Businesses that stop trying new things tend to lose their place in the market, and this is especially true in the restaurant industry. New advances in technique, service, food delivery and floor designs can attract new customers and encourage current customers to visit more frequently. Failing to keep up with what the rest of the industry is doing can mean that your restaurant will fail completely if it starts to fall behind.
Keep Your Restaurant Flexible
The first step to innovation is to allow changes to occur naturally. Many business owners find themselves conforming to past successes, rather than looking for future ones. This can happen within many areas of the restaurant: decor, menu, vendors, staff and service options. Staying flexible means that when new ideas emerge, or when what was working no longer brings in customers, the staff and owner can change the way things are being done so that the restaurant stays attractive.
Allowing the chef to explore with a new menu item, or allowing the removal of items that lack the punch they once had, is a prime example of staying flexible. Changing from being a dine-in only to offering counter pickup, or even delivery, can attract on-the-go customers that prefer to eat at home. Swapping out decorations, repainting walls, replacing floor coverings and updating seats can also be a huge change for the better. It takes flexibility to allow all of those things to happen.
Keep Up with Technology
As technology advances in the world outside of the restaurant, the technology within should be moving forward as well. Many people like the ease of ordering online these days. If your restaurant doesn’t allow for online ordering, you’re missing out on money. It’s become as easier than ever to create and set up online ordering systems, as business partners like Orders2.me can build and run the entire online side of the house.
For those that are dining in, people are turning towards using their personal electronic devices to stay entertained and informed while they wait for their food to be served. Adding wifi, turning the table into a digital entertainment hub, offering tablets for use on the table and embracing the style desires of the younger generations will keep new customers coming back in more often. Just be sure that the new tech devices don’t distract the traditional patrons that want to have a meal without distractions, as there are still many guests that prefer only the company of their dining companions. Finding the balance between what the table can offer the digital-friendly without becoming too distracting will keep your restaurant at the technological lead amongst your competitors.
Avoid Disruptive Additions and Changes
Innovations to how a business operates can have a severe impact on the readiness of the restaurant to serve customers. Changing out tables that are designed for more the modern digital age could disrupt the floor too much, causing a drop in customers or in customer turn around. It’s important to analyze just how much of a disruption you can handle. Likewise, grand changes to the menu can throw the kitchen staff off as they try to become efficient at making new and different items. Too much change can slow the kitchen to a crawl, disrupting the flow of the restaurant so much that any gains are lost by the new changes.
Plan and Budget Accordingly
While some ideas may pop up at a moment’s notice, it may not be wise to thrust the business in that direction without enough forethought. Planning for new additions is a must, as they can take time to design, construct and implement. Whether it’s a new seating area, new kitchen equipment or new menu, having the implementation process planned out from beginning to end will ensure that disruptions are kept to a minimum.
While time itself is certainly a resource, those new ideas can cost other resources, as well. Upgrades cost money, so knowing how much can be spent and the projected return on those upgrades must be considered. The possibility of wasted food or other products brought in for new menu items that don’t sell can really hurt the bottom line. Knowing how the restaurant will absorb costs, and having an accurate budget outline, will keep the business in the black.
Know Your Competition
Don’t be afraid to check out your competition and the innovations they are applying. Knowing what they are using to attract customers will give you an opportunity to add ideas or fill in the gaps that your strategy is missing when it comes to attracting customers. If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, how can you know if you are keeping up with or passing them? Innovations don’t always come from within. Be sure you aren’t becoming a copy of someone else’s efforts, and you’ll make progress a normal part of your business’s operation.