to be able to successfully open restaurants with little or no direct involvement, but rest assured that they paid their dues early on when opening their establishments!
When first opening your restaurant, become an obsessive student of business, learning and understanding everything about operations, you’ll be so glad you did. Over time, your skills will evolve and your understanding of the mechanics of business success will develop . Only then can you begin to outsource, delegate and automate. Far too often, first-time and short time restaurateurs take learning and experience for granted, not committing the time necessary to succeed. So, who can help me with my restaurant often comes from entrepreneurs that don’t want to do the work required to set themselves up for success!
You don’t need systems in place to run a restaurant, it’s intuitive-
Systems are the backbone of any restaurant or foodservice concept! Without documented operations systems for your staff and managers to use as guidelines and enforceable rules, be prepared to fail, often. Quality systems provide accountability and expectation for staff members and leaders, which in turn allows you to focus on forward growth and visionary development that keep you ahead of your market and competitors! The goal of restaurateurs the world over is to work in their business, and not on their business. Without pragmatic and comprehensive (but simple) however, you will be a slave to your business and in constant reactionary mode.
Speed is far more important than focus–
Not so fast! Quality restaurateurs must develop their ability to focus and organize to run a successful long-term enterprise! Remember, you are the air-traffic controller ultimately, and everyone will look to you for your time and the answers. The hospitality business is and evolving and morphing business, and has so many layers and nuances, that succumbing to distraction and making the ‘easy and uneducated decision’ becomes the first step to failure. The successful restaurateur approaches each topic and task decisively and with a specific outcome in mind.
Without this mindset, prepare to find you falling down endless rabbit holes and putting out fires constantly. Expecting that modern equipment, new menus or trendier packaging is the answer to struggling concepts is a fool’s game. Spend zero time on the distractions that have no bearing on performance and operational needs of your business. It can be very difficult, but you must be a calm, focused and direct leader that has one path, strategy and management style, otherwise, dissention will creep into your culture and your business.
I don’t have to spend money on mock service training or pre-opening rehearsal, it costs too much-
You only have one chance to make a first impression in this business! The reality is that competition is intense, consumers are demanding and performance will make or break your brand! Be prepared for everything and anything to happen. But without rehearsal and repetition, and until you provide your service team with the chance to practice in a live environment where you control the outcome, you don’t have a clue or a chance to succeed. Before you open public, invite your friends, family and trusted colleagues to a “Mock” or VIP Service and soft opening to stress test your kitchen, staff and menus.
As a first-time restaurateur and concept, it’s extremely difficult to come back from bad reviews and the public won’t care that you’re new and just opened. I open every new restaurant through inviting friends and family before opening to the public. This gives you time to test, tweak, review, refine, adjust, make changes and try again before you opening. Your first service will be chaotic and you’ll want to adjust several product and service elements to address performance before you opening.
I have to serve every type of food and beverage that my guests ask for to increase sales-
This is a death sentence! The phrase “the customer is always right” is crap. The customer should always be made to feel that she is right, but not at the risk of success of your business! There are also times in this business when you just have to say no. If a guest requests that his burger be cooked to death and his fries plated separately, do it.
But unreasonable requests will do more harm than good, and will stress your staff and impact the experience of other guests. There’s no harm in politely declining to accommodate a guest if it potentially harms your business or other guests. Don’t fall victim to ridiculous whims of people who have no regard for you or your business. But kill them with kindness while doing so!
I’m going to serve this menu because it consists of every dish that I love, so my guests will love it too-
Your guests don’t care what you like! Restaurants exist to provide pleasurable dining experiences for what guest want, not their owners. You like loud music and spicy food? That’s great, but if in a market of retiree’s, your concept and overall brand is not aligned with the market you serve. In general, it’s simple. Offer a consistent, memorable and pleasurable experience, an your guests will always come back.
Only the product and the price points matter in building loyal guests and sales-
We hear this a lot, but nothing is further from the truth. Today’s consumer want an experience that’s memorable, interactive, inclusionary and entertaining! A great steak at a low price gets you in the price game with the discounters who have created consumer behaviors focused on low cost and discounts. There’s a reason why many restaurateurs are moving away from the Groupon and Living Social models…they’re not sustainable!
Train your guests to respond to discounts and they will only visit you when you offer a discount. Train your guests to visit you for the experience, quality, ambiance and fun, and they will visit you anytime that they want to have fun and enjoy dining out…which is constantly!
The old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail” is more applicable to this industry than any other. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll be among the top ten-percentile of restaurants today. You’ll also be one step closer on your journey to hospitality wealth and success!
Modern Food Arts Consulting offers a myriad of services and value based programs for progressive restaurateurs. We understand that our success is predicated on your success, period! When opening a restaurant in Baltimore, or any city, call us first, you’ll be glad you did!
Who can help you with your restaurant? Call us today to see what we can do for your existing concept or the one you’ve been dreaming of for years!
The Key Start Up Project List
- Name & Logo Creation
- Branding Package
- Business Plan
- Investor Presentation
- Website Design
- Site & Feasibility Assessment
- Site & Feasibility Study
- Menu Creation
- Signage Design
- Operating Manual Creation
- Concept Design
- Operation Roll-out
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