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Restaurant Operational Challenges (and Opportunities) for 2021


COVID-19 has prompted massive changes in how restaurants operate. No one knows exactly what will happen in 2021, but if you are a restaurant owner or operator, it's certain you are thinking ahead to what's next for your business. 
Here are the top 13 operational challenges restaurant operators should expect in 2021 and how to turn them into opportunities: 

1 . Generating enough revenue to break even While all restaurants certainly want to make a positive profit, in tough times, the first priority is to at least match the break-even point. As you make a plan for 2021, knowing your break-even point lays the groundwork for all other operational decisions.

2. Keeping up with health and sanitation requirements In 2021, health and sanitation will continue to be an essential focus of restaurant operations. Beyond following all local and national guidance on best health practices during the pandemic, instill confidence in your practices by communicating how you’ve created a safe environment for both your staff and your guests. For more information, read our Health and Sanitation checklist.

 3. Adjusting to government-imposed business restrictions Looking forward, some restrictions on businesses, especially restaurants and bars, are likely to continue in some form. Building flexibility into your restaurant operations, like re-evaluating your labor or keeping an especially streamlined inventory, is essential to meeting this growing challenge.

 4. Forecasting for a continuing pandemic 

5. Finding, training, and retaining staffing 

6. Managing complex, rotating inventory As you look to your 2021 planning, make sure to adjust your sales forecasts to adapt to the reality of smaller dine-in sales, decreased check size, or a different at-capacity count. This adjustment should also include your changes in takeout and delivery sales. Then, with revised forecasts, you can look to adjust your menu, food costs, and labor spend to match your new projections. With a shifting labor market, it's important to ensure that the staff you are hiring and training is going to stick around longer. Keeping retention at the top of your mind during the hiring process in 2021 is critical to ensuring that the employees you do hire are able to help you reach your business goals Calculate the cost of employee turnover. If you shifted your operations in 2020 to adjust to different sales numbers or focus on off-premise dining, inventory management is critical. Delivery, takeout, and curbside channels require a focused inventory strategy to keep food costs streamlined. Using inventory management software that covers the inventory process end to end, can help you keep up with the constant inventory changes and automate some of the time-consuming aspects of inventory, such as tracking ingredient costs and creating journal entries. 



7. Maintaining accurate, profitable menu pricing and planning 

8. Balancing menu profitability and popularity 

9. Adjusting to increasing food costs 

10. Keeping up with the rise of mobile 

11. Balancing costs of providing delivery with a profitable bottom line 

12. Maintaining online reviews and social media marketing 

13. Accurately tracking business intelligence Business analysis ensures that you’re making smart, informed decisions in the moment, before small issues become big problems. To avoid tedious and inaccurate data tracking, it’s best to automate as much restaurant operational reporting as possible. Automating time-consuming tasks like sales and labor goals, scheduling, recipe costing and inventory management allows your management team to focus on making profitable adjustments to the business and reduce costs over time, rather than inputting numbers into a computer.


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