10 Ways to Make a More Profitable Restaurant


Create a Takeout Menu

When offering a takeout menu you open up your restaurant to a whole new set of customers who don’t have the time to sit down to eat their breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When offering a takeout menu also offer discounts or promotions to nearby office buildings to better increase chances of businesspeople coming through your restaurant.


Learn and Reduce Your Food Costs

An easy way to begin reducing food costs is to look over the ten foods you spend the most on each month. When you’ve identified those ten items you can reach out to your distributor to see if there are similar or better products that are more cost efficient. With reducing the costs of your top ten costly items it’ll quickly drop your food costs making it much more efficient.


Use Social Media Marketing

As in a previous blog post we listed why you should be using social media marketing. When you have social media you can see complaints and compliments customers have given to your company, as well as what they’re wanting to see or eat more of. With social media marketing you are able to offer promotions and deals specifically for your social media followers promoting more walk-ins.


Acknowledge Your Online Reviews

When you do create social media you are going to get reviews on websites like yelp and foursquare. It’s vital that you respond back to both your negative and positive reviews. When you respond to your customers it allows them to see you consider them more than a dollar bill. Responding to your customers reviews creates more customer loyalty and can change the minds of those who once were displeased with their experience.


Know your Restaurant and Customers

When you’re deciding what to really target for your business and what type of restaurant will profit the best get to know what the customers like. When trying to figure out what type of restaurant you should put your money into begin you need to look at your location and heavy hitters around you. Are you in a more ritzy location where you should offer more exotic or fancy dishes? Or a Southern style state that loves their smoky barbeque? Depending on where you’re at you want to cater to those customers and serve what is booming around you to bring in a good flow of traffic.


Provide Outstanding Customer Service

“The customer is always right” is not just a saying that you say in the food and hospitality service. It’s true, customer satisfaction is a huge priority if not your first priority. When a customer receives bad service along with bad customer service when they address the problem that’ll ruin your name in their eyes and everybody’s eyes that bring up your name to them. It’s best to compensate a free meal or drinks or a possible discount on their next visit to stay in their good graces. When they have a good experience after a bad experience it gives a better chance they’ll put you back into good standing with them.


Build a Great Website

Even when they go online to look up your social media your website will also be something they’ll go to. It’ll bring in more traffic and business if it’s well rounded with coupons and promotions, a current and printable menu, and your business’ contact information. With a well-rounded website it’d be a good idea to submit it to local and national restaurant directories.


Offer Coupons and Promotions

I have never met somebody who didn’t like getting a deal or coupons, making eating out easier on the wallet. To increase your reviews you could offering free or discounted items, such as a free cookie or burger for submitting a review! It’s a wonderful way to have customers coming back because they know as long as they review the restaurant they will get a freebie.


Well Train Your Staff

With well trained staff your restaurant will run more seamlessly. Giving monthly training meetings to help refresh skills, and weekly meetings to evaluate how the week has been going and any concerns with service. Reminding your staff to push up sales will also increase profit if they’re consistent, and provide them more tips. Allow them to taste the foods they’re about to be serving that night to make sure they can give feedback and answer customer questions about said specials.



Have A Good Front Of House

When you initially walk into a restaurant you expect to be greeted by hosts and hostesses without that service the restaurant feels unprofessional and not complete. The point of hosts and hostesses are to welcome customers, quickly seat them, and present them with menus while they await the server. They give the customers outstanding services to provide the customers the best first impression possible, always provide service with a smile.






Preparing for a Restaurant Health Inspection


Walk Your Restaurant From Outside, In

When you walk from outside, in, throughout your restaurant you get an outsider view. Pay close attention to details that an outsider would often spot. You have to do this with a critical eye. You must act as if it were your job to find flaws within your restaurant. Because for the inspector coming to your restaurant, it is his job.


