ASK THE EXPERTS

Food Fanatics chefs and restaurant operations consultants help fix everyday industry issues

PROBLEM: Increasing cost of labor and shrinking employee pool.

SOLUTION: Automation, such as kiosk ordering and hand-held tableside point of sales. These options aren’t new, but the choices are better today and warrant another look.

BENEFIT: Lower labor cost, fewer employees serving more customers and faster and more efficient service. The upfront costs are offset when staff and customers are comfortable with the change. Fully commit with ongoing training and clear directions to guests.



PROBLEM: Menu is tired and needs a jolt. Change can be good, but longtime loyal customers may not be receptive.

SOLUTION: Pair familiar favorites with on-trend accents. If you offer a steak or roast chicken, for example, top it off with a butter infused with bold Indian spices or whipped with miso or ssamjang, a Korean paste. That same butter also could be tossed with grilled or roasted vegetables.



PROBLEM: Younger workers aren’t responding to incentives.

SOLUTION: Do your incentives speak to them? According to surveys, younger workers have shorter attention spans than millennials. Not surprisingly, they respond better to immediate gratification. Ensure incentives, whether they’re monetary rewards, discounts for dining or schedule preferences, come sooner rather than later.

BENEFIT: Understanding what matters most to your workers leads to better performance and a stronger commitment to the job.



PROBLEM: Customers are complaining about the quality of delivery—food isn’t warm, containers leak. Are delivery services all that different?

SOLUTION: Before you dump your current delivery system, look at your packaging. How does it rank in quality? What menu items are getting the most complaints? After evaluating the materials, determine whether the size of the containers is the right fit for the amount of food.

BENEFIT: With the growth of off-premise dining, it’s good business sense to shore up any deficiencies in that area. Ultimately, food quality will more likely have a greater impact on the restaurant.



PROBLEM: Posting on social media isn’t yielding results.

SOLUTION: Develop a results-minded social media strategy by identifying goals, whether it’s increasing dessert sales or calling out new drink specials. Posting photos of beer when customers are familiar with your selection won’t generate engagement. Also use ad-targeting features to pinpoint and refine your desired demographics.

BENEFIT: Goal-minded posts make it possible to track whether the effort was successful and to adjust your strategy accordingly. Before every post, ask yourself the question: “What will this picture, video or sentence accomplish for me and my business?”

Got a question for the experts?

Send your challenges, comments and suggestions to ask@FoodFanatics.com.