Restaurant owners chefs out there, what do you do when your business starts to head south?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by von hess, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. von hess

    von hess

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    Hello Chef Talk members,

    I'm really happy to be part of this new group and look forward to both learning and teaching.

    Though this is primarily back of the house forums I'm sure there are members whom too own the restaurant as well

    I pose this question since Its a topic which many businesses face yet don't want to breech primarily b/c of: pride, ego, emotional ties to a place, family involved with it, longevity etc

    As a Restaurant consultant myself I'm really curious what owners do to remedy this situation on their own?

    Please all feedback is encouraged here.

    Thank you, GEVH
     
  2. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Most owners don't / can't do anything on their own to fix it.  

    The problem is likely not obvious to them and they either won't identify it and correct it or they won't admit the problem exists and they blame everything else.

    Assuming the owner is relatively intelligent they usually hire / consult with someone experienced to identify the problem or just fix it themselves.

    Unfortunately the 'instant fame stories' that are bombarded by the media, combined with fast loans and people who have never 'failed' a school test or been told that they are just 'average' leads many to believe that they will succeed at anything they try.

    Which is the recipe for total disaster...

    Most problems with a restaurant are relatively simple to fix or remedy if caught early - quite often turn arounds come several months too late and the bills are already piling up far too high.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  3. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Why is this happening is first question to ponder ?.

    How to nip it in the bud. And what am I going to do about it.. There are to many factors depending on local and surrounding cicumstances unique to every place.

    Could be staff or service, could be weather, could be new competition, food quality going down, ttired atmosphere and menu. new trends. crowd moves.and on and on .

    OWNER HAS TO SPEND MORE TIME THERE WATCHING , and he should swallow their prid and listen and learn.
     
  4. everydaygourmet

    everydaygourmet

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    Von,

    first welcome to CT!

    Re the post IMO the market, the market, the market, is second to location, find and fill a need. Go into business with judicial prudence, fully armed with sound current knowledge about your customers wants and needs.

     Going South?, every market fluctuates and has seasonal trends, but when you feel you are failing or when sales just drop off? Unfortunately I've witnessed good businesses fail due to the economy and lack of business acumen / experience in making tough, timely decisions.

    Agree with Mike and Chef Ed, some owners are simply oblivious, clueless, arrogant and some of the other 7 deadly sins, so not much you can do, horse and water, you can point it out, it's up to the equine to drink.

    One of my mentors told me something many, many moons ago; "don't believe everything printed on your business card, believe in and be yourself, because you own it, (a company) doesn't mean you know everything about it".

    Advice?, know your business by the numbers, pay attention to costs, waste= lost profit, remain hungry, becoming to, comfortable can, breed complacency, be humble and willing to learn, admit when your wrong and for god's sake ask for help!

    Cheers!

    EDG
     
  5. von hess

    von hess

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    Thank You EDG,

    YES You make very valid points and I’m on board with you.

    ‘Markets and needs” there are the perceived needs and the actual needs.  I.E  Just because your Grandmother taught you Italian cooking when you 5, doesn’t mean the area needs yet another Italian restaurant.   Let the market speak to you as to if and where your Trattoria will flourish

    “Knowing your customer rule”  I am an X Wall St money manager of 20 years and this was our mantra and I make it my clients mantra now.

    In my experience owners get to know @30% of their clients mostly by face and have no ‘contact management system” CRM in place to manage the other 70%.  Even that 30% you can’t be there 24/7 to greet each one one of them.

    Knowing what your customers wants and needs are and maintaining their expectations is #1. 

    Talk to them, engage, constantly ask questions, maintain dialogue…most importantly ask for criticism…what they think you can do better. 

    Owners your ego doesn’t pay the bills your patrons dollars do!

    “The Mr. know-it-all syndrome”….”I’ve owned this restaurant for 20 years I know what I’m doing”.  How many times has that been uttered.  

    Just because you’ve been doing something for 20 years means you’ve been doing it the right way, longevity doesn’t make you an expert.  Talk to someone who is.