Review Your Local Health Code

We happen to be located in Phoenix Arizona. Here in Phoenix, the Environmental Health Division assesses permitted establishments for compliance with the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code. In order to do that Environmental Health issues permits to businesses like food establishments, pet shops, public accommodations and mobile food vendors. These businesses are then inspected on a regular basis with a frequency that depends on the type of operation. In addition, Environmental Health will also follow up on nuisance complaints if they fall within their jurisdiction, such as sewage, rodents, garbage, etc. in a permitted establishment. For detailed information about compliance with the FDA Food Code and the subsequent new or changed requirements of the Environmental Health Division, visit: http://www.maricopa.gov/EnvSvc/EnvHealth/Compliance.aspx

Use the Same Inspection Form

When you use the same inspection form as the health inspector to review if you’re prepared for the inspection you can better get a grasp on what they’ll be looking for, giving you a chance to improve certain areas. You can also review your past inspections, and improve on the things that needed improvement before. Posting previous inspections in the break room can help the staff see what needs to be improved upon making it a group effort to get a better inspection the next time around.


Keep Staff Current on Food Safety Practices

Health inspectors pay extra close attention to detail when it comes to the areas of food-borne illnesses and food allergies. Make sure your staff knows proper food handling safety to reduce any risk of food-borne illnesses and cross contamination.

Weekly staff meetings will help reduce the anxiety that staff members might feel about the health inspector when they arrive. Weekly meetings will help your staff know what the health inspector is there to do and inform them of tips they may want to know before the inspector comes in.


Reinforce Good Cleaning Habits

Push hand washing using signs where there are sinks and doors. Also push good food handling habits with gloves readily available and re-instruction on proper dish washing procedures.














4 Ways to Keep Customers Coming Back to Your Restaurant


Boost Your Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs that offer great deals like $5 off of your bill if you spend $20 often will have customers coming back 35% more. It’s easier than ever to implement a loyalty program now with the technology that POS systems have, because the programs that implement the loyalty functionality come installed within the POS systems.


Refresh Your Menu

If your establishment continues to only have the same menu even your most loyal of customers will end up getting bored of the food and possibly stop coming. The easiest way to combat this problem is offering “limited edition” foods that customers will want to try while it’s still in the restaurant. Social media can also greatly benefit new food ideas to add to your menu because it comes directly from your customers.


Speed Up Service Times

Fast service is a huge thing for repeat service, slow service can have new and loyal customers leaving before they even get their food they ordered. Table-based restaurants offer tablets that have a self-ordering system to reduce possibly slow service. Also you could consider self-ordering and self-pay kiosks to allow the least amount of wait before and after customer’s meals.


Create Online and Mobile Ordering

When you allow mobile and online ordering it caters to those who may be too busy to sit down and eat. Or don’t enjoy the restaurant surrounding to eat from your restaurant as well. This creates a large new set of customers for your restaurant who can carry out their lunches and dinners.






Ice Machine Cleaning


Is Cleaning an Ice Machine Really That Important?

In an ice machine, the part that creates the ice is called the Evaporator Plate. An Evaporator Plate itself can cost more than $2,600, and this is not including labor to install.  For most people, this is more than the cost of another ice machine. And if you don’t clean your ice machine regularly, you can destroy this plate. And, if you do clean your ice machine regularly, you can destroy this plate. Yep, you read that correctly, you can destroy this plate by cleaning it, and you can destroy this plate by not cleaning it properly.

Your check book isn’t the only one reason to clean your ice machine correctly and often. The other reason is your reputation. Neglecting an ice machine is a great way to make people sick. Black Mold loves to grow on the undersides of ice machines, and Mildew likes to grow everywhere else. Mold and Mildew can get in the ice and get consumed by customers. And those fans in the ice machine do a fine job blowing those mold spores into the air that you breathe.

When it dawns on people what can happen when they don’t clean their ice machines, they sometimes get over zealous and go on a cleaning frenzy. I’ve heard of people running their ice machines through “clean” for several hours.

Do not do this.

Running through clean longer will allow the cleaner to eat away at the Evaporator Plate, and over time, kill your ice machine.


How Often Should You Clean an Ice Machine?

Most manufacturers recommend that your ice machine is cleaned at least every 6 months, unless your ice machine is operating in a “yeasty” environment. In Bakeries, Pizza Places and Breweries your ice machine should be cleaned at least once every 90 days. Slime, mold and fungal spores


How Do You Clean an Ice Machine?

