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  • John Reese

Streamline and Scale Back

Updated: Aug 10


The first few posts in my Restaurant Re-Boot series focused on the importance of documenting, sharing and following a clear vision coupled with a commitment to a regular planning cycle. Nothing new, but it is the critical groundwork for running a successful small business—I really can't emphasize this enough.


Simplicity, Focus and Discipline are my three favourite words when working with clients. Time and again, issues result from a lack of applying any or all of these principles. By its very nature, our industry exists in one form of chaos or another. A combination of vocal market demands and our entrepreneurial tendency to complicate matters doesn't serve us.

We need to apply simplicity, focus and discipline to get out of survival mode.


What Are We to Do?

Our future is in our own hands. It is time to be bold. For too long, we have let the market, social media and our competitors dictate what we do, what prices we charge and how we operate. The result has been razor-thin (or no) profit margins, watered-down concepts and the daily fight just to survive. Being driven by fear no longer flies.


The Simplicity. Streamline and simplify your concept, become laser-beam focused on quality of execution and product. Do less and commit to excellence. Break out of the mediocre middle. Focus your efforts on all aspects of uncompromising quality management. Stop spreading yourself so thin, stop being distracted, stop chasing everything.


The Focus. You cannot afford to be all things to all people. Specialized concepts with smaller footprints and limited service are strong choices. This has been the case for the last number of years, but now it is vital. Why? Less staff required, fewer variables, less waste, better quality, improved speed of service, greater efficiency, effectiveness and better bottom line.


If you have a full-service concept, focus the food style and drinks offering and make them consistent with your brand. You want to be very clear in the mind of the market to remain top of mind. Being all over the place with food style and too many menu items will kill you. Tune out the noise, change your model and focus.


The Discipline. If you want to prosper, forget about going back to ‘normal’ and take charge of your destiny. There is no other choice. The time is now—but keep in mind, no apologies. Stand firm, integrity-based and straight-forward.


• Reduce your menu offering by at least 25% & focus your food style


• Raise prices by 10%-25%


• Pay yourself first. You deserve to earn a fair living and return on investment


• Pay your people more, especially the kitchen. They are your best investment with the greatest return


• Shift to counter service if you can


• No discounts


• Limited or no Happy Hour


• Commit to EBITDA of 20% +


• Make the hard decisions that will allow you to thrive. Stop listening to the noise


• Some customers will not understand, and you will not be able to make them happy. They will find another establishment. Again, no apologies. Stay on course


• Be true to your vision and passion


• Seize your own future


No apologies. This is solid, exciting and fruit-bearing work. Until next time.

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