There is an old adage in the food service business says many a restaurant turnaround consultant that the way to tell “if a fish is going bad is if it stinks at the head first!” Using the analogy that your failing restaurant is like a bad fish, the problems usually start at the head of operations or management. Fish on PlateThe other challenge in turning around a failing restaurant is that management may not necessarily be incompetent but lacks the ability to operate a business in a crisis mode. It takes many unpleasant decisions to save a foodservice operation, especially in today’s economy. The lack of credit by suppliers and banks only magnifies the problems. Many a restaurant owner or general manager would prefer to continue the status quo until news is brighter. There is also the issue of timing. Improving results requires immediate evaluation and identifying the problems followed by a certain course of action – not inaction -now! Some of the difficult and unpopular decisions to cut costs while boosting sales involves looking at every single expense and how it may reduced, modified or eliminated. Probably the most unpopular one is cutting or reducing management perks, such as company vehicles, premium family health insurance coverage, 401k plan contributions, extended vacation pay, and bonuses. In addition to these reductions, one must look at every single supervisory and management related position and determine its true contribution and benefit to the operation, especially in terms of increasing production and customer service. Often, eliminating some or all 2nd and 3rd tier positions, such as assistant managers, shift managers, dining room and bar supervisors will allow the restaurant to shift these savings toward non-supervisory positions, such as more servers, bartenders or line cooks that directly affect meal production and up selling time and customer service. However, this does not mean jobs are being eliminated. Rather, it is often a shift in employees where the costs and staffing correlates to the sales and customer counts. Another area to reign in costs that a restaurant turnaround consultant will evaluate and potentially change are the days and hours of operation and the opening and closing times. Many owners and managers are of the misguided belief that if you eliminate meal periods on certain days or open later and close earlier that customers will flock elsewhere. For example, if the restaurant is located in a hospital zone, staffing costs may be reduced and used toward maximizing the service to increase sales when visitors nearby are coming and going during patient visiting hours instead. If your restaurant is to the point where you may file for bankruptcy or worse – close…then now is the time to act. Evaluating and addressing each of the MMMMs – marketing, money, manpower and management like a restaurant turnaround consultant may well save your food service business, even propel it into prosperity.