In the service industry, we are trained from day one that “the customer is always right.”
A successful bar or restaurant is wise to put this philosophy first, knowing that happy customers are returning customers, and the key to our bottom line.
But in reality, there are many ways that we can put our profits at risk as we try and meet every need of every customer.
Following some simple strategies to build a loyal customer base while implementing best retail management practices in your restaurant can help protect you from some of the hidden costs of customer service.
Keep Your Food Costs Under Control
There are many ways that keeping your customers happy can increase your food costs.
It’s common for customers to request menu substitutions for allergies and dietary restrictions. And while accommodating such requests is a good business approach in terms of service, limiting how many menu items can be modified and charging a minimal fee for each substitution can help offset the cost and time involved.
It’s also easy to let your food costs get out of control as you aim to provide the highest quality of ingredients for your customers. If you own a burger restaurant, you’ll certainly need to pay for the highest grade of beef available for your customers. But you won’t need the highest grade of condiments or lettuce.
The number one grade will always be more expensive than the second-grade products, and in many cases, the second grade products will fulfill your customer need perfectly. Professional restaurant inventory management software can help you keep track of what grade you require for each dish and order more effectively.
Watch out for Food Waste
Throwing out unused food items can also impact your profits. Whether your portions are too large, or certain ingredients are not proving popular on each plate, without an inventory tracking system it can be next to impossible to record and prevent wasted ingredients.
Similarly, to avoid food being returned to the kitchen by disappointed customers, you want to ensure all your ingredients are fresh and of the highest quality. Making sure your inventory is stored and labelled properly will help you order fresh ingredients more efficiently, reducing food spoilage, waste and lost profit.
You need an efficient way to track the rates of how and when each ingredient is used – restaurant inventory management software can help you to pinpoint and avoid waste in order to save you money.
Train your Staff
Both your front-of-house and kitchen staff are key to ensuring your business benefits from offering good customer service. It’s always worth investing in hiring good staff and training them well to deliver great service.
Your business can suffer if you have inexperienced or untrained team members who don’t understand how to balance customer service with cost-effective solutions. From how the food is prepared to how it’s delivered and served, it’s important your staff know your expectations for meeting both your customer and business needs.
You also need to make sure to hire a trustworthy and experienced manager who can oversee staff training, improve your profitability and manage your inventory software. Having the right people on the floor lets you rest assured your customers and profits are in good hands.
Increase Scheduling Efficiency
While you’re focusing on hiring and training the right staff, you should also make sure you have them working the right hours to match the peak and slower times in your restaurant.
Time is money. If your employees are standing around with nothing to do, your customers will notice and the over-staffing will cost you money. Conversely, if you don’t have enough staff on hand to offer the best service during your busiest times of day, your customers will leave unhappy with a risk of not returning.
You need a tool that can help predict your restaurant’s peak and off-peak hours to help you plan your shifts for optimal service. Switching from paper and pen to an automated system ensures you can accurately track and schedule employee time and improve your restaurant’s overall efficiency.
Know Your Customers
It goes without saying that the key to delivering great customer service is knowing exactly what your customers want.
It’s worth the time to survey your customers and spend some time looking at your turn over rates. Knowing what your customers like or don’t can help you improve your service and secure your business.
Catering to your audience can help you attract more customers and keep your repeat clients coming back. And knowing the exact price attached to keeping them happy will help you and your staff respond to customer needs in a more efficient, cost-effective ways.
Invest in Professional Software
To deliver the best service that keeps your customers returning regularly, but at a cost you can afford, you need professional software for complete restaurant and inventory management.
Whether you’re a 20-table restaurant, a lounge, or chain operation, Optimum Control has a software solution that is ideal for your business. Our range of easy-to-use tools will help you effectively reduce waste, take control of your inventory, save money, calculate recipe costs, reduce unnecessary staff hours, boost productivity and maximize profits.