Inside The Box Thinking
For the longest time, I didn’t believe in the rants of gurus who said to think outside the box. I mean, I was looking around and seeing that no one had actually exhausted their inside the box thinking first. Which should be a prerequisite right? How can you move beyond something that isn’t even working let alone there at all? And there are far too many broken pieces to a lot of broken businesses lying around right now. Anyway, the time has come to reimagine a few things. This doesn’t call for outside the box thinking – it requires an entirely new box:
They’re not working anyway – never have, never will. Unless you’re rewarding real, organic loyalty, then you should eliminate all discounts and begin to see your experience for the real value it holds for your guests. You need to start playing in the value arena (not the cheap, bundling type either) and begin to work your business into more sustainable, long-term profitability in the process – based on your ability to reengineer value into every touchpoint throughout the experience you offer each and every guest.
I don’t pay managers to just maintain the status quo. But far too many do just that. Business and markets don’t reward that type of stagnant and self-defeating behavior and neither should you. You should set growth goals with your managers both individually and as a team and then begin to give them the tools to accomplish those goals (or exceed them) and reward them accordingly. 3 periods of flat sales and traffic numbers means you don’t have the right people in place. And the economy has absolutely nothing to do with it. I have operators call me all day long and ask me if it’s ok to go for __ years (insert your own time frame here) without realizing a serious profit (one that rewards risk and finances growth opportunities) Are you kidding me? No, it’s not ok. It’s insane!
You need to get it out of your head that coming in to work a 4-6 hour shift of order taking and meal running and sidework is all that a server does. You need to expand your awareness to understand that each interaction by a server with a guest is a marketing opportunity – and they need to maximize it in order to create return visits, loyalty, referrals and most of all, increased sales. An example would be the policy we have that each and every server must generate a proportional share of reservations every day or they don’t get to play. Maybe you need to recalibrate your compensation model (before the courts do it for you). You will definitely need to think differently about who and why you hire and where you recruit and source that kind of talent.
I’ve been saying this for the longest time, but mom and pop retired. The successful business model today is much more complex and sophisticated than it was just 5-10 years ago. No one expects you to be the master of all trades. It’s impossible. In order to maximize your potential in all areas of your business, you need to find people who live and breathe each one. From your Chef to your business managers to the consultant you hire to help you put it all together by building a framework with you that allows you to focus on and manage growth under any circumstances. Yes there will be pain. Yes outcomes won’t happen overnight. Yes you will lose guests but gain new ones that value real value and will pay for it. Your staff will be more professional and engaged in creating more business. You will have more sales and more guests paying more money for more value and you and your business will flourish because of it. How long will it take? That always depends on two things: how broken your business was at the start of your change effort and how hard you are willing to work in order to re-engineer it for real success. The only question now is how long will you continue to tread water?