Top 5 Mistakes of Mom and Pop Restaurants

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Operations
By David Scott Peters

There’s a small New-York-City-style deli near our office. They serve high quality meats and have incredible egg salad. But as much as I love their food, they do so many things that just kill me to watch.

From what I can tell it’s a husband and wife team with grandma and grandpa working with them. There does not seem to be anyone other than the four of them there at any time.

This business could be so busy if they set themselves apart from the competition by telling the world about their quality food and that they make their sandwiches on authentic New-York-style bagels. And the crazy part is, just two blocks down the road there are two sub-quality sandwich shops almost right next to each other, that are lined up with customers at lunch and this family business is not.

Here are the top five mistakes I see in this restaurant that I see in many, many other Mom and Pop restaurants:

1) Checklists – The restaurant was dirty because they don’t have checklists. Here at Restaurant Systems Pro, we teach restaurant owners that checklists are the foundation of ALL restaurant systems because they set standards and expectations. Without checklists, especially in a small family business, everyone has their own idea of what clean means. If they had checklists in place, there would be only one standard for everyone to follow and nothing would get missed.

2) Point of Sale System – Using a cash register is a horrible idea – yes, a real cash register! If a family-run restaurant has other employees, it breeds theft. In their situation I highly doubt internal theft is even remotely a concern. But, when they type in the sale price of everything sold, they lose their ability to analyze their sales mix to find ideal food cost or just know what their customers are buying.

3) Customer Service Training – While I love a small family business, many have no sense of customer service. Unfortunately many treat you like an inconvenience, politely to your face. If they put a “WOW” customer service program in place, they would kill the competition because they would endear the customers to them and get them to visit and say, “I know the owners!”

4) Selling Tickets – You think that today everyone would understand restaurant 101 includes staging and selling tickets. If they would learn to fire items and work their stations as a team and call the customer when the complete order was up and ready, they would instill a sense of urgency and improve customer service.

5) Recipe Costing Cards – It is 100 percent clear to me that this restaurant I visited – and many others out there – does not have recipe costing cards. Why? Nobody can sell a fresh bagel with Boar’s Head meats in generous portion and give you a fountain drink for under $6.50! Heck, the sandwich itself should probably sell for more than that. Add the fact that they are giving up $2 – $2.50 for every sandwich they sell, they are committing financial suicide! Charge for quality. Charge separately for sodas because customers don’t price shop a drink.

These are very common mistakes in many independent restaurants – from Mom and Pop to restaurants that do $3 million in annual sales. As restaurant coaches and trainers, we have the tools you need to be proactive. Let us help you. Call or email us today. 1-877-457-6278.


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