Goals are important for any business. They help to clarify what you want to achieve. These targets also provide benchmarks by which you can measure your operations.
While no hospitality venue is the same, there are common trends among successful restaurant goals. This guide will help any restaurant owner or manager bolster their understanding of goals in restaurants and get started on the path to success.
What are restaurant goals?
Restaurant goals are clear objectives set by restaurants. They can relate to everything from the performance of specific employees to the overall financial success of a venue.
Restaurant goals can go hand-in-hand with key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are ways for restaurants to measure specific elements of their venue, such as customers served in a specific time frame or food cost percentage.
KPIs play an important role in successfully implementing goals for your restaurant. They provide the metric by which you can understand whether you are meeting your goals. For more information, check out our complete guide to KPIs in restaurants.
Short-term vs long-term restaurant goals
A combination of short-term and long-term goal-setting is essential for any business. Long-term goals provide a broad perspective and targets for your venue. Short-term goals help break up these larger goals into more manageable tasks.
Having goals that are achieved more quickly also takes advantage of reward mechanisms in the human brain. Setting a target and achieving it will prove satisfying for you and your staff.
Goals with shorter timescales also allow for additional flexibility. They can be more easily adjusted in the wake of unforeseen developments.
It's ideal for your restaurant business to take advantage of both of these styles of goal setting.
What are SMART restaurant's goals?
The SMART framework is widely hailed as one of the most successful methods for the effective setting and achieving of goals.
Here's a breakdown of the SMART formula:
- Specific: Avoid creating vague objectives. What is the goal trying to achieve? How will you know whether it has been achieved? Be very precise.
- Measurable: You need to have a method for measuring your goals. It is ideal if you can link your goals to a specific KPI.
- Achievable: When crafting goals for your restaurant, you are best served developing achievable targets. This boosts team morale when goals are set.
- Relevant: Having your favourite celebrity dine in your venue might be your lifelong dream. However, it does not necessarily make for a relevant goal. Relevant goals should have a clear, direct impact on the success of your business.
- Time-bound: Nothing kills procrastination like a hard deadline. Time-bound goals ensure clear start and end dates for you to measure the success of your goals.
Benefits of setting restaurant goals
Goal setting can take some work, but it's well worth it in the end. Here are the benefits of operating a restaurant with clear goals in mind.
Setting goals allows your entire team to be on the same page when it comes to what your restaurant is trying to achieve. You will determine where you want your restaurant to be. This should precipitate a fruitful conversation about how you will achieve your goals.
Setting goals helps to clarify the metrics your venue will use to measure success. With your objectives decided, it becomes easy to understand what your restaurant should be measuring to help achieve them.
Imagine your venue sets a goal of increasing your profit margin by 2%. With this goal in mind, you should start measuring KPIs like cost of goods sold and labour cost ratio.
Don't just take our word for it. The data backs up the importance of goal-setting. 90% of studies on the subject of goal-setting indicate better performance when specific and challenging goals are set.
5 short-term goals for restaurants
Here are a few examples of short-term goals to consider for your restaurant.
1. Increase daily net sales
Virtually everything you do in your restaurant serves the ultimate goal of higher profits. One smaller area you can use to begin focussing on this goal is increasing daily net restaurant sales.
There are many approaches you can take to reach this goal. You may look for quick wins for optimising your menu, such as adding high-margin sides like fries.
You should also scrutinise your yield management. A suboptimal floor plan can make a dent in the potential profits of your venue. Check out our full ebook with 20 floor plan designs to find the perfect one for your restaurant.
Whatever approach you decide to take, increasing daily net sales is a perfect short-term goal for restaurants, as it highlights quick wins you can obtain for maximum effect.
2. Add 3 high-margin items to your menu
The gap between perceived value and cost to your business is a major opportunity for any restaurant. You can quickly take advantage of this by finding 3 high-margin items to quickly add to your menu.
Here are some menu items you should consider implementing:
- Loaded fries: Loaded fries are considered a Holy Grail of high-margin items. They are cheap to make but can be sold at close-to-main-course prices.
- Tea and coffee: Tea and coffee feature low-cost ingredients but can be sold at higher prices. Coffee can be especially profitable as you charge customers for the value of well-trained baristas.
- Pasta: One of the most beloved dishes in the world can also be one of the most profitable. The outstanding variety of pasta dishes on offer means it's easy to have a bowl to appeal to just about anyone.
- Pizza: Cheap and simple to make, it isn't hard to find diners who will fork out plenty of cash for a gourmet pizza.
- Pancakes: Pancakes are made from extremely simple and cheap ingredients. You can add even more perceived value with toppings like whipped cream, maple syrup and fruit.
3. Improve training for new employees
One area where you can take relatively immediate action is your training protocols. It should not take too long to implement improved training procedures.
