What are your “WHY’s” in Running A Restaurant Business?


Deep down in the heart of every business owner and entrepreneur is the answer to that question, why? Why did you feel it necessary to risk everything and start a business? Why this kind of business? Why this business in particular?

In all the years of asking restaurateurs those questions I have never heard the answer “for the money”. Not one person. I’ve often heard stories about passion for cooking, ‘it was in my blood’, ‘I watched my mother’, I wanted to share my passion for the food with friends’, I wanted to create a place that is homely where people feel cared for’, ‘I wanted to create the ultimate dining experience’, but never for the money.

I have previously discussed my ‘why’, “I want to make a difference”.  If you were to ask me why do I choose to make a difference with entrepreneurs/restaurateurs and not with “worthy causes”? I’ll tell you that I believe that entrepreneurs and business owners change the world.

Why entrepreneurs?

They create progress, jobs, economies, funding for governments and charities, new inventions, systems and processes and opportunities for personal and financial freedom those who want to better themselves.

Why restaurants?

They are places where you can create magic, you can change someone’s day, you provide the theatre for romance and love, celebrations and remembrance. You are at the heart of the community and you have the ability to create a lasting impact on your customer’s life based on how you serve them and remember them. Try doing that with a ‘one dollar shop’!

Why coaching?

Very closely related to making a difference, I love being an agent of positive change for people and see personal development as a way of life.

Why marketing?

It is a means to an end for me. It helps me to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s literally the fastest way to make a big impact for a restaurant owner. Once you start getting more bums on seats and more money on your bottom line, you can take a break and think about the more important things in life like health, family, and the future. Without sorting the money issue out first though there’s no use trying to make a difference in any other aspect of your life.

I know my “Whys” come through in what I can do. Were you to ask any of my team or clients I feel very confident that they would tell you the same. I’m sure it’s those “Why’s” that keeps each of our team member working with us. Likewise I’m sure it’s why our clients stay so loyal too.

Who You are and Why You Do What You do:

I believe that that is what people actually buy from you and come back for the time and time again.

Take some time to work out your “Whys”. Without them it’s very easy to drift around and become anything and everything to everyone; which causes confusion and can lead to disappointment and lack of trust for your team and your customers. All sense of belonging to something is lost so your customers won’t become “Customers For Life”, they will just be someone who you shared a transaction with.

There are two realms where you need a mindset for success.

The first is your personal life where you have to accept responsibility for what you create (“good and bad”) and what you think about which leads to what you do and what you get. The other realm is in your business life and obviously the two are connected.

What you are about to read should challenge your current beliefs! I hope it does because experience tells me that this is where your success or failure is decided.

I’ve seen restaurateurs struggle for years to accept what you are about to learn but once they do their business takes off like a rocket. Usually they’ll then say, “Why didn’t I just believe you years ago, when you first told me this stuff?” We will cover why they didn’t and why you could struggle to do so too, but just for now suspend all judgment and welcome the opportunity to think differently…

Let’s start with a biggie…

Traditional Customer Loyalty Is Dead!

Loyalty is dead but ironically successful restaurant are successful because of repeat business. Their owners diligently employ strategies that will create repeat business. They ask themselves daily, “How can I turn a one-off transactional experience in to repeat business” and they take action to make it happen.

This is major tenet of this whole article. It underpins nearly everything we do for and with our clients, so be ready to wrestle with this if you don’t already accept it.

The days of lifelong loyalty are dead. Your dad might have driven a Holden or Ford all his life but today the biggest selling cars in Australia are cheap Asian import. Ford and Holden thought they could always count on their Australian customers loyalty so did nothing to head off the threat, now they are closing down plants and asking for tax payer handouts to stay alive.

People who have always used Microsoft products on their PCs are not eyeing Apple computers. Apple computer fans, particularly early adopters are now looking for the next cooler offering from elsewhere as the once rebellious Apple brand becomes mainstream.

In our world, people who once only ate Anglo-Australian style food are now enjoying Yum Cha, Vietnamese Heo Nuong and Brazilian barbeque. Loyalty is dead which means you have to be proactive to get repeat business.

In the past, it was ok to get customers in order to make a sale. Restaurateurs could count on making decent profit from that first sale. There were always more customers, choice was limited and as a result a certain amount of “loyalty” was given. It wasn’t really loyalty, people weren’t being offered anything better so stuck with what was familiar.

These days you need to make a sale to get a customer. Sometimes this means not making any money from that first sale, choosing instead to delay gratification and get it from the much more lucrative source, repeat business, or “the back end” as we call it.

Relying On One-Off “Front End” Business to Make Money is Going to Send You Bust. It’s An Outdated and Broken Model.

Firstly, it doesn’t even make sense. Think about every other industry that sells a replaceable commodity to a consumer and you’ll see that the industry leader constantly market their goods to get the customer back again for example McDonalds, Coke, Apple, Nike, Microsoft, Toyota, Virgin. None of them sit there and wait for one-off customers to wander by, so why do we think it should be any different in our industry? If that isn’t enough to make you make the shift, here is a very simple fact; there is too much quality competition to not do so.

Secondly, it means you engage in transitory transactions. Everyone is a walking wallet and you just want your share of its contents. Your business culture reflects this, your staff adopt it as their way of interacting with your clients, and from a customer’s point of view there is no dining experience.

How many times you have personally had an “OK” experience eat a restaurant? Nothing was wrong bu nothing was worth remembering or remarking on either, in short it was unremarkable.  This is the transactional experience and its true for the vast amount if diners in Australia. Yes the food is good, yes the service is good, but nothing is “special”, nothing makes the customer eager to return.

So to be successful in today’s economy, you are going to have to move away from the transactional model and towards a repeat business one. And for many in our industry that is a massive mindset shift. Why? Because it means accepting that good food and good service on their own is not good enough!

You may feel like saying, “well that’s not rocket science” and I would agree with you. What I challenge you to do though is think about how things happen in your restaurant in reality.

Are you truly happy to delay the gratification of getting more bums on seats – or do you want those people through your door ASAP? “In the real world”, most restaurateurs want customers through their doors now.

So although this might seem like old news, you can only dismiss it as such when you’ve been putting it into action on a consistent basis over an extended period of time.

Over the coming weeks, you are going to be presented with 12 obstacles that get in the way of most restaurant owners from being successful and I urge you to think deeply about each of them. When you clear each of these obstacles with ease you will be well on your way to success.

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