Customer Service Training

In the hospitality and catering industry, customer service training is arguably the most vital category of instruction that management and employees ever receive. Businesses in this field include hotels and resorts, conference centers, cafes and restaurants all of which exist to serve people. The guests who frequent your business expect to be treated in specific ways, and your employees need to know how to meet those expectations.

Types of Training

Service training is available for a wide variety of jobs and duties in hospitality and catering. For example, a restaurant featuring an upscale dining experience and gourmet food might provide employees with culinary training, instruction on how to properly serve food, direction on how to quickly and effectively bus tables and guidance on how to be a gracious host. Hotels and other lodging facilities might concentrate training on sales to market the property or its conference services. Hotel service training might also focus on front desk check-in and check-out procedures and housekeeping duties.

Results of No Training

Unless your staff members are natural service givers, a lack of formal customer service training can spell disaster for your business. Inattentive or apathetic employees could engender unhappy, complaining guests, which can cause a negative ripple effect: Disenchanted customers will tell others about their bad experience, and those people will pass the word to still others. Well-trained employees can put the ripple effect to work in your favor by giving your customers something positive to relay.

Effects of Stress

Customer service training for the hospitality and catering industry should empower employees to handle the stresses that come with this work. For example, a hotel guest may believe he has been overcharged. He may react in anger, and this can upset or stress the hotel employee addressing the problem. Employees who have been exposed to conflict resolution and stress management training should have the knowledge and skills to calm the guest and solve the problem in a stress-free environment.

Measuring Training Results

To gauge the success of your training programs, you can analyze your customers’ experiences through the use of standardized guest comment cards and online surveys. These tools provide invaluable feedback by inviting your guests to rate their exposure to your business. Other ways to measure service standards include creating review opportunities through social media, using “secret shoppers” and creating customer advisory groups that meet periodically to evaluate service standards.

Take the Next Step

To find out how our team of hospitality professionals can help on how to go about customer service training, take the first step and get in touch. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Call us on +254710263910 or E-mail to info@hrc.co.ke

Restaurant Conceptualization and Ideation

What Is a Restaurant Concept?

A restaurant concept is the overall idea or theme that defines the restaurant. Concepts include the your menu’s design, service style, dining room decor, and of course the style of food. Many restaurants are conceived based on a chef’s personal experiences or interests. Heritage, local ingredients, traditions, or family are all common sources of inspiration for restaurant concepts. But concepts can also be defined by a chef’s travel experience, training, or an interest in a certain area of art, science, or culture. Because food is, after all, a mixture of all those things. Read on to explore the elements of a concept, some steps to help guide your choices, and even some restaurant concept examples.

Elements of Restaurant Concepts

A good restaurant concept will cover an array of elements with one cohesive mood or tone. From the name of the establishment to even the paint color on the walls, every detail contributes to the overall concept.

Restaurant Name: The name of your restaurant should give customers a pretty good idea of the type of food you serve. It needs to be memorable, preferably simple, and most importantly, authentic. There are many different approaches to choosing a restaurant name, but owners often take inspiration from their location, a signature dish, or even a family member who inspires them.

Menu Writing: The description of your foods can be as literal as listing off the ingredients in the food and the ways they were cooked, or as poetic as a brief description of an experience, visual image, or abstract theory. But your approach should make sense in the context of your food and overall theme.

Service Styles: While service styles may seem unrelated, the type of service you offer directly relates to your restaurant concept in the sense that it affects the diner’s overall experience. Here is a list of service types that can impact your concept e.g Bistro, Mid-Scale Dining, Family Style, Fast Food, Coffee Shop, Bar, Pop-Up, Ghost Restaurant, Fast Casual, Buffet, Food Truck, Fine Dining etc.

Restaurant Decor and Ambiance: Wall color, lighting, furniture, table settings, music, and decor all play a huge role in the overall impact of your restaurant. So, even though your food must be the main focus of your efforts, it’s important to make some basic decisions about decor pretty early on in the planning process. Do you want a fun, casual vibe for game days or a romantic spot suitable for date nights? Considering the needs of your customers can act as a helpful reference point for decor and theme decisions as well.

How to Choose a Restaurant Concept

Of course, deciding on one concept can be tricky. We’ve broken the process down into five steps to help guide your thoughts.

Identify what inspires you and defines you as a chef: This is easier said than done and often takes chefs an entire lifetime to figure out. Deciding the style of food that you gravitate towards the most is a good place to start. It can come from your heritage or upbringing, but it doesn’t have to.

Define your unique spin: Restaurants that offer something unique stand a much better chance of sticking around and getting customers excited about your food.

