About Us

My Top 10 Restaurant & Hotel Trends For 2015

Yeah, I’m a little late but you know what they say.

1. Business will be best for some (those that have a real plan for creating success) and worse for some (those that do not). Mostly worse.

2. Costs will go up. In every period. Across the board.

3. Creative ways to feature new recipes will be created.

4. Technology will continue to let you do more stuff you don’t need to do just because you read that article about it in Nation’s Restaurant News or Hotel magazine, written by that guru who has never owned or operated a successful business or hotel, who said you needed to.

5. More marketing gurus will tell you you have to buy their solutions in a box , well…just because they need income.

6. More operators will discount because they don’t understand how to create meaningfully differentiated value in their guest experience.

7. Discount operators will discount more heavily and spend more on advertising to tell guests to spend less.

8. Groupon will implode.

9. Roughly 8% of existing businesss will close but will be replaced by operators who think they will succeed because they can do it best. They won’t.

10. Social media will play an even bigger role in amplifying mediocrity.

10.2 Government will continue to play a role in helping operators flush money down the toilet.

10.3 Restaurant Associations will continue to collect dues while operators continue to fight a staggeringly weak economy and politicians talk about rainbows and unicorns.

10.4 Tons of industry wags will write about 2015 trends but fail to fully explain to you how there is no such thing except inside each individual market segment. The only question is where do you want to take your guests, not someone else’s. Trends lists are nothing more than good old fashioned link bait.

Did I miss anything? OK…see you next year!

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You Have Two Options:shg guarantee

  1. Grow your business.
  2. Make excuses.

Our powerful business programs are about helping you and your business master the fundamentals and create positive,
long-term opportunity. No other program(s) offers more value with the immediate impact or greater ROI than ours.

Books, articles and DVD’s can create awareness, but only Coaching can create the level of impacting and sustainable change necessary to grow your business.

Call Us Toll Free 888-998-8744 or use the form below to talk about how we can help you build the best business.


New Research On Old Knowledge: Rituals Make Us Value Things More

Heidi Halvorson (@hghalvorson) writes over at the Harvard Business Review’s blog network (@HarvardBiz) about new research that reinforces an old idea that rituals makes us appreciate the value of things more. We have longed known this in the hospitality business as businesss and hotels have been utilizing the concept of rituals to engage guests in everything from celebrating their birthday’s and anniversaries to rewards for individual and group success. But I want to make two points for you to keep in your mind before you go and read the article and quite possibly the research abstract.

First, it’s not about adding just any value but adding meaningfully differentiated value to each and every guest experience ( and subsequent touchpoints). Rituals need an emotional connection to make them last and valued. Without it, you’re simply talking about habits within transactions. This makes you a contrived commodity.

Secondly, you need to kick the ritual up a notch and envelope it in some type of celebration. Birthday’s and anniversaries are two of the most common but being able to recognize and engage the guest and insert your business into their lives in this way, creates real organic loyalty.

This article is a great reminder of how everyone needs connection and solid recognition of their individual self-worth – both as individuals and consumers.

Let me know your thoughts.

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You Have Two Options:shg guarantee

  1. Grow your business.
  2. Make excuses.

Our powerful business programs are about helping you and your business master the fundamentals and create positive,
long-term opportunity. No other program(s) offers more value with the immediate impact or greater ROI than ours.

Books, articles and DVD’s can create awareness, but only Coaching can create the level of impacting and sustainable change necessary to grow your business.

Call Us Toll Free 888-998-8744 or use the form below to talk about how we can help you build the best business.


Fast Food Jobs Can Offer Tremendous Opportunities

We are often told that individuals are “stuck” in fast food jobs, as if there is no hope for advancement or development. But these aren’t dead end jobs for people willing to learn, grow, and work really, really hard.

At Domino’s Pizza, over 90% of franchise owners started out as hourly employees, and the chain’s 5,000 locations are largely owned and operated by franchisees.

Rob Cookston is one such owner who worked his way up. Cookston started delivering pizzas out of his cherry red Volkswagen Beetle 25 years ago. But, eyeing the store owner’s yellow Ferrari, Cookston knew that he wanted more, and soon enrolled in the corporation’s manager training program.

