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Resolutions for Restaurants: Ways to Grow in 2013.

Welcome to 2013! Another year has come and gone and, as usual, it seems that everyone is making changes. Gym memberships are up 40%, diet book sales are skyrocketing, and your irritatingly ambitious neighbor has taken up jogging (you suspect, purely for the purpose of shaming you each morning as you wander to the curb in your snuggie to get the paper.) There are three categories of people when it comes to resolutions: There are those who make them and actually keep them (quite the rare breed), Those who make them and keep them for a couple of weeks before throwing in the towel, and those who don’t make any resolutions at all because it’s just too painful to get smacked in the face, year after year, with such a blatant reminder of one’s utter and epic failure.

Typically, things slow down a bit for restaurants at the beginning of the year. People tend to eat out less after the holidays for a number of reasons ranging from over-extended pocketbooks to over-extended pants. Therefore, the start of a new year is the perfect time to step back, take a broad view, and make some changes of our own. Taking cues from the most clichéd American resolutions, I’ve mapped out a few ways that we can win in 2013.

  1. Slim down: (I warned you about the clichés.) While restaurants don’t need to lose actual pounds, we should consider slimming down in a metaphoric sense. Busy restaurants tend to become overwhelming and chaotic if measures are not taken to streamline operations. Many owners are switching from traditional POS to cloud computing systems. This allows them to simultaneously consolidate software while accessing restaurant information remotely. Check with your front of house managers and make sure that you haven’t hired too many (or too few) servers and food runners for your needs. Erring on either end of the spectrum can cause problems.
  2. Cut Back: Many folks will be trying to save money in all kinds of ways, big and small throughout the coming year, and we should do the same. Take a second look at your purveyors and make sure that you are getting the best prices on all of your products. Take a peek in the kitchen and try and cut down on food waste this year.  Re-inspect your food cost percentage. Keep in mind that food cost is elastic and make changes as you see fit. Your wallet will thank you later.
  3. Simplify: Take a moment to re-examine your menu. Has your chef managed to add nineteen additional items to the list of entrees? Sure, guests appreciate choices, but too many can often be overwhelming. Consider simplifying your menu. While you’re at it, take a look around your dining room and consider eliminating clutter. When it comes to restaurant décor, less is more, and clean, bright spaces are always inviting.
  4. Try something new: One of the most common means of self-improvement at the start of a new year is to try something new.  Consider supporting a new charity. Think about implementing a daily (or even weekly) family meal. Come up with a new rewards system for servers who consistently outsell their peers. Change up your own schedule. Even small changes like these can give you a new perspective and may even inspire you to make bigger, more significant changes.

So what kind of resolution-maker will you be this year? Will you follow through with the changes you intend to make, or will you give up after week two? One of the great things about making resolutions in a restaurant is that you an entire staff to hold you accountable to your promises. It’s a whole lot harder to call it quits when you have an audience! We’d love to hear about the ways you’re looking to change and improve your restaurant in 2013.  Please feel free to leave a comment below!