We see it every day, some restaurant, some city, the tell-tale signs of possible demise. Often times owner egos reject professional offers of assistance, thinking, perhaps, it’s better to let the bills pile up and the losses continue until closure, rather than rationally seek operational or marketing assistance.
The usual scenario when sales start to slide:
1) Unsightly banners go up with rock bottom special promotions (to those in the industry this is the first warning sign that your marketing plan, if you have one, isn’t working).
2) Expensive ads start going in city/regional travel magazines and in local weekend sections of newspapers.
3) Snake oil salesmen, prying off your hardship, sell you brand-killing coupon book page deals, or daily deal sites come knocking. This speaks to the start of desperation – giving away your food and service at 50% off. That kills employee morale, tips, your bottom line, and most of all, your passion.
4) Your workers have left or all are looking for new jobs as they can’t get enough shifts or tips because you have no customers. Word spreads around town, your landlord hears, your suppliers hear, and there’s little hope of turning back.
Overcome it all by accepting the fact that no business owner knows EVERYTHING.
Some thoughts on starting to revamp your operation:
• Focus on your biggest marketing tool, your menu. Are you providing a quality experience that your market needs?
• Audit your operating costs, make small changes that create more memorable guest experiences and can net you short / long term savings.
Reach out to a professional (a chef, restaurant consultant, local restaurant trade group) and LEAD your restaurant to success before you even start “hanging the banners!”