We've just come through one of the most incredible time periods in our lives, where states restricted the way we could operate our businesses because of the COVID-19 virus. It was necessary to save lives and to flatten the curve, but we all know it hurt us in a big way.
The restaurant industry was hit particularly hard by COVID-19, but the silver lining is there’s an opportunity for you to make real change right now in your business.
As a restaurant owner, you are going to need to keep some of the strategies you have adapted to during the crisis in place because many of us are only going to be able to open up with 50% of our seating. Unfortunately, this is not going to generate enough revenue to pay your lease. Maybe 50% seating is the breakeven point for many of us, but the fact of the matter is we need to keep the curbside pickup, the delivery options, the grocery elements intact. These are the things we have put in place to get us through the real trying times.
But what I want to share with you now is your opportunity to make changes in your business that will benefit you for the long haul. However, you've got to be committed to change in order to achieve what I call Restaurant Prosperity.
I don't care if you’re a $350,000 pizza place or a $10,000,000 fine-dining restaurant, if you have one location or 20, the same principles apply to every one of us.
Because of this crisis, your operations are changed forever. You have new sanitation requirements. You’re going to use menus that are disposable. You’re going to look at many ways to alter your business, which means your costs are going to go up. Imagine buying personal protection equipment (PPE) for all your staff. That's a cost you didn't need to account for in the past. Imagine the extra labor it takes to break down a table when a customer leaves and literally sanitize everything they’ve touched. Imagine needing extra labor just to clean door handles in order to keep guests and employees safe and still be able to operate your business.
You should also prepare for food cost increases. Food distributors have taken a bath. Think of all the restaurants that have gone out of business and those who have deferred payments. Think about all the product they've committed to order to get a contracted price that is no longer needed. Distributors are losing millions upon millions of dollars every single month. They are going to have to make up the losses somewhere.
Right now, you must implement systems. You must change your culture. You must do things better than you ever have before. I'm a systems guy. In my opinion, to be successful, you need to put a system or a process into place for everything you do in your business. This is often a difficult process but you've got to be committed to that change.
Unlike restaurant shows on TV, you can’t change a business in three days. It's a six-month-to-a-year process because in reality, it's changing a company’s culture. Running a profitable restaurant is not just about hospitality. It’s also about serving hot food, hot; cold food, cold; and assuring a clean, safe environment for guests and employees. It’s about providing an incredible product with great customer service. Oh, and, don’t forget, as business owners, we're supposed to make money, too!
No matter what side of the fence you are on regarding the pandemic and whether we should be reopening states or not; it doesn't matter, in my opinion. The truth is - it's happening. From a business perspective, it probably couldn't happen at a better time if you got your PPP money, because otherwise if it strung on much longer, you'd be paying people to do absolutely nothing.
We've got to start looking at cash flow budgets and we've got to say we're going to run profitably. With this in mind, we're not only going to take care of the guests, but we're going to move that needle and we're going to make money. When you focus on making sure the restaurant makes money everybody wins. Your guests win because you'll be there year after year, providing the product and service they want. You also fill a need in your community by keeping people employed. This is how your employees feed their families and pay their bills. Plus, running a profitable business assures you can take care of your family as well.
If I told you right now that I can give you the tools necessary to make money and to take your prime cost from 65% to 55% would you be willing to do it? You can move the needle 10 points without giving up guest satisfaction, without cutting product quality, without going against your core values and never dumbing down your restaurant. If I said there was some hard work involved but, in the end, you would benefit greatly, would you actually put those systems into place? Would you do the hard work? Would you invest the time and energy into making sure you train people on the systems? These are the questions you need to ask yourself.
If you want to make a change to control your food and labor costs; to put a management team in place and hold them accountable; to have freedom from your business and make the money you deserve, you have to have systems and you have to be willing to make some hard changes. Are you ready to make this commitment to your future? If so, I cannot wait to see what’s waiting for you on the other side!
Sign up to watch the first lesson in my video learning series all about lowering food and labor costs and building an accountable management team.
Take this free restaurant evaluation. It takes about 10-15 minutes to fill out and when you're done, you’ll have a 20-25-page customized report based on your answers about your restaurant. It will show you where your gaps are in the 23 stages. There are no strings attached. Just look at it for where your gaps are and what you should be working on now.
I teach systems in my book, Restaurant Prosperity Formula: What Successful Restaurateurs Do, which you can order here.
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