Saturday, May 14, 2011

Planned failure

You have heard of the saying "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". This is true in any business and just as disastrous in the restaurant business. Let's examine how and why this happens.

Why did this happen to me? I followed all the right advices.

In most cases restaurant operators or owners are high in spirits as they start building their restaurant, and for good reason. It's like conceiving a baby and you're full of hopes and dreams. Nothing seems to go wrong and everything's looks rosy and promising. Then your friends and relatives come along and join the chorus of cheering you on. You believe that everything you have thought of is right and is validated by the nod of approval of the people around you. This makes you not want to hear all other inputs that contradict yours, because it's a good feeling to hear 'words of approval'. In other words, you base your decisions mostly on an emotional base from people close to you who may not necessarily be your customers.

How can this happen to me? Everything's seemed right from the start.

There are many way that a new restaurant owner can be in this situation. Listen to some of their 'defining statements'

"let's start with the cheapest and simplest, we will just grow when the business succeeds - doing it right, then first time"

Even when they are capable of spending the investment, some still opt to start with cheapest, the simplest, the smallest, the most basic modules or configurations for their restaurant. They believe that they are starting a small business anyway. They are right, and they will probably stay that way - small. I call this LVM - Low Volume Mentality.

A mindset of being small creates an excuse not to spend big. It's a vicious cycle. Notnonly is it a self-fulfilling prophecy, for practical purposes, this mindset limits your planning to a low level of business. Less tables, less chairs, less plates, glasses and tablewares. "We will just buy more when the customers increase". Guess what sir, customers won't wait for you to get him the spoon while his soup gets cold. He will simply go to the next restaurant the next time. No second first impression, right?

"it's only a small thing, no one will notice, they will understand"

News flash: THEY WON'T UNDERSTAND. Customers have become brutal in their opinion. Worse they have become vocal and demanding. Worse still, they won't just whisper the bad experience to their friends, they post on on Facebook and Twitter - with photos and address of your restaurant.

Attention to details means ensuring all aspects of the customer experience is aligned with your restaurant's concept and theme. If your a Japanese resto, don't just post any reproduction artworks in your restroom. Everything must come together.

"I am the owner and I have always wanted this on my restaurant"

Being the owner may give you the prerogative to create you restaurant the way you want it, just because. ("wala lang, gusto ko lang"). With this prerogative come great risk. Following your whims and caprices can be dangerous as it limits the range of creative pool to start your business. Too much of yourself leaves no room for other ideas, comments and practical advices. This mindset also usually ignores the needs and wants of customers. So Mr. Owner, you should accept that it's NOT your restaurant. It's your customers.

Next week: Planning for Failure 2

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