There is a wealth of online resources that you can use to help build your training procedures. Leverage the expertise of your existing employees by creating mentorship programs. You can even use AI programs such as ChatGPT.
The benefits of improved employee training are manyfold. Your staff are the most important investment you can make. There are very few areas of your restaurant where improved employee training will not make a significant impact.
4. Reduce wait times
Reducing wait times might seem like a major goal. But shaving a modest amount of time off this metric is quite achievable with a few simple steps.
Enacting the following solutions should be a major boost in helping you to serve customers more quickly.
- Automation: Implement tools such as kitchen display systems to more quickly and accurately communicate orders to the back of house.
- Optimise kitchen procedures: Ensure the layout of the kitchen promotes quick workflows. Discover common hold-ups in the cooking procedures and work on fixing them.
- Look at your menu: Reconsider dishes with long wait times. Can they be altered in some way to make them easier to cook? If they aren't big sellers, consider removing them from the menu.
5. Reduce food waste
Food waste is a major social issue. It also costs your restaurant money. There are several quick wins you can implement with regard to food waste that will impact your bottom line.
Consider the following tips for reducing food waste:
- Monitor food waste: In order to tackle food waste, you must understand the source of the waste. Use a logbook to track each time food is put in the bin.
- First In, First Out: This critical inventory practice means that the first items to enter your inventory should be the first used. This helps to ensure freshness and minimises waste.
- Reduce portion sizes: If you find that you are producing waste from customer's plates, reconsider your portions. Continuing to serve food to customers that ends up in the bin is bad for the environment and your business.
- Compost: Composting is a brilliant way to use food scraps. If you grow produce such as herbs in-house, you can never have enough of it.
5 long-term goals for restaurants
With your short-term goals set, now's the time to start thinking bigger. Here are longer-term goals you can set for your business.
1. Increase monthly net sales
Obviously, improving daily net restaurant sales will increase your monthly sales, too. However, a broader approach to increasing sales is better measured by monthly net restaurant sales.
This approach can include tactics such as implementing a restaurant loyalty program. Building customer loyalty is a long-term proposition. But the overall gains it can offer to your venue are well worth the investment.
Taking a more holistic approach to optimising your menu will also come into play here. Conduct a full analysis (including sales data) and find out what is working and what isn't working. Make the necessary changes, however brutal they may be.
2. Improve Google review score
Don't doubt the importance of your Google review score. Research has found that 33% of diners will not even consider eating in a restaurant with a Google review score lower than 4.
Depending on your current score, reaching this level could be a major undertaking. Overall efforts to create a better dining experience for your customers will incentivise them to leave better reviews.
There are further steps you can take to work towards getting a higher overall review score. You can encourage customers to leave reviews and make it easy for them with QR codes.
You should also optimise your Google My Business profile and reply to every review you receive. For more tips, see our full guide to getting more reviews for your restaurant.
3. Reduce labour costs
Labour costs are a major thorn in the side of restaurant owners. Bringing your staff costs down is a major undertaking, but it's a perfect target to have as a long-term goal.
Here are a few ways you can attempt to bring down your labour costs.
- Automation: Automation in restaurants can take a long time to successfully implement. However, once you've fully integrated innovations like digital kiosks or robot waiters, you should find it easier to roster on less staff.
- Optimise rosters: Often find staff standing around with nothing to do? Or do you often find your restaurant getting smashed during busy hours? The answer might be implementing more flexible schedules such as rotating rosters.
- Cross-train staff: This is one of the best options for having a more efficient team of staff members. Cross-trained employees can easily shift from one role to another as needed, making it easier to survive a shift with fewer staff members.
4. Improve customer service
Customer service is crucial to the way diners perceive your venue. While 25% of customers will say something positive about their customer service experience, 65% are likely to speak negatively.
Having outstanding customer service is therefore crucial to spreading positive word-of-mouth about your venue. Your efforts to improve your Google review score might be for nothing if you don't also take this into account.
One way to monitor the success of your customer service practices is by analysing customer feedback. You can specifically request feedback through private or public channels and see if your efforts are successful over time.
First, ensure your staff are greeting customers properly. Personalise the experience wherever possible. Train staff to be attentive and pre-empt any issues or concerns customers may have.
Given the importance of customer service, it's well worth the effort. For more information, check out our complete guide to the most important elements of customer service.
5. Host more events
Events have many positive effects on restaurants. They are excellent ways to promote your venue, and hosting them can be highly profitable.
You should not rush into the process of hosting events. Carefully strategise how you will go about hosting events, and if you plan to target special occasions like Halloween or Christmas.
Depending on your venue, it might be optimal to aim to host 3 events in the next calendar year. Hosting semi-frequent events will help to reinforce your status as the local "place to be". It can also make it easier to market your events and your venue as a whole.
If you'd like to set hosting events as a goal for your venue, see how ResDiary can help with event management and other marketing solutions.
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