How to Write Your Restaurant Communication Plan
This post was contributed by Sage, a Crunchtime accounting and payroll integration partner.
In the restaurant industry, communication is vital. You have to make sure front-of-house and back-of-house staff are in sync and that employees know what’s expected of them. You also need to connect with your customers as part of a positive experience.
But if you don’t tie your restaurant communication strategies together in one cohesive plan, you end up with siloed conversations and a lack of consistency. That’s why you need a robust strategy that outlines your goals and how you plan to achieve them.
In this post, we’ll explore the importance of effective communication and show you how to write a plan that will improve your relationships with staff and customers alike.
The Importance of Effective Restaurant Communication
First of all, what exactly is a communication plan for a restaurant, and what does it contain? The short answer is that it’s a document outlining your business’s communication goals and how you intend to achieve them. It describes the key messages you want to share and the resources and budget required.
So, who’s it aimed at? The advantage of a restaurant communication plan is it covers both your employees and your customers (as well as other stakeholders). It helps you communicate more effectively with all parties, whether you’re making a staff announcement or posting a promotion on social media.
In terms of external comms, the plan should include details of your restaurant’s target audience and their needs and preferences. With this information, you can tailor your messaging to make sure you’re engaging the right people and using the right communication channels.
Internally, a good communication plan is vital for the smooth running of your restaurant. It should keep staff in the loop about operations and policies and enable them to communicate with each other to avoid scheduling issues and inventory mistakes.
In the restaurant industry, staff tend to work varying shifts, which makes it harder to form connections with coworkers. A communication plan addresses this issue, too, and should lead to improved employee satisfaction and retention.
The plan should also provide clarity on how to communicate with different groups, ensuring your messaging remains consistent across channels, is always aligned with your brand values, and supports your objectives.
Now, let’s take a closer look at how to write an effective communication plan.
How to Write Your Restaurant Communication Plan
What should a restaurant communication plan include then? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but we can share some key steps for communication planning.
Outline key participants in restaurant communication
Firstly, make a list of the people you need to communicate with. This might include employees and managers, existing and potential customers, restaurant suppliers, and external stakeholders such as investors.
Next, think about who’s going to be responsible for restaurant communication in all its forms. Will you appoint a specific person to head up internal comms and another to oversee customer messaging? Assign the required tasks and completion dates and consider the resources required.
Don’t just make this a top-down exercise. Communication works both ways, so it’s good practice to include employees and managers in the planning process to increase engagement and buy-in. You can take recent customer feedback into account too.
Determine set communication goals and measurable objectives
Consider the overall aim of your restaurant communication plan. Think about what you want to achieve and how improved communication might further that goal. For example, you may want to encourage more online reviews from customers, improve brand awareness, or enhance the flow of information between front-of-house and back-of-house staff.
It’s important that your objectives are measurable—otherwise, you won’t be able to monitor progress. Don’t be vague either: include concrete figures, such as “Increase online reviews by 10% in six months.” Consider how achievable these goals are and set a realistic time frame.
All your internal and external messaging should support these ambitions. You’ll need to make sure the whole team is aware of your objectives and the purpose behind them so they can fully commit. When you assign a task, explain why and how it will help the restaurant.
Implement guidelines based on restaurant brand and values
You’ve probably already developed a mission statement, company vision, and value proposition for your restaurant. You can use these to inform your communication plan, and put guidelines in place for how to represent these values through comms.
Communication is a big part of your brand identity, so it’s important to set expectations for tone of voice and language. This will keep your messaging consistent across all channels and enable your customer service team to respond appropriately to negative reviews, complaints, or even a PR crisis.
As well as helping you to promote your brand and respond to customers, these guidelines should cover the way you connect internally. Encourage employees to communicate with respect, honesty, and transparency and to help each other by submitting availability for shifts on time and flagging any issues they’re having.
Identify optimal communication channels both internally and externally
A restaurant communication plan must outline the channels you’ll use to get your key messages across. As well as finding the best methods for reaching your target audience, you need to consider suitable communications technology for busy employees and make sure nobody misses out on key information.
Marketing channels might include your website and blog posts, social media, and traditional forms of advertising like flyers. Give your customers a range of options for contacting you, such as SMS, email, chat, and instant messaging (all of these can be more convenient than phone calls).
But, remember there will be some people who prefer to use the phone, so it’s important to find out what your customer’s preferences are. Send out surveys and look for insights by harnessing data from your systems, such as your CRM or order management tools with a built-in customer database. The latter, in particular, can be useful for understanding how to approach both your internal and external communications.
Also, ask your restaurant staff how they’d like to communicate internally. You could create group chats for different departments, implement a portal for shift swaps, and make announcements on a company-wide Slack channel. In-person communication can also feature in your plans, such as a weekly or monthly staff meeting.
Integrate collaboration software and monitoring tools
You can back up your restaurant communication plan by using the right tools. Collaboration software will make it easier for employees to connect and combine their skills. It will also reduce the risk of isolated individual silos, as everyone can access important information and work together on projects.
Task management software enables everyone to see who’s meant to be doing what and when. As we mentioned earlier, you could set up an employee portal where staff can ask coworkers to swap shifts, request leave, and view each other’s schedules. Managers can monitor discussions, and scheduling information is useful for payroll.
Video conferencing software is also handy, helping you hold meetings between teams in multiple locations so people can discuss upcoming events or changes and raise any concerns. It’s worth appointing someone to monitor communications across channels, in order to spot communication issues before they cause chaos.
File sharing is important for collaboration too, and you should provide digital versions of important documents such as your employee handbook, safety protocols, and FAQs. Make it easy to access the communication plan itself, so people can quickly check the guidelines.
Establish an implementation timeline and monitor progress
Finally, set up a timeline for implementing your communication plan. For example, if you’re introducing new software, when will training take place, and when will the system go live? You need to specify who’s responsible for implementing various strategies and make sure everyone is aware of their duties and the expected time frames.
Once the plan is in operation, evaluate how well it’s working. You’ll have assigned metrics to the goals you set, so measure these to find out if you need to tweak your strategy. Establish a schedule for reviewing performance and stick to it.
Metrics might include the number of customers brought in by each marketing channel or your average response time for customer queries. Internally, you can check whether the new plan has reduced scheduling errors and boosted employee retention.
Make sure you listen to feedback from staff and customers and look out for trends and opportunities to improve things. When it comes to data and trends, it’s helpful to use an ERP solution that brings all your business data into one place and lets you extract insights about performance and satisfaction.
Effective restaurant communication is essential for the smooth running of your business and leads to improved employee satisfaction and a better customer experience.
A good restaurant communication plan sets measurable goals and provides guidelines for internal and external messaging. It should outline the channels and language you want to use to achieve consistency and demonstrate your brand values.
Test your strategy to see what works best and perform regular reviews to check you’re meeting your communication objectives. Whether you’re a new startup or an established business, it’s never too late to start improving your communication efforts.
Watch the video below for more information about how Crunchtime helps restaurants achieve operational excellence or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org