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Basic Operation Strategies for the growth of Restaurant Business.

Updated: Mar 29

Strategies for the growth of Restaurant Business - a chess board with strategy

Effective operational strategies are crucial for the growth and success of restaurant businesses. This article explores ten key strategies rooted in industrial psychology and related sciences that can help restaurants improve their operations and achieve sustainable growth.

From employee empowerment to menu design, marketing, and employee training, each strategy is backed by research and examples illustrating its positive effects on restaurant performance. By implementing these strategies, restaurant owners and managers can enhance customer satisfaction, employee motivation, and overall operational efficiency, leading to long-term success in the competitive restaurant industry.

1. Employee Empowerment

Drawing from positive psychology, employee empowerment involves granting employees a degree of autonomy and decision-making authority. When employees feel empowered, they are more likely to take ownership of their work, leading to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity. Empowerment can be achieved through clear communication, providing resources and training, and recognizing and rewarding achievements.

Example: Allow servers to make decisions on how to handle customer complaints up to a certain value without seeking manager approval. This empowers them to resolve issues quickly and improve customer satisfaction.

  • A study by Wagner and Harter (2006) titled "The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal" found that empowered employees are more likely to take initiative, leading to improved customer satisfaction and organizational performance.

2. Cognitive Load Theory in Menu Design

Cognitive load theory suggests that people have a limited capacity for processing information. In menu design, this means simplifying choices and reducing the amount of information presented to customers. This can be achieved by organizing the menu into clear sections, using concise and descriptive language, and highlighting key items or specials. By reducing cognitive load, menus can enhance customer satisfaction and decision-making.

Example: Use simple, easy-to-read fonts and organize the menu into clear sections (appetizers, mains, desserts) to reduce cognitive load. Highlighting a few chef's specials can also help customers make quicker decisions.

  • Research by Spence et al. (2016) published in the Journal of Sensory Studies showed that simplifying menu design can lead to increased customer satisfaction and a higher likelihood of repeat visits.

3. Social Identity Theory in Marketing

Social identity theory posits that individuals derive part of their identity from the groups to which they belong. In marketing, this theory can be used to create a sense of belonging and identity among customers. By aligning branding and marketing messages with customers' values and group identities, restaurants can foster loyalty and a sense of community among their customer base.

Example: Create a loyalty program that gives members a sense of belonging to an exclusive group. Offer special discounts or events for members to strengthen their connection to the restaurant.

  • A study by Bhattacharya and Sen (2003) titled "Consumer-Company Identification: A Framework for Understanding Consumers' Relationships with Companies" published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that creating a sense of social identity through marketing can lead to increased customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

4. Expectancy Theory in Employee Motivation

Expectancy theory suggests that people are motivated to act in certain ways based on their belief that their actions will lead to desired outcomes. In the context of employee motivation, this means setting clear performance expectations and linking them to rewards or incentives. By ensuring that employees understand how their efforts contribute to the restaurant's success and rewarding them for their achievements, managers can increase motivation and performance.

Example: Offer performance-based incentives such as bonuses or recognition for servers who consistently receive positive customer feedback or achieve upselling targets. This links their efforts directly to rewards, motivating them to perform better.

  • Research by Lawler et al. (1973) published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that linking rewards to performance can significantly increase employee motivation and job satisfaction.

Strategies for the growth of Restaurant Business - A chef briefing their staff in a meeting

5. Environmental Psychology in Restaurant Design

Environmental psychology examines how the physical environment affects human behavior and well-being. In restaurant design, this means creating a space that is visually appealing, comfortable, and conducive to social interaction. Factors such as lighting, music, seating arrangements, and décor can all impact the dining experience and influence customers' perceptions of the restaurant.

Example: Use warm, inviting lighting and comfortable seating to create a cozy atmosphere. Soft background music can also enhance the dining experience and encourage customers to linger longer.

  • A study by Hui et al. (2007) published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management found that creating a pleasant dining environment can increase customer satisfaction and willingness to return.

6. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in Customer Service

Maslow's hierarchy of needs suggests that individuals have a hierarchy of needs that must be met, starting with basic physiological needs and progressing to higher-level needs such as self-esteem and self-actualization. In customer service, this means addressing customers' needs at different levels of the hierarchy. Providing good food and service satisfies basic needs, while personalized service and recognition can address higher-level needs.

Example: Ensure that basic needs such as prompt service and clean facilities are met. Offer personalized recommendations or special treats for regular customers to address higher-level needs.

  • Research by Gustafsson et al. (2005) published in the Journal of Services Marketing showed that addressing customers' higher-level needs, such as recognition and personalization, can lead to increased customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.

7. Operant Conditioning in Employee Training

Operant conditioning is a learning theory that suggests behavior is influenced by its consequences. In employee training, this means using reinforcement techniques to shape desired behaviors. Positive reinforcement, such as praise or rewards, can encourage employees to provide excellent customer service and adhere to operational standards.

