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The Business Owner that Could Have…Restaurant Tales Part 1

Many times over the past 28 years I have seen small business owners who have been so strong willed and independent that they continually struggle within their business only to create one big mess after another. And thus they leave a trail behind them and accumulation of misfires, mishaps, losses and frustration.

Frustrated Chef Image on Click and Mortar Blog
I am a Frustrated Chef posing as a Restaurant Owner…

Here’s a comment from the diary of one that has lived in the small business trenches for almost three decades… “While you serveth thy client bewareth of the cobwebs, spiders, rusty nails and cracked beams in the basement of marketing that may cometh back to make your work that much more difficult and frustrating ,” – as quoted by The Small Biz Mechanic.

Ok – enough of the commentary, let’s be honest and look at the basics:

1. Some owners are great at sales.

2. Others are great at operations.

3. Some owners are great at finance.

4. While others are great at customer service.

5. Some are even great at marketing, although this seems to be a rarity, especially in this current time of transition to the web.

So with that said – Let us Face the Facts right now!

You are not great at everything. It’s a simple fact and you need to face it and acknowledge it. Pure and simple. Plus once you peal back the layers and come to the realization that you’re not ‘super business man’ or ‘super business woman’, maybe you’ll have an honest sit down with your partner, spouse and/or staff and come to grips with these facts. If you don’t, then you’ll find yourself burning out and becoming less motivated to stay engaged in your enterprise.

Being in small business is tough enough these days without being your own worst enemy. How do I know this? Because I’ve battled it for many years and I see it in many of the privately owned small restaurants that take my money in exchange for good to great food and mediocre service.

I mean how tough can it be for a small café or bistro to put out great food and great service? Well it’s obviously a real challenge for many a small business owner because the Food Network has multiple shows running that are thriving on the mishaps and negligence going on in restaurant land.

I for one experience the ups and downs of these mom and pop café shops as I travel throughout the US and Canada, and it’s amazing to see how an owner and sometimes even a manager can be absent and no where to be seen during the lunch hour.

Great food will go a long way because word of mouth will bring people out of the woodwork, but if service is lackluster then the same word of mouth can put a damper on sales like a rainstorm at an outdoor wedding.

The bottom line…

Whether you own or manage a restaurant or some other kind of small business, work in your strength areas and leave the rest of it to other people who are good to great at the rest. And surround yourself with great people who are great at what they do.

Until next time,

Dave Krygier

How to Market a Restaurant that Could… Not!

It’s a really bad day when I hear about another small business that is going to close down and shut its doors to never open again; especially when it’s a fairly new restaurant in my own neck of the woods. The sad thing is that this restaurant I am referring to was one we were looking to work with, but the owner refused to get together with us to help him drive traffic and new business.

Over the past 6 to 9 months I’ve been watching the show Restaurant Impossible on the Food Network along with a few other shows with similar formats. What drew me to this show is the simple fact that these small businesses seem to be so close to going under, and then Chef Robert Irvine comes in in just a few days to save the establishment.

What’s been so intriguing about the RI show and the others that are similar to it is the simple fact that there are so many restaurants failing throughout the USA. It really blew my mind when I saw that there were four shows having to do with restaurants in trouble and then a local restaurant by our home went under along with a few others.

Should we have done something different in the ways of prospecting? Maybe so, but at this stage of the game, getting to a restaurant owner who thinks he has it all figured out is like attempting to break up pavement with a hammer.

Here are few steps you can take so you Know How to Market a Restaurant, Increase Sales and Avoid Losing Customers:

  1. Track your food costs.
  2. Create and Implement a Staff Manual. 
  3. Survey your Customers. It’s cheap and will open your eyes.
  4. Setup & Optimize Listings on Urban Spoon, Trip Advisor, Google and Yahoo. This is the short list.
  5. Market your Restaurant via Mobile. This means phones and tablets, so you’ll need an optimized site that is easily viewable and clickable.

Now even with these tips and suggestions we share with you here at Click and Mortar Blog and at Small Biz Mechanix, you still might get stuck or even very frustrated.

I mean even the Restaurant Impossible crew could come in and fix your place of food and beverage, and you still might fail or have continued trouble, if you don’t change your mindset, staff, food or marketing.

That’s right…

You, the owner or manager, need to start with your way of thinking and this takes work and time.

In one case, RI did their thing and supposedly fixed the ailing, failing restaurant but some thing didn’t gel or setup correctly and this establishment ended up with some bad reviews after the fact. This is really sad considering that the owner had a fresh start and lots of momentum created by a crew that knows how to set things straight.