Cookston learned all aspects of running a pizza chain, from properly massaging pizza dough to managing payroll. But it wasn’t easy. His store had five phone lines, each of which had to be answered promptly every time, and every order had to be delivered within 30 minutes. “It was a big challenge. I wanted to quit at times,” says Cookston, continuing: “We’d take turns giving each other shoulder massages we were so wiped out.”

But after five years, Cookston’s ambitions were higher than store management. He soon enrolled in franchise management school and then took an enormous risk, borrowing money from his parents and grandparents, to start his first business, in New York City. Accumulating savings for future expansion, Cookston spent the next five years living in the basement below another Domino’s while he was a manager. But with financial prudence, Cookston gradually grew his enterprise, buying and selling businesss and expanding to Long Island and Connecticut. Everything said and done, Cookston owned and operated 32 different locations, and made a fortune in the process.

McDonald’s also has its share of Horatio Alger stories. Forty percent of its executives have started out as hourly employees, and so have over fifty percent of its franchise owners.

Tyrone Davis is the operations manager—essentially second-in-command—at six McDonald’s businesss in Darien, Connecticut. Davis works marathon 14+ hour days, running around ensuring that his businesss are running smoothly. Davis coaches employees on being more efficient, spots where additional hands are needed, even grabbing a broom himself when the situation calls for it, and always keeps a watchful eye to ensure that every customer is satisfied with his order, deftly intervening to replace a beverage or sandwich when needed.

Like many McDonald’s managers, Davis started as an hourly employee—his first job with McDonald’s was over 20 years ago, when he was 19—and worked his way up. Now he is making a comfortable manager’s salary—likely six figures. (Davis was featured in the 2007 CNBC Originals documentary of McDonald’s: “Big Mac: Inside the McDonald’s Empire.”)

J. Nicole Daniel is another McDonald’s success story. She knew that she wanted to own a McDonald’s the day she started as an hourly employee, which was not that long ago by her account. Now she owns two in Alabama and passionately works long hours to keep them running. Daniel, who starts every day at 6 a.m., explains: “When you do something you really enjoy for a living, 14 or 15 hours go by pretty quickly.”

Even the current President of McDonald’s U.S.A., Jeff Stratton, began his 40-year career with the chain as an hourly employee, making $1.60 per hour in his hometown city, Detroit. But he persevered, worked his way up the corporation, and now oversees the operations of more than 15,500 businesss in North America.

Some might dismiss these stories as exceptional cases. In a sense, these individuals are exceptional. Not everyone is willing to put in the hours that they do. Not everyone has the ambition and career focus that they do. Not everyone is able to successfully keep a business afloat like they can. Although these individuals are the exceptions, there is no reason why every hourly employee cannot strive to be more like them.

While some disparage fast food jobs, they can be the first step of a prosperous career for many others—others who are focused on where they want to go in their careers and what they need to do to work towards it.

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You Have Two Options:shg guarantee

  1. Grow your business.
  2. Make excuses.

Our powerful business programs are about helping you and your business master the fundamentals and create positive,
long-term opportunity. No other program(s) offers more value with the immediate impact or greater ROI than ours.

Books, articles and DVD’s can create awareness, but only Coaching can create the level of impacting and sustainable change necessary to grow your business.

Call Us Toll Free 888-998-8744 or use the form below to talk about how we can help you build the best business.


7 Indicators of Brand-Building Inadequacy

Is your brand-building effort effective? Is the budget spend effective? In my first branding book, Managing Brand Equity, I identified indicators that brand-building was misdirected, mismanaged, or underfunded–problems that are increasingly relevant today. With a few edits, here is the list.

