There’s a time to save and a time to spend. When you have a great month or two or another financial boon, your first instinct is probably to invest those extra funds right back into your business. But with so many moving parts to every restaurant, how can you know which parts need it the most? Check out the list below to get some good ideas for what improvements might do the most good for your business.
1. An EMV-enabled POS System
Have you been putting off upgrading your point-of-sale system to take EMV-enabled credit and debit cards? It’s easy to want to put it off, right? I mean, your current system isn’t broken, so why not just forget about the EMV chip, right?
But the fact is that any business not embracing EMV technology can potentially be liable for any credit card fraud that occurs when an EMV reader isn’t used on an EMV chip-enabled card. So why take that chance? Upgrading to EMV technology will protect you and ensure you are compliant with the current requirement – plus you’re helping protect your customers at the same time!
2. A Nutritionist
Updating your menus to include nutritional information is going to be important to you in the next year, and it’s no easy task. Many restaurants will be required by law to have certain health information on their menu by next April, and even ones that aren’t will likely face heightened scrutiny from consumers when the law goes into effect. And business being honest about nutrition can send a message to your consumer base. They want to feel they can trust you and updating your menus to reflect that transparency can make a huge difference for your reputation in the community. Hiring a nutritionist to record and report on all the data you need for your menu is one sure way to get that information updated in time, if your chef isn’t able to do so themselves.
3. New Menus
With the need for reporting nutritional data, there will also come a need for reprinting menus. But there are plenty of other reasons you might want to put money into reprinting your menus, too. Your menus are used every single day, all day. No matter whether they’re paper, laminated, or in slide-in plastic covers, they’re eventually going to start looking worse for wear. Replacing menus (and any plastic covers) when they start to get dirty or picked at will help make your whole restaurant look clean and professional. This goes double if menu items or menu item prices have changed – just putting tape over discontinued dishes or old prices is not going to cut it, especially when diners can start to peel the labels away to see lower prices underneath.
4. New Glassware or Plates
There are so many ways your table settings can dwindle down over time. Plates brake! Glasses get scratched! Cups get chipped! These things are bound to happen in a restaurant, no matter how careful your servers, bussers, and dishwashers are. If you’re running tight on glassware and flatware, consider putting some money down on new sets (hopefully in the same style as your current set so you can simply add to what you still have). You’ll have what you need for full service, and not have to disrupt your kitchen staff with an emergency wash if stock starts to get low.
5. Increased Labor Costs
Particularly this year, changes in labor costs can encompass many different situations. Are you in an area affected by minimum wage increases? What about the latest Obama administration ruling on overtime? Or you may need to promote an employee to manager and need to up their pay to a salary. It could be you want to hire on more employees in general and will need to budget for it. In any of these cases, boosting your funds earmarked for labor costs is a smart move.
6. Updated Safety Materials
Is your kitchen up-to-date on all the safety materials necessary to keep your employees safe — not to mention protect your customers about to eat your food? Refill or replace as needed, particularly floor mats, protective cut gloves (both full hand and finger kept in full supply), and fully charged fire extinguishers. Make sure your first aid kit is fully stocked. Investing in ongoing sanitation and safety education for your staff can also help ensure that the safety materials are being used properly.
7. New Back of House Equipment
Kitchen equipment is used day in and day out. Even equipment that is cleaned regularly and well-maintained will eventually break or lose efficiency. When that happens, the best thing to do is to take care of fixing or replacing it right away – after all, there’s nothing more frustrating to your kitchen staff than not having the tools they need to do their jobs. Keep an eye on all your cooking equipment, but especially the small wares, which can wear out more quickly. And when it does come time to replace your equipment, consider investing in energy efficient models.
8. More marketing
Expanding your marketing reach is another good way to use that extra cash. Try different methods of advertising for a few months at a time to see what works. Give yourself the space to experiment with marketing outlets instead of playing it safe with the small amount of advertising you’ve done in the past. And whether it’s through paid social media, print ads, radio promos, or updating your website, try to promote special events like Happy Hour, summer events, and holiday party opportunities.
Chocolate prices are rising, and many restaurants are feeling a pinch that probably isn’t going to go away any time soon. But if you have desserts on your menu featuring chocolate, lean in and make them stand out. Order high quality chocolate for your more decadent dishes and make those desserts the features of your menu. Suddenly what could be a hindrance becomes a centerpiece of your restaurant’s brand.
An added bonus is chocolate’s durability as an ingredient. Unlike most of the ingredients you order on a regular basis, it doesn’t have to be used right away. So yes, you are ordering a luxury ingredient, but it’s not one you absolutely must use within a week or even month of delivery. If you keep it sealed and stored in a dry, cool area of your kitchen, chocolate can last a year or more before you need to use it. Even opened chocolate can retain its quality up to 10 months as long as you reseal the package and keep it properly stored.
10. Full-scale Renovation of Your Front of House
While small improvements to your front of the house make sense for the minor fixes, it’s time to look at your business and decide if a full make-over is necessary. If it’s time, then it’s time.
Even for full-scale renovations, take the time to organize what work needs to be done and break down what areas the funds you have should go to first. What are your priorities? And if you’re struggling to figure that out for your renovation, we can help.
Our latest eBook lays out everything you need to make a smart decision that pays off dividends over time.