What to Do Now to Prepare for After the Pandemic

covid-19 response restaurant crisis restaurant prosperity formula restaurant systems

We’re now in week four of the coronavirus pandemic. The new restrictions due to the pandemic are the new reality of running a restaurant. And it's been interesting. If your doors are still open, you did it. You adapted. Maybe you added curbside, moved to delivery and added the apps. Maybe you pivoted and created a grocery store/restaurant. I’ve talked to a lot a restaurant operators who are gathering money, almost like a charity, and then using the money to provide meals to first responders. It's been amazing to witness.

And for those of you who had to close your doors, whether or not you can open again in the future, you did the best you could. Every restaurant is different and every adaptation isn’t possible for every restaurant.

I've been on an emotional roller coaster watching my brothers and sisters in the restaurant industry go through this challenge and it’s been inspiring. It’s still a very dangerous time and a very uncertain time. But I do want to say there are some positives.

You’ve been given an opportunity to reinvent yourself. The first two weeks were all about pivoting your business. If you’ve been able to find a foothold, you have a great chance in the future. It’s a sign of an adaptable and sturdy business.

When you open back up, there are going to be many people available to hire. Many good people. You can get ready now to be an employer people want to work for. You won’t have to settle for someone who was just able to fog up a mirror. End the frustration with your employees and draw in the good people who are thankful for a job, thankful for the opportunity.

When things level off, and we return to some level of normalcy, things will never be the same again. You have been given a new perspective. You have seen the worst-case scenario and now is the time to set up protections for the future.

If things have slowed down for you, and you do have extra time, now is your time to learn. If you're working 100-hour weeks, you must pull someone in to help you take the next steps. 

Start training yourself so you can have a proper training for your new employees. Even if they’re your former employees, you can set new standards. If they don’t want to meet them, they can go elsewhere.

Start getting your managers ready. Now is the time to get your systems in place. Your checklists, your inventories, your budgets, your labor systems. It's time. Well, it's an awful lot to get done.

I don't know anybody who has a crystal ball and can tell you what business is going to look like after this. But I think 25% of our industry is probably out of business. Unfortunately it will be primarily independents because independents tend to run low on cash and operate backwards, meaning always operating at a little bit of a deficit. It’s more like a rolling cash flow rather than having real cash on hand. With sales stopping so abruptly, there was no room for forgiveness. This magnified the fact that we don't have enough cash in our banks, that we're probably not operating off a budget. You probably don't have recipe costing cards. This also means you can’t effectively engineer your menu to change our bottom line because you don’t what things cost to make or what your most profitable items are.

I want you to start thinking about what you can do now to prepare for when you open back up or when the restrictions on business are over? Maybe you’ll be able to have up to 50 people in your restaurant. Or that 250 number. I don't know what that reality is, but you’re going to be open again.

After working with a group of restaurateurs for upwards of 15 years and seeing them change their lives using systems in their restaurants, I came up with a formula for success. I call it the Restaurant Prosperity Formula™ and it's outlined in my book, Restaurant Prosperity Formula: What Successful Restaurateurs Do. Here is a breakdown:  

Two personality traits: a passion for hospitality and persistence. So as long as you love serving people, you love your guests, and you want to help create memories for your guests, you're in the right place. Persistence is necessary because there's always a challenge in the restaurant business.   

Next, you've got to be a leader in your business. You can't let other people tell you what is going to happen or not going to happen. It’s your business. You have a God-given right to go bankrupt if you choose. You are in charge.

Next, you must have a system, a process, a way to doing anything and everything in your business. 

Then there's training. There is training for your employees, but there is also training for you. What these owners told me was they didn’t know what they didn’t know. They’re always going out and trying to find new information and looking for ways to improve.

The next part of the Restaurant Prosperity Formula is accountability. If you don't hold people accountable to the systems you put in place, I don't care how much you've trained them. If they don't do it, who cares? And that's where most operators fall down. This is a people business. The systems are easy. It's getting people to use them on a day-to-day basis that is hard. Put systems in place and use them to train your managers and employees what their job is, how to do it, how well it should be done and by when. This sets it up pretty easy for you to find the committed team members. They know the obligation was their job and that they would be held accountable to their job. There is no conflict. If they don’t do their job, they’re making the decision to not be part of the team.

The magic pill that makes it all work is taking action. My dad had a phrase: Ideas are cheap. It's the people who put them into action that are priceless.

How do you take action right now? As part of my coaching program, I developed a 23-stage outline of systems. It’s a roadmap of what you need to have in place when you get to the other side of this pandemic. I take you through all the stages in this video on YouTube.

If you want to have a chance of making money again and paying back what you owe if you take loans, you must start now. I’m pretty sure there are going to be restrictions on the restaurant industry for months to come. Things won’t go back to normal right away. Protect yourself, your business and your potential future business. You have to operate more efficiently. You need a budget, recipe costing cards and an inventory process to name a few. Watch the video above to see all the systems. Now is the time to be thinking about getting on the other side

For more ideas on how to adapt now, to plan for the future and to protect yourself in the future, I have a lot of free resources you can review.

My Blog – this article is on my blog, which is loaded with how-to articles and links to videos.

YouTube Channel – I break down the biggest questions from restaurant owners into tips in videos. I teach you all about prime cost - the one number you must know to make money, systems you must have to make money in the restaurant business, how to calculate food cost correctly, tips for managing your financial reports, how to make menu engineering work and more.

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.

Now is the time to be thinking about getting on the other side. Wouldn’t you be able to look back on this pandemic as a blessing in disguise because you took the opportunity to put systems in place to run more efficiently, the have cash in the bank and to have the restaurant of your dreams? Ultimately that is the goal: to get you back to restaurant prosperity, freedom from your business and financial freedom.

I hope you're kicking ass out there. Know that I'm here to help, and I'm rooting for you.

I teach all of this in my book, Restaurant Prosperity Formula: What Successful Restaurateurs Do, which you can order here.


Did you learn something new? Keep it up. Every week I send tips just like this in my e-newsletter. Don't miss another issue —
sign up today.

Create Freedom from Your Restaurant