SWOT. Budget. Plan. – Get your restaurant on the right track for 2017

Welcome to 2017, a new year for you and your restaurant business to achieve big things! Spending time reviewing your restaurant’s successes and opportunities from 2016 is the most effective starting point when deciding how to plan for the exciting New Year.

Regardless of the size or type of operation you run, being honest with yourself and taking a good look at your business is the only way that you can improve.

Here are 3 effective business exercises that will direct your restaurant on the right path for 2017.

1) SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Completing a SWOT analysis of your restaurant will help you quickly identify where your focus should be placed, and what the greatest opportunities are for the upcoming year.

Strengths – Are things you do well or assets to your business. Look deep and try to find concrete examples of these assets. Examples: a great location, excellent food quality, a unique brand in the community, positive social media feedback.

Opportunities – Are the areas of your business that maybe weaker or underdeveloped, but have the opportunity to become a strength with proper planning. Examples: implement a regular inventory process, implement a costed labour tool, expand business hours to include a new dining period, price increase or menu adjustments.

Weaknesses – Are things you do not do well or liabilities to your business. These can be hard to admit but do your best to be honest about them. Examples: poor food cost, high labour cost, inconsistent serviceThreats – Define what threatens to hurt your business. Examples: new competitor opening in neighbourhood, municipal construction around your business limiting access, cost of goods increases.


The SWOT analysis will be the foundation that you build your strategies and goals from, so be sure to review all aspects of your restaurant operations from the kitchen to front of house.

2) Set a Budget

They say the best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time to do so is today. So let’s focus on budgeting now, for a better and more rewarding future.

“A budget is your road map to profitability”, says my good friend and fellow consultant Tyler Fraser, and truer words have never been spoken. If you don’t have a budget how do know how well your business is doing or could be doing? How do you keep track of your spending versus what you should be spending? Everything may be okay and there is money in the bank every month (or not) but could there be more?

You’ll never know unless you develop a proper realistic budget. The Fifteen Group recommends writing a budget and reviewing it monthly to ensure your team is staying on the path to a profitable future. Never written a budget before? We can help! Reach out to us info@thefifteengroup.com and we can discuss getting you on the right path.

3) Plan for the future not the past

One of the most informative exercises you can do to ensure you are ready for 2017 is to plan ahead. The restaurant industry is very cyclical. If you review revenue and events from a yearlong perspective you will see that the sales results follow the same trend year after year, unless it involves unanticipated changes or circumstances.

a) Sales Forecast Circumstances

Ice storm of 2013 is unlikely to repeat annually, so disregard that sales slump or excess R&M costs. Patio season runs Victoria Day to Labour Day so you can bank on that sales trend. This year, Valentines Day falls on a Tuesday so you can expect an early week spike in sales that week but may see a decline in your Saturday sales prior to and after.

You might…want to think about the remote possibility of potential playoff hockey this year in Toronto, I’m optimistic and at best we’re looking at four games but I am saying there is a chance!!!

b) Review the upcoming Calendar Year

Take a 2017 calendar and review the many highlights and opportunities that were presented to you in 2016. Identify how you can plan better for them in the months to come. Review the key points identified in your SWOT analysis that can be placed built into the calendar, for improved planning and execution.

c) Set Reminders

Once the plan is compiled with set dates and timelines, set reminders for your team in advance to begin the planning. Major dates can easily sneak up on you, so to allow your team enough time for proper planning and execution, give at least two months for the planning process.

So there it is, the restauranteurs New Years resolution. SWOT. Budget. Plan.

If you need assistance or would like to discuss how The Fifteen Group could be of assistance here or other areas of your business don’t hesitate to email us at info@thefifteengroup.com or myself at cknight@thefifteengroup.com as we are happy to help. While “a wing and a prayer” is technically a plan, unless you are running the chicken shack at the church picnic it might not be a good one.

Chris Knight, Restaurant Consultant

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