Ice machine cleaning usually gets broken up into three sections: Cleaning the Condenser, Cleaning the Interior & Cleaning the Water System and Evaporator.

Ice Machine Condenser Brush

Cleaning the Condenser

Its the condenser’s job to cool the refrigerant down. When its dirty, the dirt acts as insulation, and keeps it from doing its job. So cleaning the condenser can actually increase the capacity of the ice machine. In fact, cleaning a condenser is often all that’s needed for repair calls that involve the ice machine not making enough ice.

Condenser cleaning is usually done with a condenser brush or with compressed air. For extra-dirty condensers, Condenser-Cleaner is available. Condenser-Cleaner is not a marketing ploy made up by ice machine manufacturers. It’s designed to get the condenser clean without eating away at fins. The wrong cleaners can cause corrosion, and eventually, Freon leaks.



Cleaning the Interior

When we talk about cleaning the interior, we are referring to cleaning everything that’s not metal and doesn’t carry water. You just remove the service panel and look for mold and mildew to clean away. Remember to check the undersides for black mold, and always use the right cleaners. Lime-A-Way, and Nu-Calgon Nickel Free are the cleaners that are acceptable to most ice machine manufacturers. You can use a bleach solution for mold on the underside, just remember to rinse really well and always wear gloves and eye protection.




Cleaning the Water System & Evaporator

Exact step by step directions vary by manufacturer, but instructions can be found in your manual. If you dont’ have the manual, don’t stress, manuals are vastly available online now. Just do a search for (your model number) + manual. In the manual you will find your exact instructions. Below is a sample set of instructions pulled straight from a Cornelius Manual.

“1. Set the switch to CLEAN and allow the ice on the evaporator to
release and melt away.
2. Remove all ice from the storage bin.
3. Remove the water curtains, pour 1/2 oz. of ice machine cleanerNu-Calgon Nickel Safe
down the rear key-slot openings. The cleaner will drain into the
water pan.
4. Return the water curtains to their proper operating position.
5. Add 3 oz. for a single evaporator, or 5 oz. for a dual evaporator of
“Calgon Nickel-Safe”or “Lime-A-Away”ice machine cleaner directly
into the water pan. Set switch to CLEAN, circulate for a
maximum of 15 minutes
6. Depress and hold the dump switch to allow the cleaner to drain
7. Fill the water pan with clean fresh water, circulate for approximately
3 minutes. Depress the DUMP switch and allow the water
to drain away. Repeat this procedure 3 times.
8. After third rinse cycle, place product power switch in ice position.
Allow product to produce one slab of ice — DISCARD THE ICE.
9. When clean cycle is complete, return cuber to normal operating

…NOTE: All ice machine cleaners labeled safe for nickel ARE NOT the brand CALGON NICKEL SAFE” [1]


Take Aways

Perhaps the most important step listed above is the TRIPPLE-Flush. The cleaner is caustic. It can eat away nickel plating, and it comes in contact with water and ice, so it’s critical that you flush everything out several times before you use it to make ice again. And cleaning you ice machine increases life expectancy, keeps customers healthy, and helps eliminate unnecessary service calls.


That’s all for today. We post articles every week. Articles about saving money, making more money, improving management and other restaurant hacks. If you’d like to receive new articles, like us on Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletter.











Cornelius /Operator Use and Care Guide “1” Series Ice Cube Machines on Ice

Click to access 000833.pdf












Turn Your Servers into Sellers!

To implement this strategy you’ll want to gather up your bartenders and cocktail servers and ask: “What is your main responsibility here?” Most often, the bartenders will answer, “Make drinks,” and the servers will say, “Serve drinks.” Chances are good that they’ve been trained to believet that their job is to take, make or fill orders. That perception could not be further from the truth. For them, and you to truely succeed, they need to start looking at serving and bartending as the sales jobs they are.