Research your customer base: It can be tough to tell exactly what type of restaurant will resonate with people in a given area, but it’s important to make sure that there is some demand for what you want to offer. Get a sense for the competition and observe where other businesses have found success. Try to think about what’s important to your prospective customers and decide what you want to communicate to them.

Develop a menu: While it’s okay to stray from traditions a little bit, it’s important to avoid conceiving dishes that are muddled or confusing. So, if you brand yourself as an Irish pub, you may want to offer all the classic staples that people will expect before they even walk in the door. But if your concept is Chinese-Mexican fusion or molecular gastronomy, you can probably get away with a lot more whimsy.

Choose a service style: Once you have your menu mostly figured out, it should be easy to pick a service style that will lend itself well to your dishes. For example, many Italian foods are great when served family style, but pricey seafood entrees might be best in a fine dining environment.

Restaurant Concept Ideas and Advice

Just as every artist finds a different path for each project, developing a restaurant concept is very personal to each restaurateur. While there’s never any clear-cut strategy that works for everyone every time, there are a handful of basic guidelines you can use to keep you on track.

Be Aware of Customer Expectations: Certain service styles are often accompanied by specific etiquette, such as dress code. Most importantly, you need to make sure that customers know what to expect when they arrive at your restaurant in order to help avoid awkwardness. For example, if your website advertises casual American food and a casual atmosphere, customers might be upset if they arrive to find formal tables and high prices. So, try to strike a balance of uniqueness and familiarity.

Consistency Is Key: Your restaurant’s identity should be consistent and harmonious to create a comfortable atmosphere.

Restaurant concept consistency is twofold: it needs to be cohesive, and it needs to remain constant. This means that all the different aspects of your establishment need to have some common thread. And once you’ve established a menu and style you’re happy with, it’s important to stick with it. While seasonal changes can be a great way to keep things fresh, the overall tone of your restaurant should stay the same, so that returning customers can know what to expect, give accurate recommendations to their friends, and enjoy the experience again and again.

When in Doubt, Think About Food: Your passion for food should serve as a compass throughout the concept developing process. Referring back to your core menu idea before making any decision can help ensure a cohesive concept.

Unique Restaurant Concept Examples
Coming up with restaurant theme ideas can be difficult, especially because there’s a fine line between clever and gimmick. Although, theatrical restaurants can be very popular and fun, too! Here are some examples of approaches to restaurant concepts.

Mashups: Most concepts stem from the style of food, and often, the most successful restaurants combine dishes, decor, and service styles in an original way. Think French fine dining food in a relaxed, farm-to-table environment.

High End Restaurant Concepts: Most Michelin star restaurants become famous because of their innovative concepts. Sure, this award is only given to chefs who put out innovative food, but typically, the idea behind the restaurant carries into the quality of the dining experience. As a result, the name of each dish, the vessel it’s served on, the lighting, the furniture, and the location all need to be cohesive.

Gimmicks: Rainforest, drive-in movie, funeral themes, earthquake-themed are all examples of gimmicky concepts that can be a fun and unique experience for diners.

Your restaurant’s identity should be consistent and harmonious to create a comfortable atmosphere.

When in Doubt, Think About Food

Your passion for food should serve as a compass throughout the concept developing process. Referring back to your core menu idea before making any decision can help ensure a cohesive concept.

While developing a restaurant concept might seem like an impossible feat, if you break down the process into smaller steps, it becomes a lot more manageable. Creating a menu, mood, and service style that feels cohesive largely relies on a keen intuition and clear vision. So, whether you’re opening a restaurant for the very first time or thinking of fresh restaurant concept ideas that differ from restaurants you’ve established in the past, the same basic principles apply. Try to balance uniqueness with expectation, keep things consistent, and put food first.

Want to know how our team of hospitality consultants can help you go about restaurant conceptualization and idealization, take the first step and get in touch. Call +254710263910 or email us on info@hrc.co.ke and schedule a free consultative meeting.

Service 101: How Do I Become a Successful Restaurateur?

Ever since I wrote the essay “How I got into Restaurant Business,” I’ve gotten lots of emails from men and women who are considering restaurant business. Though the people vary in age and approach, they all ask the same big question: What do I need to know in order to become a successful restauranteur?

I wish I had a simple one-line answer, but I don’t. There are no easy answers or shortcuts for building a meaningful restaurant busines.

How do I become a Restaurateur?

Important questions to ask yourself before starting your own restaurant business

The good news is-thanks to limitless resources on the internet, book shelves, workshops, and people like HRC Hospitality Group who offer consulting services-you can find resources and guidance for walking through the process of discovering the best path for your individual business goals.

