Common Problems Restaurants Face (And How To Overcome Them)

The restaurant business can be fun, educational, and rewarding to get into - but it’s also notoriously difficult. Running a successful restaurant means addressing a virtually unending series of demands, and overcoming challenges that often seem to come out of nowhere. It’s for this reason that even some of the world’s most successful restaurateurs have stories about early failures.


At the same time however, as with any other business venture, you can set your restaurant up for success by trying to predict and address some of the likelier challenges in advance. To that end, we’re taking a look at some of the most common problems restaurants face, and how they can be handled.

Source: https://supernormalpodcast.com/2018/06/08/a-selfish-letter-on-loss/

Staffing


If you’re working on starting your own restaurant, you undoubtedly have a vision in your mind for how it will turn out. This is part of what makes the whole venture so appealing - the idea of bringing an idea to life just as you imagined it. However, it can also lead you to forget about all the people you’ll ultimately need to trust to make the restaurant work. It’s not uncommon for restaurants to struggle with staffing, either by having the wrong people in place at the outset or by failing to adjust on the fly as employees come and go.


There’s no way to prevent all of the possible issues that might arise down the road, but by making sure you have smart, capable people in key positions at the beginning, you’ll set yourself up for success. A previous piece at Jobletics outlined the important roles for any restaurant, from the manager and chef to the dishwashers and bussers, and what you should look for in each role. Keep this information handy and you’ll be less likely to experience staffing-related problems.


Menu Planning


Chances are you know what general type of restaurant you want to start before you give much thought to the actual specifics of the menu. That’s perfectly natural, but if you wait too long to plan (and test) a menu, you may find that it inhibits the restaurant’s success and growth.


In the end, the point isn’t just to make sure some interesting dishes you want to serve are included. It’s to create a sort of composition that is at once cohesive, unique, and simple for patrons. You want the menu to make sense, from the first appetizer to the last bottle of wine; you want it to express a vibe and provide combinations someone can’t get at any other restaurant; and you want it to do this without overwhelming customers. There’s more of an art to menu creation than a lot of first-time restaurant owners realize, but simply by recognizing this fact - and by working closely with your head chef, restaurant manager, and if necessary, sommelier - you can prevent most issues.


Tracking & Organization


This category covers a lot of ground, but suffice it to say a restaurant can be a very chaotic environment, even when things appear calm in the dining room. Managing everything from inventory, to cook times, to waiting lists, and everything in between, requires a great deal of organization that can quickly overwhelm an unprepared restaurant owner and manager.


Marketing Manager Taylor Fasulas of Verizon Connect Australia has some simple but vital organization tips for small business owners and managers that can certainly apply to restaurants in this regard. Essentially, she recommends sticking to a plan by keeping a running track of objectives over the course of any given day. The idea is that if you start with a detailed checklist, it becomes easier to keep a full range of tasks in mind. It can also provide you with information based on what tasks you complete and how quickly that will help you adjust and plan for the future. Now, you may have to have different checklists for different aspects of the restaurant, but generally speaking a tracking system can do a lot for organization and adjustment.


Marketing


Sometimes the act of setting the restaurant up and getting it operating can be so all-consuming that you almost forget to get the word out! This will be a bigger problem for some than others, depending for the most part on a given restaurant’s location. A new spot opening up in a trendy midtown area will attract attention on its own the way a small neighborhood restaurant might not. Regardless though, some marketing is a good idea, if not an absolute necessity.


Laura Manson of 99 Dollar Social provides an excellent write-up for the different strategies and approaches restaurant owners need to take to get the word out. She covers the importance of social media and an updated web presence, brings up creative ideas like offering contests or reaching out to local food bloggers, and even mentions the importance that local food apps have on this scene today. Her write-up makes it clear that there’s a lot of work involved, and if possible you may even want to consider having an employee who’s wholly dedicated to marketing. But it also clarifies the efforts that can put your restaurant on the map.


Written for jobletics.com by Josephine Pearce

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