The Combination to Restaurant Success

If there was a three-number combination lock sitting in front of you and you did not know any of the numbers, how confident would you be that you could open the lock? Granted, the possible combinations is easily over one thousand. How do you feel about being able to open it?

Most would say not very confident not knowing any of the numbers. Even if you had just one number, it still would take a lot of work and patience to finally crack the code. That is a lot of how most restaurants operate. They have one piece of the code and they struggle each day to try and open the lock to success.

So, for the first time (this month...), I am going to give you the code to restaurant success! Are you interested? I’ll give you a second to get a notebook out.

Restaurant success is a triad of three elements. Many have one or two of these working well, however without all three working in synergy, your restaurant will never reach the peak of performance. It’s like placing a governor set at 75 mph in a race car that has the potential of going 200 mph. As long as that governor is on the engine it will never reach its top speed.

The keys to restaurant success can be broken down into three elements: People, Product, and Process. Let’s break each down.

People

Think of this as the foundation of a house. How stable would your house be with a poor foundation? Would you allow your family to live in a house with a bad foundation? Of course not. Yet, everyday restaurants open without having set up the most critical element of their brand, the foundation. The cement that holds your foundation solid is your core values and your mission. These elements are what keep you and your brand held together when the market goes up and down. When economic conditions shift. Your values and your mission must be securely a part of your foundation before you start to build on top of it.

Once the core value cement has been set it is now time to gather the right people to your team. How do you attract the right people? By using those core values as a guide. People that do not align with your brand core values are just not a good fit for your restaurant.

Another valuable tool is you explore behavioral assessments like ProScan®️, DiSC®️, and the Predictive Index®️. Each measures the four cornerstone behavioral strengths that we all have (just in different combinations): Dominance, Extroversion, Patience, and Formality. Certain behavioral types work well together and are needed for harmony. Some are drivers that push for results. Some get energy from people. Others prefer spreadsheets and data. You need some of each to build a balanced team. Think of it as a tire on a car. You need all four wheels balanced or you are not going to get peak performance from the vehicle.

Product

For most this is the first key they focus on and that is a major mistake. Yes, your menu and what you sell is important. However, when you place it before people, you end up with a menu that cannot be executed consistently. Product is the low hanging fruit and it’s easy because most think that is what makes a restaurant. A restaurant is more than the menu. It’s a complex blend of service, ambiance, culture, beverages, and food. To isolate a restaurant to just it’s menu is like trying to play piano with just two fingers. Yeah, you can do it, it just sounds like shit!

The other thing to consider when discussing product is the elements that support it like those mentioned above: the style of service, ambiance, energy, brand identity, and the thousand other details that create a unique value proposition (UVP.) If you don’t stand out in a crowded market you will just blend in. The trick is not to stand too far out that your potential guests can’t relate to your brand. It’s far easier to be on the edge and disrupt the market. Then to be way out all alone trying to create a market. Many failing concepts learned this lesson the hard way.

Process

The last of the keys is the least glamorous of them and it secures and stabilizes the first two. Without systems in place that can be followed and implemented by the team, it’s going to be a hard journey. Peter Drucker the famous business consultant once said “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” He’s right. Systems by themselves are worthless without three components: key metrics, strategy, and accountability.

Most restaurants have clipboards that sit idle on the wall and rarely get used. Why? Because they were not designed with expectations or used properly. A lazy manager decided to download a template from the internet, printed it out, put in on a clipboard and told the team to do it. You must always clarify your expectations when rolling out a new system to the team. What it is, how to use it, and why it matters. That last one might be the most important. Without a reason why the team will never buy into using it to its proper use. Sure, they’ll go down the list and check it off. When the leadership team doesn’t check their work and give them feedback, they just brush it off as not that important. You must always inspect what you expect. That is how you hold the team accountable to the brand standards.

Systems also are not valuable if you do not have a strategy for them. So, you have a yearly budget. What are you doing with it? Are you breaking it down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily key metrics that are constantly monitored? Do you have a plan for when things get off track (and they will)? What is your recruiting strategy? Just throw up a help wanted as when someone gives notice? That’s not a recruiting strategy, that’s a Hail Mary! Do you have a market calendar and a plan? Or are you just posting a couple of times a week thinking you’re making an impact on social media?

