Little Rock’s ever-evolving food scene means more choices for diners but also tougher competition for local restaurants and catering companies. Staying profitable requires regularly rethinking systems to optimize efficiency. As a FocalPoint coach, I’ve helped owners boost results by embracing creativity in their operations. In this article, I’ll share unconventional approaches that can streamline processes, control costs and strengthen your competitive edge. My goal is to provide fresh perspective to help you achieve excellence.
Creative Staffing Strategies
Rethinking staffing norms offers opportunity to better align labor costs and customer demand. Consider using more part-time employees for maximum flexibility. Draw from students, retirees and parents seeking supplemental income that appreciate the varied schedules. Cross-train staff extensively so any employee can fill gaps to ensure coverage. Rotate “on-call” shifts allowing you to call in backup during unexpected rushes. Think beyond traditional roles – an accountant can bus tables during crunch times or a host can wrap silverware between guests. A pool of multifunctional employees gives you the agility to swiftly adapt to fluctuating conditions.
Flip the Dining Experience
Many restaurants stick with the tried and true format of greeting, seating, ordering, eating and paying. But shifting up the sequence can enhance both efficiency and customer enjoyment. Try taking orders immediately upon arrival, allowing food prep to begin sooner while guests relax. Experiment with letting guests seat themselves in available tables. Some diners may even enjoy prepaying for their meal to avoid checkout delays. Caterers can get creative with reception flow and menu offerings. Rethinking ingrained ways of serving patrons can unlock efficiencies while also delighting guests with a novel dining experience.
Get Hyperlocal with Sourcing
Restauranteurs typically cast a wide net sourcing ingredients to get the best deal possible. But hyperlocal sourcing from extremely close proximity brings unique benefits. Building relationships with neighborhood farms and artisans provides access to ultra-fresh produce, dairy, meat and baked goods. You can incorporate seasonal items easily into menu options. Local sourcing also appeals to diners craving authentic connections to their community. And minimizing distance from farm to table reduces your carbon footprint. Hyperlocal sourcing takes more work than ordering through national distributors, but the quality and community appeal pay dividends.
Adopt Cloud-Based Everything
Most restaurants and catering companies rely on disjointed programs like Excel or desktop software for booking events, tracking inventory and finances. Transitioning to an integrated, cloud-based system streamlines nearly every operational aspect. Cloud POS provides real-time sales and inventory data while allowing mobile ordering and seamless payment options. Online catering platforms facilitate seamless client bookings and quotes. Robust inventory management programs track usage and simplify restocking. Moving all systems to the cloud provides a holistic operational view and seamless coordination between front- and back-end activities. The learning curve is worth the long-term efficiency gains.
In a competitive market, partners can be key collaborators rather than competitors. Strategic partnerships with complementary businesses provide opportunities to cross-promote brands and create unique joint offerings. A coffee shop and bakery could offer breakfast packages. A brewery and taco truck pairing draws diverse customers. Pop-up concepts provide low risk/high reward ways to explore creative collaborations. Partnerships also open up access to new revenue streams, like a restaurant selling retail goods or caterer teaching cooking classes at a kitchen supply store. Keep an open mind when looking for mutually beneficial ways to partner with other businesses.
Adopt a Hyper-Niche Focus
Trying to be all things to all people can spread your restaurant too thin, leading to mediocre results. Consider specializing in a hyper-focused niche to differentiate yourself. Limiting to a single region’s cuisine or just one specialty dish you perfect allows concentration of time and resources. Caterers can niche down to specific events like weddings. A hyper-specialized concept attracts loyal customers seeking your unique offering. You forfeit some general market business, but the ability to dominate a niche more than compensates through higher customer conversions, repeat visits, enhanced referrals and expert status.
Make Data-Driven Decisions
Many restaurants rely on intuition and “gut feel” to guide decisions. But leveraging data and analytics enables objective, evidence-based choices that reduce risk and optimize results. Track detailed sales data to fine-tune staffing schedules and inventory levels. Dig into customer feedback to identify weak spots. Analyze vendor deals to determine ideal partnerships. Share key metrics with staff to improve performance. Make measurement an integral part of operations. Data provides clarity and direction to inform smart, timely decisions.
Thriving in Little Rock’s dynamic restaurant and catering scene requires continually optimizing systems and processes. Rethinking staffing formats, front-to-back sequencing, hyperlocal sourcing, partnerships and niche focus allows you to unlock efficiencies while delighting guests. Data-driven decisions provide objective guidance. My name is Alan Bennett, contact me for coaching on innovative ways to strengthen your competitive position. With fresh perspectives and the right strategies, your business can gain an unbeatable edge.