Restaurant Productivity

My family and I frequented a Japanese restaurant called Gyu Kaku at Isetan 1Utama. They serve good quality, simple Japanese BBQ with reasonable price.  My husband and I love their Horenso Salad while my daughters enjoy their BBQ beef.  But the one thing that  keep us coming back is the staff.  Every time we go there, we only see 3 Filipino staffs taking care of 14 tables (each table can accommodate 4-6 people).  The three of them function as waiters, cashiers and cleaners. They are always on the move… and when they do, they move fast.

I love to see the chemistry among them.  Everyone knows their jobs and responsibilities.  Although they look like they are always in a hurry, they never fail to give us smiles whenever they serve our foods or drinks.  They are very polite, attentive and efficient. I love to give tips to waiters who provide excellent service.  It’s my way of appreciating their hard work and motivating them to continue giving great service.

During the fasting month, I found it a bit difficult to cook as I couldn’t taste the food properly before being served.  There were times when my daughters complained the food was tasteless and times when my husband cringed when it was too salty.  So we decided to eat out more often.

We went to a lot of restaurants but there were 2 that really caught my attention:

1. Tajine Restaurant at Jalan Tun Razak

The exterior of the restaurant is very nice and parking is easy.  When I walked into the restaurant, nobody greeted us at the door. We had to call one of the staffs and told them that we needed a table for 10.  We also asked if they served ala carte in addition to the buffet. The staff called another guy and talked in Tamil. Both of them talked and talked until finally one of them asked us, “So, you want to eat? Upstairs OK?”

We asked them again if they served ala carte.  Apparently they didn’t understand what ala carte is.  I took a menu and pointed some dishes to them and asked if I could order from the menu. “Aaaahh.. OK OK,” he replied.

We were seated in two separate tables.  My husband and his brother pulled and combined the two tables together.  The staff just looked at us and didn’t bother to help. Once the tables combined, we took the chairs and sat.  The waiter gave us the menus and left.

Ordering was a pain… The waiters didn’t speak proper English and couldn’t understand Bahasa Malaysia.  Fortunately we were familiar with the dishes so we didn’t need to ask a lot of questions.

While waiting for our food, the mosquitoes feasted on us. It was really strange because we sat indoor on the 2nd floor and the room was full of mosquitoes.  We called the waiter and told him our situation.  ”Oooh, mosquitoes,” he replied. He said,”Yes, a lot of mosquitoes.” We asked if they have any mosquito repellent.  He said no and left. He just didn’t care.

Finally the food arrived and fortunately they were good… Despite of the unpleasant start, we were happy to feast on the fluffy, fragrant rice with tender lamb and juicy chicken. The food was authentically middle-eastern.  Then the waiter brought a Chinese claypot to our table.  I told them we didn’t order anything in claypot.  Apparently it was the Lamb Tajine that we ordered. It was a real disappointment. The restaurant’s name is Tajine.  It should serve the tajine dishes in Tajines, not in Chinese clay pot. It just feels wrong to eat tajine from a chinese claypot.

While the food is good, the whole dining experience was just unpleasant. Service was bad, the room was warm and full of mosquitoes and we felt unwelcome.

2. Bulgogi Brothers at e-Curve

We love the food at Bulgogi Brothers, a chain restaurants serving Korean BBQ.  We frequented their outlets in Paradigm mall and in Pavillion.  We always left the restaurants satisfied.  Two weeks ago we tried the outlet at e-curve. The food was as good as the other outlets but the service was disappointing.  We arrived 30 minutes before the time to break the fast. While ordering was fast, the food arrived 15 minutes after the time to break fast (45 minutes later).  If you are familiar with Korean BBQ, the kitchen staff don’t need to cook the meat.  They just slice the meat/vegetables and arrange them on a plate. It should take no more than 10 minutes to prepare, not 45 minutes..!!

We asked the waiter to bring us a few glasses of water to break fast. It took him more than 10 minutes just to get the water.  While waiting for the food, we noticed that the customers next to our table (who came and ordered much later than us) got their food first.  At that time I didn’t have the mood to complain as I saw the waiters running around, comforting other agitated customers.  There were more than 6 waiters, all confused and rushing going in and out from the kitchen.

Being part of the F&B industry making me more forgiving when dining out.  I understand that sometimes kitchen staff didn’t show up or some of the floor staff are sick but I can’t stand ignorant and untrained staffs who have bad attitudes.