So, I would recommend that you, Mr./Mrs./Miss Owner or Manager, review the tips above, look in the mirror and then get busy!

To your restaurant’s success,

Dave Krygier

PS:  BTW – if you really want to know how to market a restaurant and increase sales, connect with The Small Biz Mechanics and they’ll set you up. 🙂

How to Market Your Restaurant Online – 5 Tips You can Use Today

When it comes to restaurant marketing it surprises me how many establishments just don’t seem to understand the power of online reviews and what their customers are saying about them.

This past fall I found myself meeting with a local restaurant owner that had some serious issues with the bad reviews that one of his many restaurants was experiencing.

In this particular case the restaurant we met at was one that I had frequented since it first opened, and overall the food was pretty good. Certain items on the menu had become favorites and pricing was pretty reasonable. But when it came to service, this is where I felt the ball was being dropped. Sometimes the service was pretty decent and other times it just seemed mediocre.

The one big thing that stuck out in my mind was that I didn’t know who the manager was? In all of my visits to this restaurant I had never been able to pinpoint or determine who was actually overseeing the restaurant?

So I decided to contact the owner to see if he was interested in meeting to discuss my findings and he agreed to get together. Now this took a few times and ultimately a combination of a phone call & text message got the owner to sit down one Saturday afternoon.

It was a pretty short meeting and as we were wrapping up he said something to the affect of, “Usually when I get done with a marketing meeting I’m not excited, but this time I am really excited.”

The ‘exciting part’ was that this owner now understood that he had a problem and it could be fixed. The question remained as to whether he would take action in-house or hire us to do the clean up? More on this in a future article.

So let’s get back to How to Market your Restaurant Online.

I mean how does one go about promoting online and getting the word out about the great food, service and whatever else it is you bring to the table?

Here are my Five Tips you can put into use today:

1. Create and Setup Profiles on the top citation sites, search engines and social media outlets. Once the profile is created, make sure to continually optimize it so reviewers are kept up to speed about your establishment.

2. Monitor each and every one of these Citation Websites, search engines and social media outlets for reviews about your restaurant.

3. Promote Citation Sites that have credibility and your customers are posting to about your business. In other words, if your customers are mostly using Urbanspoon or Tripadvisor, make sure your profile is optimized(with video and pictures – where permitted), you are responding to reviews, and consider testing some advertising on mobile devices.

4. Utilize Social Media outlets to attract, create buzz, and connect with both prospects and existing customers. This is more than the occasional post or tweet. It takes daily effort, so consider having a few different people work on this. Plus you can 

5. Get a Mobile App for your restaurant and promote it to your customers both on and offline. This will pay dividends if your app is developed correctly and you use the promotional features.

In closing, how do you market your restaurant online and really make it work?

Use the five suggestions above and then tap into as many online sources as you can afford to invest your time and money into. This way you can test each source and find out which ones drive the most traffic and bring the right kind of prospects to your table.

Until next time,

Dave Krygier

PS – Should you get stuck or need a little help with marketing your restaurant online, The Small Biz Mechanic has the latest recipes to help you get there.

The Secret to Increasing Sales in Your Restaurant Business

Due to the amount of travel that I do on an annual basis, certain restaurants and food service establishments are frequented more than others. During one of my recent trips I encountered what I would have considered a fluke, but this particular restaurant business I had been to before and experienced marginal service.

It all started out when I called the restaurant on the property where I was staying for a carry out order. It took five phone calls and I was unable to get anyone on the phone that could take my order. This lead to a walk up to the restaurant, only then to order and wait.

Fortunately the food was good, satisfying ye ole’ stomach and thus the frustration seemed to settle and lead to a relaxing evening. But morning came and the prior nights episode led me to contact the director of food & beverage who had an open ear and apologized more than three times. Although this individual was very pleasant, he missed the key to retaining my future business and could have avoided this call had he surveyed his patrons.

So in today’s article I want to share two steps on how you can take a dissatisfied customer and turn him or her into an advocate and possibly a raving fan.

           How to Create Raving Fans that Return and Bring their Friends to your Restaurant Business…

1. If you have a Dissatisfied Customer – Find out what you can do to make it right.  It might only take a complimentary drink or appetizer to appease and please. And what’s that worth to you, the proprietor or manager? It should not be about cost. It should be about retention and keeping that customer, so when he or she comes back around, your establishment is at the top of the list. This is a mindset and one that you will need to instill in yourself and your staff.

