Food, Inside Story

The Importance of Structure in a Restaurant

Critics are divided in what is the most important aspect of a successful cafe or restaurant. While some say its about the food, or the ambience, others say it's about the service. Recently at a leading Melbourne restaurant the waitress told me "it's the food that brings them here but it's the service that keeps them coming back." But what can help free Melbourne cafe and restaurant owners up and help them focus on things like great service?

Cafes and restaurants need every advantage they can get these days to get ahead. This includes employing the right talented people, but also systems and administration. These days there are so many thousands of restaurants that competition has never been higher for customers. While customers will visit a restaurant for a great chef or a certain dish, it is service that will keep them coming back. Customers are discerning, and expect high level service.

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The World Loves Melbourne believes the standard of service is generally high in our cafes and restaurants. Service is often improved by training staff, ensuring customers are greeted on entry, being attentive to customers during the whole experience, and gaining customer feedback. Yet, even when everything appears to be in place, we often see cafe and restaurant owners and staff under pressure when it comes to service. That's why at The World Loves Melbourne we are not out to "attack" venues if they're having a bad day. Our reviews are honest but we like to "celebrate" the culinary culture of Melbourne. Sometimes we just don't write about places because we feel they have slipped in food, ambience or service.

I know restaurants where certain staff are considered to have the wrong attitude, and it costs. Rather than making the customer feel "special" they are aloof, even rude. They give curt replies to basic questions or requests. Some go through the mechanics of service hardly even acknowledging the customer or looking them in the eye. I keep thinking that the owners of the restaurant may never know what is really costing them profits. Even when you're having a bad day a professional waiter will still smile. They don't take their inner frustrations out on the customer. They keep an even temperament even when the customer might be a little rude themselves.

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Recently we were at another standout iconic restaurant in Melbourne where we found the Sommelier made our night because of great service. We felt like he gave us a boutique experience. For a start his wine matching was expert. Every match was fabulous. But it was the high level of engagement that appealed to us. With every wine there was a short story or interesting conversation. Not only did the Sommelier show great knowledge on wines and wine matching but also gave specifics and his personal experiences from the wine regions. We felt like we were brought into his world.

I know some customers don't want to be bothered too much during their meal but many want certain levels of engagement and made to feel special. It's up to the waiter to gauge the customer and the level of engagement they want.

And while training videos and manuals can help train staff, there is no substitute for mentors and industry giants bringing through the next crop of wait staff. 

We believe most problems happen in packed restaurants where staff are constantly under pressure. Sometimes this is because owners need help with staffing rosters. Venues get caught out and are understaffed. Recently we were at a well known restaurant where we were told several staff had reported absent, so a next door neighbour was brought in as a substitute waitress. We wonder how many restaurants "wing it" when staff call in absent or just don't turn up. You can see the necessity to get staffing levels right, have good communication and a decent back up plan.

Often the pressure on service has to do with back end administration. Cafe and restaurant owners in particular have a myriad of demands and requirements to be fulfilled just to run the business. Endless red tape and the weight of HR demands are big issues.

Therefore anything that can amerliorate the admin requirements of cafe and restaurant owners should be welcomed.

A business called Deputy focuses on making admin much easier for cafes and restaurants. 

Deputy is a software product perfect for cafes and restaurant to help with work scheduling, communication with staff, payroll integration and reports. As an Accountant (as well as a blogger) I appreciate the fact Deputy engages with social, mobile and cloud platforms. I'm a big user of cloud platforms myself as the cloud provides flexibility, easier for back up, and you don't have to work from just one computer.
 
Deputy want to help businesses realise their dreams in bringing managers and employees together with brilliant admin solutions.  
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Cafe and restaurant owners are also impressed by some of the other features of Deputy in helping with backend admin tasks, such as messaging function to keep close communication with staff, as well as the ability to assign tasks to specific staff members at any time. Deputy helps you so you're not bogged down in admin.
As an accountant I enjoy products with interface with my accounting system and another cool feature of Deputy is integration with accounting packages like Xero. I'm impressed that timesheets can be directly imported into, say, accounting package Xero. 

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