Friday, July 19, 2013

Restaurant Consulting NYC | We’re Having a Heat Wave, A Tropical Heat Wave… | 4Q Consulting, LLC

We’re Having a Heat Wave, A Tropical Heat Wave…

Just as Irving Berlin wrote, “The temperature’s rising/ It isn’t surprising”.

This week’s heat wave has been forecasted and we tend to have one or two every summer.  Restaurant owners should be prepared to take some proactive steps to keep both their guests and employees safe when the mercury rises.

Here are 4 areas to keep in mind to keep guests and employees safe in a heat wave:

Keeping People Safe – 
  • Keep guests and workers cool, comfortable and hydrated – make sure everyone is drinking plenty of water
  • Either provide both shade and air circulation or close outside seating during the hottest part of the day – to ensure the safety of both your guests and employees.
  • Provide water and food for your staff – hydration is vital, but so is maintaining blood sugar levels.
  • Monitor staff and guests for signs of distress or heat stroke.
  • Lighten the uniforms of the dining room staff – think about a summer weight uniform, with light colors clothing and short sleeves.  
  • Monitor patron’s alcohol consumption as over consumption in extreme heat can be accurately dangerous.
Maintaining Your Equipment –
  • Service all refrigeration and AC units prior to summer so they don’t breakdown in a heat wave.
  • Instruct your staff to keep the AC at a consistent level.  Turning the AC or refrigeration units down too far will overload and freeze up your cooling system, rendering them useless.
  • Ensure kitchens are properly ventilated and have fans
  • If your ice machine is air cooled and struggling to keep up, consider purchasing cubed ice for drinking; similarly, if your refrigerators and walk-ins are struggling, consider purchasing dry ice.
Monitoring Food Safety –
  • Monitor refrigerator and product temperatures closely and take corrective action immediately. Remember all foods must be stored at or below 40°F.  If your walk-in is above 40°F, your food is not properly stored and can be a health hazard.
  • To keep cold food cold – 
    • Keep walk in and fridge doors closed as much as possible.
    • Do not overload refrigerators – if the fan unit in the fridge is blocked, this will cause poor air flow and will inhibit the unit’s cooling ability.
    • Do not block refrigerator’s external condensing unit with debris and storage items; which would inhibit the units cooling ability.
  • Prepare food in small batches to reduce the amount of time food is out of refrigeration and in a very hot kitchen.
  • Use proper thawing and cooling techniques: do not leave food out on counters to thaw; thaw all food under running cool water (water should be below 70°F).
Modifying Menu Offerings – 
  • Offer lighter menu items for the summer – heavy sauces, stews and roasts are can be unappealing when the mercury rises.  These could include cold options such as salads, sandwiches and cold soups.
  • Add more small plate and appetizer options as people not only eat lighter food, but they tend to eat smaller portions when it is very hot outside.
  • Add frozen non-alcoholic drinks, chillers and fruit flavored waters to menus.
As Cole Porter said in song: “It’s too Darn Hot!”  A few proactive easy fixes can help you get through these periodic heat waves while keeping your guests and employees safe. Also, keep in mind for next year’s planning.

Don’t know where to begin?  Ask yourself, do you have the proper written procedures and operational guidelines in place to help you be as successful as possible?  4Q Consulting can develop customized operational guidelines and training programs to meet your needs. Email us today for a free business consultation at

All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2012-2013.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Restaurant Consulting NYC | 4 Warning Signs That Your Operational Procedures are Impacting Your Bottom Line | 4Q Consulting, LLC

4 Warning Signs That Your Operational Procedures are
Impacting Your Bottom Line –
Mid-Year Review

As we enter the second half of 2013, now is the time to take stock of your business’ operational inefficiencies. Whether you are restauranteur, caterer or food service provider, examine which procedures are currently working and get rid of those that are not.

Here are 4 warning signs that indicate that you have a problem with some of your operating procedures that may impact your bottom line:

High Employee Turnover - This is an indication of a larger human resource issue.  Exit interviews can uncover a pattern of something amiss in your organization. For example, are your managers adhering to the guidelines of your employee handbook?  Our Blog,  4 Reasons Why Your Restaurant Needs an Employee Handbook,  takes a look at this.  High employee turnover becomes expensive due to the cost of recruiting, hiring and training new staff.  High turnover can also make it hard to maintain your desired level of product and service quality, as it pulls management away from running the business to train new staff and by always having novice front-line staff.

Theft - If you think you don’t have any, you are wrong; and if you are aware of some theft, the problem is larger than you think it is. Re-examine the obvious places where theft occurs to ensure your controls are in place and being used.  But also look at the less obvious places.  In our previous blog we discussed, how theft is a major drain on your bottom line. Our Blog entitled: How Much of your Profits are Being Eaten by Employee Theft? Four Basic Ways to Prevent Employee Theft in your Establishment, examines this more in depth.  Holding your staff accountable with strict controls, checks and guidelines can help you to maintain your bottom line profits.

Safety and Sanitation – Poor safety and sanitation can lead to waste, unnecessary health department fines, and a PR nightmare. Now is the time to review your food safety and sanitation training program.  As discussed in our blog entitled  4 Reasons why it is Vital that All Employees are Trained in Food Safety,  having dirty bathrooms, employee accidents, fruit flies at the bar, or violations from the health department can hurt your quality, effect employee morale and lead to a loss of business.

Quality –There are many components to quality.  They all lead back to proper training and execution of operating procedures by your staff.  Seeing an increase in improper order taking, plates being returned to the kitchen and general complaints about service and cleanliness are often red flags, as are negative on-line reviews. A positive customer experience is the ultimate goal. Turning poor customer experiences into positive ones can be a valuable training tool and learning experience, and can lead to customer loyalty.  Our blog Bad Experiences Can Make Loyal Customers explores this.

The issues above can erode your profit margin quickly and lead to your business’ demise. If procedures are not working now, they won’t work in the future and need to be changed. Improving upon your guidelines and procedures can ensure that 2013 is your most profitable year yet.

Don’t know where to begin?  Ask yourself, do you have the proper written procedures and operational guidelines in place so you can be as profitable as possible?  4Q Consulting can develop customized operational guidelines and training programs to meet your needs.  Call or email us today for a free business consultation!

All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2012-2013.