Note: In this economy you need all the happy, satisfied customers you can bring through the door. In most cases it is expensive to bring a new customers in, so why not do everything possible to keep the customers instead of letting them fume and never return.

By doing so you may well turn an upset, angry, dissatisfied customer into a positive, happy, referral-generating advocate.

2. Train your Managers and Service staff to be Customer Friendly and Oriented. This takes time and finding the right people, plus it’s not easy to do, but it is possible. The secret here is to hire the best people who will treat and care for your customers like they are their friends. If you don’t know how to do this – find someone who does or can offer assistance.

Remember – food is only part of the equation. You have to serve good to great food in order for people to continually return to your business and be comfortable referring others. Service is the other part of the equation that in my opinion gets left out more often than I can say here today.

If you are going to retain customers, you need people to do the work. So find people you can train, trust and allow you to build repeat/referral business for your restaurant business. This way you can sleep better at night and your reputation could even blossom.

Are you involved in a restaurant, food service company or coffee bar and want to learn how to increase sales and retain customers? If so, then contact The SmallBiz Mechanic and see how you can Retain Customers & Increase Sales in your Food & Beverage establishment.

Dave Krygier




How to Market a Small Restaurant

How to market a small restaurant is not as difficult as it seems and in this day and age if your food is really good and the service is good to great, then your chances for success will most likely increase.

It all starts with the vision of the owner. If this is you and you aren’t skilled and experienced with marketing, then find someone (a solo-specialist) or a team to develop a plan and help implement it.

The restaurant business is tough as it is and you need every advantage to make your establishment grow and prosper. So the people that you surround yourself with are very important.

So here are the real basics of how to market a small restaurant:

1. Planning: You can wing it or you can plan it. I prefer the plan it method. Just like you plan your menu and the ingredients that you put in your food. Keep the plan simple while being flexible enough to adjust where and when necessary.

2. Operations: Always remember that you need a certain number of customers coming through the door every day that you open. Plus you need a certain income per day in order to keep the establishment open for business. Make sure you know what these numbers are including food costs and daily labor, otherwise it’s really hard to test and invest in marketing. Without tight controls all the marketing and promotion will go up in smoke.

3. Service: Once customers arrive in your world – treat them like friends and make their experience so enjoyable that they want to come back and will refer their sphere of influence your way. I call this ‘breaking into the sphere’ and it’s pretty easy to do if you have good to great service. This ‘BITS’ program builds repeat business and grows the small business clientele.

Ok – enough of the basics – now let’s get down to brass tacks:

Wanna know how to market a small restaurant? Here are a few out of the box ideas to help give you a boost:

1. The Bait: Do what this owner did and go around to all the local businesses and give away free sandwiches or whatever you offer on the menu. Along with the free food make sure to bring some menus and an incentive card that gives the prospect a reason to come visit your establishment. Now some will say that’s a lot of money, Dave! That’s the wrong attitude to have my friend. Remember, it’s all about getting to your customers stomach and there’s no better way to do this than through a personal visit with free food or beverages.

2. The Survey Method: If your small restaurant is located around other businesses, take a day or two and go meet and greet the owners, managers and employees. Take a survey with you and if possible some food samples. Ask simple, direct questions and be friendly. The idea here is to find out what your potential customer’s needs are and what they would be interested in. The survey is powerful and will tell you a lot if you line up the questions and keep it informal.

3. PR & The Local Media: Use your local media outlets to help promote your small establishment. Remember – everyone needs to eat, even the gal on TV and the guy who writes his column in your paper or news website. Make a connection. Get feedback. And customize a sandwich or appetizer just for the individual.

How you market your small restaurant doesn’t have to be through conventional methods or channels. The bottom line here is that the more you think outside the box and test, the more you’ll learn about your customers and be able to market to them.

Need more marketing food to bring those hungry customers into your small restaurant?
The SmallBiz Mechanic may have just what you need. Touch bases and see what he can cook up for you in his customized marketing kitchen.

To your small restaurant success,

Dave Krygier

How to Increase Sales in Your Restaurant

                                   Increase Sales in Your Restaurant Business

I was recently reviewing some stats about one of the article directories and one of the most reviewed articles had to do with bringing repeat business to a restaurant.

In my previous post about Surveying your way to Success I mentioned how this simple, yet effective tactic can help your business.

