Some might say that the restaurant industry is experiencing a downturn. That only 10% of restaurants make it past the three year hump (actually a myth, the real number is around 41%). That online ordering from companies like Blue Apron are killing the industry. That just like other brick and mortar businesses, the food & bev. industry is destined to die a slow and prolonged death.
To that we say – Nay!
Ignore the fake news
Ignore the fake restaurant news. In 2017’s reality, the US food and beverage industry consists of over 1 million restaurants and over 14 million employees, which is projected to account for $799 billion in annual revenue – in the US alone!
Skeptical millennials might claim that these figures are nice but most of this revenue goes to the large companies like Starbucks or MickeyD’s. Truth of the matter is that 9 out of 10 restaurants have fewer than 50 employees and 7 out of 10 restaurants are single-location operations. That money stays local and restaurants are instrumental engines of local commerce. There you go hipsters, if you want to give it to the man – keep eating at your local eateries.
One such local eatery is El Caribeno. El Caribeno is a Georgian (the state not the country) bakery and deli specializing in Caribbean cuisine. El Caribeno is based out of Lawrenceville employees about 10 employees. So, according to the statistics above, El Caribeno is your classic local restaurant. In fact, El Caribeno is in the process of opening up their second location, which is why they’re a great illustration of the state local restaurants are in in 2017.
With about 10 employees, El Caribeno is just a little smaller than our staff here at Connecteam. Despite being completely different businesses, El Caribeno and Connecteam are amazingly similar. We’re both experiencing rapid growth, which means that we both need to rapidly hire new employees, and that things can get a bit chaotic at times.
I can tell you that at Connecteam, we definitely drink the KoolAid and use Connecteam to stay organized, on track, and maintain our steady rate of growth while still uniting new and veteran employees around our culture and what we stand for.
At El Caribeno, in order to maintain their steady growth, they use Connecteam to provide training, develop professional skills, manage and share documents, communicate with their employees across all locations, and, most of all, manage procedures like opening and closing the restaurants. Let’s dig deeper:
Training, company policies, and quizzes
You know how half way through your new employee’s first shift you have to take them aside in the middle of the dinner rush and do some necessary on-the-job training? Well, there’s an app for that. El Caribeno used Connecteam to create their own fully branded company app chock full of employee onboarding and training materials.
For new employees they created a welcome packet with onboarding policies that included information like:
- A quiz on where El Caribeno food is from (for an ethnic food restaurant that can be important to know)
- An employee onboarding program – complete with an I-9 and W-4 form available through the mobile app
- An employee handbook with dress code, time & attendance procedures, cell phone policy, employee benefits, and more
- Welcome packet with company details and history
For shift supervisors there’s also a knowledge quiz they need to submit and pass.
For compliance, all employees must complete a sanitation and safety quiz.
This cut the learning curve dramatically and with less of a learning curve you won’t have to say stuff like:
Restaurant opening & closing
I’m not saying your employees are inherently unreliable or that they require constant supervision. However, a restaurant is a tough place to work. Working in a restaurant can be rigorous, monotonous, and thankless. This makes it very difficult to maintain a high level of customer service, safety, cleanliness, and attendance day-in-day-out.
If you’ve watched The Food Network’s show, Mystery Diners, you’re well aware just how bad it can get when the restaurant owner is out of office. As they say,when the cat’s away the mice will play. No boss wants to feel like they need to constantly police their employees to make sure they do a good job.
Connecteam’s workflow asset is a great way for restaurants to assign, manage, and receive insights for repeatable tasks that need to get done. With GPS signals, signatures, and pictures you can make sure everyone is accountable for the tasks they are required to perform and you can free yourself from having to be teacher/cop.
If before, LJ Polanco, owner of El Caribeno, needed to write up, print out, distribute, collect, and file documents and checklists completed by the various departments; with Connecteam, everything can be done from the app. LJ simply creates the workflows once or uses one of the ready made templates, assigns them to his staff and then waits to receive email notifications to generate reports.
All workflows are stored in one place and easily accessible for accountability when necessary. You can even create a workflow that a line manager can fill when they’ve run out of a menu item. This will be sent automatically to the manager who can then order it quickly.
No more telling the wait staff that you’ve 86ed a menu item only to have 10 orders come in for that very same item only 5 minutes later.
And, there’s more
Every restaurant is different yet most restaurants are the same. I’ll give you a minute to mull over that chestnut. Every restaurant has different hurdles that they must face and each hurdle has a different solution. Yet, they’re really all the same two hurdles. First, you need more customers so you have more revenue flowing in. Second, you need to cut down on your operational costs so you have less money being wasted in an in-efficient manner.
For El Caribeno, Connecteam offers a great way to cut down on the amount of time it takes to train employees and improve their on-the-floor performance. So, seemingly, El Caribeno uses Connecteam to cut operational costs by helping them become more efficient in employee onboarding, training, and managing the way they open and close.
But restaurants are different. The wait staff are more than just service providers, they can and do act as salespeople. When you improve training and increase efficiency of sales staff that usually tends to have a positive effect on your sales. This is one of those rare occasions that’s a win-win or actually a double whammy…
Idioms aside, when you improve the professional skills of your workers and provide them with the tools to be more efficient with mundane tasks, you free them up to truly excel and dare I say, even find the silver linings of their service industry job.
Your customers and your employees are on mobile. How can you capitalize?
I’m sure that if I ask you how you get customers for your restaurant the words “mobile” and “local” will pepper the conversation. That’s because 50% of customers who perform a local mobile search will visit a store within a day as compared to 34% when searching from a desktop computer or tablet. Mobile technology has allowed small and local businesses to expand past their curb appeal and reach a much larger audience.
It’s not just about quantity, either. Customers who use their mobile devices to search for a restaurant tend to be better customers. They walk through your doors after already researching your establishment and are much more likely to bring in larger orders. Obviously, to attract the online researcher crowd you need to have a website.
However, having a website for your business and digital presence may have been considered revolutionary back in 2006. In 2017, a website is pretty much a given. To get a leg up on the competition, you need to be on mobile. Your customers, just like everyone else are on their mobile devices. So having a mobile ready website is a necessity. In fact, many restaurants now have their own mobile apps!
Now that we have the front end covered, what about your back office?! This is where you can really step ahead of the competition. While many restaurants today have digitized the way they communicate with their customers many still manage their staff, inventory, and payroll on pen and paper. We know from the El Caribeno case study above, as well as numerous other examples, that a well trained, informed, and efficient workforce can make the difference and here lies your opportunity.
The average age of a restaurant industry employee is 29. Your workers are millennials, and millennials, just like your customers, are on mobile.
Mobile devices are how we communicate and manage our day to day lives. So why aren’t more restaurants leveraging mobile devices to manage their business and acquire more customers?
- Because they fear they won’t be able to handle the new technology successfully.
- Because restaurant owners have their plates full (pun intended) already without having to worry about new technology.
- Because it’s too expensive.
- Because they think it won’t work for them.
This is why Google and Facebook are putting a lot of effort into making their advertising platforms super easy to use, focused on local targeting for ads, and accepting of small advertising budgets. On the business management side, applications like Connecteam, make the process of creating an app to run your business very easy, quick, and free.
Some might say there’s plenty of reasons to procrastinate the digitization of your restaurant. To that that we say – Nay! No more excuses! Get on Facebook and Google and start advertising. Then create your company app with Connecteam to make sure you can handle the influx of new customers.