Admittedly, alot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of being sales people. You might want to avoid using the “S” word, and package the idea a little differently. Something like “Ask these questions or do these things, and you’ll double your tips, or better!” Here are some talking points for your discussion:

“Research shows that most people instinctively apply a standard tip percentage to their total, with few exceptions. In other words, increase the sales total, increase the tips. This is easier to do than you might think, and we’re going to go over a few strategies in a moment.”

• “Offering a second drink, as an example can increase sales by 100%. Who isn’t interested in doubling their income?”

• “Suggesting and selling premium beverages delivers even more meaningful results. Sell a $10 premium cocktail instead of a $4 well, and increase tip income by 150%!”

After you get them excited about getting more money for doing the same job, the next thing you’ll want to do is give them the tools to do it.

The Upsell is usually the only technique being taught, and it isn’t all that motivating for a server or bartender because their gain isn’t significant, and the timing is off. With this strategy, the server has to wait for the customer to make up their mind and then try to change it. The techniques I’m going to share are more profitable (for you and them,) and less disruptive.


When training your sales force, teach them the following:


word choiceWord Choice

This whole game really is just about word choice and timing those words.

When a customer asks, “What’s good here?” don’t just tell them what’s on sale. Instead, tell them what you like or what the house specialty is or other higher priced drinks that receive good feedback. Remember, drink discounts are designed to get people in the door. Once inside, it is to everybody’s benefit to sell them full-priced signature beverages.

When asked to recite a product list, such as beers on tap, always lead with the most expensive options first. Peoples attention and patience wears thin with every listed item. Usually they’ll stop you by the 7th or 8th item. If you started with the cheap stuff, they’ll cut you off and order before they even hear about the good stuff. So always start at the top and work your way down.

Never ask “What can I get you to drink?” Doing this puts pressure on the guests, who may not be familiar with your premium offerings. Leaving it up to them usually results in them choosing a familiar and less expensive drink.

Sell Second Drinks, not “Another Round.”

Avoid asking a group if they are “ready for another round.” Instead, suggest premium beverages to individuals as they’re finishing up their first drink.

Asking people as a group ads to social pressures and drives sales down. When you ask a group, someone hast to either make a decision for others or seek out a consensus within a group. This slow the sales process down and creates another unwanted side-effect. Guests often perceive the offer of a second round as a time commitment. Notice that when you ask a group if they’d like another round, someone always looks their watch. Someone looking at their watch at a bar or nightclub is never a good sign. Avoiding this is simple, you just go to each guest individually and offer them another one of what they’re already enjoying or better yet, suggest a premium beverage.





Taking orders in the traditional manner leaves your tips to chance.

Simply beginning with the person in “Position 1,” places the group’s sales for the entire night in his or her hands. If Guest #1 orders a half-priced well drink, research shows that the rest of the table is likely to order the same or similar. Fortunately the same is also true, if the first order is premium, then it will influence the rest of the table in that way as well.

To make this work in your favor, begin by suggesting a premium beverage to the table and see who bites. If you can begin with a premium beverage, then the trend should continue.




Is the best time to offer a second drink:

a.) When their glass is half full                                   b.) When their glass is one third full

c.) When their companions glass is mostly full      d.) None of the above

Wish I could wright upside down on this thing, lol. The correct answer is “C,” when their companions drink is mostly full. Have you ever noticed that when you offer a second drink, most people look at how much their companions have left? They’re trying to decide whether they have time to for another beverage or not. To sell more drinks, find the guests with an empty glass while his or her companion’s glass is still relatively full.


Putting It To Use

Remember, if you want this to work, you have to give them a good reason to do so. If you don’t tell them what’s in it for them, then all they’ll hear is: “I want you to work harder so I can make more money.” Most of them probably think you make too much as it is.

I heard it said once that the best way to become a Billionaire is to work at creating Millionaires. Always keep in mind that the behaviors that make more money for your team are the same behaviors that will make more money for your business.





Increase Profits by 15% or More With Menu Engineering

Restaurant Menu

The primary objective of menu engineering is to maximize a firm’s profitability by subconsciously encouraging customers to buy what you want them to buy, and discourage them from buying items you don’t want them to buy.


