How to Set Short-Term and Long-Term Restaurant Goals?

Learn how to set and achieve restaurant goals by creating effective short-term and long-term strategies.

Restaurant Management
 Learn how to set and achieve restaurant goals by creating effective short-term and long-term strategies.
Erin Watkins

In today's restaurant industry, where 52% of professionals cite high operating costs as a top challenge and 51% struggle with staffing issues, it is necessary to set restaurant goals to achieve success that are more evident than ever. For restaurant owners and managers, aligning short-term objectives, like increasing net sales and developing new revenue streams, with long-term aspirations is crucial. Short-term goals provide a roadmap for immediate improvements in revenue growth and cost management, while long-term goals focus on consistently delivering delicious food and navigating industry challenges such as a 75% turnover rate. This balance is key not just for survival, but for thriving in the competitive landscape of the restaurant industry.

A restaurant manager is setting restaurant goals in front of the computer.

What is Restaurant Goals?

The fundamentals of goal setting in the restaurant industry revolve around the SMART framework, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. This approach ensures that objectives are clear and attainable within a specific timeframe.

  • Specific: Goals should be well-defined. For instance, rather than aiming to "increase sales," specify "increase monthly net restaurant sales by 5%."
  • Measurable: Objectives need quantifiable targets to track progress, like aiming to grow a new revenue stream to 15% of total transactions.
  • Achievable: Goals should be realistic, considering the restaurant's current resources and market conditions.
  • Relevant: Objectives must align with the broader vision of the restaurant. For example, menu engineering to improve profitability supports long-term financial health.
  • Time-bound: Assigning deadlines, such as improving daily net sales within a quarter, helps maintain focus and urgency.

Applying these principles in both short-term and long-term planning helps restaurants navigate immediate challenges like high operating costs, while also preparing for future growth and sustainability. This balanced approach is key to adapting to the industry's high turnover rates and other dynamic factors.

The restaurant owner is showing the short-term goals to his staff.

Short-Term Goals for Immediate Impact

Short-term restaurant goals typically span a period from a quarter up to a year. They focus on immediate improvements and tangible results that can be quickly observed and measured.

Tackling Short-Term Challenges

Addressing High Operating Costs

  • Efficient Inventory Management: Implement inventory systems to track and manage inventory, reducing waste and unnecessary expenses.
  • Energy Conservation: Invest in energy-efficient appliances and practices to cut down utility costs.
  • Vendor Negotiation: Regularly review and negotiate with suppliers to ensure competitive pricing.

Effective Staffing Solutions

  • Optimized Scheduling: Utilize scheduling software to efficiently manage staff hours, reducing labor costs without compromising service quality.
  • Staff Training and Development: Invest in training programs to improve efficiency and reduce turnover, a significant issue with a current rate of 75%.
  • Employee Retention Strategies: Implement fair pay policies and a positive work environment to enhance staff satisfaction and retention.

Examples of Short-Term Goals

  1. Increase Monthly Revenue by 10%: Set a specific and measurable SMART goal to boost monthly sales by 10% within the next three months. Strategies like introducing limited-time offers or optimizing daily net restaurant sales through targeted marketing efforts can be effective.
  2. Implement a Customer Feedback System in 2 Months: Aim to have a new digital feedback system operational within two months, making it easier to track customer satisfaction and respond to their needs in your restaurant business.
  3. Host a Monthly Promotional Event: Organize monthly events, such as themed dinners or showcases with local artists, to attract new customers. Each event should be designed to increase daily net restaurant sales, contributing to the overall monthly sales target.
  4. Reduce Food Waste by 15% in 1 Month: Establish a goal to reduce food waste in your restaurant business by 15% over the next month, focusing on efficient inventory management and food usage tracking.
  5. Increase Social Media Engagement by 20% in 3 Months: Enhance your restaurant's presence on social media platforms, aiming to increase engagement by 20% within three months. This aligns with smart goals for expanding marketing reach and brand awareness.

These short-term goals, crafted with SMART criteria, will help in effectively managing and growing various aspects of your restaurant business.

Strategies for Setting, Tracking, and Achieving Short-Term Goals

  1. Set Clear Targets: Be precise about what you want to achieve, such as a specific percentage increase in sales or a defined number of new customers per month.
  2. Implement Tracking Mechanisms: Use sales data, customer feedback tools, and other metrics to monitor progress.
  3. Adapt and Respond: Be ready to make quick adjustments based on the feedback and results you receive. For instance, if a new menu item isn't performing as expected, consider modifying it or introducing a different offering.
  4. Engage the Team: Ensure that all staff members understand the goals and their roles in achieving them. This can involve regular meetings, incentives, and clear communication.

By focusing on these short-term objectives, restaurants can create immediate improvements, setting the stage for long-term success.

A group of restaurant employees are confident in achieving their long-term restaurant goals.

Long-Term Goals for Sustained Growth

Long-term goals in the restaurant industry are strategic objectives that envision the future of the business over an extended period, typically spanning several years. These goals reflect the broader ambitions and growth plans of the restaurant.

Addressing Long-Term Challenges

Establishing Market Position and Brand Identity

  • Building a Strong Brand: Strategies to create and sustain a unique brand identity that resonates with customers.
  • Expanding Customer Base: Developing long-term marketing strategies to reach new demographics and markets.