Finally, accountability is the crucible that becomes the Achilles heel for most. Everyone wants to be the leader until it’s time to step up and do what real leaders do...they take accountability for everything that happens inside their life and restaurant. Don’t think for one second that you can be one way at work with accountability and another way in your personal life. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that for true leaders. Accountability in your personal life will impact your professional life.

When you don’t have a clear, concise, and actionable strategy in front of your processes (with accountability thrown in there,) you’re playing to survive and not to thrive. If survival is your goal, then, by all means, keep doing that. If you want to break free from the roller coaster profit and loss experience that most have, then time to put the right pieces in the right order.

Here’s the formula for restaurant success:

Pe + CV = C * Pr + Br + E = UVP * Pro + KM + St/Ac = Sc

People plus core values equals culture, times product plus brand identity plus energy equals unique value proposition times processes plus key metrics plus strategy divided by accountability equals success.

Now you have the combination to restaurant success. The next question is what are you going to do with it? It’s your move.

Is Your Restaurant Brand Telling a Memorable Story?

Nearly everything you encounter in life has a story to tell.

That saved concert ticket, that photo of your grandparents, and even that person sitting near you at the coffee shop – all have a unique & memorable story. Your restaurant should be no different.

The truth is, restaurant brands relying on worn-out keywords such as "locally-sourced" and "hand-crafted" to tell a ‘story’ must learn that this is simply not enough anymore (nor should it have been relied on as a strategy in the first place).

These phrases have become ‘cliché’ in this over-saturated industry...welcome to 2019!

Restaurants must now make their story meaningful, personal, emotional, simple, and authentic.

Despite the word “story,” it isn’t even confined to the written word. Colors, decor, vendors, staff members, plating, glassware, packaging—even the simplest visual segments within your brand ‘messaging’—can paint a picture worth a thousand words.

Your brand story should start however, by first identifying the following:

  • Who you are: How your restaurant came to exist today.

  • What you do: The food, beverage, entertainment, and/or experience you provide.

  • Who you do it for: The people you want to serve within your community.

  • Why you do it: Your larger goal; how it benefits your ideal guest & community.

  • How you do it: Visibility into your food, beverage, and/or experience strategy.

  • Where you are headed: How you are evolving and working to create the best for your guests & staff.

This may sound similar to the questions you need to answer when developing your four core statements; vision, mission, values, and culture.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

This is where it all starts. This is the foundation for your story.

Your curated story needs to grab your ideal guests attention and activate their emotions—and that goes for story-telling across all mediums; including your restaurants interior design, curb appeal, advertising, social media, website, supply chain, training, and service – to name a few.

As humans, when you’re invested in a good story, your brain physically responds to it.

How do you feel your guests are currently responding to your story? I am willing to bet that your guests are no different and crave engaging stories, a dynamic in which your restaurant-guest relationship should be built on trust, mutual respect, and common interests.

They want to connect & interact with you as a brand and to be acknowledged as unique individuals.

And not only will a unique & memorable story improve your relationship, but it will also undoubtedly improve your bottom line.

You can do that by focusing on the following, all of which is in your control:

Architectural Design: You have perfected your statements, brand identity, and the main underlying story you want to tell - now it's time to translate this narrative into compelling visuals.

Restaurant brands and visual presentation go hand-in-hand, it should be no secret. You can have a fantastic brand, but if presented in an unimpressive way, it gets lost in the mix while quickly creating brand confusion. The interior & exterior design of your concept is an opportunity to humanize the story of your brand, creating an experience people want to both interact with and build brand loyalty with.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Generated Content: Powerful content has a great impact when telling the story of your brand. Invest time in unique image & video content as part of your marketing plan. For example, how will your ‘hand-crafted’ pizza using ‘fresh, local toppings’ stand out from every other pizzeria on social media claiming the same narrative? This is your opportunity to create something meaningful, personal, emotional, simple, and authentic. Get creative and think outside the box. Get your entire team involved in helping tell your unique and memorable story.

Food & Beverage: Taking a multi-sensory approach, your food (plus beverage options) must play on the fact that guests not only take-in pleasure through taste, but also from the positive emotions and memories the flavors may evoke; as taste (gustatory), smell (olfactory), and visual senses are forever interlinked into our memories. When you truly understand your target market, you can extract emotions and personalize the food & beverage experience through the use of effective story-telling. If executed properly, stories can stick in the guest’s mind, much longer than a memory of a bite of food or a glass of wine.