  1. Managers cannot identify with confidence the existing brand image, its strength, and how it differs across segments and over time.
  2. Knowledge of levels of brand awareness is lacking or imprecise, and the visibility of the brand among segments is just guesswork.
  3. There is no in-depth understanding of the basis for customer loyalty or of how it is lost or reduced. A systematic, reliable, sensitive, and valid set of measures of customer satisfaction and loyalty by segment is not available.
  4. The measures of brand performance and brand-building programs are quarterly and yearly, often based on sales. There are no indicators of the brand tied to long-term business success that are used to evaluate marketing programs. Aspirational brand associations, in particular, are not part of the decision criteria in selecting and managing brand-building programs.
  5. The reward structure and tenure of brand managers do not motivate them to manage strategically.
  6. There is no long-term strategy for the brand, no vision as to what brand association is desired and what product classes in which the brand should be competing.
  7. There is no person or team in charge of the brand. Instead, silo organizational units have independent control of the brand with their product-markets.

Any combination of these is a recipe for strategic problems and lost opportunities.


Game Change: Moneyball And The Reality Of Social Business

I’m not a big baseball fan but it held my interest, partly because it was based on a true story and partly because the movie really wasn’t about baseball at all. It was about old thinking vs. new thinking, about industry politics vs. the heresy of innovation, about dinosaurs desperate to hang on to a failing model that sustains their livelihood even when that model is clearly broken, ineffective and no longer relevant.

The scenes in which Oakland As’ general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) locks horns with his cadre of coaches and scouts over how to do more with less, about how to break the cycle of mediocrity plaguing their organization, about how to get outcomes again is brilliant, not because of the writing or the acting but because it is spot on target. How do I know this? Because I have been in that meeting hundreds of times. Well, not that particular meeting, but in others exactly like it. And every week that goes by, I find myself sitting in that meeting again and again and again.

In the US, in Europe, in Asia, the same meeting goes on almost daily. The conference table is always basically the same, the fluorescent lighting too. The players, they’re the same as well, everywhere I go. Only the vocabulary changes, the industry lingo, but the meeting, it’s the same and it goes pretty much like this:

Billy Beane
: Guys, you’re just talking. Talking, “la-la-la-la”, like this is business as usual. It’s not.
Grady Fuson: We’re trying to solve the problem here, Billy.
Billy Beane: Not like this you’re not. You’re not even looking at the problem.
Grady Fuson: We’re very aware of the problem. I mean…
Billy Beane: Okay, good. What’s the problem?
Grady Fuson: Look, Billy, we all understand what the problem is. We have to…
Billy Beane: Okay, good. What’s the problem?
Grady Fuson: The problem is we have to replace three key players in our lineup.
Billy Beane: Nope. What’s the problem?
Pittaro: Same as it’s ever been. We’ve gotta replace these guys with what we have existing.
Billy Beane: Nope. What’s the problem, Barry?
Scout Barry: We need 38 home runs, 120 RBIs and 47 doubles to replace.
Billy Beane: Ehh! [imitates buzzer]

What we see in this scene is a roomful of insiders with a century and a half of industry experience between them, and yet they haven’t figured out that their model is outdated, that their “experience,” is no longer enough to keep moving forward. They carry on day after day, season after season, doing the same thing over and over again, half-expecting a different result, but then again, maybe not. Worst of all, most of them have no idea what the problems plaguing their organizations actually are. A lot of it is just operational myopia. Some of it is also ego: they couldn’t possibly be wrong. All that experience and intuition, the entire industry’s decades-old model… how could things have changed that much, right?

And yet they are wrong, the model isn’t working anymore, and instead of listening to the guy in the room who sees it and knows how to fix it, they treat him like a punk. When he wants to do something about it, they push back. Hard. In Moneyball, he’s their boss. Imagine when he is just a Director or a VP, or even just an account manager. Imagine how quickly he gets overruled then. I’ve seen amazing people get shut down and pushed out of organizations over this sort of thing. I could give you names and dates. I could make you ill with true stories of stupidity and petty politics, of wasted opportunities and complete operational failures that turned what could have been huge wins for companies that needed them (and customers who demanded them) into case studies in wasted potential. And as tragic as  these stories would be, they are no different from the opportunities that will be wasted this week, and the next, and the one after that, always for the same reasons, always because of the exact same thinking and business management dynamics.

