By Adam Dulye
Prior to opening a restaurant, brewpub, or brewery, it seems like you look at everything nine times, and then once more, and then again and again. Then comes opening and you find yourself revisiting, tweaking, improving, and adjusting. Eventually, a day-to-day pace settles in, with new tasks and projects popping up here and there. Staff hums along, guests are enjoying their experiences, and business is good. Even if things are running smoothly, there are always adjustments that can improve the day-to-day experience for guests and staff.
Here are six things that should be at the top of every operator’s list for a little spring updating.
In this industry, whether brewing, culinary, or hospitality, we are all in a state of continuous improvement. While training has long been a staple of any well-run establishment, new techniques are creating exciting ways to teach the same information while increasing teamwork and productivity—ultimately translating into a better guest experience.
Take, for example, the tactic of switching up roles. Many establishments have long had front and back of house workers swap roles so they can gain a better understanding of what their fellow employees do. Taking it one step further, several establishments are diving deeper into these roles and including management techniques and shifts, scheduling, ordering, and even rotating social media channels for unique viewpoints. All of these tactics bring fresh perspectives to employees and encourage buy-in to the whole picture of the company’s goals. For guests, it translates to a better overall experience from a cohesive team that can multitask and relate hands-on experiences of how every bite of food gets in and out of the kitchen and every sip of beer arrives from the tank to the table.
2. Point Of Sale System
Yes, we would all like to take the POS system out back and go all Office Space on it for the last time it crashed in the middle of service and someone was on hold for two hours listening to that awesome music. Now let’s move past that and talk about updating, reviewing, or replacing your system. If you have not looked at it lately, now is the time. Current systems are nowhere near as scary as they were a few years ago. In the last year, new technology has come into play that increases efficiency. A few years ago, it became possible to collect payment at the table. The equipment was bulky, slow to connect, and didn’t always work. Fast forward to today’s tableside payment devices, which are smaller, faster, and incredibly reliable. More importantly, guests are familiar with the convenience, unlike in years past when it sometimes meant an awkward end to service.
POS companies are also paying attention to operators who might have a frequently changing menu. The updates are well worth a look if you change your menu more than once a month. Real-time updates without stopping service to refresh? Yes please.
For anyone who once tried version 1.0 of a POS company’s inventory software and then promptly smashed the screen, it’s time to take a look at how the times have changed. Inventory programs are improving, and fresh produce yield numbers have gone from ever changing and unpredictable to measurable and accurate.
When was the last time you refreshed your website? How up-to-date is your information and menu? In today’s digital world, making sure your website is not only current, but readable on every platform from desktop to laptop to iOS and Android, is key. A recent survey of business travelers asked, “How do you decide where to eat and drink in a new city?” The most popular answers were along the lines of “googling ‘what is nearby’” and then looking at websites to compare. Oh, how far we’ve come. Update your information, then go into the map function on your phone and make sure your business pops up with the right address and information. If not, contact the map program’s operator and update it. Believe it or not, those two aspects are often why someone may walk right past your front door and down the street to the establishment that paid attention to the digital age, got its website fully mobile, and made sure it was on everyone’s map.
Taking a fresh look at your menu layout is always a great idea. Is it easy to navigate and does it align with your concept? Do you reprint as often as you need to so you always have perfect menus for guests? Is your up-t0-date menu easily accessible on mobile devices as well as PCs?
When is the last time you met with your current purveyors? Set a meeting to find out what new products they carry that could benefit your establishment, and revisit prices on items you buy in large quantity. Are you getting the best price, or are you just leaving the order on voicemail or email? What new farms, ranches, or specialty purveyors are now available to you locally? Keeping up to date on who delivers in your area and what they offer is a great way to not only manage buying, but to also find new products you might not have considered using.
6. The Punch List
Remember that list you had right before opening? The one that might have said “remove ladders and power tools about five minutes before opening”? Yup, that one. When was the last time you walked through the front door of your establishment and looked around as a guest would? Do a full walkthrough. Sit at a barstool. Sit at the tables. Look around and take in the view from a guest’s perspective. Are all the lights the same wattage and at the same level? Any touchups needed? Rotate through every vantage point and decide whether that’s what you would want your guests to see from that spot. Make a new punch list and start checking it off.
This article was originally published in the March/April 2017 issue of The New Brewer—a bi-monthly journal published by the Brewers Association.
As executive chef of the Brewers Association (BA), Adam Dulye educates on the compatibility of craft beer and contemporary cuisine. The Culinary Institute of America graduate has helmed several kitchens in craft beer-centric locations such as Boulder and Vail, Colo. and Portland, Ore. At the BA, Adam leads the culinary side of several events including SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience, Paired at the Great American Beer Festival, and the World Beer Cup. Adam co-authored CraftBeer.com’s Beer & Food Course, designed for culinary schools and industry professionals.