Ask the Experts: Spring 2018

Business advice from our resident experts.

Problem: Small doughnut shop is losing $5,000 per month.
Solution: Close at 3 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. because sales did not offset labor costs.
Benefit: Eliminated monthly loss and provided the owner two to three additional hours a day to spend on other matters, such as social media and its new breakfast sandwiches. The shop was in the black for the first time in six months.

Problem: Product waste from making protein bars in disposable aluminum pans. After baking, workers trimmed the bars and then packaged into individual containers.
Solution: Bake in single-serve containers.
Benefit: No trim loss or repackaging required, which saves 16 hours of labor per week and an additional savings of $8,000 each year on disposable baking pans.

Problem: Your menu has become too big to manage. 
Solution: Reduce the number of total menu items according to bestsellers and items that are tied to your brand. Make use of cross-utilizing ingredients in more than one dish.
Benefit: Eliminating items can help you focus on business growth and dishes that perform. It also reduces the number of hands that touch the plate, while keeping food costs more consistent.

Problem: Diners complain about prices.
Solution: Explain that quality food is not cheap, especially beef and seafood. Explain where the food is from, and any special measures that growers and purveyors are using to produce a superior product. Tell them to watch the new Netflix series, “Rotten.”
Benefit: You bring customers into the fold and deepen brand awareness.

Problem: Staff hates working brunch.
Solution: Entice staff to volunteer for the shift by rewarding servers with prime shifts and stations later in the week. Give cooks a get-out-of cleanup pass for each brunch shift worked. Use remaining ingredients from the prior night’s dishes for brunch specials to reduce morning prep.
Benefit: Incentivize staff and hopefully engender happier workers.

Problem: Delivery services mess up orders.
Solution: Do whatever you can to satisfy the customer, and accept blame by comping an order or offering a complimentary item on the next visit. Make sure your system allows for the promo code. Be super nice.
Benefit: You’re building customer loyalty in an ever-increasing takeout space.

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