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How to fix your failing restaurant

Empty seats in a restaurant slowly drain profits
Empty seats in a restaurant slowly drain profits
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

There has been a surge in reality TV with programs geared towards fixing a failing restaurant or bar. If you pay close attention, they all have the same message and the same steps to change your establishment from losing money, to being packed with patrons and profitable. Here are a few simple initiatives to align your business on the road to success, without waiting for a TV celebrity to walk through your door:

· Clean - You do not get a second chance for a first impression. Before anyone walks through your doors, make sure your establishment is cleaned inside and out. Clean the kitchen, bathroom, dining area, patio, parking lot, and so on. Even if you are not responsible for the front of your establishment, or share it with other businesses, clean it anyway. Promote the cleanliness of your restaurant or bar by posting the results of your health inspection.

Repair damaged tables, chairs, walls, plates, silverware, and glasses. There is no excuse for a customer to sit down in a booth and notice a huge tear in the fabric. A customer should walk into a clean and organized restroom, which should be maintained throughout the day, along with the rest of the facility. Make sure that your staff is also adhering to your dress code and they come to work in a professional, presentable manner.

· Simplify - Unless you have a high volume restaurant with a large kitchen staff, there is no way to profitably maintain a huge menu. Follow the popularity of the Quick Service Restaurants, and simplify your menu for better execution in the kitchen, reduction of prep time, favorable food costs, and cross utilization of ingredients. It makes better business sense to be great at a few things, than bad at a lot of things.

This also applies to your decor and theme of your bar or restaurant. Consumers should not be confused about what they are in store for when walking through your doors. Your name, decor, staff, and menu should all reflect what your brand is all about.

· Modernize - Take a trip to your local Fast Casual Restaurant, and you will notice many are moving away from the goofy, cluttered, junk everywhere theme you may remember. If you wanted to eat a meal in a place that resembled grandma's house, you would most likely just go to grandma's house. The best part about creating and open, modern environment is that it usually doesn't cost very much. You already have what you need, just remove the excess clutter.

This applies to your food and beverage menus as well. It takes all of 5 minutes to do some research and see what the current trendy ingredients are. Don't use a specials menu to get rid of old product. Use that opportunity to highlight your strengths, and serve up what all the people a talking about. Reward people for utilizing social media for free positive press, and increase the chance of new and repeat business.

· Training - Always remember, you are in the customer service business. A person will travel to your restaurant or bar for the total experience, which includes interacting with your employees. People expect a knowledgeable staff that can answer questions about your business, and your offerings. If they don't know an answer, they know how to appropriately respond and find the answers. They need to be attentive to your guests every need, and should go above and beyond expectations.

Since you have already simplified your menu, it is much easier to train your employees about your offerings. There should be an appropriate chain of command, which means you need to give authority to those who manage on a day-to-day basis. After a while, your establishment should run itself with the proper procedures in place. 

There are plenty other examples of changes you can implement within your business, but if you update the above-mentioned points, your books will definitely go from red to green.

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