It’s that time of year once again, where we all spy those gym memberships and resolve to clear out the junk in our lives — for a week or two anyway. Unfortunately, most New Years resolutions don’t stick. We set ourselves up with lofty expectations and then punish ourselves when we can’t meet them.
This year, let’s all resolve to break away from the vicious cycle of dashed hopes and hurt feelings — and instead look at what we can do that’s practical, manageable, and will have a big effect (with pretty small effort).
On that note, we have 10 New Years resolutions specifically for our readers who manage restaurants to consider in the fleeting moments between front and back of house, between lunch and dinner service, between work, home, and work all over again. Any one of these items can change your year for the better — with absolutely no exercise equipment or fad dieting tools required.
1. Clean where you’ve never cleaned before.
We know — every restaurant has a cleaning regimen that’s thorough, regimented, and couldn’t be better. Except for that one spot. You know where it is. Everyone has ONE spot that gets passed up when time is tight and the week gets busy. Maybe it’s hard to get to. Maybe it doesn’t seem THAT important when you have to get to other pressing tasks. But dirt can pile up over time, and making sure it doesn’t get overlooked this year is a great way to feel accomplished from day one.
2. Buy new shoes.
There’s no question that your shoes (and consequently, your feet) take a beating working in a restaurant environment. Making sure you have the right no-slip tread for your safety — not to mention quality arch support for your overall health — can make all the difference in how physically challenging your job needs to be.
3. Don’t forget to eat.
With so many New Years resolutions focusing on eating less, we have a counter argument. It’s easy to be so busy that you skip breakfast, barely nibble at lunch, and then end up wolfing down dinner right before hitting the hay at night. This can mean you don’t have the energy you need to be at your best during your shift. Take time out every day to have at least one sit-down, calm meal away from the chaos of the kitchen, allowing for a snack during your break. Don’t forget to eat those fruits and vegetables. Your body and brain need the fuel.
4. Get your taxes in on time.
Don’t let your stomach churn about it any longer than it needs to. No one likes paying taxes, but the more organized you are, the less stressful an ordeal it becomes. Not to mention, the earlier you plan and execute your taxes, the more options you have at your disposal in case not everything is what you expected.
5. Go a little greener.
With so much talk of sustainability and carbon footprints, recycling and going stem to root, it can be tempting to just throw up your hands and say, “I can’t afford it.” or “It’s too much to deal with.” Start small. Pick one little thing, whether it’s replacing your to-go containers with recycled material or just asking delivery customers if they really need all those extra napkins.
6. Answer reviews — bad and good.
Our data shows diners who get responses from restaurants they review return more frequently and spend more when they do — even if their initial comment was negative. Everyone wants to feel like their feedback is heard, but a well-worded apology or even just a thank you for a compliment can make the difference between a lifelong customer and a big missed opportunity.
7. Think ahead on menu changes.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start planning your spring (or summer or fall) menu. Your chef needs to work with their staff to ensure everything can be prepared to the best of their abilities. Your meat and produce vendors need a heads up about any specialty items you need. And your printer will definitely appreciate not having to whip out those new menus 30 minutes before your first service starts.
8. Remember to pay yourself.
If you are the owner of your establishment, this is a biggie. It can be so easy to forget that you too are an employee of this business you’ve built. Treat yourself as you would any other staff member, and pay yourself a salary. Your books will be easier to reconcile and your family will thank you for it.
9. Go out to eat — somewhere else.
Don’t let the business lure you into a bubble. Get out of your dining room and into another. Once a month, it’s a good idea to check out what the competition is doing. Do their servers work better or more efficiently than yours? Are there unique things showing up on other menus you haven’t considered. Use that expert eye that got you where you are today and bring those learnings back to your own staff training.
10. Say “thank you.”
If there’s one thing on this list to consider most seriously for 2017, it’s this one. A simple “thank you” given to each staff member at the end of the night, in recognition of their hard work that day, can mean far more to them than you realize. And taking the opportunity to stop by tables in-between courses to thank customers for coming in is the kind of light touchpoint that diners remember — especially the next time they’re deciding between your restaurant and another not-so friendly one.
Want to really get 2017 off on the right foot financially? Check out our 12 ways to increase your restaurant sales, right out of the box.