January, 2016
Your Business Model | What do Your Staff Need to do?

Your Business Model | What do Your Staff Need to do?

I have spoken about how the design of your store and the importance in workflow before, but today I wanted to really focus in on making it work for your business model.
For hospitality businesses, creating an efficient kitchen and a counter area with good service flow means you can serve more customers faster. To successfully plan out your kitchen and counter, you must thoroughly understand your business model. You’ll consider the tasks that need to be completed in each area and how your space can be best organised to make completing those tasks as easy and efficient as possible. So before you jump into the details of equipment and bench layout, the best place to start is to analyse how your business works and how the space should be laid out to best accommodate your service flow.

At fifteen years old, my first job was working as a fry girl in a McDonald’s restaurant. At the time, I never anticipated how well this would prepare me for my future career as a hospitality designer. McDonald’s is known for efficiency and consistency, and their kitchen is laid out to deliver large quantities of food – fast. So rather than laying out the kitchen space with a typical cook line, prep bench and wash up area, McDonald’s has thought through what they need their staff to do in the space and planned their layout based on that.

McDonald’s creates stations for each of the key tasks that need to be completed, such as the fry station, the burger preparation area, the salad preparation area, the grills and the pass. Each station is operated by one staff member and everything they need for their task will be contained in that area. In a busy three-hour shift, the staff member manning the fry station should only need to move once or twice to bring another box of fries from the freezer. Otherwise, everything they need is contained in their area. The McDonald’s business model is about fast food and their kitchen design is centred around delivering on that promise.

Thinking through the number of staff you will have in the kitchen and their roles will allow you to create stations. The advantage of stations is efficiency. For example, if your key product is burgers and you only have one team member on that entire task – running to the cool room to grab the meat, prepping the salad, grilling and assembling the burgers – you will lose a lot of time on them running backwards and forwards. Alternatively, if you can set up stations that allow one staff member to cook the meat and another staff member to prep the salad and assemble the burgers, neither of them will have to leave their area during the shift. I guarantee that you will make more burgers this way.

You also need to think through issues relating to cross contamination and food hygiene. Allow for separate areas for meat and fruit and vegetable preparation, and plan the service flow to avoid waste products coming into contact with food. This is a vital part of food licencing requirements and should be considered as part of your workflow.

Therefore, knowing how to lay out your kitchen starts with a conversation around your business model and what tasks your staff need to complete. To make sure your kitchen design is suited to what your staff need to do in the space, you must have this discussion with your designer.

Where are Your Customers?

Where are Your Customers?

Finding the right site for your new store can be key to the success of your business. I have been on hundreds of site visits with business owners and am often surprised that they don’t know what to look for or ask at this stage. There are a few aspects that you have to keep in mind when finding your winning location.


Before you fall in love with a site do your research and make sure you are familiar with your numbers and the outcomes you are looking to achieve.  In retail leasing you should research your industry, your business and the shopping centre you are looking to go into. If you are not comfortable with understanding your key numbers and how your business costs relate to the rent your new business can afford to pay, it is always best to speak with an expert.


Who are your target customers? Knowing simple information about your customers such as their average age, how far they live or work from your store and their hobbies or interest will help you to locate your new store in an area with good mix of customers who are right for your business. Surrounding business can be an important factor to consider when locating your new store. Competing business in close proximity can negatively affect your sales while complimentary business can actually increase business by sending customers your way. It can be helpful to jot down a list of what your existing sites have in common. Sometimes the things that make a site work can be surprising.


Having an understanding of your customer and complimentary business helps locate the area in which to place your stores. The next thing to consider is how accessible your store needs to be to your customers. How far are customers willing to travel to get to your store? Making your store as accessible as possible to your customers can have a big impact on sales.

I go into more detail in my upcoming book on what to look for in a site inspection and how to secure a winning location, along with the necessary people that you should be in contact with through this process. Click here to receive exclusive access to the first two chapters for free.

You are in the Experience Business

You are in the Experience Business

As a restaurant or café you are in the business of experience. Traditionally “going out” has always been an occasion. It may be a big family dinner, a social lunch with a group of friends or a romantic dinner for two. Whatever the meal or occasion your customers want a fantastic experience. They want to walk out the door raving about how much they loved your restaurant, your food and your service. They are waiting to be impressed.
Your customer experience is everything you do and everything you say about yourselves. This starts with the word of mouth your business generates which tempts a customer to come to your restaurant and finishes with the last friendly word from staff member as they walk out the door.

stand out

Defining your customer experience creates the foundation for your store design. Before you can design a store which will appeal to your target customers you must first understand who your customers are, define your point of difference and uncover the unique experience you will create for your customers. I go into more depth about the process to develop your customer experience in my book ‘Open Restaurants that Flourish’ which is set to be released early March, so keep an eye out for that, but for now, here are three simple steps.

1. Discover

The first stage is about understanding your business and your customer.
What makes your customers choose your business and keeps them coming back? There can be a number of reasons. You have a unique product that only you can offer. Defining the experience you want to create for your customers helps to build the foundation for how you engage with your customers and guides the development of your store design. The design of your store and how your customers interact with the space is a key part of the experience you create for your customers. However before you can design a store that will appeal to your customers you first must understand who they are, define your point of difference and uncover the unique value you are already offering to your customers. The best store designs are a collaboration between an experienced business owner who can contribute the operational knowledge and customer insights and a design team who can translate this knowledge into a defined customer experience and store design.

2. Define

Once you have clarity on who your customers are and what makes your business unique the next step is to define your customer experience. Your customer experience is made up of your brand story, the personality of your brand (how you speak to your customers) and the look and feel of your store. As the business owner the story of your business is your story. You have set the vision and values of the business. Sometimes even the personality of your business will reflect your own. This is part of what makes your business unique. When I sit down with a business owner and ask them about their store, I hear how the business began and the journey that led them to open their first restaurant. I see their eyes light up as they describe their vision for where they are headed. However, when I walk into their stores there is often no evidence of this story. What a shame. Your story is part of your brand and it is unique to you.

3. Design

The first two stages set the foundation for understanding and communicating your customer experience. Now you are ready to start creating the experience! Creating your customer experience is about translating the central idea that differentiates you from everyone else into every interaction you have with your customers. You customer experience is not just your store design, it is your website, your marketing messaging, social media profiles, the attitude of your staff and the experience your customers have when they sit down instore. The experience your customer has of your business will usually start long before they walk into your restaurant.

You can sign up for a free download of the first two chapters of my book, in which I go into more detail about Discover, Define and Design here.