SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in Restaurant SmartBrief — tracks feedback from restaurant owners and managers about current trends and issues.
Last week’s poll question: Do you seek advice from a restaurant consultant?
43.06% — My restaurant doesn’t need a consultant.
38.89% — My restaurant has sought advice from a consultant in the past.
6.94% — My restaurant currently is seeking the help of a consultant.
5.56% — My restaurant plans to seek a consultant.
5.56% — My restaurant uses consultants, but I don’t work directly with them.
I reached out to a couple of restaurant consultants to hear what they’re up to and how they can help.
Name: Jeffrey Summers
Company: RestaurantWorx Coaching & Consulting
Market: Dallas-Fort Worth
Most operators don’t have enough expertise to solve most of their problems with operations, profitability, people or marketing, let alone enough specific expertise to help innovate their business and take it to the next level. The right consultant does.
The right consultant can, if utilized effectively, impact both sides of the equation – costs and profits. They can:
- Help you solve operational issues that have been plaguing you for a long time. How many times can you “fix” food cost? Why are labor costs still a problem? When are you going to move beyond what’s broken so that you can work on actually creating?
- Help you understand how to build a better and more successful business. How many times do you say you never have enough time to work “on” your business?
- Help you execute better. There’s a process to building success in the restaurant business. Are you on the right path for you? How long have you been struggling to find “the answer”? What is the best answer for your business right now? A year from now?
- Help you understand the importance of marketing and develop the best strategy for your business, which builds long-term success. This is the No. 1 reason 66% of all operators go out of business within their first three years of operations.
- Help you stop relying on “hope” as an operational strategy. “I hope this marketing works.” “I hope this solves our problem.” “I hope we find the right people to staff our shifts.” “I hope our training works to help build our business.” “I hope people like our new menu.”
- Help you go beyond “best practices” and move toward “best results.” My definition of insanity is doing the same things everyone else is and expecting better results.
The one item of pushback I usually have to address is, “But they’re too expensive,” and my response is always, “Compared to what? Failure? Less business than you want or deserve?” Like anything else, you should be expecting a measured ROI from your investment.
Name: Karen Rosenzweig
Company: One Smart Cookie Marketing
Imagine having a direct conversation with hundreds of people who have the power to influence thousands of other people to dine at your restaurant. Or turning your chef into a local star through her direct conversations with people about the food she is cooking, seasonal specialties and events at your restaurant.
What foodie doesn’t want to have a direct line to the chef or owner?
As a social media consultant, I partner with restaurants to establish that rapport and build real relationships with their friends and followers. Restaurants care deeply about loyalty, repeat business, and of course new customers, and social media provides a fun, creative, rapid way to accomplish those goals.
Restaurants use my consulting services to incorporate social media tools into their overall marketing efforts and rely on my bigger-picture view of how others in their industry are doing it and how to replicate that success. On any given day, we might draw upon my experience to create an exciting Twitter contest, on another it will be sharing insights to maximize visibility on their Facebook business page, and yet another day, we might debate the worthiness of a Groupon offer or Foursquare campaign for their restaurant.
Remember the TV show “Cheers” and the theme song refrain, “You wanna go where everyone knows your name”? That’s what foodies want from their restaurants — they want that direct line, acknowledgment and the feeling they are part of the family. Oh, and great food helps, too!
Three industries use social media particularly well, given their time-driven nature, the mobility of their clients and the “experience seeking” factor that their fans all share — food, sports and travel. Diners are always on the lookout for deals, inside info, recommendations and new experiences — and so teaching restaurants how to master the tools that reach those fans is the heart of my business.
My job as a social media consultant is to monitor the latest marketing trends, tools and tactics that blend well with my expertise to cook up a perfect recipe for success, just for that restaurant.
Are you a restaurant consultant or has your restaurant used a consultant? Share your thoughts in the comments.