Optimize Your Restaurant Space To Run Profitably
A few years back, I consulted at a restaurant which was having trouble making rent. The total space was small to begin with, and gave off a stuffy feeling. On one side was a row of refrigerated display cases, sporting an assortment of salads, poultry and beef. Across the walking space was a row of bar-type seating facing a wall. The theme of the mostly takeout restaurant was Mediterranean food in a homey atmosphere, and behind the register were large jars of pickles on display. On top of the soda machines were wicker baskets (used as centerpieces) that were being stored for the occasional catering job.
The first step in a restaurant consultation for me is always sitting. Sitting and watching what is currently happening. Customer after customer would come in, and while waiting at the register to pay, scan the back for something interesting to occupy his time. Often, that something of interest was a decorative jar of pickles. Other times, it was the wicker baskets.
When I sat down with the owners, I asked them a simple question:
“How much does that jar pay you monthly for sitting on your shelf and using space?”
The puzzled looks on their faces were understandable. I explained that when you have limited space to work with, it is important to make each square foot not just count, but actually pay you. How does one accomplish that?
Take a look at everything in your restaurant. Do you like everything? Odds are, other people will like at least some part of it. They may like the black barstool, or, they may fancy the charcoal colored counter, and so on. Your service offerings, however, are limited to food…or are they?
What if the jar of pickles had a price tag stuck on it, and you could buy it? And the wicker baskets had a price tag attached? And even a barstool? Or that painting on the wall?
The answer is, you would make more money from the same amount of space. Instead of just selling food, you are now selling the entire experience.
Ikea, generally known for its innovative furniture, employed this tactic as well. When you walk around Ikea’s showroom, you encounter real rooms with all the little details, from TV to binders on the shelves – all with price tags. By the end, you feel as if they would sell you a wall, if you gave the right price. This is an incredibly powerful way to make use of your space. Ironically, we are talking about a restaurant that should sell (among other things) furniture, while Ikea is a furniture store that sells food. Ikea realized that people might be tired and hungry after a long trek through their winding showroom floors and offered a restaurant at the end. Both Ikea and the restaurant want to make the best use of their space.
So, if you want to be a better restaurant owner, make sure to look over your retail space and spot opportunities to sell a part of the experience, instead of just the food.