While quality of food is very important in restaurant business, excellent service is a must.  Hire only staffs with good attitude.  Train them properly.  It is better to have 3 well-trained waiters than having 10 half-trained or untrained waiters with bad attitude.  Be willing to pay more for good waiters who can provide excellent service because quality service will turn a walk-in customer into a regular.






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How to Make Your Customers Remember YOU

Customers in F&B industry are one of the most unforgiving people.  When they are served with bad food and bad service, they will remember it forever.  Not only they will never come back, they will spread the news to their friends and families. Even worse…. they can post it on the social media and ask strangers to boycott the restaurant.

Social media is like a double-edge sword for your restaurant business.  It can serve you as an excellent marketing tool but it can also destroy you with bad publicity.

However, when customers enjoy good (not excellent) food with average service, they tend to forget the name of the restaurants.  Have you ever heard people say,”I had this nice chicken sandwich at this mall but I forget the name of the cafe”?

Unless the food and service are excellent and they frequent the place, most people do not remember the names of the restaurants they dine in.

If your restaurant has the good food and great service, don’t you want your customers to remember and recommend it to their peers?

How to make them remember your restaurant?

By increasing the number of times your customers see your restaurant name.

1. Make the restaurant name visible at the entrance.

Yes, you have a signboard above your premise but walk-in customers can’t see it. The signboard is a few meters above their heads.  Make your brand visible by displaying it at the customers’ eye-level. You can put stickers, signboard, or bunting near the door or at the window.

2. The restaurant name should be visible from the inside of the restaurant.

This is the real story.  I was walking in a mall when I was this interesting restaurant.  I decided to go in and try.  A few minutes after I sat down, my friend called me and asked where I was.  I told her that I was at 1Utama mall.  She said that she was also there and she wanted to join me for lunch.  She asked me where I was. I didn’t know… I tried to look at the menu.  It didn’t mention the name of the restaurant.  I looked around the place to find its name, I didn’t see any.  I had to go out and looked up at the signboard above the door to find the name of the restaurant.

Imagine if my friend didn’t call.  I wouldn’t remember the name of the restaurant.

The visibility of the restaurant name can be achieved by putting it on the menu, printing it on the staff uniforms, printing it on sticker and stick it at cash register, making it part of the interior decoration, printing it on the plates, etc. They are numerous ways you can do to make your customers see your restaurant name.  The more frequent they see it, the more likely they remember your restaurant name.

3. Print the restaurant name on the take away boxes or bags.

Sometimes customers take away food for their friends or colleagues.  If the friends happen to like the food very much, they will ask where he/she bought the take away.  If he/she was rushing and just bought food from any restaurant in the mall, very likely he/she won’t remember the name of the restaurant.  By having the restaurant name and address printed in take away boxes n bags, people can see where the food was purchased.  And if they like it, they can easily locate the restaurant and pay a visit.

Thank you for reading.  I hope you enjoy this post as much as I was writing it. Have a great day my friends…



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Restaurant Issue : Increasing Your Customer’s Spending

I eat out a lot and when I do, I am usually prepared to spend good money for something I like.  As a mother of 2 young daughters who inherit my love for food, I have to be financially ready whenever I take them out for a meal. While I don’t carry a lot of cash, I have my credit cards anywhere I go.  By using credit cards, I don’t need to make numerous trips to ATMs.  I can also collect credit card points that can be exchanged for free meals in various fancy restaurants.

A few weeks ago, I went to a cafe for dinner with my daughters.  All of us were hungry and the menu looked good. We had two types of appetizers, three main dishes and three desserts.  The waiter was very efficient and friendly.  While waiting for our food, I looked around the cafe and I couldn’t see any credit card sticker on the door.  I started to panic. I called the waiter and ask if they accept credit card.  He said no.  I only had RM 60 in my purse and I knew the meal would cost more than that.  I told him that I didn’t carry much cash.  He told me there was an ATM across the street.  Reluctantly I left my two young kids unattended in the restaurant, brazed mad drivers who refused to let me cross safely and go to the ATM… Only to find that the machine was out of order.

I went back to the restaurant and told the waiter to cancel a few dishes.  Embarrassingly I apologized to him for not bringing enough cash. Fortunately he was cool with it.  He said I was not the first one to experience this.  Many customers didn’t have enough cash and had to cancel the orders.

At the end, the three of us shared two main dishes washed down with glasses of ice water.

I was ready to spend more than RM100 for the meal but I had to settle for less than RM60.  The cafe’s potential sales was reduced by 40%.  In a small way, that cafe had inconvenienced its customers.  The whole dining experience was “difficult”.

Imagine if the cafe had credit card machine.  It could definitely increase its sales.  With the current security issue, many people avoid carrying a lot of cash.  Most of my friends carry less than RM100 in their wallets.  They pay everything using credit cards too.

