Ahhh butts in seats. It’s every restaurateur’s dream to have a full restaurant, day after day, with quick turnovers, great service, and not a single empty chair. Livin’. The. Dream. Insert record scratch here; reality check: That’s not always the case. That being said, let’s chat about one way that can assist to actually make that continuous butts in seats dream come to fruition. Let’s start with a basic that we in the industry all strive for. A happy guest. So what truly makes a guest feel like they’ve made the right dining choice and had a great experience coming to YOUR restaurant? Quickly off the top of my head, I can think of a few easy ones: Great food, exceptional service, and a pleasurable atmosphere. All things which become impossible to manage if you don’t have a budget in place for your operation. If you read our most recent Restaurant Budgeting Article you’ve been given an introduction on how essential it is to utilize a solid budget within your restaurant; that budget, you see, is the catalyst for those butts in seats.

The word budget tends to get a bad rap. People see or hear the word and they think of limits. Limits on how much you can you spend or how far that buck will actually take you. I on the other hand, like to think of it in the opposite manner – limitless. Now before you stop reading because you think I’m off my rocker, let me explain. By giving yourself guidelines and hard parameters on spending, you open up the doors to success, and in turn, give yourself the gift of becoming a proactive operator; the type of operator that knows how to create a space for guests who want to return over and over again… and bring their friends!

You know those things that most guests don’t notice unless there’s a problem? Music, lighting, cleanliness, or just the overall ambiance shall we say. Well if you don’t have budget in place, your food costs are off the chart because, duh they’re in constant fluctuation, and suddenly you have no money left for the “small things,” how are you going to fix that blown speaker or pay for the cleaning crew after the 20 top who ran amuck after that epic party they had last night? All of the sudden those “non-existents” that your guests became accustomed to and expected are front and center. The same thing goes for repair and maintenance. If you don’t have your contracts and service agreements budgeted out properly, you’ve become that reactive owner when something breaks because you can’t fix it and have to come up with a solution on the fly. Finally, one of the most important pieces of budgeting for the betterment of your guests is also for the betterment of your team members. Happy team = Happy guests. I cannot stress that enough. If you don’t budget for bonuses, or for the proper education of your team members, how can you expect them to reflect your dream in the same light that you want? Your guest could essentially be receiving an entirely different experience than you envision if your team members are not happy. If you budget properly for your team, your turnover will be lower. If your turnover is lower, you have regular servers and regular bartenders, which helps to develop regular guests; and do you know what regular guests mean? That’s right…. BUTTS IN SEATS!