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Use the five R’s to increase menu profitability

Q: This time of year we evaluate our menu for changes. In the past, we’ve done this on emotion rather than data. Where should we start our analysis?

A:
Menus are the secret love affair of restaurant owners. They often reflect the founder’s aspirations and ideas of what is missing in the market. Evaluating the menu several times per year creates good habits that keep the brand fresh. Tracking what sells and, just as importantly, what doesn’t sell is a weekly task to identify trends and assist in adjusting the menu. The top 20 percent of items sold typically represent 70 to 80 percent of sales. Every item deserves a stringent analysis of whether it belongs on the menu. If analytical behavior is slack or absent the number of menu items will increase, creating opportunity for performance issues. It’s natural to retain items because a vocal guest may be upset if it disappears from the menu, but facts are facts; if it doesn’t sell, take it off. Smaller menus are easier to train, use fewer ingredients, make problem solving easier, increase table turns by reducing the time spent with the menu and if engineered correctly, maximize margin.

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Protect profits by shifting labor management practices

Q:With all the changes to minimum wage and the tightening labor market, what tactics can help us be more productive and remain profitable?

A:
Maintaining the status quo or hoping higher wages are going to slow down contradicts the increasing momentum of the progressive political movement. With voters, labor unions and politicians taking an increasing role of driving wages up, the labor model of the past is fading. To stay relevant and protect profits, start planning and changing behavior today. Many businesses are using this time to “grow up” as a business by offering more predictable earnings and insurance for employees. The following tactics will assist in transition to a new era in labor management:

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Improve performance with results focused training

Q: As we begin hiring for our busier season, we are re-examining our training practices. In the past, it seems like we were constantly chasing our tails as business rapidly improves. I’d like this year to be better than years past. What needs to change to improve performance?

A:
Training is the number one opportunity for improving performance in any business. It’s also the one discipline treated as disposable. When times are busy the excuse is there is no time to train. When times are slow the excuse is there is no money to train. Training is an investment just like a new piece of equipment. It’s not something to be shelved in good or bad times; it’s something to constantly be sharpening. Reading through training material from organizations provides a sense of what that organization is all about. Some material is technical and detailed, other material is philosophical and brand-based. Great training, written or not, inspires results and delivers the brand promise to the employee resulting in technical excellence and an enhanced guest and employee experience.

The following should expected of every training system:

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