For restaurant managers, a crystal ball would come in pretty handy. Looking into the future, they would know exactly how many customers to expect each day and, in turn, how many staff members they need to have on duty.
Unfortunately, predicting customer flow isn’t that easy. But it’s an important skill for restaurant managers to hone. When customer flow is higher than you anticipate, understaffing can damage customers’ experience, making them less likely to return or to recommend your restaurant to others. When it’s lower, overstaffing raises your labor costs and cuts into profitability.
So without that crystal ball, how can you get better at predicting customer flow and staffing your restaurant accordingly? We’ve got a few strategies.
Keep an eye on your competitors
Developments at other restaurants in your market can affect your business. If a competitor opens — or closes — a location near you, you’re likely to see the impact on your customer flow. Beyond openings and closing, a change in your competitors’ public image could also be a factor in how full your restaurant is. If a rival restaurant earns a great review in a local magazine, they could lure some customers away from you (at least for awhile). But if they make a social media misstep that goes viral, their regulars might defect to you.