In time you will need to know how to calculate how much you should charge for services, but first you should ask yourself the complex questions of who you are, what you want, why you want it, and how you want to go after it, before you serve your first client.

The hardest part for some is making the time to do the soul-searching work. When entrepreneurs rush to market with little more than a big idea and passion, it’s no wonder that one in four new businesses fail within their first year.

Shortcut to the Back of the Line

Look, plenty of people will tell you that starting your own restaurant business isn’t hard. They say just start doing the work! But you should also know, especially as someone who wants to go into the business of restaurants, that rushing into business with little more than a big idea and passion is a recipe for disaster.

I’ve met plenty of potential clients with failing or struggling restaurants that remind me just how important having a well-defined vision is. When a business gets rolling it’s even more difficult to implement a vision plan. Businesses that rush to market or grow too fast are typically organizations that don’t have a strategy beyond making profit. They don’t have the time to create business plans, employee manuals, or monitor staff training or morale. The result: unenthusiastic service, bad restaurant reviews, menu issues, and serious culture clashes that threaten the health of the business.

If you don’t know what you stand for, what your particular specialty is, and why you go to work every day, the quality of your work may be compromised over time. Clients will dictate how you run your business and your social marketing/networking opportunities will go sideways.

A recent Inc. Magazine poll showed that the most successful and thriving businesses were built by entrepreneurs who had a clear vision, were generous to employees (regardless if there was only one employee or thousands), and had a commitment to giving back in some way. So with statistics like that prove that a motivated and passionate workplace is one that makes a successful business, even if that business is just you working out of your living room, why wouldn’t you want to take the time to build a clear vision for a career that’s crafted just for you?

Answer the Big Questions

I believe that in order to build a meaningful business you have to be willing to ask yourself some big, deep questions. It isn’t until you write down the answers to the big questions that you can begin to understand and chart the specifics of what kind of restauranteur you want to be.

Answers give you the direction you’ll need to clearly define what it is you stand for, what you truly value, what it is you want to accomplish, and how you want to do it.

So if you are considering restaurant business, I highly recommend you turn inward for the big answers first. Then, once you have a clear understanding of your big vision, you can start the market research process, and ask potential mentors out for coffee so you can ask them a few key questions.

If you take the time to get clarity on your business plan and mission before you start, you will be much better prepared for when things get tough. And things are going to get tough.

When you have great internal motivators to inspire you, even through financial ups and downs, failures, conflicts, and challenges; you’ll make being a success an even bigger possibility.

How Do I Become a Restaurant Consultant?
Questions to help lead you on your way to knowing the next steps!
1. Who are you? What background, training, and talents to do you bring along? What are the key descriptors you would use to describe you?

2. What makes you different? What is your particular point of view about the restaurant industry that people could benefit from? What is it you teach or offer that would differentiate you from a general manager, director of operations, or owner of a competitor business?

3. What makes you happy? Be specific here. Describe people, places, and things that bring you joy.

4. Beyond profit, what motivates you? What makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning? What pushes you to go the extra mile, work late, do something kind for others, etc.

5. What are your core business principles and values? What is your personal mantra in business? What is your mantra in life? When you come to the end of your life, what do you want to be known for?

6. What are your deal breakers in business? What will you absolutely NOT do? Would you be willing to turn down an offer in order to stand up for a particular value? What are your boundaries for working (hours, location, pay)?

7. Are you seeking to make a difference in the world by being a restauranteur? If yes, be specific. How do you want to make a difference?

8. Are you seeking a less stressful career where you can be your own boss and choose your own hours? If so, be specific about how you believe you can create a stress-free environment and one that you are in control of your hours.

9. Are you good with change? Give two recent examples of change in your life and the steps you took to respond. Be sure to include how you responded emotionally. Flexibility and adaptability are two of the most important qualities for business success–both in the long and short terms.

Take the Next Step

Find out what our team of hospitality professionals can do for you. Let us help you make the right choices the first time. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Call us on +254710263910 or E-mail to info@hrc.co.ke

SWOT. BUDGET. PLAN – Get Your Hotel/Restaurant On The Right Track

Regardless of the size or type of operation you run, being honest with yourself and taking a good look at your business is the only way that you can improve.

Here are 3 effective business exercises that will direct your restaurant on the right path for 2017.

1) SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Completing a SWOT analysis of your restaurant will help you quickly identify where your focus should be placed, and what the greatest opportunities are.