“In its truest sense, the term menu engineering refers to the specific restaurant menu analysis methodology developed by Michael L. Kasavana, Ph.D. and Donald J. Smith at the Michigan State University School of Hospitality Business in 1982.” [1]


Most people follow a simple four step process when engineering a menu, and that is as follows:

Step 1. Cost your menu

Step 2. Organize your menu

Step 3. Design your menu

Step 4. Test and tweak your menu design.

NOTE: All steps are critical, skipping any one step can result in a whole lot of wasted time and effort.


Cost Your Menu

Costing your menu is a pain, but it’s needed for the steps that follow. Knowing your most profitable dishes is a critical part of the next step (you can’t properly place your most profitable dishes if you don’t know which dishes are your most profitable.)

It’s been said that nearly 80% of restaurants don’t cost their menu, and another 5% cost their menus incorrectly. This means that taking the time to do this correctly can potentially give you an edge over 85% of your competition.

To “properly cost a menu” means using the same person and the same method to cost your menu each time costs need adjusting. Different people will come up with different costs, and it’s important that things stay consistent for the sake of accuracy.


Organize Your Menu

It is suggested that you divide your menu into “categories” and “sections.”

First, divide your menu into categories, and then divide those categories into sections.



The list of what is considered a category is not set in stone, but for some guidance, a common list of categories would include: Appetizers, Entrees, Desserts, and Drinks.



Sections refers to the way you further break down a category. As an example you might break the entree category down into the following sections: Vegetarian Entrees, Seafood Entrees, and Meat Entrees. Or you might break down the Drinks category in these sections: Alcoholic Drinks and Nonalcoholic Drinks.


Menu Engeneering

After you split your menu into categories and sections, you’ll be evaluating each menu item by profitability and popularity so that you can decide what stays and what goes or what gets moved to the most-viewed sections of the menu. To make this easier, it is suggested that you divide all menu items into 1 of 4 quadrants (Plow Horses, Stars, Dogs and Puzzles.)


Plow Horses- Low Profitability and High Profitability

Stars-               High Profitability and High Profitability

Dogs-                Low Profitability and Low Popularity

Puzzles-         High Profitability and Low Popularity


After you have all your menu items placed in their appropriate quadrants, you can use this information to determine the fate of your menu items.

You’ll want to do this by evaluating the menu items at the category level first, and then at the section level.

Viewing your data at the category level can help you decide where to place the various sections of your menu (for example, if steak items are your Stars, you may want to work hardest to promote the Meat Entrees section)

Viewing the data at the section level will then enable you to determine how to place and promote menu items within each section of your menu.

After creating a plan for the order of things within categories and sections, the next thing to work on is the menu’s design.


Design Your Menu

Menu design is more than fonts and colors. Its an opportunity to take advantage of some industry tips and tactics, some of the more common ones are:

  • Visual Cues
  • Pricing Strategy
  • Description Strategy &
  • List Order

Visual Cues

Use visual cues to highlight the items you want to sell most. This can be done with an outline box, and asterisk or by using pictures. Pictures have been shown to increase sales of an item by up to 30%. Be careful not to over use this strategy though. This strategy’s effectiveness goes down with every use.

Pricing Strategy

Pricing strategy can be summed up by naming the two things you shouldn’t do. First, don’t list you prices in a straight up and down line in the right column. And second, be sure to leave out the dollar sign, and place the price a couple spaces to the right of the descriptions end. Doing these two things keeps the customers mind off of money and more on the descriptions that you designed with your goals in mind.

Description Strategy

Items with longer descriptions sell better than items with shorter descriptions. I’ve seen long elaborate descriptions on $10 cheeseburgers, followed by $58 steak and lobster combinations with no description at all. This is backwards. The additional text draws the eye in (its the A, ind A.I.D.A.)

AIDA is an old marketing adage, it stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. The extra words get there Attention, and then its up to you to sell the steak. And like Mr Wheeler says, you’re not selling the steak, you’re selling the sizzle-and the first 10 words are more important than the next 10,000.

List Order

The order that you list items in is a science in and of itself. They should be kept short. And the reason for this is that people pay close attention to the first few items and then the last couple. The items in the middle see reduced eye attention, so keeping lists short increases the percentage of the list that gets read.


