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.

Building the Right Marketing Plan for 2019

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

Marketing for 2019 is beginning to morph into a new face of digital, in person and one to one marketing that involves a variety of strategies that are improving the overall performance of restaurant operators across the country. The four P’s have been a cornerstone of measuring and developing a plan in the past around Product, Price, Place, and Promotion and today is no different.

I get a chance to sit down with The Restaurant Coach, Donald Burns and explore some of 2019’s key marketing tips to employee for your restaurant as we discuss the issue around Price and why it is much more than what is on your menu, all the way to Promotion and what new tactics are working and what is not.

We also discuss the falling engagement on Facebook for restaurant operators and the potential of new platforms and tactics that might be more effective including creating content for your business as a new strategy for 2019. Even email is coming back with today's operators and the potential of a new club strategy vs loyalty. As you can see this podcast is packed with ideas and discussion on ways to improve your marketing position for 2019.

Stay tuned for my breakdown of the Top Loyalty programs for 2019 and why I think they work and what they need to do to improve.

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5 Misconceptions Most Managers Have About Leadership

5 Misconceptions Most Managers Have About Leadership

So, what is your title? Are you a manager or a leader? Before you jump on the “I’m a leader bandwagon”, it's time to really think about it.

You might be suffering from Leadership Delusion. It’s fairly common in this industry. We have a lot of preconceived notions about what a leader really is.

When you look up the definition of what leadership is and it’s a little vague: "The action of leading a group of people or an organization" or "the state or position of being a leader."

That being said it seems that leadership is classified as a noun when in reality it should be a verb.

Leadership is an act.

  • It’s action.

  • It’s a responsibility.

  • It’s accountability.

  • True leadership is not what you do, it’s who you are.

So let’s take a few to look at some of the common misconceptions that most managers have about leadership.

1. Saying You’re a Leader Makes You a Leader

Just because your business card says your a leader or the boss doesn’t mean you are in the eyes of your staff. In fact, most probably joke and call you the “boss”. It doesn’t take much to walk around talking down to the staff and acting like you are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Many strut the restaurant like they are roosters getting ready for a death match. Why? Because they are overcompensating for their lack of confidence. The loudest ones are generally those that are the most afraid inside.

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The 7 Habits of Successful Restaurateurs

The 7 Habits of Successful Restaurateurs

There is inspiration all around if you choose to open your eyes and take it in.

Becoming a better leader, owner, or chef is not bestowed upon a few chosen few. There really is no such thing as a born leader. Everyone can lead if they have the deep desire to step up and take control of the wheel of their restaurant and their life. Most would rather sit in the back seat and just be a spectator but life is not a spectator sport.

Success and failure leave clues behind. If you are wise enough to take the lessons from the failures and the blessings of the successes, you have a great chance to not only reach the top but you can also stay there.

When you study restaurant success (and failure) like I do you start to see what the puzzle pieces are that make a success restauranteur. Carefully put the pieces together and you have a winning recipe to get exactly what you want in life (both professionally and personally).

There is a better way and it does not involve beating your head against the wall just hoping things will get better next week. Things never get better on their own. They get better when you step up and take some damn action to ensure your success.

Successful restauranteurs are not lucky or born under a certain Zodiac sign. They come from all races and walks of life. They might speak your language, maybe not. Success is not a thing. Success is feeling. True success is a combination of your three hearts (the head, the soul, and the gut). When in alignment you’ll find that the outside noise of the world stops for a brief second and you can hear for the first time the beauty of everything around you.

How do you get there? How do you reach this success nirvana?

Just adopt these 7 habits of the most successful restauranteurs into your daily life and you’ll find what you seek.

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How to Outsmart Your Competition on Marketing

How to Outsmart Your Competition on Marketing

Do you feel that? There is an undeniable anxiety permeating the industry as more and more restaurants open each year. You might have seen it in your sales numbers, or perhaps in the disappearance of staff. Then the familiar faces in your dining room become less familiar. 

What can a restaurant do? Take a stand, fight back, and stand out.

Many see more competition as a sign of the restaurant apocalypse and it doesn’t need to be. With a simple shift in mindset, you could instead see this as your opportunity to rise above the average and truly stand out in your market. 

The question boils down to this: are you the person who throws in the towel when things get rough or are you one of the few that rage against the dying of the light?

If you’re a quitter, you might as well stop reading here.

Are you still here? Great! Let’s talk about some ways you can outsmart your competition to elevate your marketing.

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