Blog Post / April 29, 2019

Restaurant Consulting: The Operator’s Secret Weapon

by Kate Edwards

Smart operators know that hiring a restaurant consultant can be a very savvy business decision. Hiring a consultant creates a bridge between doing everything yourself (too much time) and hiring a full-time employee (too much labor).

Restaurant consulting is a wide field. There are consultants who focus on finances, buildout, kitchen design, recipe scaling, hazard analysis and critical control points (HAACP) plans, HR, training, front of house technology implementation and leadership development. These consultants are experts who can assess and diagnose the issues in your business, develop and offer recommendations, and implement needed changes. Reputable consultants will make this happen swiftly and the recommendations they make will have a permanent, positive effect on the business. And the best part? A consultant’s total hours invariably cost less than the salary of a full-time executive.

There are typically three times that people reach out to work with consultants. Since starting my consulting firm in 2007 I have discovered that, generally, people reach out when:

  1. Their business is losing money and they want to know how to stop the bleeding
  2. Their business is making money and they want to make even more
  3. The brand is scaling, and the operator is opening new locations

Naturally, restaurateurs seek outside assistance when things are going poorly or when they have hit the wall of their own expertise. This is when operators seek expert counsel to help right a business that has gone off course. But this is a challenging time to spend money on outside help: when the operation is sinking every dollar counts towards the bottom line. Luckily most of our clients often seek our expertise when they are doing well. When the money is coming in as expected and they’re meeting or exceeding their projections. These owners want to get ahead of the curve and double check their own knowledge, so they seek an outside expert to challenge and assess their data. They are tuned into the business and want to ensure it stays healthy especially when the P&L is in the black. They deploy a consultant as a secret weapon: to get ahead and stay on top.

Successful businesses will always benefit from hiring an expert to improve their systems, re-evaluate their cost-cutting measures and conduct specialized training. These are all investments in the business that will cause immediate and lasting results. A skilled restaurant consultant will help you identify the gaps in your operation and offer best practice advice for improving your cost controls and boosting your bottom line.

Before opening more locations operators often reach out to restaurant consultants. This is when your existing team might be stretched to the limit, so it can be helpful to hire people to bolster your team while you extend your brand reach. Some consulting firms specialize in openings and offer systems and methods that are tried and true and can keep you on schedule and on budget.

Hiring an expert is all about timing. The best time to hire an outside consultant is while you can afford to make the investment. Smart operators know the best way to get ahead is while the business is financially healthy. By making a strategic choice, and making a well-placed investment in hiring an outside expert, you can help propel your business to the next level.

If you’re thinking about retaining a consultant, you must exercise due diligence. Get recommendations from people you trust, meet a variety of firms and get testimonials from their notable clients. An investment in your business is just that: an investment. So take the time you need to determine what is needed and who best to retain to help you get it done right. You will see a marked improvement in your profitability and that’s the best reason of all.

About the Author

Kate Edwards is a speaker, author, customer service expert, hospitality consultant and executive coach who has spent her career decoding the customer service experience and deciphering what makes great leaders so impactful. In 2007 she established Kate Edwards & Company, a boutique consulting firm that specializes in culture invigoration, customer experience and leadership development for hospitality brands and high-touch companies. Kate has spent her career working with some of the biggest names in the hospitality field (Thomas Keller, Keith McNally, Geoffrey Zakarian, Sirio Maccioni) and has created service programs for legendary brands (The Plaza, The Essex House, Le Cirque) and industry upstarts (Jack’s Wife Freda, Brooklyn Fare, The Viceroy). Kate also works with entrepreneurs and emerging leaders to build awareness of their power to authentically lead and influence those around them.

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