I see that scene, that meeting, that discussion being played out almost everywhere I go, especially when it comes to social media and social business: guys sitting around a table, treating social like it is just an extension of the same old traditional digital marketing game they all understand and desperately want to stick to. And so they make strategy decisions based on models that don’t apply at all to the social space, they insist on using measurement schemes that aren’t the least bit relevant to it or the business as a whole, and worst of all, they make hiring decisions that absolutely make no sense at all for the new requirements of social communications. Why? Because even though the game has changed, no one in the room wants to accept that it has. No one in the room wants to adapt. No one in the room wants to look reality in the eye and do what needs to be done to actually win. Talk about it, sure. Use cool new words like earned media and engagement, definitely. But actually change anything and adapt to a new model? Nope. Not happening. The change management piece that comes with social business integration, the piece that is absolutely vital to it actually working, that piece is still DOA.

Here’s another conversation that also goes on “offline” at every company (agency or brand) around the world right now in regards to hiring decisions that touch on social media management. Here it is again, through the filter ofMoneyball:

Peter Brand: There is an epidemic failure within the game to understand what is really happening. And this leads people who run Major League Baseball teams to misjudge their players and mismanage their teams. I apologize.
Billy Beane: Go on.
Peter Brand: Okay. People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs. You’re trying to replace Johnny Damon. The Boston Red Sox see Johnny Damon and they see a star who’s worth seven and half million dollars a year. When I see Johnny Damon, what I see is… is… an imperfect understanding of where runs come from. The guy’s got a great glove. He’s a decent leadoff hitter. He can steal bases. But is he worth the seven and half million dollars a year that the Boston Red Sox are paying him? No. No. Baseball thinking is medieval. They are asking all the wrong questions. And if I say it to anybody, I’m-I’m ostracized. I’m-I’m-I’m a leper. So that’s why I’m-I’m cagey about this with you. That’s why I… I respect you, Mr. Beane, and if you want full disclosure, I think it’s a good thing that you got Damon off your payroll. I think it opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities.

Every company has a Peter Brand either on staff or sitting in a stack of CVs. Not necessarily in the sense that they are geniuses with statistics  but in the sense that they see the forest from the trees, that they see what needs to be done, but every time they open their mouths, they get shot down. Worse, if they open their mouths too much, they’re gone. And if their CV doesn’t have the bullet points and keywords that hiring managers were trained twenty years ago to find relevant, they don’t even get considered for the position.

If I see one more social media leadership position go by default to candidates with “big agency digital experience” or “big brand digital experience,” I am going to throw my pencil at somebody’s head. There is the medieval thinking in action, right there. There’s the primary reason why almost every social media program on the planet is failing to produce outcomes, why three fourths of companies still can’t figure out how to calculate the ROI of their social media programs, why most brands see less than 1% of engagement from their followers and fans after the first touch, why “content is king” is failing, and why increasingly, “social media” strategy and budgets are shifting to ad buys on social networks. That’s right: For all the talk about earned media and engagement and conversations, social media account roles are starting to go to media buyers now. (Here’s some insight into it.) Everyone loves to talk the talk. Almost no company is willing to actually walk the walk. That sound you’re hearing is the banging of traditional marketing hammers pounding nails into social business’ coffin.

You want to know why most big brand social media programs aren’t gaining real traction? Why they don’t work without a constant influx of ad spending? Why nobody sticks around when the “free iPads for likes” promotions are gone? Start there: no one in the room gets it. No one in the room wants to get it. And when someone in the room does get it, he or she doesn’t keep their job for very long. You think most companies are going to hire, promote and support change agents all on their own?

So the real question is this: Do you want to actually score some real wins or do you just want to spend big marketing budgets and play at being a digital big shot?

It’s a real question. In fact, it’s the most important question you might ask yourself all year. Because the answer to that question will determine whether or not you still have a job in two years. No wait… I misspoke. The answer to that question will determine whether or not you have the job you want in two years, and yes, there’s a difference. A big one.

