A green ink weathered roughed up circle and stars stamp design with the words MINIMUM WAGE on it making a great concept.

The impending rise of the minimum wage is hanging heavy over restaurant owners heads. We want you to prepare now before January 1, 2020. You do not want to be caught without a plan. The minimum wage will be rising in New Mexico annually, and when that happens restaurant owners need to be prepared with ways that they can combat the higher labor prices.

Restaurants across NM will be looking at raising prices. Our suggestion is that you start now with a few cents on each dish or on a select few items that are your more popular items or as my accountant used to say “nickle and dime them to death”. We understand that people are price sensitive but we are cheering for your success and a $1.50 increase per person, per hour, in your labor cost could be too much if you are not prepared.

One thing that you probably want to avoid is cutting staff or raising menu prices unreasonably because this will be noticeable to your customers and it could cause you to lose business. If you are an independent restaurant instead of a big chain, you can try changing your hours of operation. If you notice that no one or very few people are coming in between lunch and dinner, you can close from 3 to 5. This keeps you from having to pay for your employee’s time when there are few people to serve.

There are some things that you can do to combat high prices that won’t do quite as much damage in the eyes of the customer.

Rethink your menu. Think about ingredients, portions and other factors that you can change without your customers even batting an eye. You may also consider shortening the menu and focusing in on a certain type of cuisine or just a few of your bigger menu choices. Now is not the time to have something for everyone on your menu. The last thing you need to do when looking at your menu is find out which items may be less productive, have less profit margin and what items could be eating up costs in the way of time.

You should also look into reaching out to customers through social media or in other creative ways so that you can keep loyal customers coming back.

There are many other changes you can make to your restaurant to make it more cost effective as prices for labor go up.  What are you doing that you would share with other restaurants? Comment below…