Why? Because surveying is one of the simplest ways to increase sales in a restaurant and develop repeat customers that continue to return again and again.

Today’s topic and about increasing sales not only applies to restaurants but all small businesses who want to grow and increase sales.

Providing good service is one thing…Providing great service is an entirely different story altogether.

The restaurant business is tough enough as it is, so don’t make it tougher on yourself and your staff by looking for short cuts to increase sales.

Do not make it complicated, because it’s really a very simple formula.

Here it is:

Great Food plus Great Service equals satisfied customers who will return if you continue to treat them right.

Notice I didn’t say anything about price in that equation. Price was not mentioned at all but is important so make sure to pay attention to it.

So let’s stop looking and searching for the magic bullet that is going to make our restaurant overflow with repeat customers. Use the formula above and keep it simple.

Now let’s talk about a few of the missing ingredients that you can add to your service menu and begin to increase sales.

1. Personalization. The missing ingredient in almost every restaurant I have continued to frequent in the last 20 years is personalization. Yes, personalization.

How many times have you been back to your favorite restaurant yet none of the people  remember your name? This is a tragedy, yet so many establishments just don’t understand that a person’s name is very important to him or her.

I happen to frequent many of the same restaurants ….

One in particular – the owner remembers my client’s name and he’s friendly to me but never once that I can remember has be called me by name. He also does the same thing to my client’s sister, who also happens to be part owner of their business.

2. Connection. Once you personalize you can connect. Connect with your customers. Connection is the key. The Great food + Great Service = happy, satisfied, returning customer. Yes – if you really want repeat business the food has to be good to great and the service just as great. But the connection must happen along the way to crank up the repeat business machine.

Very few restauranteurs that I’ve run across are taking advantage of building solid relationships with their customers. At least in my travels I have rarely ever seen this.

So let’s stop looking and searching for the magic bullet that is going to make our restaurant overflow with repeat customers. Use the formula above and keep it simple.

Remember it’s all about your customers. You make them feel great, they tell their friends. You make them feel bad with inconsistencies in your food and service and they’ll tell their friends and possibly not frequent your establishment ever again. This is not new news but with social media, reviews, citation sites, texting and email means word spreads faster than ever before.

So it’s more important now than ever before that you work on providing the best experience to your customers, new and old. That’s what we did at The Tiny Store.

After all, it’s not about what you want – it’s about what they want.

Dave Krygier

Restaurant Marketing – Survey to Success

When it comes to the business of food there’s no better way to success than through the stomachs of your customers. After all you want to retain as many customers as possible, right? You want them returning weekly or monthly, right? Then quit wasting time and find out what they really like to eat! Find out what they want and desire to eat and survey your way to a growing repeat customer base.

Survey your way to success in your restaurant business and do what few other restaurant owners are willing to do. How do I know this? Because I travel a lot and what I’m sharing with you is rarely done, at least in the many different establishments I’ve frequented in the last 20 plus years.

Survey you say! Yes, and it’s really simple to do.

It’s what I did at SOTS. Surveying and tracking were one of The Secrets of The Tiny Store and these two were what enabled me to do what so few other companies in our industry had done before.

When it comes to restaurant marketing, simple surveys can be what separates you from the pack.

Here’s what you do:

Survey – Yourself.  Yes, you the big boss does the actual yakkin’ and asking! Just be yourself, friendly and ask some questions. Then when you get done, go back to your office or tablet, or notepad and write down the questions, answers, date and name of the customer. It’s a simple solution, especially if you run a small establishment and need immediate feedback.

Survey – Have managers and supervisors talk to your customers and then document what they say. It can be casual and friendly like inquiring about the service and what they thought of the meal.

Survey – By having your best employees or managers doing the actual survey for you. These employees can become your best allies as they ask customers simple questions and get real time feedback. Make sure to set up a reward or incentive program for the employees so you receive the most accurate information and they look forward to doing the work.

Survey – Using social ignitors before, during and after the meal. These little gems can bring repeat business if you go about it the right way. Give your customer a free appetizer or drink or something of value that says you care. Even offer to deduct something from the existing bill if they fill out a survey card right there in the restaurant, go online by a certain time or simply answer a few questions if they are open to do this.

It’s a simple process to survey. Keep it that way and learn what your customers like to eat and provide great service. It’s not rocket science.

To your restaurant’s success,

Dave Krygier

Secrets of The Tiny Store

PS – I have found that the email auto-responder can also be a great way to keep in touch with customers and do simple surveys just by asking a few questions at a time.