Common restaurant problems and solutions

While there will be problems with any business, in the restaurant industry a problem can be a disaster if you let it. Instead of treating a difficult situation as a problem, turn it around so that it works in your favor. Find solutions to common restaurant business problems that can turn them into opportunities.

A common opportunity in the foodservice business is downtime. After lunch and before dinner, or between breakfast and lunch, you’ll probably have at least an hour without anyone walking through the door. Not only is this bad for your bottom line, but potential diners passing by may think your restaurant is empty because it’s poor. So you need to fill those tables as much as possible by enticing people to visit your restaurant between prime hours. You could offer a happy hour with free appetizers or a free buffet of chips and dip. A special mid-morning brunch will attract shoppers and passers-by, and once the business community finds out, your restaurant will be the perfect spot for an early meeting. You may also have a special menu for those slow hours, perhaps half portions with corresponding prices, or items that aren’t available at any other time of day.

Weather is another factor that can prevent customers from dining out. Your job is to lure them out of their houses, into the heat, cold or rain and through your doors! This is a fun opportunity to get creative and get your staff involved. Choose a name for your promotion and perhaps run a contest with a small incentive if the employee’s idea is chosen. Many restaurants in Phoenix, Arizona have promotions during the summer, when temperatures can reach 120 degrees and no one really wants to leave their air-conditioned homes or offices. They offer a percentage discount for each degree above a certain temperature, special menus with reduced prices or exotic drinks for a limited time. You can offer free iced tea during the hottest days of summer, a complimentary scoop of ice cream after a meal, or provide free valet parking or other services to minimize exposure to heat. In winter, you can welcome your guests with free hot chocolate or hot apple cider.

Another headache for restaurants is their seating arrangements. Making the most of every inch of floor space means some tables are in less desirable places, like near the kitchen, entryway, or a bathroom. You can make these tables the most popular by offering free appetizers, desserts, or other perks to the people who sit there. Restaurants that turn this problem into such opportunities for their customers often have those “undesirable” tables filled before anyone else!

Another problem that often arises is the sale of a popular menu item before the end of the day. If customers find that a variety of menu items are not available, they can simply leave and not return. Turn this into an opportunity by apologizing to the diner and offering them a coupon that entitles them to get the item for free the next time they visit. Tell them about other menu items they might enjoy instead. They may find a new favorite!

Before starting your restaurant business, give some thought to the types of issues that can arise in the day-to-day running of your establishment. Successful restaurant entrepreneurs find ways to turn these problems into profitable opportunities!

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June 22, 2022