Monday, September 2, 2013

Second Chances

Interesting that second chances are rarely obtainable in life and also in the restaurant business. First impression are so sacred and should be dealt with in a responsible way.
Recently my wife and myself stopped by a potential clients business, my wife is always hesitant about going in with me and trying a restaurant that she knows is under my scrutiny. As I suggested that she accompany me she was resistant as we sat in the car in front of the business, I coaxed her to come in as an artist she has a keen eye and can quickly determine what's wrong. As we walked in she had a look on her face that she wasn't really on board of going in and just trying this businesses food. Once we entered the business I immediately noticed the this place was in crisis mode, the floors were not clean, the windows were not clean, the counter are was disheveled and not organized. There were no menus available to review and the specials looked as if someone had just did them to have something on special, simply put they were just going through the motions of operating a business without taking into consideration of the customers perspective. And as a result my wife decided that she will never eat there or visit again. How many times a week does this happen in this business? 
The atmosphere, staff behavior, appeal, food quality, cleanliness and general first impressions typically reflect the quality of ownership or management for the restaurant. The restaurant business is a breeding ground for the unexpected such as incomplete deliveries, staff no-shows, cash crunches, unruly guests, equipment failures and the list goes on. All too often owners and managers take on the reactive role of a fireman putting out fires and are unable to - or become oblivious to -their guests' impression of their restaurant. The stain on the ceiling tile becomes increasingly bigger, the onion rings lose some of their crispiness and their staff gradually becomes apathetic to customer service.
Proactive operators are able to spend less time fighting fires and more time creating positive impressions by implementing systems and controls to keep their restaurant running smoothly, clean and in good repair. To minimize the unexpected, they place heavy emphasis on staff training, have a "Steps of Service" policy to insure adherence to service standards and use quality control and readiness checklists daily.
When the restaurant is running like a well-oiled machine, managers and owners have more time to focus on seeing their restaurant through their customer's eyes - and then make adjustments accordingly. Lighting and music are always at the perfect level; if a table is dirty it gets bussed; when something breaks it gets fixed; and when a guest walks in they are warmly greeted.By making a great first impression, you increase your chances for an opportunity to make a customer,

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What are your beliefs?

Life sometimes dictates what we do and what we have to prepare ourselves for. With that being said, many restauranteurs allow the daily grind of running their businesses run how they run their lives. You must wake up with positive thoughts daily and assimilate them into your daily operating procedure. Allow theses positive thoughts of being aware of your surroundings, be the guideline. Make certain that this feeling is carried over to your employees and that they carry it on to your customers. Everything starts with you! How you project your thoughts makes everyone else do the same. If you're just going through the motions, not caring if your business is operating efficiently, making decisions based on what you think and not making these decisions based on the customers perspective than you may as well lock the door and close up.
Make your beliefs system into a positive one, always think of ways to improve your life and business will generally follow the course. Visualize how your customer sees your business, Is it a a view of disorganization or is it a view of success? Only you can make that decision, only you can change how you'll view the glass, is it half empty or is it half full?
Do you have a Plan?
If you build it, they will come. Don’t jump to conclusions! Good service and food are essential, but a sound promotional plan should be the base on which to establish your restaurant. If your business is already running, you may want to make sure you are promoting to the best of your ability. If you’re a new business, putting together a smart promotional plan should be the start. Remember, food and service doesn’t always mean success.
Analyze Your Situation
Your bar or restaurant is unique, take a step back and try to break it down. You can do this by performing something called The SWOT Analysis. This stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. What does your bar or restaurant do well? What can you improve on? What opportunities can you take advantage of? Finally, what outside threats is your business facing? Identifying these four aspects is a great start towards your plan.
Research Other Restaurants
Look at other businesses in the area. What have they done to be successful? Even more importantly, try to learn from their mistakes. This is a great opportunity to learn from others so you don’t make the same mistakes they did. Look at your potential competitors as well. If you can be one step ahead of the game, you can take customers right from under them.
Determine Target Customers
You’ll want to be able to deploy your marketing strategies while hitting all your demographics. The type of restaurant you are running will determine which type of customers to expect. Therefore, it is important to identify your typical customer before proceeding with your promotional plan.
Set Your Budget
You want your plan to be successful but you don’t want to deplete your resources at the same time. Decide how much money can be used to carry out your plan. Once you have learned which strategies work best for you, you will be able to budget even better in the future. This is the next step to help identify your marketing strategies.
Pick Your Marketing Strategies
Now that your demographics are identified and your budget it laid out, you can decide which ways to market your restaurant. Remember, it is important to take your target customers into consideration when deciding how to market. Classier restaurants will have a more laid-back approach while sports bars will probably use a louder and more direct method.
Determine the Objectives and Goals
What do you strive to achieve from this plan? How much do you want this plan to better your business? Objectives are more qualitative such as an increase in revenue, while goals are more quantitative such as a 10% revenue increase. Setting objectives and goals are important for looking back and evaluating the success of a promotional plan.
Evaluate the Success of Your Plan
After implementing and letting your plan run its’ course, it’s important to evaluate whether you achieved what you wanted to achieve. Identify whether your goals and objectives were met or not. Being able to look back at your plan is essential especially if it does not go the way as planned.
Write Down and Record
In the future you may have to draw up another game plan or revise your current plan. Write down, record and take notes on everything. You’ll want to be able to look back and see what has been successful and what hasn’t. You can’t be perfect so it’s important to learn every step of the way.
Don’t just wing it! Sit down and draw it out. Have you put time into your promotional plan?

