It's never a bad time to examine your procedures, reevaluate, and make good business decisions. Asking "How is business going these days?" can bring forth a variety of responses from business owners. You most likely ask yourself "How can I continue to run a profitable business?" If this question is on your mind, here are some tips to get you on the right track.

Procedures are Critical

It's important to look at every aspect of the business and constantly “clean things up.” At the big burger chains they have a procedures manual that breaks down everything to the smallest detail. How many pickles go on a burger, or how many burgers go into a bag are the type of details that national chains do not leave to chance. Procedures ensure consistency and, more importantly, cost controls. If you have kitchen staff adding an extra slice of bacon or wait staff forgetting to charge for coffee you can expect your profits to go down the drain. Staff should understand the expense of their decisions, but it is up to you to put checks and balances in place and communicate and enforce controls.

Measure Inventory Against Sales

All high dollar entrée inventories should be counted daily or at the very least, weekly, and checked against purchases and sales. If you sold 6 filet mignons last night, you started the day's inventory with 12, and you purchased an additional box of 20 – you need to start the next day’s inventory with 26. Do not allow for discrepancies, especially on your higher priced protein items. Again, this could mean your profits are going out the window. Yield tests should be done on any items that you are not buying pre-portioned so that inventory checks can be done on those as well. Utilize your POS system to pull the sales numbers and add an inventory procedure to the daily day end and opening procedure.


You have fixed costs for rent, labor, and utilities. The more sales generated within your business will dilute the costs. Make sure your sales staff (servers) are properly trained on the menu. They need to know the menu and what options each entrée offers. They should be trained on selling add-ons like appetizers, side dishes, beverages, and desserts. Make sure your wait staff is offering beverages, including bottled water. Coming to the table with attractive bottled water will entice many people to say yes. Showing desserts or a dessert menu is much more successful than the simple question, "would you like to order dessert?" If you can find a way to introduce desserts at the beginning of the meal it's even more effective. Some ideas would be table tents or a flip chart with pictures of the desserts, or a display case or cart of desserts visible in the restaurant. Wait staff training kits are available from dessert and appetizer manufacturers as well as customized menus. Ask your sales associate to arrange for these tools. Treat the wait staff like the sales force that they are by creating competition and arming them with the knowledge and tools necessary to make additional sales. You will benefit not only from increased profits but by happy, loyal employees. They will make more money in tips if they are better at their jobs!

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