A Powerful Restaurant “Weak” Challenge for Your Business

The weakest link in your business

Photo by dcJohn via Flickr

Last year during Restaurant Week, in order to get you thinking about your own level of customer service, we wrote a blog post challenging you to think about the “experience” vs. “the product” as you made you made your way to your favorite eating establishments.    The idea is that the overall dining experience weighs heavily on how you view the restaurant and it is not just about the food.  If two restaurants are delivering comparable dishes, the one that best satisfies all your senses and not just your palate will win in the long run….every time.   Look at your own business with your customer’s eyes and think about the experience your company delivers and and how you go about building repeat business.

These were the two questions posed.

#1) What is it that attracted me to this restaurant?

#2) What is it that will bring me back? (Repeat Customer)

A year has passed (time flies…).  It is Restaurant Week 2013 in Kansas City.  How did your favorite (or not so favorite) restaurants do this past year?   Did any of them expand or remodel their current space?   Did any of your favorites open a new location?   The restaurant business is tough, if you aren’t clicking on all cylinders it can be a nightmare to manage profitably.  Correct staffing, perishable foods, weather events, unexpected swings in the economy, all of these are traps restaurant owners continuously must navigate on a weekly basis.   But even with all that, there are some restaurants that are not only doing well, they are thriving.

Recently we completed a Business Effectiveness Evaluation on a business.   Overall the company was in great shape and honestly there were few areas that were in need of improvement.   Margins were good, they had good hiring procedures in place, and the owner was not a being held hostage by the business he owned. However, during our results and planning session, it was the owner pointed out that there are always areas we can be improving, areas of weakness to strengthen.

“A chain is only as strong as the weakest link.” Proverb

This year we have a new challenge for you to think about as you patronize the restaurants participating in this year’s event.    This year pretend you’re providing input for Zagat.   Enjoy your meal, but we challenge you to look for two areas your favorite restaurant can improve on and especially look at where they can improve without spending cash.    This is a positive, constructive critique where a weak link can be strengthened.   Be observant.  I assure you like our client example above, even the best restaurants have areas they can improve on.    If at the end of the meal you are offered a survey, share your two suggestions with the owner.   Most owners will appreciate the feedback.

Now that you’re thinking about improvement…..

Ok your palate is happy and you have supported the local restaurants and helped some great charities in the process and hopefully you are thinking about weak links and improvement.    Now take a few minutes and reflect on your own business and where the weak links may be (sometimes they are hidden).  If you have an executive or management team, make it a topic of discussion at your next meeting.

1)      Brainstorm areas where you can improve without large capital investments.  Every business has these opportunities, including yours!

2)      Once you have your list, determine the top 2 that will have the greatest impact on your bottom line and create a plan of action to implement.

3)      Execute your plan…if this is an area you struggle with sometimes, you can always get help!

As always we love to hear your feedback and comments.   Bon Appétit!

Chris Steinlage, Kansas City Business Coach