Ohio Restaurant Magazine, Spring 2015 - page 21

Spring 2015 Issue
Remember former New York City Mayor Ed
Koch? He was famous for asking, “How am
I doing?” His question let his customers
– the voters of New York City – know that
he was interested in their opinion and that
he valued their feedback. Just like Mayor
Koch, restaurant operators need to find
out how they are doing to help ensure the
ongoing success of their establishment.
The most common way restaurant operators
try find out how you are doing is by going out
in the dining room and “touching tables,”
asking customers if everything is all right.
The problem with simply touching tables is
that your customers will probably not tell you
if they have experienced a problem.
In our cultural society, complaining is a
cultural bias – that means that complaining
is frowned upon in our society. So, when
you ask a customer if everything is okay, the
response is probably going to be “everything
is fine,” even if their experience was less
than fine. People simply don’t want to
complain and therefore, won’t tell you if
they have had a problem with their food or
service. Studies have shown that people will
clam up if they are approached to give their
opinion about their dining experience.
So, how can you find out how your restaurant
is doing? The best way to determine how your
restaurant is operating is to have a restaurant
professional perform an operations evaluation.
Operations Evaluation
One of the most powerful tools available to
operators is to have a third-party restaurant
professional evaluate your operations. An
evaluation will provide an objective view
of the performance of your food service
operation. They’ll look at everything from
the facility, menu, ambience, service,
salesmanship, food and beverage products
and financial performance.
An operations evaluation is designed to
discover how your restaurant is performing
to determine ways to improve. Using a
defined checklist, a restaurant professional
will identify problem areas, provide
suggestions, and will help you prioritize
and create solutions.
During the on-site visit the evaluator will
observe your restaurant during several meal
periods and will interview your management
team and staff, as well as customers. The
evaluator would review your financial
statement including prime cost review
(food, beverage and labor) and your menu.
An evaluation should look at your cost
control systems, service and salesmanship
training, organizational structure and
management responsibilities.
Areas of an Operations Evaluation:
• Facility
• Financial performance
• Operating systems
• Training
• Menu
• Customer service
• Salesmanship
• Food products
• Prime costs
• Marketing
• Lease
• Purchasing
• Cost control
The on-site visit should be followed by a
written evaluation report detailing the finding
of the evaluation and recommendations for
improvements by priority. A meeting with
the evaluator will allow for discussion of the
report, reveal what was found, and allow
brainstorming on solutions.
The Bottom Line
While I recommend that operators touch
tables and connect with their customers, I
never recommend it as a way to find out
how your restaurant is doing. Restaurant
operators should periodically have an
operations evaluation performed by a
restaurant professional to find out how they
are doing and provide a “fresh set of eyes.”
Periodic operations evaluations will keep
you informed of how your restaurant is
doing, help you improve the facility, menu,
service, and food, and allow you to correct
any deficiencies in your operation before
they become problems.
Robert Welcher
is a
and President
, Inc. (RCI), a
Columbus-based consulting
firm company specializing
in operational consulting,
service training and mystery shopping for
restaurants, hotels and private clubs. You
can reach him by calling 614-421-1441.
You can email him:
Or visit his website:
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