Customer Retention

Now that we have put the mechanics into place to get new customers. The difficult task come about on how you retain them. You have placed great emphasis into creating a menu in both your  bar and food menus that has attracted customers in both offering great specials for the price conscience, diverse menu items that will attract the customers looking for an authentic dining  and drinking experience depending on what your theme & cuisine is, how do I make them loyal customers for years to come?

First start with a reward program, that gives them a reason to return, this program has to hit all the key elements of rewarding them. When you start collecting their data, make certain that it's for all the right reason and not just a short fix. Use this data such as email address, cell numbers and most importantly their like & dislikes. Use a monthly newsletter to inform them about certain privileges that may come their way by giving such guarded information, such as holiday specials, privileged seating for their favorite tables or server, discounts for pre-booking early or simply notifying them of any special events taking place at your business.
Next, we need to look at customers as guest coming into your home for lunch, happy hour, late nigh or dinner, make certain that when they arrive they are acknowledge promptly and welcomed into your house. By simply saying, "welcome to _____," they are made to feel welcomed and special. I really love when I walk into my favorite restaurant and greeted by someone and they remember my name and know where I like to sit. Use you data in knowing birthdays, anniversaries, or special days such as Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. All of this information is so useful in making your information a true connection with you customers.

I really like this concept, making your loyal customers suggest that they invite their friends in joining them for a great eating experience at your business. Reward them for every new customer that they bring or tell about your restaurant. Create a " Recommend a Friend " campaign to grow your base and allow them in essence to work on your behalf.

Get your employees involved, make business cards for them, no matter what position they may have. Create a rewards program for them as well as for your customers. By getting them involved it makes them share the experience of being part of the growth of your business and theirs.

Know your Competition

When was the last time that you visited your competition? Most restaurant owner and bar owners never get out of their comfort zone, their 4 walls of their business. Now you can see what they're doing through many options. Social media offers you a glimpse into their venue, use Face Book, Twitter, Pinterest and social platforms so you can visit your competition and see what they are doing to keep them visible in your area. Friend them, follow them, if they're doing a newsletter subscribe to it, Another good way  is simply go there and dine or drink and become familiar with their operation. Then you have a good idea what specials they are running, what promotions you might want to try down the road or even just introduce yourself and become friends. The more that you know about your competition the better you are equipped in making a good business decision based on facts rather than assumptions. You never know what you might learn and be able to apply to your business.
When I was in business I always introduced myself to my competition. I wanted to see their operation and vice-versa. I wanted to be the best that I could be, Step away from your business see who's doing things right and wrong. More importantly, be confident in your own skin and let them know you're watching them. Success is measured by the way you run your business and what you want to achieve and getting to know your competition!  

Art of Promotions

There’s a definite mindset for successful promotions. It involves several aspects:

Defining your Goal
This is critical! What are your objectives? Do you want to increase sales on a night of the week that business is not what you would like it to be? Do you want in general, to increase traffic for daytime, happy hour or night times? This is the first step that is needed for a successful promotion to begin evolving.
The bar / restaurant business has always been challenging and competitive. In my 20 years as an owner/operator of bars, restaurants and nightclubs and my 20 years as promotional consultant for Vacation Adventures, and now my new endeavor Restaurant Revival I have always looked for ways to increase traffic at a minimal cost for both my clients and myself.
Promotional events create more revenue not only for the business itself, but make all of your employees feel they can earn more. They will be more productive knowing that there’s something in it for them.       
Getting Organized
Having a plan; I always tell my clients to sit down with management to get started planning an event, whether a theme night, introducing a new format, sporting event or a fun and crazy way to get your customers involved--after all they do go out to have a good time! Your mind set should be, “What is going to create a fun filled day or night for my customers, so that they’ll tell their friends to come out and party down?” You need to get customers involved. Create exciting, easy and profitable menus items that your customers know you care about them.
Put your plan down on paper, think it out and keep a record of what went on so that next time you have a blueprint of the event. The benefits of a promotion are many.  It will give your employees something to talk about to your customers and a successful promotion will keep your venue’s name on everyone’s lips, both customer and your competition alike. Word of mouth is the key to a successful promotion and top of mind awareness is the key to successful branding!
Let us just look at what day or days of the week we need to promote. I say you need a promotion for every day of the week including theme nights, ladies nights, industry nights and karaoke just to mention a few. Besides the beverage specials and/or food specials, give customers a reason to come in as often as they can. Target a day or days of the week that you to “need to kick it”. Let’s say that Wednesday, Friday & Saturday are busy, well I would start with Thursday, that way you create “critical momentum”-- four strong money days in a row. It diminishes your competition’s chance to move in on your action. Then you would go for Monday and then Tuesday, these are just examples. Your days may be different, but do you get my drift?
Make sure that all areas are covered. Nothing makes me more furious than going to a business because of a great promotional concept only to find out that they are totally unprepared--not enough help, run out of product, music not in sync with the event, the business is not clean inside and out, restrooms are a disaster and so on. All this preparation and no follow through?  Ugh!  Just like a sports team going to playoffs, the coach is responsible to have the team ready, like a well oiled machine.
Getting the Results
My company can get you there. I have turned around  business to gain respectability, increase sales and revamping their entire operations. I know this business, I have put all of my expertise to use in this business and know this business from a common sense approach. I will increase sales, make you visible in every aspect and bring you to a place that will lead you to success.