6 Things I learned Owning a Restaurant For 6 months

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I purchased a pizza shop at the end of November and it has been interesting to say the least. I still have no idea what I am doing but here are a couple things I’ve learned along the way.

1. Pick up as much free money as possible

There are tons of online ordering websites out there: Grub Hub, Eat 24, Bite Squad, etc. These companies spend thousands of dollars on advertising each month to help bring customers to you. In addition they all give you tons of free stuff like pens, bags, coupons, and more. The best part? It’s completely free to sign up! In the first month of owning the restaurant we were able to increase our revenue by about 7% practically overnight by signing up for Eat 24. Grub Hub is definitely much more popular for us but it’s still free money. In addition by signing up with more online ordering platforms we have seen no slow down from our other streams of income. It’s literally free money just waiting for you to pick it up.

Here are a few online ordering platforms you can sign up for:

GrubHub

Eat24  (owned by Yelp)

Bite Squad (Only in select cities. Has the option to deliver food for you if you’re busy)

Orderup (Haven’t tried them yet but will be next one I look into)

Delivered Dish (Haven’t tried. More targeted for catering)

2. Take the guesswork out of recurring tasks

When the health inspector first came in he had lots of “advice” for us. Although we still passed with flying colors, we weren’t perfect. Minor things like an expired fluorescent light bulb or a run off drain that was getting dirty were not to his liking. I needed a system to keep me on my toes so these issues never happened again. Introducing “Google Calendar”! Using this app you can keep track of how often you clean certain things and set alerts when you need to take notice. I made a list of everything that needs continued maintenance and how often they need to be addressed. Some things might need to be cleaned 1x a week while others may only need to be cleaned 4x year. By setting alerts in Google I can stay focused on what needs to be accomplished on a day to day basis and take the guesswork out for non urgent tasks that still need to be addressed. Doing this will eliminate any wasted brain power from yearly inspections and let you focus on the important stuff like building your business.

3. You aMailbox_USAre not beneath door-to-door flyering

One of the things we acquired with the restaurant was 1000’s of old fliers. They were poorly designed, filled with expired coupons and displayed food items we didn’t even offer. That being said they were free and had our name, address, and phone number on them. Instead of complaining we welcomed them with open arms and went all over town flyering on our days off or during slow times. Whenever we blanketed an area with fliers it seemed we also got busier a few days later. Could there be a correlation? I decided to track how many fliers we were doing and how many sales resulted in them. Although some places we visited resulted in zero sales, others were full of new customers so the math balanced out. With our awful fliers we could expect a return of about 2.6-3.1% to result in a sale. 21-25% of those if we played our cards right became a repeat customer. I have no idea if these are terrible or amazing but this is what I have calculated so far. If it takes 30 minutes to do 100 fliers by yourself , with an average sale of $25, you can expect to gross $130-155 an hour. Not too shabby. If you have multiple people and flier for longer you can see where this begins to add up. When times are slow and you are willing to face the hot sun, flyering is a great way to bring in more business.

4. Take full advantage from your vendors.

Whether you use Coke or Pepsi, get everything you can from these giant corporations to benefit your business. We have received free neon signs, posters, banners, sidewalk signs, and stuffed animals all completely free. Yes they will have there advertising on them. But who cares? Free is free and when you are bootstrapping your way to millions it is an easy way to get some help.

Here are some ideas:

  • Get a giant banner that displays a direct message: “Warm Delicious Pizza, “We Deliver” or even “Under New Management”. Something short and easy to read for passerby’s to glance at and receive the message in its entirety.
  • Get a small chalk sidewalk sign to put outside your restaurant with funny saying, daily specials, or food related jokes. You can get a few of them so you don’t need to change the message every day and also these can be posted on your social media platform.
  • Coke will give you small stuffed bear toys which you can give to kids or as gifts to repeat customers.

5. Combat reactive behavior with daily to do lists

 After the honeymoon stage of owning a business was over I found myself slowly falling into a more reactive mode. The days began to blur together and I found myself doing the same things day in day out. A daily to-do list fixed this. If I had an objective each day on top of my normal chores I had a purpose. It reignited my passion and kept me on track towards generating new business. In order to “to-do” effectively, use a note taking tool on your phone or if you are old school like me use a small piece of paper. Then write 1-5 things you would like to accomplish. It can be hard to gauge how busy a day is in the morning so limit yourself to just a small amount of high output tasks. An added benefit is also the neurotransmitter release of accomplishing your goals. According to Simon Sinek in “Leaders Eat Last”, the mere act of having a daily “to-do” list and crossing them off after completion causes a release of dopamine.  So basically you will kill two birds with one stone by being more effective and increases your overall sense of well being.

6. Make social media less of a chore

    I’ll be honest….i hate business social media. Personal isn’t too bad but once it becomes a chore I despise it. That being said I found a way to to make it slightly less awful.

 

 

Step 1. Create a Facebook page (make sure it includes hours, contact info, and a few sexy pictures of your food.

Step 2. Download Twitter and do the same.

Step 3. Download Instagram

Step 4. Under Instagram go to link accounts and connect Facebook and Twitter.

Step 5. Take a picture and share it to both channels

Step 6. Profit!!!

Even if you feel you don’t need all 3 I still recommend getting them. Twitter is the platform I least like but if it takes a fraction of a second to implement it, why not? I post my daily specials on all 3 channels and other random posts i feel like sharing. By following this strategy I really only need to use one app (Instagram) to have a regular presence on my numerous social media platforms.

Other Social Media Managegment tools I have used:

HootSuite (Has the ability to schedule posts for future times. Good for spending an hour coming up with posts for the entire month and then not having to deal with it)

Buffer (Just like Hootsuite)

Social Oomph (Never used it but have heard good things. I believe it’s strength is Twitter)

Bit.ly ( Used to shorten long link to just a few words. Ideal for twitter or anythiing with a limited number of characters. Not a social media management tool but very helpful none the less)

 

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