Five cooks. Four restaurants. One dish. What does that amount to?
A lot of variability.
What if that one dish happened to be a unique, flavorful offering from your test kitchen that turns new customers into regulars?
Then that variability – and the potential for a single, simple mistake to ruin a dish and lose a regular’s loyalty – can cost you.
You already know the importance of consistency in both a dish and dining out. Consistency builds trust with your customers, creates a reputation, and ultimately, enhances your bottom line. But in today’s competitive market and fickle economy, the costs of inconsistencies in a dish or restaurant are higher now more than ever.
Consider the facts. Restaurants took a hard hit after the recession. The average American family spent just $2,505 dining out in 2010, compared to $2,668 in 2007. This year, that number is projected to return to pre-recession levels. Consumer spending is rebounding. The Foodservice industry has stronger operating conditions to look forward to. Industry reports forecast a 3.9% growth in revenue between 2011 and 2016.
Phew. Time to take a break after that painful slowdown, right?
Not so fast.
While projections are bright, the average American family – or rather, their spending habits – are significantly different. They’re more prudent with their dollar, more likely to seek top value, and most importantly, less likely to tolerate inconsistencies.
An Ogilvy and Mather survey found post-recession Americans have adopted a new “consumer consciousness” in frugality and are reconnecting to traditional values. Of those surveyed, 84% believe Americans over-consumed prior to the recession and needed to improve their spending habits.
Spending choices are made deliberately and intentionally: only 21% of those surveyed said they will go back to spending like they did before.
With an eroded sense of trust in not only institutions, but other Americans as well, values like community and quality have replaced mindless consumption: 78% said the recession has changed their spending habits for the better.
In the Foodservice industry, this means your customer is more conscious of their spending and less tolerant when their order is subpar.
The hesitant consumer, for example, will not only be less likely to order their favorite dish if it comes to their table poorly seasoned, but liable to never return. Flavor consistency in products is vital if you want to capture the growing dining dollar.
So how can you deliver consistency in this critical time?
Standardize your products and process.
You’re already using high-quality ingredients. But make sure your ingredients are standardized: your restaurants, locations and chefs use the same ingredients for each dish. Similarly, make sure your kitchen staff is following the same process in creating each dish. Documentation can be helpful.
As always, less is more. The easiest way to improve consistency is to subtract variables from the equation. Find ways to simplify your recipes without changing the flavor. Consider traditional seasoning methods. Seasoning does more than just add flavor; it’s the essence of the dish – and the easiest step to get wrong, creating product inconsistency. Simplifying seasonings or the seasoning process can remove variability in a dish across your restaurants.
Offer adequate training to your staff.
Make sure your entire kitchen staff fully understands this standardized process and the importance of adhering to it. Schedule regular sessions to not only review process, but adjust based on customer response.
Measure customer response.
How are you tracking customer satisfaction? Are your managers talking to your regulars? Ensure your restaurant managers are getting to know customers and the dishes they usually order. How did they enjoy it? Track reactions and alter dishes accordingly.
Problems with Flavor Consistency? Let Flavorseal Help.
Flavorseal has introduced a new technology that eliminates the possibility for that mistake: Seasoning Transfer Technology. This technology creates a one-step process for adding spice to dishes. Product offerings in the Seasoning Transfer Technology line, like the Seasoning Transfer Sheets and Seasoned Roasting Bags, have pre-applied spices and flavors, allowing your chefs to uniformly apply spices, impart flavors and glazes, and deliver the consistent appearance and flavor each time.
When the seasoning sheets or seasoned bags are applied to food, moisture activates the transfer process and the seasoning is transferred to the food. Because the amount of spice applied to each seasoning sheet is carefully calibrated, the same amount of spice transfers each time.
Innovations like Flavorseal’s Seasoning Transfer Technology help your kitchen deliver consistency. Numbers are trending upward in consumer spending on dining out and restaurant revenue growth. Make sure you’re a part of it. Increase customer satisfaction and give your diners their favorite dish – tasting exactly the same way each and every time they order it.
 “Consumer Expenditures Annual Report.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011: http://www.bls.gov/cex/csxann10.pdf.
 Samadi, Nima. “Chain Restaurants in the US Industry Report.” IBISWorld: November, 2011.
 “Eyes Wide Open, Wallet Half Shut.” Ogilvy and Mather. 2010: https://assets.ogilvy.com/truffles_email/eyeswideopen_press/Eyes_wideshut.pdf.