2012 was quite the turbulent year for most restaurants and 2013 isn’t promising to be much easier. During 2012 we’ve had the pleasure in working with many types of restaurants across multiple concepts, cuisine and core offering. Some have stayed afloat, others have prospered, and some have sunk. But why? Why did they sink? What can you, as a restaurant owner, do to keep your restaurant from sinking and steer the ship towards prosperity?
Well, here are three key things you need to do, right now:
1. Get real or get lost. Face the facts head on instead of turning a blind eye to realities. What are the facts? Your food may not be that great. Your service may suck. Your concept may not be viable. No one wants to hear this, but you cannot hide from reality. Read your online reviews. They are honest and often times brutal, but beneath the bloated egos of the Yelp Elite lay some key facts that you can use to steer your ship towards success before it sinks. If your food sucks, make changes immediately. If your service sucks, fire the culprits, hire new, energetic people and actually TRAIN THEM.
2. Marketing isn’t a magic wand. Do you really think that taking an ad out in the newspaper is the answer that will pack your house? I’ll help you: it isn’t. Marketing is an integrated strategy, not a magical bullet in one media that just pulls people in. If there were one thing you could do to get new trials, boost loyalty and grow business, every single restaurant would be doing that one thing. Unfortunately for those who are lazy or looking for an easy way out, marketing your restaurant isn’t easy and it’s not as simple as taking out an ad. We spend our days developing and implementing winning restaurant marketing strategies for our clients. It’s a full time job that involves integrating advertising, public relations, social media, email marketing, community outreach, and many more tactics that all work in unison to always be churning in new trials, increasing loyalty and boosting word of mouth. It’s not simple. There’s no one magic bullet. You need a strategy and need to give that strategy enough time to start working.
3. Get off your ass and do the work. Sorry, sitting in your office thinking or complaining isn’t going to do anything. It just wastes time and leaves you looking weak. Grab your bootstraps and get to work. Community outreach is one way to build business and get people in the door. Meet your market. Shake their hands. Create the personal connections advertising and social media can’t create. Make the positive changes to your business NOW. Change the menu. Change the recipes. Change the staff. Change. Change. CHANGE. Then promote the changes. Get people excited. Do ANYTHING but sit back and watch the ship sink.
In this last year I have personally seen one concept in particular fail because the owner refused to accept reality, make changes and get off their ass. Instead they let poor service, mediocre food and laziness sink the ship until the doors had to close. Don’t let this happen to you.