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While most of us think of summer as our time to kick-back on the weekends, grab a cold-one and take a vacation, restaurant operators are thinking precisely the opposite. For them, it’s go-time; time to feed off the seasonal boom of flourishing sales with volume that has doubled, or even tripled since winter, and cash flow is on point. Sounds pretty great right? Summer can undeniably be your greatest ally IF you set yourself up for success. Having the aptitude to operate at the highest standard during the summer season, while using that time effectively rather than spending every incoming dollar like a drunken sailor, takes strategic planning from the get-go. In our last blog post, we talked about the importance of vision with an emphasis on refraining from making the bottom line your main or only concern. Today, we’re going to talk about different strategies on the execution of your central vision, thus enabling you to continuously evolve and keep your bottom line robust.

Summertime should be on every restaurant’s radar as the point where they can maximize profits. While you are taking in more money during this window of opportunity, it should not be treated as a free for all with your previously hard earned cash – it’s essential to run your ship in the same way you ran it when it was lean. Each month, we’ve been providing you with various tips and strategies for the health of your restaurant on topics like budgeting, cash flow and hiring for the long haul. We’ll give you a few more strategies in this post, and then it’s time to put your hard work to the test. Keep in mind that the best practices we’ve discussed up to this point and following in this post are all essential for you to pay close attention to in times of excess, because if you don’t, it will catch up to you when the summertime hustle starts to die down.

Keeping a high standard of service is a prominent factor in execution no matter what time of year; however, in the summertime when you may be running specific seasonal specials or promoting your new tropical themed drink menu, it’s critical to ensure your staff are properly trained on merchandising those particular items. Merchandising (AKA selling) is how we stay in business. Merchandising properly is also how we continue to evolve and sustain permanent, long-term growth. The first step here is to properly educate your team members on which menu items have the highest velocity and greatest margin (if you need assistance with this piece I would highly recommend checking out our article on Menu Engineering). Equally as important, train your team to recognize which items, while still important to your menu balance, aren’t the ones that are going to provide your business with the greatest margin contribution. In doing so, you’re not only going to empower your team with the knowledge to make them feel confident in their own service ability, you’re going to provide with them with a full arsenal to create raving guests while increasing your profits at the same time. By giving your team ownership and accountability within their own positions, you’re enabling them to represent your brand, your vision, to the highest standard.

Ownership and accountability are two things we feel enormously strongly about at RSI. The only way for your team members to grow is through setting them up for success by providing them with the proper training and tools needed, and then stepping back and letting them control their own destiny. The summer season is the quintessential time to divorce yourself from constantly hovering at the restaurant, and see who rises the top. Who are the team members who clearly share your vision and who’s willing to put in the work to take your success to the next level?

Lastly, effective labor schedules can also be a driving factor in proper operational execution. Setting a budget is necessary to determine your targeted labor cost, and accumulating data and monitoring trends are keys to keep that budget on point. This is an aspect that many operators tend to overlook when trying to keep up with added volume that summer brings in on a daily basis. Just remember, it goes back to the basics – know exactly what you need and schedule accordingly. Keeping a control on your summertime labor costs will not only help you save money, it will up that service factor we just spoke about. You’ll run like a well-oiled machine when the next 10-top rushes in for your bottomless mimosa brunch special.