Test Your Menu

Once you’ve documented and evaluated everything and created your new menu, you’ll be able to do something called Split Testing. Split Testing is what takes a campaign from good to great.

To split test a menu, you would make minor adjustments to the menu, and compare it to the previous version. You keep the changes that increased profits or sales, and you discard anything that has a negative impact.

Over time, simple improvements can add up to significant increases in profit.


That’s it for today’s blog post. I hope we’ve helped you in some way. If we have, please like, comment or subscribe.




1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menu_engineering

Budgeting for Equipment Repair & Maintenance

Budgeting Restaurant Equipment Repair

Restaurants generally have fixed expenses, variable expenses that respond to sales activity, and seemingly unpredictable maintenance and repair expenses. Making a budget helps you expect the unexpected, and takes the edge off of the “undpredictable” surprises.

You can budget successfully for all costs, however, by understanding industry averages and using preventive maintenance to reduce repair and replacement bills.


Create a Maintenance Schedule and Emergency Fund

Maintenance and repair costs apply to everything a restaurant owns or leases. This includes things like: kitchen equipment, furniture, company vehicles, flooring and HVAC.

When it comes to restaurant equipment, the old adage holds true, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Preventive maintenance costs less than repairing or replacing equipment, and your costs for routine service are more predictable.

For example, A dirty ice machine can cost a business more than customers.  When the ice maker is dirty, the ice production slows down and energy-efficiency is lost.  This leads to higher energy costs and replacement ice expenses.

Neglecting a bread steamer allows scale to accumulate that could disable the machine.

Refrigeration malfunctions put inventory at risk and generate huge repair bills. Regularly scheduled service prevents unexpected break downs, and prolongs the life expectancy of equipment.

Nothing works all the time though, so be sure to create a cash emergency fund for unexpected expenses. And be sure to update your budget figures regularly by including new expenses and regularly inspecting equipment to schedule essential maintenance.


Average Repair and Maintenance Costs

Most restaurants try to budget 1-3%  of sales for maintenance and repairs, according to a Restaurant Facility Management Association report. Costs vary by restaurant depending on equipment age, manufacturer quality, warranties, and repair responsibilities assigned by rental agreements (which is similar to, for example, heavy equipment rental rates).

During slow seasons, some owners cut back on maintenance expenses. You’ll want to avoid doing this if at all possible, because doing so just results in higher repair costs later on.

Try to establish a baseline for your specific restaurant by creating a spending history and or researching figures through National Restaurant Association reports.


Restaurant Management Strategy

Effective Budget Strategy

It’s best to develop a systemic plan that includes repairs, preventive maintenance and in-house repairs of small malfunctions. Keep cash flow in mind when budgeting, and don’t forget to keep a cash reserve to cut down on interest charges.

Use  a spreadsheet to create your budget for the entire year, and be sure to list all equipment and recommended maintenance intervals. Consider all restaurant expenses and income so that you can project cash flow and anticipate problems.

In your yearly plan, be sure to schedule regular inspections of equipment and the premise. These inspections will help you update your budget to cover any unanticipated maintenance and repair projects.

Pro Tip: Refrigerators, Coolers, Freezers and Ice Machines break down most often in the Spring and Summer, whereas Cooking Equipment most often fails in the winter.


Tracking and Budgeting ToolsRestaurant Budgeting

Use budgeting software or point-of-sale system resources to make calculations, or download free budget templates from Microsoft. As the year progresses, compare estimates with actual costs to keep budgets on track.

Remind employees how to properly care of equipment by keeping refrigerator and freezer doors closed, cleaning or replacing filters and following manufacturer-recommended best practices. We know employees don’t always care for equipment properly.  To help with this you could make proper equipment care a part of the employee code of conduct.

Also keep in mind that an increase in sales means an increase in stress on equipment. As sales increase, be sure to increase your repair budget as well.

That’s it For Today!

Hope we helped in some way. If we did, please take a moment to like, comment or subscribe. Maybe share this article with a friend or coworker?