Be at your best in 2016

Armed with industry insight, Stevan Premutico has some New Year’s restaurant resolutions to ensure the coming year is a successful one.

It was a bumpy ride for the restaurant industry this year, with the market dropping by 2.4 per cent on 2013/14, but 2016 is the year to bounce back. Whether or not 2015 was a great year for your business, reflection, planning and goal setting for the next 12 months can help you stay laser-focused on a few priority items. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas to help get your restaurant resolutions rolling:

The 3 P’s
Don’t forget about three things that matter most (the three P’s): product, people and price. Remember that a friendly smile, killer product and competitive price are your bread and butter. Nail the basics and you should always be in good shape. Eat at one of your neighbour restaurants every month and see how they deliver on the three P’s.

Double sittings
Two sittings, not one, is now common practice for restaurants. Say goodbye to the 7.30pm dining slot – bookings have decreased between 7-8pm by eight per cent on 2013/14, while the time slots either side have increased. To get more people through the door and boost profit margins, consider offering double sittings in your restaurant (if you’re not already).

Accommodate the solo diner
In the last year, the number of solo diners in Australia has increased by 59 per cent, with most solo diners eating out between 6-7pm. Make your restaurant appealing to lone diners by offering bar seating, communal tables, seats with window views, wifi access and quick service.

Yield management
With most bookings taking place between Thursday and Sunday, it’s important that your restaurant doesn’t bleed money early in the week. Offering specials and deals on quieter days is one way to entice customers to dine out on Mondays and Tuesdays. Also, consider introducing dynamic pricing, charging more on busy days and less on quiet ones.

Kill the no-shows
The industry no-show rate is approximately four per cent, and with the industry already on the knife’s edge, we need to maximise revenues and protect against no-shows. Look at implementing a guarantees system that requires credit card details to secure the booking – restaurants doing this see no-show rates drop to less than one per cent.

Get intimate with your customers
Guest recognition and tailored service are key to delivering a ‘wow’ dining experience that will keep customers coming back. Think about integrating POS systems with your reservation system to store information about your customers. Greeting customers by their first name and asking them if they want “the usual?” can go a long way.

Capture the last-minute booker
Around 32 per cent of bookings are made within 24 hours of dining. To ensure last minute bookings aren’t lost, restaurants should keep online inventory open right through service in order to grab those people who are on-the-go and ready to ‘buy’ at short notice.

Connect to key distribution channels
To increase exposure and put more bums on seats consider connecting your restaurant to broader booking networks like Dimmi, Qantas, TripAdvisor, Zomato and Yelp. You can generate bookings directly from them, filling tables that would otherwise go empty.

New website
More tables are booked on-the-go than ever before, with 52 per cent of bookings made from a mobile device. It’s critical that restaurants have a responsive website that works well on mobile. If your website is dated and not Google-optimised, consider a re-vamp. This leads to a better user experience and helps your restaurant rank higher in Google, making it easier for diners to find you online.

Embrace reviews
Whether you receive a positive or negative review, you should reply, both online and on social media. If a diner has a poor experience, ignoring them won’t fix it. 

Stevan Premutico is CEO and founder of Dimmi, Australia's online restaurant reservations company. Contact stevan@dimmi.com.au.