Strengths – Are things you do well or assets to your business. Look deep and try to find concrete examples of these assets. Examples: a great location, excellent food quality, a unique brand in the community, positive social media feedback. Opportunities – Are the areas of your business that maybe weaker or underdeveloped, but have the opportunity to become a strength with proper planning. Examples: implement a regular inventory process, implement a costed labour tool, expand business hours to include a new dining period, price increase or menu adjustments.
Weaknesses – Are things you do not do well or liabilities to your business. These can be hard to admit but do your best to be honest about them. Examples: poor food cost, high labour cost, inconsistent service Threats – Define what threatens to hurt your business. Examples: new competitor opening in neighbourhood, municipal construction around your business limiting access, cost of goods increases.

 

The SWOT analysis will be the foundation that you build your strategies and goals from, so be sure to review all aspects of your restaurant operations from the kitchen to front of house.

2) Set a Budget

They say the best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time to do so is today. So let’s focus on budgeting now, for a better and more rewarding future.

“A budget is your road map to profitability”, says my good friend and fellow consultant Alex, and truer words have never been spoken. If you don’t have a budget how do know how well your business is doing or could be doing? How do you keep track of your spending versus what you should be spending? Everything may be okay and there is money in the bank every month (or not) but could there be more?

You’ll never know unless you develop a proper realistic budget. The HRC Hospitality Group recommends writing a budget and reviewing it monthly to ensure your team is staying on the path to a profitable future. Never written a budget before? We can help! Reach out to us info@hrc.co.ke and we can discuss getting you on the right path.

3) Plan for the future not the past

One of the most informative exercises you can do to ensure you are ready for the year is to plan ahead. The hotel and restaurant industry is very cyclical. If you review revenue and events from a yearlong perspective you will see that the sales results follow the same trend year after year, unless it involves unanticipated changes or circumstances.

a) Sales Forecast Circumstances

Ice storm of 2013 is unlikely to repeat annually, so disregard that sales slump or excess R&M costs. This year, Valentines Day fell on a Tuesday so you could expect an early week spike in sales that week but may see a decline in your Saturday sales prior to and after.

You might…want to think about the remote possibility of potential playoff football this year in Nairobi, I’m optimistic and at best we’re looking at four games but I am saying there is a chance!!!

b) Review the upcoming Calendar Year

Take a 2017 calendar and review the many highlights and opportunities that were presented to you in 2016. Identify how you can plan better for them in the months to come. Review the key points identified in your SWOT analysis that can be placed built into the calendar, for improved planning and execution.

c) Set Reminders

Once the plan is compiled with set dates and timelines, set reminders for your team in advance to begin the planning. Major dates can easily sneak up on you, so to allow your team enough time for proper planning and execution, give at least two months for the planning process.

So there it is, SWOT. Budget. Plan.

If you need assistance or would like to discuss how HRC Hospitality Group could be of assistance here or other areas of your business don’t hesitate to email us at info@hrc.co.ke as we are happy to help. While “a wing and a prayer” is technically a plan, unless you are running the chicken shack at the church picnic it might not be a good one.

How to Market Your Hotel Restaurant

Your hotel’s restaurant has potential to attract repeat local business with the right marketing strategy. Hotel restaurants first started as places for the rich and the elite to enjoy meals until the 20th century, which brought many improvements to the industry. Changes like more casual hotel dining opened up the opportunity for hotel restaurants to dominate the restaurant scene. When it comes to marketing hotel restaurants, hoteliers should understand what would drive locals to dine there in order to increase business.

I thought about the successful, well-known restaurants here in Nairobi, in particular those located within a hotel. I was able to hypothesize how these hotels successfully attract locals to their hotel’s restaurant:

The Chef

Think about most average hotel restaurants you’ve been to, did you know anything about their Chef? The hotel’s restaurant marketing strategy focuses heavily on what a local would be interested within the Nairobi market, such as their Executive Chef, their intimate and charming setting in a haunted hotel, and having a great brunch and dinner scene. Because the hotel makes the local’s priorities a part of their marketing strategy, the restaurant becomes more than a hotel restaurant.

Attention to detail

Hoteliers are great at providing attention to detail, however, guests and non-guests both equally value the “little things.” At a restaurant i visited recently, the restaurant’s management team does not miss a beat when it comes to service. Upon arrival, birthday guests receive a hand-written card. While the food can be delicious, the service must meet the price in order to create the hype among locals. It’s no wonder their clientele was once described as the place of who’s who of Nairobi business.

Perks to differentiate and dominate 

What is it about your hotel restaurant that sets itself apart from the rest in the city? Is it music on Wednesday and happy hour Monday – Thursday? Why not combine these to happy hour and music every day? Successful hotel restaurants realize that attempting to capture a local on a particular day of the week is unlikely; instead, perks are offered every day to fit their schedule rather than trying to make them schedule around the restaurant. Locals value reliable service and perks like this which is enough to keep them coming back continuously.