When you find yourself looking for your next gig (and you will eventually,) do you want to just be the guy who was SVP digital at (insert big brand/agency here) or do you want to be the guy who took (insert big brand/agency here)’s theoretical social media and social business programs, and turned them into the new industry standards, into the business model that everyone will be copying and basing theirs on for the next decade? It’s a real question. Which guy do you want to be? The dinosaur or the pioneer? If the answer is the latter, then are you going to have the huevos to go against the grain? To take chances on whom you hire, what kinds of programs you launch, where and how you invest your budgets? Are you willing to stick your neck out and do it right? Or is it more likely that you’ll just play it safe, hoping that the system will just carry you for another decade or two, that the CEO or CMO you will interview with next won’t notice that your job was basically to spend ad dollars and shuffle digital board pieces for the CEO’s monthly show-and-tell meeting?

Who do you want to be? What do you want to build? Do you want to just wear the jersey or do you want to win? Hold that thought. Here’s another key piece of dialogue from the movie, after Billy Beane’s gamble has paid off, after he has started turning some wheels in a big way. He responds to an invitation from John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, who tells him this:

John Henry: I know you’ve taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall. It always gets bloody, always. It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods, it’s threatening their jobs, it’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They go bat shit crazy. I mean, anybody who’s not building a team right and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs. They’ll be sitting on their ass on the sofa in October, watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.

And a couple of years later, they did.

So let’s talk about our world again for a minute. Let’s talk about what’s coming, about tipping points, about momentum: Ford not only hired the right guy (Scott Monty) a few years back but gave him the authority to build a solid program there. The result: some serious wins on just about every front, from customer perceptions to purchase intent to customer loyalty and recommendations. Evencar design was impacted in 2010 by the importance of social communications in the Ford organization. Edelman Digital seems to be doing something similar (I keep running into some pretty solid folks there, notably Michael Brito and David Armano). Want to see something cool? This is one of the things they’re working on. Starbucks caught an early train with that too. So did Dell. What sucks is that in 2012, virtually no one else has even tried to keep up with them. For all the money being spent and all the “case studies” being pushed around the conference circuit, most companies are still fighting it, still refusing to accept that the game has changed – worse, trying to keep playing with old methods, with old thinking, with old, outdated skills and CV bullet points. But there will come a day when someone will be given the authority to build out this new model, when it will blow everyone out of the water, and when the blindfolds will have to come off. That day is coming. What side of change do you want to be on then?

Old thinking will not score wins here. Old tactics, old hiring, old measurement, they’re all wrong for these new marketing, communications and business models. They just don’t work anymore. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. Keep watching your margins erode. Keep watching your digital dollars go to waste. Keep laying people off and outsourcing every last business function you can’t afford to keep in-house anymore. Keep pretending the world is the same today as it was five years ago, and that what you were doing five years ago will still be relevant five years from now. Whatever makes you feel best. Keep doing the same old thing that used to work, back before people carried smart phones and iPads. Keep thinking that the guy you just hired because he spent ten years managing digital for a fast-food brand knows fuck-all about building capacity and traction for a social media program, let alone produce concrete business outcomes for you. Keep coloring the same old boxes with the same old crayons and see how far you’ll get.

_ Okay good. What’s the problem?

We need to fill a VP Digital role.

_ Nope. What’s the problem?

All right… Whatever. We need to fill a VP social media strategy role.

_ Nope. What’s the problem?

We need to hire someone with proven global digital management experience, Billy. Someone with Disney or Nike on their CV. Someone with serious digital campaign experience.

_ Nope. What’s the problem, Barry?

The problem is, we’re not growing our Facebook community fast enough, and our content isn’t seeing the numbers we want. We need a…

_ Nope. [Imitates buzzer]

Get unstuck. Watch Moneyball and let the light bulb go off in your head. Then go find your Peter Brand and hire the shit out of him before someone else does. If you’re lucky, you’ll save both your career and your company in the process.


Focus Blindness: The Discounting of Value

Why is it that so many businesses under value their offerings and over value their competitors’ offerings?  What’s that?  You don’t do that?  Then why are you pricing your offerings at, or below, the industry average?

During the 24 years I’ve been in business I have yet to have a client who couldn’t, within a few minutes, tell me precisely how their offerings were best than their competitors’ offerings.  Yet, except in rare instances, they were all pricing their offerings at, or below, industry average.  Why do they, and we, do that?

