After a few years in which so many restaurants were operating in survival mode, the start of 2024 feels like a time of greater optimism for restaurants. Technomic expects U.S. restaurants to experience more steady business growth this year after several years of challenging surprises. That, paired with some possible quieter shifts over the coming weeks, makes now an ideal time to put plans in place to drive your success this year. Slower periods are great times to get organized, test out new ideas and train staff. Use quieter shifts to clear out inventory, declutter storage areas or launch new technology. Assess your business over the past year: Where have you fallen short on food safety? Are there bottlenecks in your guest journey that you can smooth out? Areas where you can operate more leanly? Maintenance tasks that have been overlooked or delayed? Addressing those issues now can help you avoid crises later. This practice can also help you determine where you might be leaving money on the table so you can plan (and possibly automate) inventory management and marketing efforts, strengthen your various revenue streams, and potentially target new ones. Now is a good time for experimentation: Maybe you have a new menu, limited-time offer or service model to try on guests – a soft launch can help you collect feedback with less pressure. Focus more time on education, whether that’s training staff on new technology or providing a talented employee with some kind of career-development opportunity. Refresh your brand and your culture. Does your dining room décor or website interface feel stale and need an overhaul? Are there steps you could take to boost engagement and morale on your team? Take time to communicate, collect feedback, implement changes and monitor progress. Getting your business off to a strong start can help you better sustain the inevitable challenges that crop up later in the year.