If your menu has meals priced over RM20 per dish, I suggest you to have credit card machines in your restaurant.  If American Express (Amex) commission is too high, you should at least accept Visa and Mastercard. It would be even better if you can accept debit cards too.

lady holding credit card

By accepting credit cards, you save your customers from embarrassment of not having enough cash.  You provide hassle-free and pleasant dining experience to your customers.  Instead of searching for ATMs, your customers can channel their energy to enjoy the food and your restaurants.


























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Restaurant Frauds

As in other retail business, restaurant business is also prone to thefts and frauds.  Most restaurant owners encounter employee theft or cheating customer at one time or another.  No matter how well you think you know your employees or your customers, there is always a possibility of theft. Very often thefts are committed by unsuspecting employees. The person that owner least suspect is usually the one who commits the thefts.

Businesses nationwide suffer billions of dollars every year due to employee fraud and theft and the numbers are increasing.  Larger business can absorb a loss better than small business.  A lot of restaurant businesses are made bankrupt by thefts and frauds because owners fail to detect and act on the problems in a timely manner. Most employee theft comes to the attention of the employer when it is too late. Early detection is necessary to prevent huge losses.

Most big organizations have internal audit departments that create a system to prevent or lessen frauds in the company.  Most small businesses like restaurants or cafes often don’t allocate any resource for anti-fraud measures.  Because of that, restaurant owners are prone to be the victims of frauds and thefts.

The most powerful tool to prevent frauds from happening is by having a system that will deter the employees on committing any fraud.  Most frauds and thefts are committed when the employees know that the chance of getting caught is small.

While most common restaurant thefts are committed by employees, there are a lot of fraud cases committed by people outside of the organization.  Frauds committed by outsiders are mostly robberies, burglaries, credit card frauds, suppliers charging prices higher than what has been agreed, non-paying customers and stealing customers.

Below is the video on restaurant robbery caught by CCTV in Subang Jaya

restaurant theft in subang jaya

While restaurant robbery doesn’t happen as often as employee thefts, it can damage your restaurant reputation.  Customers will avoid your restaurant when they don’t feel safe dining over there.

When you open a restaurant, implement some safety measures on fraud prevention since day one.  Don’t wait until your audited report shows huge operating loses.





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The Importance of Consistency in Restaurant Business

A restaurant that has the right start-up has a bigger chance in success than those that start without proper planning.  However, the right start-up doesn’t guarantee success in the long run.  Besides continuous advertising and promotions, a restaurant needs to be consistent to achieve long-term success.  Without a dedication to consistency, failure is almost guaranteed.

To be successful, a restaurant needs to be consistent with:

  1. The Food
  2. The Service 


The Food

Most people go to restaurants to eat, to enjoy the food and to entertain their families and friends with the food served in the restaurants.  Regular customers will have expectations on how the food should taste in your restaurant.  Some even develop some kind of addiction to your famous Country Fried Chicken.  Imagine if one day your regular customers find their Country Fried Chicken have too much black pepper or saltier than the usual.  You may argue that you change your chef but the customers don’t care about it.  They come to satisfy their addictions to your Country Fried Chicken and disappointed to find that they eat something they are not familiar with.

I understand that chefs come and go in restaurant business.  However it doesn’t mean that the taste of your food has to change every time you change your chefs.  If you go to TGIFridays, Chili’s or McDonald’s, you can see how consistent their foods are.  I am sure they have changed their chefs more than they can remember.

The secrets to having consistent food are:

  • Standard Recipes

You must have standard recipes that shouldn’t be altered when the new chefs come in.

  • Solid Kitchen Procedures

Everyone has to implement the kitchen procedures religiously, from the cleaners, line cooks to executive chefs.

  • Proper Staff Training

Every new cooks or staffs should have proper training before being allowed to cook for customers.

  • Consistent Suppliers

The taste of tomato paste varied from one brand to another, so does the quality of your beef.  Changing suppliers mean changing the taste of the ingredients which will lead to changing the taste of your food.


The Service

Customers expect consistent service at all times because they don’t like unpleasant surprises. A consistent service means having uniformity in terms of speed, quality and courtesy in delivering the service to the customers, regardless of time and occasion.

Your customers will expect to be greeted the the same courtesy when they enter your restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  They will also expect their food to arrive after 15 minutes regardless whether or not your restaurant is having a full house or just serving two tables.

The consistency of service can be achieved when the restaurant has standard procedures that are followed by everyone in the organization.








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