Focus Blindness

Focus blindness occurs when we focus our attention so narrowly that we fail to see important elements that would alter our perception.  Despite a genuine belief that our offerings are best, we are well aware that they’re not perfect.  Consequently, we focus on the deficiencies which causes us to discount our offerings. At the same time, we focus on those aspects of our competitor’s offerings that are best than ours, which causes to overlook, or at least discount, the deficiencies of their offerings.  The result? We ascribe higher value to our competitors’ offerings while discounting our own.  This focus blindness is what causes us to fail to see the true value of our offerings.  Consequently, we:

  • Don’t tout those aspects of our offerings that have the greatest value.
  • Create marketing messages that talk about what we do instead of the value our customers get.
  • Add ‘sweeteners‘ to the deal to entice prospects to buy.
  • Discount our offerings at the first sign of a price objection.
  • Feel that we’re at the mercy of the buying public.
  • Blame our competitors for having to accept lower prices when they’re the ones with the inferior product (does not compute).
  • Focus on what our competitors are doing instead of what our customers desire.

As you were reading this list I’m sure that you were experiencing the nausea you did as a child when you decided to close your eyes and spin in circles.  Why wouldn’t you?  Aren’t you doing precisely the same thing with focus blindness? The Cure So how do we cure this malady?  Fortunately, the formula is simple, inexpensive and easy to implement.  All you have to do is:

  1. Ascertain how your offerings are best than your competitors’ offerings.  Most of you already know, all of my clients have known.
  2. Create marketing messages that tout those advantages in ways that illustrate the value they have to your customers.
  3. Base your prices on the value you’ve just demonstrated.
  4. Hold firm on your pricing to solidify the value in the prospect’s mind.
  5. Smile on your way to the bank.
  6. Improve your offerings in ways that satisfy new customer desires.
  7. Repeat the process.

Follow this simple formula and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll recover from focus blindness.


If A Fight Broke Out In Your Business, Are You Liable?

Whether a business, bar or hotel owner is liable for fights depends. “Depends on what?” you ask. Let me tell you by asking and then answering the following questions:

What Did The Police Say?

No one can escape personal liability for their own, direct actions. No amount of insurance, legal maneuvering, or other actions will keep you from being liable if a fight happened at your business or hotel and you joined the fray. Generally, if the cops were called and if they believe that you were one of the fight participants, you need to call a criminal lawyer. That’s one simple answer, but the others are more complex.

What Does Your Lease Say?

Assuming that you were not part of the fight and either you just broke it up or it just happened on your property, your lease will generally answer the question of  liability at least to your landlord. Generally, the owner will be liable for repairs under a lease.

Do You Have Insurance?

Unlike the above, your lease won’t tell you if are liable to the person who was injured. However, if you have premises liability or even a commercial general liability policy, it will often cover fights at your premises. Thus, if you have insurance, whether you are liable or not, you may not have to pay out of your own pocket.

What Did You Do Before, During And After The Fight?

If you knew that a fight was about to break out and you didn’t do anything to prevent it, you may be liable. If you can tell that a fight is imminent, kindly ask the patrons to leave (and make sure they actually leave the parking lot). If a fight has already begun, don’t just become a spectator and do nothing to stop it. While you don’t have to break up a fight if doing so would put your physical safety at risk, you should take reasonable steps to stop the fight. Lastly, after a fight is over, be sure to make sure nobody is seriously injured. Then, make a record of what happened by calling the police, writing down the details of the altercation, and how you responded (i.e. asked patrons to leave and not come back, etc.). That way, it is less likely that you will later be accused of being negligent in handling the situation.

Fights in businesss, bars and hotels are sometimes unavoidable. But you can protect yourself and your business in advance by taking some precautionary measures like obtaining insurance as well as formulating a procedure to handle fights if and when they occur. Be sure to train your staff on the procedures so that everybody at your business is on the same page.


