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Achieving Greater Revenue Generation from Your Food and
Beverage Operation; 10 Things an Operator Can Do
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By Bernie Otis, August 2007

Numerous recent independent surveys, taken by prestigious organizations suggest that while quality of food is a major reason for the success of a food service facility, other factors, including how noisy children are handled determine whether guest will return.

This comes as no surprise to me, since my many years as a consultant in these Industries convinced me long ago that there are factors (which incidentally apply to all businesses –even professional practices) other than Quality, Price and Service that determine whether people want to give you their hard earned money.

In my work I travel a lot. In fact, both by client exposure and the fact that over the course of any year my home away from home has put me in hotels and restaurants for many days. That certainly has qualified me as an expert on the subject-but I am careful to be objective, rather than subjective.

While operators of restaurants that are not in a Hotel/Casino environment see every customer as a source of their income, Hotel/Casino operators often see the Food & Beverage segment (with the exception of the catering areas) as a necessary evil, when in fact that area of service plays a key role in where their guests choose to stay, when away from home. I would suggest that even though your property may be ringed by restaurants, many of your guests prefer to stay on site to fulfill their food needs.

By considering some of the recommendations that follow, a major step can be taken towards achieving greater Revenue Generation from your Food and Beverage operation.

1. The entrance ways and public areas should always be neat and clean. Trash cans filled with cigarette butts and paper cups do not create a good atmosphere for those who are about to dine.

2. Restrooms should be checked every hour, or more, to ensure that they are clean and fresh. Nothing is a greater turn off to a diner than a messy rest room. Many patrons have health problems. An unsightly restroom dose not provides them a comfort level.

3. Servers should be trained in how to warm up a piece of pastry in the microwave. Usually the crust is warm and the inside ice cold. The usual explanation is that “WE do not want you to burn yourself”. If, as I will discuss later, all cooked food should be served not only hot, but on hot plates as well. So why not the pastry?.

4. Observe how “Toasted” Toast is served. 90 % of the time one needs to look closely to be certain it got into the toaster. This suggests that there is more concern about with getting the food out, than whether it meets the customer’s expectation.

5. Given the recent rise in concern about food safety, it is astonishing that no one has spoken out about the significantly high percentage of food, even in the finest restaurants, that is served just barely warm, particularly, on breakfast buffets. Instead of filling your chafers to the top with eggs and meat, why not reduce the amount in them and fill up more often? When I called this to the attention of the owner of a 4 star Hotel in Arizona he told me that he never eats breakfast in his hotel, only lunch-so he was unaware of the problem. Wayne Fowler, a well known Consultant in he Food & Beverage Industry and close associate, talks about the “MBWA” system of managing a restaurant i.e. “Managers and Chefs need to Manage by walking around paying attention to the small details of what is happening”. While entertaining clients during a recent conference we were served “cold” food on three different occasions in 3 high class restaurants. This is not an uncommon occurrence and certainly has an effect on the choices consumers make.

6. If you are going to serve a Complimentary Breakfast”, make certain that your patrons will “Compliment” you on it. Don’t just go through the motions. Someone should be stationed in the serving areas to ensure that; they are always kept clean, the bagels and bread are fresh and not just out of a freezer, all of the food is hot (see previous comments) and that by the end of the serving hour the food on the counter looks like you just opened, not like you are ready to close. There should be Staff in the area to help customers with special needs needs. Once again, it is one thing to offer something for free, another to make it appear to have value... If you want me to come back-make it look like you mean it. When someone spills something on the buffet counter, they should not have to clean it up themselves-even if it is “Complimentary”

7. Continually monitor what is being delivered to your guests and train servers to carefully listen to what the patron says. It is amazing how many times the food arrives without the “Gravy on the Side”, as it was ordered. An associate of mine told me the following story. When traveling on business he stays in upscale full service or high end limited service hotels and/or eats at mid to upscale restaurants. He said that he always orders “two poached eggs on dry whole wheat toast”, but that almost always what he is served are two poached
eggs sitting in a small bowl of water, two pieces of scrunched up whole wheat, barely toasted, bread and some very greasy hash brown potatoes..If that is not bad enough, he told me, that he has to put the toast on his large plate and transfer the eggs from the bowl. Unfortunately eggs are slippery and most often if you are not very careful one of the eggs will land on the table. My curious mind got to me and for many months thereafter, I did the same and of course his experience was duplicated. When this happened in a major Las Vegas hotel, the wait person smiled and commented “Oh! That happens all of the time”.

8. Train your buss persons how to clean tables without banging dirty dishes into a buss tray. When guest are dining the last thing they want to hear is that kind of loud noise.

9. Schedule the mopping of public areas and entrances at non-peak hours. It always boggles my mind to walk into a restaurant during prime breakfast, lunch and dinner hours and have to step through, or around pools of water and slippery floors.

10. There are an abundance of restaurants that cater to families with small children. Mid-scale and fine dining establishments, however, need to develop a strategy for the handling patrons with loud children who run around the dining area, jump up and down in booths and otherwise are disturbing those who are out for a leisurely meal (this applies to rowdy adults as well). No one loves children more than do I, but unfortunately we live at a time when discipline and good manners are not always taught by parents. Having a friendly, courteous process for controlling that kind of situation will gain you more patrons than you will lose. Every business including Food and Beverage, at times has to recognize it cannot be all things to all people. If your establishment’s image requires that on occasion you need to take a hard stand with those who take way from that-do not hesitate to do so. In the final analysis, whatever the nature of your business, or profession, you deal with human beings (there is no other source of supply). They expect to receive value for their investment in you and quickly recognize those who understand their needs and cater to their idiosyncrasies.

The message herein raised is that we all need to look at out customers though “Their” eyes, not “Ours” and then ask ourselves “If I were the patron, how would I evaluate this establishment?” 
 
Bernard S. (Bernie) Otis is a highly respected Management/Sales/Marketing Consultant and Speaker. Bernie is also a knowledgeable and respected  Consultant In the Hospitality, Restaurant/Gaming Industries where his expertise in planning and installation of food service facilities has and continues to be utilized by major hotels, casinos, universities, hospitals and restaurants, Such as MGM's numerous properties, Hilton and Marriott flags, Kaiser Hospitals and others.
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Contact:

Bernie Otis
Bernard S. Otis Consulting Services
15270 Sutton Street,  #109
Sherman Oaks, California 91403
(800) 230-2928 Access# 00 
botis77@yahoo.com

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