Into the Frying Pan...
by Jim A Huish
Is my restaurant as healthy as it can
Has your restaurant had a health checkup in the past year? Is your
restaurant as lean and profitable as it could be? Just as doctors recommend
that we should have a health check-up once a year to be as healthy as we can
be, so do restaurant experts recommend that our restaurant and businesses
have a fitness checkup once a year to make sure that it is as healthy and
therefore as profitable as it can be.
This is the time of the year that most of us realize that the end of the
year is just around the corner and we begin to evaluate our year thus far.
We all make evaluations as to whether or not we have achieved the level of
success that we thought we would at this point in time. Has your restaurant
reached the level of sales and net profits that you set for yourself at the
beginning of the year? Has your restaurant grown to where you thought it
would be? If not, then now is the time to refocus your attention and
redirect your efforts on doing all that you can do to get your restaurant
where you want it to be and where you know it should be.
If you are like most restaurant owners, you get so busy with the daily
routine of running your restaurant, putting out fires and reacting to
problems, that you don’t take time to look at the necessary changes that you
know you need to make or the changes that you have been putting off. The
problem is that these changes are holding you back from greater
profitability and greater quality of life.
With time, we unfortunately we get locked into old habits and routines and
we become comfortable, complacent, and set in our ways. This is when we
start developing bad habits that become more difficult to change with time.
Unfortunately, these bad habits do come at a price and that price is lost
You need to ask yourself how much in lost profits you are really foregoing
by procrastinating necessary changes? You might say that you do know most of
your problems and the things that need to be changed, but you really don’t
know what these problems are costing you. Once you find out what they are
costing you, then you will know how much more money that you will be able to
put back into your pocket each year after you make these necessary changes?”
As we continue to run on cruise control within the comforts of complacency,
we lose sight of the importance of the “very basics” with which we started
and our restaurant in the first place. Those “very basics” are: proper
controls, systems, and organization. Wouldn’t you agree that it is better to
experience the feeling of controlling your restaurant by planning for the
future rather than reacting daily to the problems of the present?
To bring you out of the comforts of complacency, the business and restaurant
experts recommend that you get help from an expert who will come in and take
a snapshot of your restaurant with complete objectivity. The expert will be
impartial, unemotional, and completely objective as he looks at every aspect
of your restaurant to specifically identify what is and what is not
contributing to the bottom line. The experts recommend that we bring in
someone else to do this analysis because you, as the owner, do not have the
objectivity or emotional impartiality necessary to identify your trouble
areas. And that is exactly why you continue to hold onto old habits and ways
of doing business. If you have not had a checkup in the past year, you are
foregoing tremendous benefits that translate into dollars back into your
pocket and quality of life back into your daily routine.
So what exactly does a health check up for your restaurant involve? It
involves an expert coming into your business to identify exactly what your
problems are with regards to your financial situation, your current
operations and your projected direction. Specifically, the expert will make
a detailed study/analysis of your true profit potential in the areas of
human resources, documentation, sales, marketing, operations and
administration. After all your problems are identified, the expert will then
go about prioritizing those problems that are the most costly in terms of
what needs to be done first, second, and so on that will make the biggest
impact towards increasing net profits. Just as a doctor will tell you what
habits are most harmful to you and what new healthy habits/activities you
must begin to focus on, likewise a restaurant doctor will help you to focus
on the most profitable activities. He will also give you a tremendous sense
of urgency that will light a fire underneath you and motivate you to get
started making those changes.
And I know that there are those of us that think that we know what our
problems are and therefore do not need a checkup? Well, wouldn’t you
likewise agree that if we smoke, we know our problem, and that it is
unhealthy? So why then does this person continue to smoke? He continues
because he does not know or believe or realize how bad it is for his health
and what it is costing him in terms of quality and years of life. Only an
expert, a doctor, can tell a person who smokes heavily what that bad habit
is costing his body in the short and long run. Likewise in your restaurant,
you know what your bad habits are and that they are contributing to
decreased profits (unhealthy), yet you continue to hold on to these bad
habits maybe not realizing how much they are costing you now and in the long
run. You become comfortable and complacent with the way things are and you
procrastinate change. Sometimes we just need to be reminded by an expert or
need a push in the right direction. Wouldn’t you agree that it is better to
catch these bad habits at the beginning when they are small, before they
develop into something larger with serious consequences to your restaurant?
And what about those of you that have a fear of going to the doctor because
you don’t want to hear what is wrong? We think that no news is good news,
but in reality, no news is bad news because it will not go away, it will
only get worse, and one day we will have to deal with it anyway! So we might
as well identify what is wrong now, and start making the necessary changes.
One of the problems that a restaurant owner has, is that after developing
and profiting from good ideas and good success, he will tend to stay with in
this unchanging form for too long. For most things, this will not work. What
once were the best ideas and successes, may not be now and therefore need
updating on a continual, annual basis. We need to ask ourselves at regular
intervals a number of times each year, “How can we make it better, more
efficient?” How can we bring it up to the best of present-even
We tend to cling too long to past successes, systems and methods. If it’s
working well today, look at it with the future in mind. We are seeing an
accelerated rate of change unprecedented in history and we need to keep up
with those changes if we are going to be competitive.
The last thing that we all need to do, is ask ourselves the following
1. Have I done all that I can do to be successful?
2. Am I keeping current with all the trends?
3. Do I know all the new and different ideas that my competitors are using
to be successful?
4. Are my employees happy and therefore as productive as they can be?
5. Have I done all that I need to prepare for a possible economic downturn?
6. Have I identified all areas of waste and realized my true profit
7. Have I ever had a business analyst take an objective look at my entire
operation to identify ways of cutting costs?
8. Would you like to add 3.5 % to the bottom line net profit?
9. Are there things out there that I don’t know, and how would they impact
If your answer to 4 or more of these is NO, then chances are that a health
checkup will greatly improve your restaurant, your employees, your net
profit and your quality of life!
Restaurant news you can use.
Our restaurant expert and monthly staff
writer offers practical advice on various facets of restaurant
operations. Wheather it is ways to increase revenues, or just
as important reduce costs, increased profitability isthe prescription for success.
A little about Jim...
Jim works as a management consultant at the George S. May International
Company. His company has been providing Quality Management Consulting
services for 79 years. Jim's company provides a 232 point
checklist on your business operations to increase revenues and reduce cost.
Strengths and weaknesses are identified within the organization, and a plan
of action is drawn up with recommendations on dealing with the toughest
problems restaurant operators are facing. Jim focuses on the Southwest
territories, but consults worldwide.
Jim A Huish
George S. May International Company
303 South Northwest Highway
Park Ridge, IL 60068-4255