I was very honored to be interviewed by Tony Chapman at the recent Restaurants Canada Leadership Conference in Toronto.
Tony is a super dynamic speaker and host across mainstream media. His knapsack is filled with thirty years of experience, as an entrepreneur whose agencies developed award winning go to market and branding strategies across all industry sectors. This combined with his curious mind to stay current, and a work ethic to create customized talks packed with actionable insights and strategies for each audience is what earns him the recommendations and reputation you will find on the internet.
Tony: With me is Donald Burns, The Restaurant Coach™, named one of The Top 50 Restaurant Experts to Follow and one of 23 Inspiring Hospitality Experts to Follow on Twitter. You have worked across the restaurant industry - including as an Executive Chef with Wolfgang Puck, a restauranteur, a consultant today to multibillion dollar company, and if that...
My girlfriend is a badass scientist (I mean a real badass). What lights her up is when she is talking about her passion. If you listen to passionate people talk about what they love, it’s contagious and inspiring. Great conversations get that one pound piece of grey matter sitting on top of your head fired up with ideas. Then it hit me: Newton! No, not fig newtons you food freak, Newton the scientist.
Way back in 1686, Sir Isaac Newton developed three laws of motion. The first law is often referred to as the Law of Inertia. The law states that every object will remain at rest or continue in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.
In other words, things stay the way they are unless something comes along to disrupt them. This law has the power to make us or break us. And it is at work in your restaurant (and life) all day, every day whether you are conscious of it or not.
When we kick a ball down the field, it heads in a specific...
Let me share with you what I know for a fact from working with restaurants around the globe. Business problems are people problems no matter where you are in the world! On a recent trip to Bogota, Colombia where I was speaking at a conference called Expo La Barra, I had the great opportunity to meet with three different restaurant owners.
The outcomes of each one of these restaurants can be seen in restaurants everywhere. Human behavior is pretty predictable. All humans have the same range of emotions (happiness, sadness, pleasure, pain, confidence, fear, etc.). It’s those emotions that dictate how people run their business.
Let’s call this A Tale of Three Restaurants
Restaurant One - The Local Legend
This is a family owned restaurant that has been in business over 40 years. They have multiple concepts and are well known in the market. Lately their upscale Asian Sushi concept that marries together the flavors of Japan and Colombia is suffering from declining sales.
We’re all looking for the things we should be doing but what about the things you need to stop doing that are truly hurting your business?
Sabotage is subversive. It’s under the radar. It can come from your unconscious mind.
Restaurant, nightclub and bar success and failure comes down to the habits we have...both good and bad. The trick is being aware of the bad habits that aren’t serving you and taking radical action to change them.
That’s bullshit—it’s who you choose to be. Now, if these bad habits are working for you then by all means, lace up those shoes and wear ‘em.
However, if you seem to be stuck, if you don’t seem to be reaching your goals, if you seem to drive people away more than you attract them, then take note and make a commitment to make some changes.
1. Talking Smack about Others
You might say that...
Congratulations—Your bar or restaurant is doing so well that opportunities to expand the business are coming at you fast.
But before you get too far ahead of yourself and sign that new lease, there are several things to take into consideration.
Running one bar or restaurant can be a challenge. When you move to two locations, you start to juggle your time, focus and tasks between the two “siblings.” Moving on to more than two can be tricky.
You need to have a few key elements in place before signing the lease on location three, four and five. Let’s take a look.
Firstly, you’re going to need a great recruiting plan in place to fill your bench of talent. Having a successful company culture will help you attract talent, and a great training program will help your team continue to grow and engage (funny how they all work in synergy).
When businesses expand without a strong bench of talent to expand with them, they quickly realize their mistake....
If you were dropped off in the middle of the woods without a map and compass, your chance of making it back to civilization are pretty slim (especially if you have never been out in the wilderness). Having an accurate map and a way to know if you are going the right direction (the compass) are critical. The same goes for your restaurant. Having standards (your map) and a way to know if you are off course (feedback) are required if you want to stay in business year after year.
The best place to start you path to long term success is to have a solid Cycle of Service Plan. Here’s the thing each step is just as important as the next so don’t skip ahead to just the things you like to focus on. Remember that there are no shortcuts to success, however there is a fast track to failure.
Energy is Everything
When asked what does your restaurant sell? The majority would answer food and beverage. Not really. If it was just about food and drink people would stay home enjoy those...
You look at your menu over and over until you feel like your stare could burn a hole in it. Hey, it looks good. Maybe even great. You decide it’s ready to be rolled out and you decide to launch. Sales jump and you get excited. Then....they seem to level off. What happened?
A fresh menu design is like buying a new car. At first, it’s the greatest thing in the world to you. After a few months, a lot of that newness has worn off. Your menu can be a similar roller coaster of emotions. Time to get your menu mojo back!
First Things First
You must know the cost of every item on your menu (that means both food and beverages—no shortcuts here). Not knowing your costs is really not knowing your business. I asked a recent audience (about 150 people) that I was speaking for what I thought was a straightforward question: “How many people in the room know the cost of the items on your menu?” I was shocked to see only 10 hands in the room rise. [Insert shaking head...
Marketers and behavioral psychologists spend their lives trying to get inside the mind of the consumer. There are companies that spend millions of dollars annually on research to predict trends in the market. Focus groups and surveys are being used at this very minute to understand what makes restaurant guests do what they do.
I can tell you from spending more than three decades of working with restaurants and their guests, it’s actually not that complicated to understand. There are human behavior patterns that only years of observation can illuminate. At first it’s like a puzzle that you’ve never put together before; it takes time. However, the more you put the pieces of the puzzle back together, the easier it gets.
Back in the mid-’70s, John Grinder and Richard Bandler were observing the human puzzle of verbal and behavioral patterns from prominent therapists such as Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, and famed hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, and came up with a...
Do you want a better restaurant? Of course you do.
You wouldn't be reading a blog post like this if you didn't. You can have a better restaurant today.
Actually, right now.
It starts with one simple decision. Just three powerful words: raise your standards.
While it sounds simple on the surface, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. Saying you want a better restaurant and actually getting a better restaurant can be the challenge. There are a few things to get out in the open before you can make that jump to the next level.
They say that what lies between desire and results is action.
Many people think that the road to success is a fairly straight line. The reality is success is more like a winding road with peaks, valleys, a few roadblocks, detours, and an occasional sinkhole thrown in. Even Ray Kroc, the ‘founder’ of McDonald’s, was quoted as saying, “I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night.”
There are some things you just never forget. Your first kiss, your first car, an amazing movie and horrible service. Great service can sometimes be an elusive creature, much like Bigfoot. Incredible service not only is comprised of the mechanical aspects like serving from the left and clearing from the right, it also contains the human element. That's called hospitality. When you combine the mechanical and human together it creates that synergy that today's guests have come to expect.
Here's the real secret to amazing service… It has to be constantly managed and monitored. I'm a big believer that incredible service teams are orchestrated and guided like a well-choreographed ballet.
I eat out to restaurants around 260 times a year. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly. When you dine out that much you tend to see patterns in behavior. At this point, I can read the team dynamics much like Neo can read the matrix.
Here's my short list of the 7 things your service team...
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