Example: Provide immediate positive feedback when employees exhibit desired behaviors, such as greeting customers with a smile or upselling menu items. This reinforces these behaviors and encourages their repetition.

  • A study by Latham and Saari (1979) published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that using reinforcement techniques in training can lead to improved employee performance and job satisfaction.

8. Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory in Employee Satisfaction

Herzberg's two-factor theory distinguishes between hygiene factors, which are essential for preventing dissatisfaction (e.g., salary, working conditions), and motivators, which lead to satisfaction and motivation (e.g., recognition, advancement opportunities). By addressing both hygiene factors and motivators, managers can improve employee satisfaction and retention.

Example: Besides offering competitive wages and good working conditions, provide opportunities for career advancement and recognize employees for their contributions. This can lead to higher job satisfaction and motivation.

  • Research by Herzberg et al. (1959) published in the Academy of Management Journal found that addressing both hygiene factors and motivators can lead to increased employee satisfaction and reduced turnover.

9. Hawthorne Effect in Quality Assurance

The Hawthorne Effect suggests that individuals modify their behavior when they know they are being observed. In quality assurance, this means that employees may perform better when they know their work is being monitored. By implementing quality assurance measures and providing feedback to employees, restaurants can improve the quality of their products and services.

Example: Conduct regular quality audits or mystery shopper visits and provide feedback to employees. Knowing that their work is being monitored can motivate them to maintain high-quality standards.

  • A study by Roethlisberger and Dickson (1939) published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that quality assurance measures can lead to improved employee performance and product quality.

10. Systems Theory in Operations Management

Systems theory views organizations as complex systems of interrelated parts. In operations management, this means considering the restaurant as a whole and understanding how changes in one area can affect other areas. By using systems thinking, managers can identify and address bottlenecks and inefficiencies in operations, leading to improved overall performance.

Example: When implementing a new ordering system, consider how it will affect kitchen workflow, inventory management, and customer service. Ensure that all parts of the system work together seamlessly to improve overall efficiency.

  • Research by Forrester (1958) published in the International Journal of Production Economics found that using a systems approach to operations management can lead to improved efficiency and cost savings.

My Final Thought

In conclusion, the growth of a restaurant business relies on a combination of effective operational strategies rooted in psychology and related sciences. By empowering employees, simplifying menu design, creating a sense of social identity, and motivating employees through rewards, restaurants can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Additionally, attention to environmental psychology in restaurant design, addressing customers' needs at different levels, and using reinforcement techniques in employee training can further contribute to success. Finally, by considering the restaurant as a complex system and applying systems thinking to operations management, managers can identify and address inefficiencies, leading to improved overall performance.

As Peter Drucker once said, "Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the customer gets out of it." Similarly, Frederick Herzberg emphasized the importance of addressing both hygiene factors and motivators, stating, "If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do."

By implementing these strategies and insights, restaurant owners and managers can create a thriving business that delights customers and drives long-term success.


What strategy do restaurants use to bring in more customers?

Restaurants use various strategies to attract more customers, including offering promotions and discounts, improving the quality of food and service, engaging in local marketing efforts, and leveraging social media to reach a wider audience.

How to grow a restaurant business?

To grow a restaurant business, focus on providing excellent customer service, maintaining high food quality, expanding your menu to appeal to a wider audience, and investing in marketing and promotional activities to attract new customers.

How to scale up a restaurant business?

To scale up a restaurant business, consider opening new locations, expanding your menu offerings, implementing efficient operational systems, and investing in marketing and branding to increase visibility and attract more customers.

How to increase a restaurant business?

Increasing a restaurant business involves strategies such as improving customer service, offering promotions and discounts, expanding your menu, and investing in marketing efforts to attract new customers and retain existing ones.

What are the best ways to improve restaurant sales?

The best ways to improve restaurant sales include offering promotions and discounts, improving the quality of food and service, expanding your menu, and implementing effective marketing strategies to attract more customers.

How do I own/manage multiple restaurants?

To own/manage multiple restaurants, ensure you have strong operational systems in place, hire a reliable management team, and maintain consistent quality and service across all locations. Effective communication and delegation are key to managing multiple restaurants successfully.

How to write a business plan for a restaurant?

When writing a business plan for a restaurant, include an executive summary, a description of your concept and target market, a detailed analysis of the competition, a marketing and sales plan, an operational plan, and a financial plan.

How to scale my food business in the fastest possible time?

To scale your food business quickly, focus on expanding your customer base, increasing production capacity, improving operational efficiency, and leveraging technology to streamline processes and reach a wider audience.

How to promote a restaurant organically?

Organic promotion for a restaurant involves strategies such as engaging with customers on social media, hosting events and promotions, partnering with local businesses, and leveraging online reviews and word-of-mouth referrals.

What are the important tasks to be done in a restaurant?

Important tasks in a restaurant include managing inventory and supplies, ensuring food safety and hygiene, providing excellent customer service, overseeing staff training and development, and maintaining the overall cleanliness and ambiance of the restaurant.

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