by Donald Burns, CDMP, CMEC, CHt
As a restaurant coach, I see the good, the bad and the really ugly of this industry. I am shocked at times by the real lack of understanding in just running a business. Of the hundreds of restaurants that I either coach or consult with, these the most common topics of discussions that I have with owners, operators and chefs.
Warning! Things are about to get real. If you are happy living in denial and want your restaurant to slowly slip into the quicksand of the economy stop reading now.
1. Drop the excuses!
Blame is a wonderful thing because we do not have to be responsible for it. It is so easy to say this or that is responsible for our lot in life. Over the years I have heard some real creative excuses as to why a restaurant was struggling. I have to get people to face the truth and call it for what it is….lack of personal accountability.
The market sucks. Why are some restaurants reporting record breaking sales?
I can’t find good staff. Why do some restaurants always seem to get top talent?
I do not have time. How is it that there are operators who can run multiple successful restaurants with the same 24 hours a day as you?
Note: I just talked about this topic on my Restaurant Coach™ Podcast on iTunes. Episode 5.0 – What’s Your Excuse. Check it out.
It is time to drop the bullshit excuses and the little stories we tell ourselves as to why we can’t do it or it cannot be done.
2. Get a M.A.P.
When I was in the USAF Pararescue we were trained that as soon as our boots hit the ground from a 25,000 foot HALO jump was to check the MAP. I use the ancronym M.A.P for my restaurant coaching clients all the time.
It stands for a Massive Action Plan. If you do not have a plan for success then life will just deal you what it wants and trust me, the universe will not go out of the way to deliver excellence to you without a plan.
A M.A.P. is your trusted guide through shark infested waters. The restaurant industry takes down so many businesses because the did not have a plan. I use a M.A.P. to understand 3 keys things:
1. Where I am now.
2. Where I want to go.
3. The path to getting there.
You would not believe the amazing results that happen when people get a clear M.A.P. and take action to get to theie goals. Or course, along the way you make adjustmenys to your course when you find you are getting off track (and you will from time to time). Without a M.A.P. you would not know where you got of course and would not be able to get back on track.
Your restaurant needs this….
3. Always Be Marketing
Restaurant marketing is not something you do when “business slows down”. That is the tragic mistake done by most restaurant owners. When fear sets in about driving business most restaurant owners turn to the work I hate the most… “discount”.
The discount bandwagon will drive business to your restaurant…the wrong business. The market is always full of the bargain shoppers who are looking for a deal. If you give it to them it is like feeding a stray cat, they will keep coming back only for the discount.
Restaurants need to have a clear and concise marketing calendar outlined and understand that you need to market events at least 5-6 weeks out. Your marketing efforts need to be consistent and in line with your brand identity.
Need a marketing calendar template? Just download mine for FREE here!
Marketing does not have to be expensive to be effective. Tune into the wide variety of social media channels out there like FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, Urbanspoon, Yelp and Instagram. These are great resources for driving traffic if you do it right. There are some great companies who can manage all this for you if you prefer. Check out the team over at Eateria. They have a guest loyalty program that works with many of your social media sites to make it all appear seamless.
4. Know The Numbers
“Only a fool does not know their numbers.” -Donald Burns
Yes, that is right…a fool. This is such a mistake in the restaurant industry that I think it should be considered a sin! If you do not know the cost of a plate of food that you sell, then you are a fool. Here is the real sad news….80% of restaurants I coach or consult with do not know their numbers! 80%! Shocking!! This is usually one of the first things we address as needing to become a life condition. You need air to live, right? Well you need to know the numbers if your restaurant is to survive.
When I get on a coaching call with a restaurant you better believe that once they work with me they can shoot out numbers better than Rainman! It is the first things we discuss…let’s look at your numbers!
The world is full of restaurant that closed down because they did not know the numbers and make adjustments to their M.A.P. when they could. However, you don’t have to worry about that, because you know your numbers. Right?
5. Get Rid of Poor Performers
“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” -Jim Collins
Do you have some staff that are just poor performers? I know you must have at least one or two….come on be honest.
If you do, then you need to let them go. Yes, fire them. They are killing your business more than you realize. Poor performers and staff with bad or negative attitudes will drive off customers. They do not care about you or your restaurant, so why do you keep paying them? If you want to reduce your turnover, just hire poor performers because they never leave and worst of all is that their negative attitudes will infect everything and everyone around them.
Getting people in the right job is just as important. I personally love behavioral surveys. They really help me fine tune the team by putting people in positions that truly play to their natural strengths. There are quite a few on the market like DiSC or the Predictive Index. I like to use the ProScan Survey. It is easy to administer (takes about 10 minutes) and it gives me a wealth of information on how a person reacts to stress, how they communicate, how they manage, how they communicate and even their natural kintentic energy. If you would like more info on behavioral surveys, just drop me a line.
6. Lead by Example or Let Someone Else Who Can
Here is a pretty bold statement about restaurant ownership and management: every one can run a business, it’s just that not everyone should. I have seen plenty of people who had the money to open a restaurant, however the hard truth is that they should have invested that money in the stock market.
Running a business is hard enough. Now add the complex dynamics of the restaurant industry such as perishable inventory, high turnover, increased competition and in many cases a very seasonal market and you have just really thrown a money wrench into a highly volatile situation.
I thought just that I was a pretty decent chef that running a restaurant would be easy. Oh how I was wrong! I really had to immerse myself into understanding how to run a small business and that lead me to my 7 Core Competencies of Restaurant Excellence that I teach to restaurant owners and operators today.
If you are going to run a restaurant, you need to make sure it is the right things for you to do. That is a hard question to answer truthfully. It takes a diverse set of skills to run a successful restaurant and if you do not want to invest the time and energy it takes to become that kind of business leader, then it is time to hire someone who can and be just the owner. 80% of the restaurants I work with have an issue that is usually created by the owner. That is the cold hard truth. Ego, control issues or just denial have taking down more restaurants than you could imagine. Don’t believe me? Just watch a few episodes of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey…..almost every time the problem starts at the top and flows down to the staff, the food and the business.
7. Your Menu is Everything!
This is the biggest sin of them all! I get so upset when I see menus that are out of date and can not give me a clear picture of their brand indentity just by looking at them. Your menu is your #1 marketing tool and yet most restaurants do not give it the focus it deserves.
The average menu is “scanned” ( yes, scanned not read) for only 109 seconds. Not a lot of time to make a connection between your brand and your customer, unless your menu is designed to express that. Grab your menu and give it to a true friend who will give you honest feedback….what draws their attention first? You maybe shocked by the answer.
Here is an example of a poor designed menu:
Notice the bad photos and the layout that a kid could do.
Now here is an excellent menu design:
Notice the use of social media and the clear brand identity. That is sexy!
These 7 steps can help your run a successful restaurant. If you need more help and want to really get your restaurant to the elite level? Then hire a business coach.
My 10X Restaurant Coaching Program™ is designed just for restaurants and the issues they have.