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6 ways to give your restaurant a boost

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 ‘He who is too busy doing good, finds no time to be good.’

Rabindranath Tagore

Following this year’s blow to the hospitality sector and night-time industry, the team at UK Business Buddy would like to invite you to think a little bit differently about how to give your restaurant or café a boost…

These 6 things you can do are easy and will prove to be worth making slight adjustments to your thinking in the long term as well as give you an instant boost.

1 : Use your community

As independent retailers, your community is absolutely buzzing with people who have been there; done that, made the mistakes and found the successes you’re heading for. Tap into that local knowledge and let others guide you. Do you network, do you eat out at other places, have you ever had a celebration where you host a social event for your indie neighbours? That leads us nicely on to number 2…

2 : Use your neighbours for all they’ve got

Need a new coffee supplier? There’s an independent wholesaler round the corner. Need a new menu printed? There’s an independent printer up the road. You see where we’re going with this. Sticking with that cheap online provider is only going to hurt you in the long run – you’ll never get a group booking from Vistaprint, and Ebay will never ask you to cater for their birthday party

3 : Don’t keep your ideas all to yourself

When your brain goes off on one and starts creating amazing ideas, do you keep them all to yourself or do you share them with everyone? Menu items, cocktail recipes and event ideas are one thing, but do you write down the idea that popped into your head about changing a process or finding some training that could be done before it pops back out again? Keeping a note of the little things that don’t have a direct impact on day to day business, but could have a great effect on how your run the whole shooting match, could actually help you delegate things like social media posting or stock control. That way you can be less busy and get more focused on the important stuff, like paying bills and recruiting

4 : And segueing nicely into: Rinse your staff for all they’re worth

‘Think and you shall become’. What we’re getting at is that if you think your staff team are a lazy bunch of misery-guts, then that’s probably what you’ll get. BUT, if you think of them as eager to please with a desire to better themselves and do more for you, then you’ll definitely find that too… That teenager who’s always a bit late, but not late enough? Give them the Insta feed for a week or so and ask them to capture opening up stories. That lad who looks like he could do with a good night’s sleep and drinks way too much caffeine? Ask him to take part in sourcing new suppliers (coffee or sugar!) and he’ll clean up for meetings. In any walk of life, people generally want to be helpful and useful. If you repeat the same old tasks day in day out, you’re not satisfying that basic urge and will become a robot…

5 : Are you trying too hard?

Another old saying that could be useful here is, ‘You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but you can please some of the people most of the time.’ Stick to what you know and do best and take great care of the loyal (and well paying) customers you already have before adding menus or new entertainment to try attracting a new set. If that’s what you really want to do, then consider writing buyer personas – who comes in, who do you want to come in, are there people out there not being catered for in your community? Then think about introducing a ‘theme day/night’, to cater for those personas, or even closing down for a couple of weeks and re-launching the whole shebang

6 : Avoid identity confusion

See number 5 for a head-start on this one, but also think about what you want to be known for. Is your café a student hang-out? Then don’t put out table cloths and wine lists. Does your restaurant look too ‘swanky’ for a lunch-time crowd? How about the takeaway menu, are orders going out the front door past seated diners? When you know exactly who your customers are and what you provide for them, carry this identity right through to your logo, font, menu design, website aesthetics and social media tone of voice. That way no one will be confused between making a booking via Instagram and arriving at your door.

Let’s take another quick look at number 1 in our list… Get in touch with business owners who know what they’re talking about, not because we’re arrogant, but because we’ve experienced it. Anna and Rosie are great resources, as is the whole of the Independent Oxford Directory. And if you need specific advice on business costs, more specifically reducing them, ask your fellow Indie member, Nic Rutherford of UK Business Buddy. That’s me!

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