    You go to a doctor for your check-up right?  Get a consultant in there to give you a check-up too.  Fresh eyes on the place, a different opinion, different perspective on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

    Advice =’S EGO crushing…..NOT! 

    We as consultants are here to help you and in this process If you want results you need to be receptive to change.

    The world is changing: administrations, economies, demographics, buying motives etc.  

    To maintain success Owners need to change with it or these factors will change you.. OUT!
     
  6. von hess

    von hess

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    Hello ChefeDB,

    Thank you for your input.

    He writes"

    Why is this happening is first question to ponder ?.

    How to nip it in the bud. And what am I going to do about it.. There are to many factors depending on local and surrounding circumstances unique to every place.

    Could be staff or service, could be weather, could be new competition, food quality going down, tired atmosphere and menu. new trends. crowd moves.and on and on .

    OWNER HAS TO SPEND MORE TIME THERE WATCHING , and he should swallow their prid and listen and learn.

    Yes the owner has to be pro-active daily like a full time relationship and needs to be nurtured everyday. 

    Make a to-do evaluation list everyday and add new things to it.

    Myriad of factors as to why things go south..... Here's what I encourage my clients to do first...ASK YOUR PATRONS:

    1) what can we do better for you?

    2) what other restaurant do you like to frequent and why?

    3) are there things you don't like here and why?

    Talk to them, show you care enough to ask and most importantly be open to criticism.

    weather/demographics/competition.....well hit each one

    WEATHER...Get a calendar make the bad weather days and put your daily numbers on it and look for a trend.  If you see one.... well on inclement days scale back staff, better to be understaffed

    and work harder than over staffed and paying for nothing.

    DEMOGRAPHICS...Look at who your customers are.  Get to know where they live, what they do and what they want and need and what they spend.   Create a patron contact management system CRM that tells you all this so you can stay on top of them.

    COMPETITION.....Take a drive around the area and see, go in and check-out competitors places, see what and how they are doing.  Google reviews get an idea as to what patrons are saying.

    This is paramount...STAY ON TOP OF WHAT CUSTOMERS ARE WRITING ABOUT YOU!!  Remember addressing problems as they unfold at the restaurant is the best way to avoid a bad write-up by not putting that fire -out as it burned.

    and CHEFeDB...My hats off to you..."owner needs to swallow thier pride and listen and learn"  advice coming from a man 30 years in the business...well said!

    Thank you GEVH
     
  7. von hess

    von hess

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    Most owners don't / can't do anything on their own to fix it.......

    can't and wont ='s failure..be pro-active

    The problem is likely not obvious to them and they either won't identify it and correct it or they won't admit the problem exists and they blame everything else.

    Get a second opinion on this...A professionals....like a doctors check-up.  If numbers are going down you're going to be motivated to change that.  In the end you own the place

    and its YOU that's to blame period!

    Assuming the owner is relatively intelligent they usually hire / consult with someone experienced to identify the problem or just fix it themselves. 

    YES...This will happen with owners that are pro-active and aren't in denial nor driven by EGO.

    Unfortunately the 'instant fame stories' that are bombarded by the media, combined with fast loans and people who have never 'failed' a school test or been told that they are just 'average' leads many to believe that they will succeed at anything they try

    Fast loans...Throwing money at a problem doesn't fix it.  FIX THE PROBLEM AND FUND THE SOLUTION.

    Instant fame stories....for every success story there are 100 disaster stories... Yes have your dreams and pursue them but be realistic if they don't flourish.

    Which is the recipe for total disaster...

    Most problems with a restaurant are relatively simple to fix or remedy if caught early - quite often turn arounds come several months too late and the bills are already piling up far too high

    .

    Yes all after the fact..which is why restaurants need the doctors check-up on a consistent basis.   I'm usually called in after the place is falling apart to try and fix their mistakes...How does that saying go..."an ounce of prevention"...
     
  8. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Did this unidentified owner/operator research and write a honest and unbiased business plan?

    If so, wouldn't she be prepared to spot problems and have a working knowledge of possible corrections and be more likely to nip (said problem) it in the bud?