I can see it in your eyes. It is a look of of defeat.
You wake up every morning, fresh and ready to go.
Each day you walk into your office and there is always something that needs immediate attention. It never seem to change or get better.
Today the first thing that hits you is your grocery salesman calls and you order must be COD. There is red letter from the Electric Company and the landlord is calling.
You get through these, for today, but you day is shot. Your mind is not on sales, cleanliness, or the fact you the cook was late and it through the whole kitchen off and everyone had to play catch-up
You are in a “React mode” and you spend the day putting out fires. Another day that you are not able to get into an “Act” mode where you are marketing, training and talking to customers.
You finally realize you will lose your restaurant if you do not get help. You know at best you only have about a year before it all comes tumbling down around you.
You have hired me a Restaurant Consultant to help you. I am supposing to come with a miraculous system that is going allow you to keep your restaurant from closing. That doesn’t happen. It will take hard work and dedication by you and your staff to get the restaurant back on its feet again.
I start with asking the following questions:
Are you putting money into your restaurant each month?
If the answer is no, then we might have a chance. If it is yes and then we have a problem, depending where the money is going.
Next, what your food, bar and labor cost for last month. If you know, it is a good sign and even if you must go to the file and get the P&L. Something is working. If you do not know. We have a picture starting to develop.
I stop there and take another direction. I go over his cash control system.
If there is a good flow, meaning. There are cash drops with the server turn-in and they are secured in the safe every night. I ask him what he does with them in the morning. If he has a bookkeeper doing it then I ask about checks and balances, if he does know how to do it. I explain how and see if anything is done.
I ask how he does payroll. If a company does it, okay, I ask how he gets the hours.
Next, I ask about his other operating expenses. Mainly I want to know what his occupancy cost. Rent and CAMS if required. If he has a P&L I look at the last three months. I look at three things. One and very important is there a percent column. I look at the Sales and the Net Profit or loss.
I then ask the big question. What are you accounts payable. Are you behind of Sales or Payroll taxes. Speaks for itself.
The picture is getting clearer
I have already visited his web site, if he has one, if not major red flag. I have also read all the reviews.
I walk around the restaurant smiling at worried employees, looking into the storerooms. Big red flag if they are not clean.
I open the back door and see where the trash is emptied.
I walk behind the cook’s line and see how it looks. My next visit I will check the temperatures. I go to the back of the kitchen and ask for the recipe books. And look for production sheets. I go to the server station and look for opening and closing procedures.
I observe lunch and look at the customer reactions.
After lunch I have time to meet with the Owner. It is rarely that I work with a manager unless it is an absentee owner.
We talk. I am not telling him anything he does not know. What he needs is a plan and hopefully be able to see the end of the tunnel.
I give him my fee first. I base it on what I feel he can pay from what I have seen. It does me no good to be part of the disease, instead part of the cure.
I then ask his what he needs, sometimes I am surprised in what he wants, but mostly it is “How to keep his doors open”.
There are times where I cannot help them and I am truthful with them.
They must have at least, decent sales
Many times, I can go in and reduce the food cost 5-10 percent by “Locking the Doors” sort to speak.
The same with Bar coat and labor.
Years ago, I did a consulting job for a bar that was having problems with stealing. He paid me $250.00 and I solved his problem. I put a light on top of the NCR Register.
The one final question I ask and usually get a blank stare is. “Define your concept”. “What is your Mission Statement”
We discuss if he wants my services. I inform him I will give him a proposal tomorrow. He needs to discuss this with his wife or partners if applicable.
Sometimes they will ask me where I will start. I say with the Money, and the Prime Cost, (Food, Bar and Labor)
Most time I will work for three months. An important thing for me to do is to verify the P&L with observed inventory procedures and verified sales as well as labor. This gives me my integrity point to start with. In many cases I can put money into the P&L right away.
I you look at some of my other Blogs you will find one on why restaurant fail.
Kenny Arone is a restaurant consultant and partner in Cost Genie Menu Costing Software. www.costgenie.com