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The kitchen’s small and has limited space, but it’s a necessary fight and you need to deal with it. You cannot expand, and moving your restaurant is difficult. With things being that way, how can you manage and prevent impacts to work effectiveness and service quality and still output foods normally? We have some great strategies to recommend you on how to manage small kitchens. In theory, the kitchen space of restaurants should be about 25-30% of your total space. In reality, however, the kitchen should not take up more than 20% of your space. The reason for this is that every square meter costs money, especially if you rent space inside shopping centers. For example, let’s say rent costs 2,000 baht per square meter. If you rent a total of 100 square meters and allocate 30% or 30 square meters as kitchen space, you will be paying 60,000 baht every month for kitchen space. And once you cut out other working spaces, you will have less than 70% of your space left for generating income or for customers to sit in. That means that your sales opportunity will be reduced, and your break-even point will be extended. It would be better of you manage space in a way that maximizes the income-generating or customer service part the most while leaving only 20% for kitchen space. As your kitchen space becomes limited, management becomes a major issue. Use a cost-saving kitchen layout. When your kitchen space is limited, what you need to stop thinking about is the idea of having a central table or island inside the kitchen. Even though the island makes it convenient and speeds up your work, it has to be removed because you have limited space. Now you should arrange your kitchen into two sections, one front and one back. This is a popular style for restaurants that have limited space. One side is for preparation, while the other side is for placing the refrigerator, freezer and other equipment in a way that is convenient to grab, pick, arrange and prepare. Manage stock just right. The next thing you need to manage is stock. When you have limited kitchen space, the sizes of your refrigerators and freezers will also be smaller. So, it’s important to calculate your quantities just right. Otherwise, if you order too much, you might not have enough space to keep what you order. We recommend you order just enough ingredients for one or two days of use. After you receive your ingredients, cut and dress them for use and store them in bags or boxes that can be stacked on top of each other. Place them inside the refrigerator, separated into lots and usage for usage convenience. This is a highly effective storage space management. However, most people prefer to toss whatever they order inside the refrigerator, leading their ingredients to pile on top of each other to fill up the space and decrease refrigeration effectiveness, right? Flow has to work. The next issue is work flow. An effective kitchen work principle is to walk as little possible for each plate of food. When the kitchen space is limited and many people work in the same kitchen, if a lot of this and that has to be grabbed in preparing each plate of food, the entire system’s work flow can be impacted, and food will be outputted slowly. Therefore, walking should be minimized when preparing each plate of food so as to reduce work time. Clearly separate kitchen areas between seasoning, preparation, food output and washed dishes sections. Do not have these areas overlap. In particular, do not have the washed dishes section be located close to dirty things. Prevent dirty things from coming into contact with plates and foods, and, if possible, you should make it so that the food output and dish drop-off sections to be separate from the kitchen in order to avoid traffic congestion in the kitchen. This is because if every section is all bunched up inside the kitchen, with all the cooks and chefs working there, waiters walking in to receive food, dish collectors dropping off dishes, all inside that tiny kitchen, congestion will definitely occur. Make use of every square inch. With limited space, it’s all the more important for you to make use of every square inch for work. If drilling walls is allowed, drill and install shelves for placing equipment for use. Otherwise, procure a two- or three-tiered table with wheels for placing seasonings, ingredients, washed dishes, plates, bowls or prepared foods or for grabbing filled plates for serving, etc. Importantly, when you have limited kitchen space, you need to be creative in managing your space. Try thinking outside the box, and try relying on the principle of working effectively and quickly. Effectiveness is key, but for the most part, people complaint that they can’t do this or do that with limited space without actually having tried. There are many famous restaurants in shopping centers that have fairly small kitchens that could serve hundreds of customers or even thousands each day. That’s because they don’t see their limitations as a problem, and instead create the right work formats for themselves

Competition is unavoidable in the business world. The same is true for restaurant businesses. Unexpected situations can happen at any time. For example, your restaurant is selling well, but a newly opened restaurant steals all of your customers. A battle of price promotions might ensue. How can you deal with such a competitive situation? The following are five must-dos, even if you have no competitors, in order to prepare for every future situation.

QSC is key in helping you overcome any situation.

QSC is one of the standard system setup tools to which every restaurant should give importance. Whether restaurants can maintain their good standards or not is greatly determined by QSC, and restaurants that successfully maintain the quality of their foods, services and atmosphere will convince customers to make return visits. One of the factors with which customers leave restaurants is based on agreed standards. So, what is in QSC?

