In this frenzy we all know as the restaurant industry, it’s easy to assume that staying in business is as simple as finding a niche and creating a great culture of great service and tasty food.
As one's tenure in the restaurant business goes on, these factors become part of a bigger picture when talking about examples of stellar restaurants. In fact, successful restaurateurs have more in common with CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs in other industries than you might think!
If you’re a current restaurateur or are thinking about starting your own business, here are a few hospitality skills that you’ll want to hone in on as your industry of choice continues to change in the next few years.
1) Data Analysis
To the layperson, the restaurant business is glamorous.
Customers see you as the person that provides the food, beverages, and ambiance so they can have a good time. You’re the person that can wine and dine, which looks like a whole lot of fun! Why in the world would anyone choose a desk job?
That's totally how it goes in this business. Right? Wrong. That's right - wrong.
Seasoned restaurateurs know that there's much more at stake, and that the ultimate goal is to perfect the guest experience. Happy guests result in happy dollars for you. They also know that behind every change or decision made is a dollar amount – rolling out a loyalty program, incorporating new spirits into your beverage program, and spending hours dissecting social media engagement comes with a cost. And as we know, there are a lot of costs associated with operating a restaurant. Thorough data analysis will ensure you make decisions that will make the most of your investments.
Those customers may be shocked to know that reporting and forecasting - things "reserved for 9-5 office life" - should play a very big part in your day to day operations.
It’s important to keep your concept fresh, know how to make decisions that wow your guests while increasing your revenue, make sure your menu doesn’t go stale, and have a great team to execute service and new initiatives that fit into your mission statement. This information can be accurately obtained by taking a deep dive and analyzing your restaurant's data. It helps to work with a analytics POS provider so you can get this information in one place instead of crunching numbers and flipping through papers.
This article from Fast Company, a magazine for entrepreneurs, highlights the importance of “trendspotting.” Never heard this term before? It means recognizing what is changing in your day-to-day operations, as well as seeking out industry trends and developments in other ways like trade shows.
Stay ahead of your competition by keeping your eyes and ears to the ground at all times, engage with your fellow restaurant operators, and be on the lookout for opportunities to keep learning. Don’t forget to keep in close contact with your staff, who are your boots-on-the-ground when it comes to feedback about the latest trends.
3) Social Media Prowess
Some argue that smartphones are replacing human interaction, but if you think about it, social media has had the opposite effect. We are now able to interact with each other in more ways than ever before as more social media platforms make their way into our daily lives.
Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Periscope - all are valuable tools that will help you build a relationship with new customers, keep your regulars, and work your way into the community you want to reach.
This is also a really fun way to develop the first hospitality skill - data analysis - to use social media to target your customer base. Stay on top of all platforms available and keep researching innovative ways to use social media to stand out. For example, have you started using Instagram Stories yet?
Does social media make you roll your eyes? Do you feel ill in the presence of charts and graphs? Did you smirk at the assumption you’d have time to attend a professional development class about wine trends since you are too busy to breathe already?
By acknowledging this, you are taking huge steps in the right direction!
Part of running a successful business, which all restaurants strive to be, is understanding where to best use your strengths and where you could use some assistance. Partnering with someone who, with you, will form the A-Team of the restaurant world, can make all the difference! You can also invest in a consultant to refresh your brand, or find a business analyst who can translate the numbers into a narrative about your finances. You just need to know the areas where you need help and where your strengths lie.
The future is on its way!
First and foremost, a restaurant is a business, and these hospitality skills will help you translate your decisions into success! You may be just starting up and looking for potential investors to create the restaurant of your dreams. Or perhaps you’ve established your company and are expanding into new territory. No matter where you are in your restaurant career, you’ll want to make sure you utilize these hospitality skills, and strengthen them every day, so you can see your business in operation for years to come!
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