Guest Experiences: Whether you’re a neighborhood bar, a QSR with a strong off-premise program, or if you’re a dine-in restaurant, you must believe that every interaction matters. Train your staff to tell the stories behind your food & beverage. Who created them? How did the dish or drink come to life? Don’t rely on words or a long list of ingredients within the menu. Your team should tell a different, highly engaging story for each food & drink option to ensure guests return at a faster rate to try more of your options, resulting in a beneficial bottom-line.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Culture Management: Your brand personality and culture are what makes your brand unique. This should be reflected in your restaurant's story through a strong (and human!) brand voice. You should ensure you have culture-focused ‘systems’ in place to make sure stories lived by all staff, from leadership down to entry-level positions are easily shareable. In a true and managed story-telling culture, everyone participates. Everyone has stories that they live and that are worth sharing with your target market. Don’t be scared to make this change in your strategy. It’s time to humanize your brand.

It isn’t a coincidence that brands with a story last longer than the ones without. The power of your brand reflects how well your restaurant's guests resonate with your story and tell their networks about their experience with you – leading to their networks telling their networks, and so-on.

Story-telling can also be the fundamentals of a successful brand ambassador strategy.

While story-telling has been around since the start of mankind, in today’s world, we have at our disposal more tools than ever before to tell our stories. Let’s not waste that opportunity!

How to Define Your Restaurant’s Values and Company Culture

Listen on: iTunes | Google Play | tunein | iHeartRADIO | Spotify

On this episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron speaks with Doug Radkey, strategist, consultant, speaker, author, Foodable contributor and founding partner of Key Restaurant Group. In this Skype interview, the two discuss some of the most influential decisions you will make for your restaurant.

Determining your vision, mission, culture, and value statements means understanding your goals.To be able to state them clearly will set your restaurant or any business up for success.

Radkey defines value as “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” For your restaurant or bar, it is a statement that informs not only your customers, but also your staff, about the business’ goals and what its core beliefs are.

Watch this video above for insights on the four-step process needed in order to guide your decision-making and help explain your restaurant’s intentions to customers.


SHOW NOTES

  • 8:44 - How Restaurants’ Value Statements Are Crossing Over Into Social Movements

  • 11:21 - Communicating Value Statements Between Management and Staff

  • 15:18 - Trends in Canadian Restaurant Markets


  • 0:15 - Introducing Industry Expert, Doug Radkey & Thoughts on Building a Brand

  • 1:39 - The Basis of Defining Your Restaurant’s Value Statements

  • 5:18 - Defining the Difference Between Value, Mission, and Culture Statements

 
 

Produced by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


VIEW BIO

Sweetgreen— Success In 4 Key Areas Propel Emerging Brand To The Top

Sweetgreen— Success In 4 Key Areas Propel Emerging Brand To The Top

We talk a lot about guest experiences, core values, sustainability, collaboration, and community within the restaurant industry. One brand that has been excelling at all of the above is Sweetgreen. This emerging brand has over 75 locations operating across much of the United States, employing over 3,500 employees.

Operating since 2007, Sweetgreen has become well known for its simple, seasonal, and healthy food options, by aiming to offer an organic, locally sourced, and inexpensive alternative to the typical QSR. It operates with a transparent food supply network, the company cooks from scratch, and it has built a community of its own; of individuals who have a passion for ‘real food.’

Its systems have had a powerful impact on the health of individuals, communities, and most importantly to them, the environment. The company has positioned itself for further growth and opportunities, by striving for perfection in the following key areas:

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6 Ways Bad Branding Is Costing You Money

6 Ways Bad Branding Is Costing You Money

By Dustin Myers, Foodable Industry Expert

First of all, we must define branding. Some think it’s the logo or how you look. Some think it’s your communications or how you talk. Those are both expressions of your brand, but they can only reflect what lies beneath the surface. Your brand is your reputation. Your brand is not what you say it is, but what others say it is. It’s how you’re perceived in the market. How you are perceived will be the byproduct of who you are, how you think, and how you make decisions.

Branding (reputation building) happens whether you like it or not. It takes work and intentionality to develop strong a brand, but the benefits are invaluable.

Here are six areas that may be costing you money.

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