How To Hire a Restaurant Consultant

Restaurant consultants can help revive a struggling business, redesign an interior and more.
Restaurant consultants can help revive a struggling business, redesign an interior and more. Image Used with Permission

Running a restaurant is a complicated job, whether you’re opening your first, or have a successful chain of them behind you.

But there are people who specialize in helping you run your business. Restaurant consultants can help with almost everything—from creating a marketing plan and designing a website, to injecting life into a stale concept.

They can be brought in on what Brandon O’Dell, owner of O'Dell Restaurant Consulting in Kansas City, Kansas, calls a consultative approach, or a project-based approach.

Consultative approaches are used when there’s no definable goal. “It is to be used when a restaurant is just looking for someone to bounce ideas off, or to improve,” he says. “It usually doesn’t take a lot of time and is when restaurants are looking for somebody to guide them on industry best practices.”

Most of the time, however, restaurants turn to consultants for specific projects—they are writing a new menu, doing more marketing, or redesigning their interior, for example.

Here three restaurant consultants provide tips on how restaurants should hire their help:

Brandon O’Dell, owner, O'Dell Restaurant Consulting in Kansas City, Kansas

  • Never have a consultant work without a definable goal that is measurable.
  • Always receive a quote for the consultant’s services before he starts work, as well as how long he expects it to take.
  • A restaurant should always be sure to validate the consultants’ expertise. Check references from other restaurants they’ve worked with; search out recommendations for them online to see if other people are publishing negative things about them
  • Look at the consultant’s previous experience. Look at what size chains she’s worked with—do they work with independent restaurants, small chains or large franchised operations? What types of restaurant has she worked with—full service, quick service? And what specific issues does she work on?
  • Interview a consultant as you would a future employee. Find out where he has experience—and where he doesn’t.

Traci Allen, owner, Traci Allen, Inc., Washington, D.C.

  • Ask for references of clients a consultant has worked with in the past. The consultant should be able to specify what clients wanted and how she achieved it. She should be able to talk about how she worked on similar projects before. The best references are the ones she’s still working with. The restaurant still values her enough to keep her around.
  • Look at hiring a restaurant consultant as an investment rather than just an expense.
  • Be careful about hiring someone who says they can do it all. The consultant should be able to put down his approach in writing before you even hire him. Know exactly what you’re getting.
  • Know how involved the consultant is going to be. Is she going to be there for 30 minutes a week or working with you side by side?
  • Have some key questions you want the consultant to answer.
  • Also make sure the consultant’s core values are aligned with yours.
  • The consultant should tell you how the project will be measured in his proposal, whether it’s through covers, sales, analytics, or comment cards from guests.

Terri Henry, owner, Terri Henry Marketing, Los Angeles

  • Don’t fall for the dog and pony show. A lot of consultants make big promises and that can be a big disappointment.
  • Have the consultant come into your business rather than take you to her workplace and dazzle you with her fancy offices.
  • The consultant should have done research on you before the very first meeting. He should have been to eat at your restaurant to observe, checked your advertising, read up on you, and more, before he even has the account.
  • A consultant should have actually worked in a restaurant or restaurant company, to understand how it works.

By Amanda Baltazar


News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.


All good tips...biggest challenge is for operators to realize they can't and SHOULDN'T be performing every function in their restaurant.  Keep an open mind looking at all options.  Consultants should be building your bottom line and efficiency -- if not fire them!Also, look for folks who've been on the front lines with a broad and holistic view of operations and marketing.

I'm a hospitality consultant and like the tips listed.  Let me add to it.After you've done your due diligence, hire the one you like for a SMALL project.  You want to find out how they really perform.Do they produce the results they say they can?  Do they treat you and your company with the care and respect it deserves?  Do they really grasp your unique circumstances?  Do they customize or just offer generic presriptions that provide only generic results?It's like a first date.  You want to see more before you commit.  This process is a small but smart investment.

As a restaurant consultant I find the better defined the client's needs are, the stronger the engagement will be. Sometimes clients only know something's wrong (usually based on financial outcomes) but may not know what the problem is or how to fix it. The decision to hire a consultant may be required for one or both of those issues. 

Chain restauants have numerous qualified advisors on their payroll.How many do independent restaurateurs have?As an independent restaurant business consultant, I am an exceptionally qualified consultant and available to be the experienced advisor that an independent restaurateur needs to compete with the "big guys" - I call it: "Talk With Vince".  When I owned and operated my own restauants and Inns, I sure wish I had a Vince to talk with.Vince HollandRestaurant Business

One of these "businesses" is destroying a Vietnamese-American family restaurant that has been around for nearly 20 years with a loyal customer base. Disgusting, vile people. I can understand that not ALL "hospitality management consultants" are parasitic con-men. But, it causes me much sadness to watch a place I've worked for nearly two decades be reduced to rubble. They promise a "20% increase in revenue", then they basically jack up the food prices by 20%. In the short run, obviously they 'legally" fulfill their requirement...but you're not making "new revenue", you're simply giving our customers less for the same money (actually, they're cutting portions, too). They have not ADDRESSED ANY of the issues we told them about. They just came in and started making changes without even having dined at our restaurant...they brought a new "manager" who has never even worked in the restaurant business (nail salon) and doesn't even know the FOOD!! I was running a skeleton crew before, that was THE issue we needed help with: hiring more staff. How does alienating my HARD-WORKING staff and getting them all to quit solve my problem? I needed one extra man per night shift before these "consultants" came in, now I need 3+ since all my drivers with 5+ years experience quit. F'ing scumbags.

We know what works and what doesn't. Our group has worked every aspect of the business. You dont need to wait through the mistakes. We know how to get you profitable right now. Contact me if you need some alittle help.

Starting up my consulting business still in the start up stages. What are some tips to help get those first few projects going to get my name out there?? Please email me

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