Look at how your hotel’s restaurant marketing strategy plans to reach locals. To gain repeat local business, think beyond the controlled audience you have in house. Each of the hotels above are successful because their hospitality marketing mix focuses on what’s most important to people from their target market.

Let us help you market your hotel restaurant, take the first step and contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Call us on +254710263910 or E-mail to info@hrc.co.ke

Strategic Menu Pricing

The menu. For any restaurant in the world, it’s one of the most important factors and contributors to success. If your menu prices are too high, your potential customers will have no reason to choose you over the competitors in the area. If your menu prices are too low, you struggle to make a profit and give off the impression that you’re running a “cheap” establishment. If you’re opening any form of eatery – whether it’s a cafe, restaurant, bar, or mobile food unit – you need to master this art and today we have some tips to help you along the way.

Know Your Costs

If you were to speak with any seasoned restaurateur, it wouldn’t be long before they asked the magic question: do you know your costs? If you don’t know how much the items on your menu cost, how are you supposed to know what to charge your guests? In today’s world, most restaurants allow the Head Chef to take care of the ingredients and formulate the menu while the owner chooses the prices. Unfortunately, this disjointed system no longer serves your restaurant’s bottom line in an increasingly competitive market, where menu prices are absolutely pivotal for profitability.

Moving forward, you should be looking to combine forces and create the menu together with the chef. Having a foggy idea of how much you’re spending on food ordering and menu prices isn’t good enough. You can only begin to apply a pricing strategy when you sit down and calculate the cost of each dish can you even start to implement a pricing strategy.

Cost Plus Percentage

Assuming you now know the cost of each menu item, some people will suggest adding a certain percentage to the cost to find your price. Therefore, you can determine the margin on each item, and you can be sure of profits. While this can indeed work in the industry, it’s important not to get distracted from your culinary niche.

In the past, we’ve seen restaurants abandon dishes that are synonymous with their niche just because they’ve found an alternative with a higher markup. Today, pasta is a good example since it’s cheap and the markup percentage you can add is significant. However, percentages don’t equal profit when your guests only have dishes with low prices to choose from. Your menu should also include high-priced luxury dishes that people are happy to spend money on, that take their night out to the next level.

Sure, pasta will give a higher markup but you also need to think about money. Even if the steak has a 50% food-cost percentage, the 50% profit you make will be significantly more money than the 75% you make on pasta and dishes with lower food costs. Looking ahead, you might be interested in finding a balance between the two (while keeping in mind your restaurant’s theme and target market).

Check the Competition

With new businesses, they often say ‘I don’t even know where to start, ’ and this is something many restaurateurs struggle with. Why not look at the data you already have available in the shape of competitors? Of course, we would never suggest copying their menu prices looking at other successful pricing strategies gives you an idea of how you can improve your own.

After assessing the range of prices of individual dishes, you can then adjust your own pricing according to quality and the aim of your business. If you’re trying to position yourself within the quality and luxury niche, you can charge slightly higher prices (as long as your food and customer service can back this up). If you want to be an option for those on a budget, start a little cheaper. If you’re offering a similar service and price, you can’t be charging any amount more than everybody else without giving your patrons a reason for the extra fee. Let’s not forget, the goal of strategizing your menu prices is to allow your establishment to be more competitive while meeting and exceeding your bottom line.

To finish, we have a couple of parting tips.  The first piece of advice is to take your time with the whole process. To calculate costs, you’ll need to consider not just the ingredients but also time (wages), serving, overheads, portion sizes, etc. If you only consider your food ordering, you aren’t getting the whole picture, and you’ll be costing your restaurant money with no real way to recuperate it. Finalize your menu prices in accordance with your entire restaurant marketing strategy and cost control plans so that you won’t be adjusting your prices soon after opening.

Next, pricing a menu is an art and therefore not something you’ll get right straight away. Furthermore, it’s not something that’ll stay correct forever. Over time, your competition will become stronger/weaker, your costs will increase/reduce, your reputation will grow, and you’ll see various other changes in the industry. With this in mind, we recommend sitting down with your chef and assessing your menu from top to bottom once a year (at least!).

Finally, whatever price you charge, you’re making a statement about the quality of your dishes and restaurant service – so make sure you can back up your menu prices with a superb dining experience, and your customers will keep coming back for more.

Take the Next Step

Find out what our team of hospitality professionals can do for you and let us help you make the right choices the first time. Take the first step and get in touch to schedule a free consultation. Call us on +254710263910 or E-mail to info@hrc.co.ke