How is your season shaping up? That should be a question constantly on your mind at this time of year. Is your dining room buzzing with customers when it should be? Are there catering and private events on the reservation books? Do you see a lot of family faces? Are you whittling down the debt that you accumulated during the slow season of winter? Is the staff happy and is the kitchen able to handle the rush on nights when an ambitious manager has over booked the dining room?
Each of these are questions that will instinctively give you a feel for how you are performing as the summer season gets into full swing. But, you should also have some back up data from your book keeper, or who ever is charting the numbers. A frequent fallacy of the business is that a packed house is a profitable house. Not necessarily so. Make sure that you are tracking your customer count, your average ticket price, your liquor sales, and how many specials you are selling weekly.
These are all signals that will guide you on whether or not you need to alter your course or if you are headed in the perfect direction.
Take "Specials" for instance. How many nights a week do you run a special? Do you track it the next day to see if it sold out? IT should have. And, as we all know, a special is special for a few reasons. Naturally it is something that isn´t on the menu, but it also should be a popular creation from the chef, and, it should have a nice profit margin built into it. If it was prepared, but doesn´t sell, then it has cost the house money. It´s not so special.
Make sure that your customer count is up from last year. And, take a good look at what is selling. Share this with your staff to educate them on the art of the up-sell. Suggestive selling is a tool that has saved many an owner over the years.
Finally, after you have taken a good look at your numbers and your bottom line you need to decide where to put your energies. More advertising- how about a postcard? An email blast may work for that special event in July.
More catering? Have your catering manager make some calls. Even if they don´t want to book an event you have gotten your name in front of the public.
And finally, think about a neighbor´s appreciation night in August. If you begin to advertise it now you will get the boost of the invitation long before you have to prepare the food.
On the other hand if you are happy with your successes so far this season, sit back, relax for five minutes, and congratulation yourself….
O.K. Time´s up. Back to work.