Remember the following when dealing with fights in businesss and bars:

  • Have insurance for possible fights.
  • Have a procedure for your staff to deal with possible fights.
  • Follow the procedure to both head-off possible fights and to protect your non-involved patrons.
  • Check your patrons after the fight to provide assistance, if needed.

Have you had issues with fights in your business? Please share your stories.

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You Have Two Options:

  1. Grow your business.
  2. Make excuses.

Our powerful business programs are about helping you and your business master the fundamentals and create positive, long-term opportunity. No other program(s) offers more value with the immediate impact or greater ROI than ours or creates the level of impacting and sustainable change necessary to grow your business.

Call Us Toll Free 888-998-8744 or use the contact form to talk about how we can help you realize an opportunity.

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Is Restaurant Marketing Broken?

A colleague asked this question in one of our forums recently and it has been haunting me ever since. So I must get this out.

Is business marketing broken? – Yes

What exactly is it that’s broken? 1. The understanding of what works and what doesn’t work for businesss. Retail strategies do not work. Most of everything I read from “business marketing gurus” is based on some notion that:

a. you must discount in order to either maintain your market position or to simply survive,

b. you have to use their product/service in order to take advantage of getting in on the cutting edge of some great marketing revolution/revelation which really isn’t.

c. value is the same thing as price.

d. relationships are not as important in building loyalty or that loyalty is defined by the dollar amount of what you offer in some frequency scheme.

e. the only way you drive trial is by giving away your margins and your market positioning.

2. That chains set the example for everything.  Independent make up the bulk of all food service operations in the U.S.  Chain strategies are based on increasing short-term transactions. Independent strategies must be based on increasing long term relationships.

3. Independent operators usually do not have the experience, resources, sophistication or the expertise to successfully market their business.

4. Most operators suffer from some type of coupon/discount addiction.

5. Most marketing problems are based within the businesses operational weaknesses – and those stem from a lack of strategic thinking.

6. The ability to differentiate yourself and build guest relationships lessens the more you utilize a technology based marketing strategy. Social relevance is what’s important, not technological dependence.

7. Operators still have not grasped the extremely important idea that you must know who your guest is and what they value in their relationship with the business.

8. Most operators believe it is somehow noble to go down with the ship than to ask for professional help.

9. That past success is a high indicator of future success.

10. That change = innovation. Most of the change I see can simply be defined as substituting one bad tactic/event/campaign/effort for another.

11. Fear still rules more than excited opportunism.

12. Most operators still have not grasped the critically important concept of Branding.

13. Tactics without a comprehensive marketing strategy never work. Or the wrong tactics with the right strategy doesn’t work or the wrong strategy with the right tactics won’t work.

14. That people won’t pay more for meaningfully differentiated value – even now – but necessarily want a lower price. People DO want and WILL pay more for meaningfully differentiated value and DO NOT necessarily want lower prices – unless your offerings are a commodity in your market.

15. That the recession is the reason to blame for a lack of success. All the recession has done is purge our ranks of bad operations and bad operators. It’s not the economy, it’s the inability of operators to create meaningfully differentiated value.

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You Have Two Options:

  1. Grow your business.
  2. Make excuses.

Our powerful business programs are about helping you and your business master the fundamentals and create positive, long-term opportunity. No other program(s) offers more value with the immediate impact or greater ROI than ours or creates the level of impacting and sustainable change necessary to grow your business.

Call Us Toll Free 888-998-8744 or use the contact form to talk about how we can help you realize an opportunity.

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17 Restaurant & Hotel Leadership Best Practices

We’ve been talking a lot lately about Leadership so here are my top 17 hottest best practices.

  1. One-On-Ones: The best tool that gets the best outcomes for our clients is the 5-minute, “One-On-One” utilized with EVERY employee, EVERY day. We Coach them to pick one employee every day to sit down and have a one-on-one conversation with. This isn’t a “gotcha” event as much as it is a “what can I do for you to help you achieve your goals” event. You learn tons when they begin to share what their own personal goals are – or aren’t! Then when you go through your entire staff – start over!