Q = Quality

The first thing customers expect as they make selections among different restaurants is flavor. However… different customers have different tastes, so restaurants have to respond to customers by providing superb quality with every serving to customers and maintain standard flavors, quantities and appearances in every dish served.

S = Service

For this one, if the restaurant is a fine dining restaurant, you have to delve deep into issues like service-mindedness and hospitality. However, for ordinary restaurants, just providing standard services that qualify as good is enough, for example, through employees providing satisfactory answers to customers’ questions, knowing how to give basic replies to menu questions, taking orders correctly, smiling and being polite.

C = Cleanliness

The final basic component of restaurants is the cleanliness of ingredients, employees and equipment inside the restaurant. No matter how good the food tastes at the restaurant, if the restaurant has rats or cockroaches running around in front of customers or the food that customers eat virtually spurts out of their bellies or customers have diarrhea or have to go to the hospital after eating at the restaurant, it is going to be hard to convince customers to return.

SWOT:  Know yourself and know your enemy to make it hard to lose in any battlefield.

The next thing you have to do is SWOT to assess your own strengths and weaknesses. Quickly correct weaknesses that you discover and strengthen your strengths and let the world know that your restaurant is strong, such as strengths about your ingredients that you never told anyone about. Try to find distinguishing characteristics that you can use to boost your competitiveness. You must have them! If you don’t, then quickly create them! In addition to analyzing yourself, you also need to analyze your competitors and find out what they are up to. Study their restaurant designs, menu items, atmosphere, management, price strategies, marketing and target groups, and use them for your homework in preparation for dealing with them. In the early stages when a new competitor opens up to compete with you, it’s natural that customers will want to try out the new stuff. However, if months and years pass and your competitors only have more and more customers, this means that your restaurant has weaknesses that are keeping customers from coming back. The saying that “if you know yourself and know your enemy, you will win one hundred out of one hundred battles” is still very true.

R&D: Create new menu items. Don’t cling to old successes.

For many restaurants, they gradually lose customers without the restaurants realizing. That is because these restaurants cling on to old successes and do not improve or view improvements as wasteful. This is an important issue. Even if a new restaurant has not opened up to steal customers away, it will be difficult to escape the future. Competitors will surely come, and they will come with new things. A new restaurant might offer a new atmosphere and new menu items, while your restaurant offers the same stuff ever since the first day your restaurant has opened and offers nothing new to customers. It is natural that customers get bored of that, so try changing your menu items or come up with new menu items. For every part that needs improvement, you should invest, even if just a little bit, to do improve. This is very important in retaining existing customers and attracting new customers. However, for every improvement, you need to preserve your restaurant’s concept; don’t just make changes to follow your competitors.

CRM: A Tool for Retaining Existing Customers

“Finding new customers is more expensive than keeping existing ones”, this statement is true because existing customers are likely to keep generating revenues for us while providing us with free marketing. However, because it is not easy to retaining customers, it is particularly important for every restaurant to especially impress existing customers. As a result, restaurants and beverage stores should collect customer information or engage in CRM (customer relationship management) such as by collecting the names, addresses, emails, telephone numbers and important dates of customers in order to use these pieces of information to engage in special and specific marketing and impress regular customers. For example, you could offer some special gifts or surprises to customers on their birthdays. Creating and building good impression are major factors in promoting brand loyalty. CRM also has lots of other marketing benefits, which we might discuss on another occasion.

Price Competitions: Don’t fall for the trick or get caught up in it.

When competitors arise, price competitions usually follow to the terror of the home team such as those 99-baht pork grills or 19-baht pearl milk teas. We would like to warn you not to get caught up in a price competition, because that will only hurt you. What you need to do is maintain every aspect of your QSC and create new menu items while controlling costs to remain low and maintain competitive prices. Don’t slash the prices of your existing menu items. Instead, you could create promotion sets based on existing menu items that still create a profit for you after your costs are averaged. Please remember that price competitions benefit nobody and will hurt every party in the end, even consumers won’t receive high-quality services and products. It is better to use marketing and cost management strategies.

We’d like to say again! If you don’t have competitors today, it’s a good chance for you to evaluate yourself and find ways to make improvements and make your restaurant better than before. Don’t wait for the day the bad situation arrives. By that time, the stress and your lack of preparations might make it difficult for you to compete effectively with your competitors. If you are already in a highly competitive situation now, stay calm and analyze yourself first and then analyze your competitors. Fight with your strengths, and create them if you don’t have any!

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