Adapting to Industry Changes and Innovations

  • Embracing Technological Advances: Keeping pace with the latest technology in restaurant management and customer service.
  • Sustainability and Ethical Practices: Implementing and maintaining environmentally friendly practices as part of the restaurant's core values.

Examples of SMART Long-Term Goals

  1. Increase Overall Revenue by 30% in Three Years: Set a robust long-term goal for restaurant managers to elevate the restaurant's total revenue by 30% through menu expansion, innovative catering services, and dynamic marketing campaigns.
  2. Achieve a 50% Customer Return Rate in Four Years: Develop a comprehensive customer loyalty strategy aimed at ensuring half of all customers become repeat visitors. This is pivotal for restaurant success and involves enhancing the dining experience and customer service.
  3. Launch a Franchise Model in Five Years: Prepare to scale your business into a franchise within five years. This includes crafting a detailed franchising strategy and establishing brand standards to guide future restaurant managers.
  4. Win a Regional Culinary Award in Six Years: Aim to earn recognition in the culinary world by winning a regional award. This long-term goal requires a continuous focus on culinary excellence and creativity, aligning with the core principles of restaurant smart goals.
  5. Reduce Carbon Footprint by 40% in Five Years: Commit to environmental sustainability by reducing the restaurant's carbon footprint. This long-term objective aligns with the growing trend of eco-consciousness in the restaurant industry and involves adopting practices like local sourcing and energy efficiency.

These long-term goals are meticulously designed to guide restaurant managers, aligning perfectly with restaurant manager goals and the overarching concept of restaurant smart goals, thereby steering them towards achieving sustained success in the restaurant industry.

Step-By-Step Approach to Set and Achieve Goals

  1. Define the Vision: Clearly articulate the ultimate goal, ensuring it aligns with the overall mission and values of the restaurant.
  2. Break Down Into Smaller Objectives: Decompose the long-term goal into smaller, manageable objectives. For example, for opening a new location, start with market research, followed by financial planning, and then site selection.
  3. Create a Timeline: Establish a realistic timeline for each objective, with milestones to track progress.
  4. Regular Review and Adaptation: Periodically review the progress towards these goals and be prepared to make adjustments in response to changing market conditions or internal challenges.

By focusing on these long-term objectives, restaurants can ensure sustained growth and a strong position in the competitive industry landscape.

The restaurant manager is training his staff and talking about restaurant goals.

Balancing Short-Term Wins with Long-Term Vision

Balancing short-term wins with a long-term vision in the restaurant industry requires strategic planning and adaptability.

Techniques for Alignment

  • Integrated Planning: Create a roadmap where short-term goals feed into long-term objectives. For instance, initiating a new customer loyalty program can increase immediate sales and also contribute to a long-term goal of building a strong customer base.
  • Resource Allocation: Ensure that resources like time, finances, and personnel are distributed effectively to meet both short-term and long-term goals.

Flexibility and Adaptation

  • Adaptability in Goals: The restaurant industry is dynamic, so be ready to adjust your goals in response to new trends, economic shifts, or customer feedback.
  • Learning and Refining: Use the results from short-term objectives to inform long-term strategies. For example, if a new marketing strategy boosts short-term sales, consider how this can be expanded or refined to contribute to broader brand recognition.

By focusing on these aspects, restaurants can maintain a balance between achieving immediate results and working towards sustained long-term growth.

A fine dining restaurant.

Tips for Maintaining Motivation and Focus in Goal Management

1. Regular Review and Adjustment

Conduct frequent goal review sessions to assess progress and make necessary adjustments. This keeps goals relevant and achievable, fostering a sense of progress and achievement.

2. Celebrating Milestones

Recognize and celebrate small achievements along the way. This could be as simple as acknowledging a team member's efforts in a meeting or hosting a small celebration when a goal is met.

3. Clear Communication

Keep communication lines open with your team. Discuss goals, progress, and obstacles regularly to ensure everyone is aligned and motivated.

4. Employee Involvement

Actively involve your staff in setting goals and strategies. This inclusion can increase their commitment and enthusiasm towards achieving these objectives.

5. Setting Realistic Expectations

While ambition is important, setting realistic and attainable goals is crucial to maintaining motivation. Unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and demotivation.

6. Personal and Professional Development

Encourage and provide opportunities for staff to grow their skills and knowledge. This not only aids in achieving business goals but also keeps the team motivated and engaged.

These tips focus on creating a supportive and transparent environment that fosters motivation and keeps the team focused on both short-term tasks and long-term objectives.


In conclusion, strategic goal setting, both short-term goals and long-term restaurant goals, is a key driver for restaurant success. Employing SMART goals helps restaurant managers systematically address immediate challenges and plan for future growth.

To further enhance your goal-setting and achievement process, consider integrating tools like 5-Out sales forecasting. This innovative tool is a great tech partner, offering predictive insights into future demand. It assists in optimizing inventory purchasing and labor scheduling, which is crucial for minimizing food costs and labor expenses in the short term. Additionally, its ability to reduce waste contributes significantly to long-term sustainability goals, making it an invaluable asset in your restaurant's growth journey.

Interested in seeing how 5-Out can transform your restaurant's planning and forecasting? Book a demo today to explore its features and learn how it can help you achieve your goals.

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