  2. Employee Roundtables: These aren’t your usual staff meetings. Employees meet once a month/quarter with the owner or highest level field manager available. No unit managers are allowed. Open and frank discussions of the culture ensue and the level of engagement during the meetings is phenomenal.

  3. 360 Feedback: This isn’t only for managers it’s for employees as well. This type of evaluation needs to be incorporated in any ongoing evaluation process you have.

  4. Staff First, Guests Second: Never treat a guest best than you do an employee.

  5. Hire “A” Level Talent: Hold out for it period!It will be worth it when you do.

  6. Fire “C” & “D” Level Talent: You will never have “A” level talent if you force them to work with less talented individuals. “B” level talent can be grown into “A” level talent, but “C” & “D” level talent cannot. Get rid of them now before they cost your business even more.

  7. Grow your business: You will have to focus on growth in order to pay more, do more and offer more that guests and “A” level talent will demand – not just now, but in the not-too-distant future, like tomorrow.

  8. Grow Your People: Talent Management has to be the most important decisions you make every day. Understand that you must also challenge your staff to do more that matches their interests, skills and talent or you will lose them. Don’t have a position for them? Re-define one!

  9. Grow Yourself: How can you be the best leader if you are not constantly engaging yourself in new learning? New processes? New perspectives? New ways of thinking? The amount of knowledge in the world is doubling every 2.5 years and even that pace is increasing. Can you afford to be left behind?

  10. Develop Core Values: Sit down with all stakeholders and do this today! This will determine everything else you need to do and how you will do it.

  11. Create the Best Culture: You have a culture already. What is it like? Does it achieve the performance level you need?The proper culture is the only thing that will directly improve the performance of your staff and ultimately the business.

  12. Walk the Walk: Your staff has to have trust in your ability to lead. The best way to do this is to establish your intent up front then exhibit the ability to manage the business properly and efficiently. This means not just executing 100% of an :every guest, every table, every day” mentality, but understanding that the difference between managing and leading is that managers do things right, while leaders do the right things.

  13. Measure Results: Anecdotal evidence isn’t enough. You have to know if a change effort is working or not and how well, given the current strategy and resources. What does success really look like?

  14. Coaching At The Point Of Action: This is the only way to ensure high performance at all levels. It is also the only place where actual engagement with the employee or guest can make biggest impact.

  15. Strategy First: This has to be your mantra for every area of your business. You must understand that the proper strategy has to be in place first. Tactics are always determined by the strategy, not the other way around. Would you start out on a journey to someplace you have never been before without a map?

  16. Make It Fun: If you want it to stick! See my previous post on how Fun creates Results.

  17. Transparency: Talk openly and freely about the issues and solution strategies of your business with staff. Talk about everything from electric bills to staffing issues so that they understand the “why” of your “how” to do the “what”.

12 Steps To Building A Better Guest Experience

  1. Map out your current marketing position and any existing strategies and tactics in use and their outcomes.
  2. Map out your target market.
  3. Map out your point(s) of differentiation.
  4. Build your story.
  5. Map your current experience from every guest and staff touchpoint, guest and staff  perspective as well as every line item on the P&L.
  6. Measure your current guest experience levels through a Voice-of-the-Guest program.
  7. Look for touchpoints where you can significantly add meaningfully differentiated value to the experience.
  8. Analyze guest feedback to understand all sets of expectations – yours, your staff’s and the guest’s.
  9. Embrace the change necessary to add a meaningfully differentiated value perception to the guest experience.
  10. Coach and inculcate staff with the understanding necessary to be successful with the new strategies and tactics.
  11. Measure your effectiveness using your Voice-of-the-Guest program. Revise your story in terms that facilitate your guest’s perceptions of your brand.
  12. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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You Have Two Options:

  1. Grow your business.
  2. Make excuses.

Our powerful business programs are about helping you and your business master the fundamentals and create positive, long-term opportunity. No other program(s) offers more value with the immediate impact or greater ROI than ours or creates the level of impacting and sustainable change necessary to grow your business.

Call Us Toll Free 888-998-8744 or use the contact form to talk about how we can help you realize an opportunity.

[mk_contact_form email=”letstalk@shgww.com” skin=”dark”]