When we look at busy restaurants, we immediately say to ourselves that they picked a great location. There most certainly are great sites out there, but I have seen great restaurants succeed in even a poor location. If you have a great location, your chances of success are higher but your chances to put out a mediocre experience also increases. A good location can make a mediocre operation look good just as a poor location can make a mediocre operation look bad. The amazing thing to see is when a great operation can take a poor location and turn it into a huge success. Last week we discussed how productivity was one leading indicator of a restaurants success. Today I want to look at a few more factors.
- One thing that can help make this reality is to have a passion brand. Restaurants that offer exceptional food and service create loyal, raving fans. These fans will go to the ends of the earth to tell everyone they can about your business. In poor locations this type of engagement can lead to incredible success. At the same time, if you do not go above and beyond to create and appreciate these loyal, raving fans they will stop going out of their way to support your company. We see this a lot when a new store opens to enormous success, and then they never reach that level of achievement in the future. I believe that if you are running a tip top operation and building your fan base that by the third year your sales should be able to exceed your first year’s sales. Ask each manager to fill out a paper with 20 guest names and details, see how many struggle and see how many list 30.
- Another key ingredient in building your fan base is to be entrenched in the local community. Spend as much time as you can building long term ROI with as many people in the area as you can. Take the opportunity to donate whenever possible. My current goal as an owner is to spend at least 5 hours per month marketing my company in the community. This can be as simple as wearing your company polo and always having some coupons to hand out to people that you meet. You would be amazed how times per day I am stopped by someone when they see my Culver’s shirt to talk to me about our store. Talk about a passion brand! This should even be a standard practice among your management team. Every manager should spend at least one hour per week working in the dining room. This is the best way to start to create those long term relationships needed to succeed.
- Present and engaged. These are the two words describe a successful restaurant. You have to have a present and engaged owner and management team to be successful. The people that spend the most time at the business need to be the face of the company. They are the ones that will set the standards, when the owner & managers are present and engaged the details matter. The details are what separate the good from the great. It was a quote by Jon Taffer, the host of bar rescue that summed it up in one sentence. “There are no such things as poor locations; there are merely bad owners, operators & managers.” One comment that I tell every new restaurant team is that we should be able to look back at the end of the year and say that we did everything we possibly could to retain every guest that visited our restaurant.