As I read the newspaper and I look at CNN I see doom and gloom. And the more it is reinforced by the media and ourselves and our allies the more we believe it. And so now it is officially true. And what are we now to do with our businesses? Well, I am watching what operators are doing and they seem to want to be economical in their spending internally and externally for starters and then I am seeing most operators work on building their sales. I have seen a variety of ideas and most seem to be working to varying degrees depending upon the concept, location, et al. To cite a few:
- Price Fix Dinner – 3 courses, great value and much better price than buying the items individually.
- Service Training – spending time resetting the bar for the level of service, re-training and managing to the new standard.
- Remodeling/Clean Up – I see painting, signage upgrades, fabrics replacement and repair, lighting upgrades, maintenance of rest rooms, cleanliness and the like. In other words, keep a fresh face. Invest in your business.
- Hunt for new guests – what are you doing to source out people in your market to come to your restaurant?
- Reassure the guests that are coming that it makes sense to be a continuing guest – treat each guest like gold. These people are your lifeline.
- Management – meet with management weekly to hear what they are saying. Open the doors to listen to them. Are they passionate about what they are doing? Are you helping them to be this way?
- Food Reviews – review each and every food item you serve for flavor, appearance, value, and pricing. Ask yourself if this item is consistent with who you are and are you delivering to this standard each and every time.
This is probably enough in one dose of medicine. I know it is a difficult time and many of you have not seen this before. These are uncharted waters. My advice is to go back to the basics which are listed above and exert yourself as management, owner, vendor, et al and regear to be on your “A” game.
Lunch numbers are dwindling in many instances. Competition of too many restaurants, economics, and time allowed to actually have lunch. There is no ready solution but one needs to look at the three most important elements:
- Speed of Service – I mean you need to be lightning-quick in today’s day and age. If there are long cook time items don’t serve them.
- Health – Lighter, less fats, and smaller portions.
- Cost – lower is better than higher.
Another element to consider is having a shorter menu so the guest doesn’t need to take the time to read through too much info. Just serve the basics.
What about the old lunch club card: Buy 5 lunches and get the 6th one free. Why not? It builds loyalty and it is less expensive to give them the lunch then advertise to get new guests. Have you reached out to the neighborhood to get their lunch business? Generate trial: Give them a gift card to come and try your lunch.
Call us at 206.679.1037 for more in-depth info on how to buoy your business when there is an economic downturn.