Q What makes my restaurant valuable?


A: I have interviewed thousands of restaurant operators and employees, from waitstaff, dishwashers, chefs and owners to accountants, consultants, investors and bankers, about the qualities that third parties value most in a restaurant. One thing is certain: It’s not just about a dollar amount. Brand value and image are just as important.

I’ve distilled my research and narrowed brand value down to eight key traits: 1) bottom-line strength; 2) top-line sales; 3) personnel management; 4) cost controls; 5) regulatory compliance; 6) differentiation; 7) customer relations; and 8) supplier relationships.

You must address all of these points at different times; focusing too much on one area could lead to deficiencies in other areas. If you hire more people than you need to improve customer service, labor costs will cut into your bottom line. Inconsistent portioning of ingredients can amplify your food costs and hurt your bottom line. You’ll need to implement cost control systems and train staff to follow recipes and deliver consistent product. Leaving anything in the kitchen to chance—or to staff members’ individual tastes—is a recipe for chaos. That can diminish the customer experience and hurt top-line sales.

To increase your store’s value, you’ll need to create systems and processes for each of the above-listed areas. Start by making a list of the eight brand values listed above and decide how to measure results for each value through your daily operations. For regulatory compliance, for example, gather all of the inspection scorecards used to monitor your restaurant’s performance. Be proactive, measuring your own performance and looking for any problems that could get you in trouble.

Once these lists are made and a monitoring process is established, you’re well on your way to starting an operations manual, if you don’t already have one. Meanwhile, get buy-in and feedback from all waitstaff through incentives and create a culture of monitoring habits.  Tie results to rewards, such as gift cards or other fringe benefits for the staff.

Monitoring systems drives branding, which increases restaurant value. It feels great to be able to brag about your bottom-line strength and then negotiate supplier relationships or attract top employees due to an awesome brand value!