3 Most Important Keys to Stabilizing Your Restaurants

These days, owning restaurants feels like the scene in the horror movie where the most dangerous demon has been vanquished.

For the first time, the protagonist sees an inkling that better days are coming.

But they just can’t forget about that demon.

An essential aspect of owning restaurants now has nothing to do with food, service, atmosphere, cash control, management, or safety.

It’s your own mental state – your emotions and attitude.

You must take care of them so you can continue on the road to recovery.

Then you must be in action.

The best restaurateurs have an outlet to remove themselves from this battle and relax and recharge – helping them stay sharp and calm.

Having that outlet will impact how your company and stakeholders come out of this crisis, and also how all your loved ones will work through it.

From Survive to Stabilize

I have identified three phases in response to the COVID-19 crisis: Survive, Stabilize, and Dominate.

There is an extensive journey ahead.

Most successful restaurateurs I work with report they have moved out of Survive mode and into Stabilize.

Others have one foot in Survive, another in Stabilize.

A few report still feeling like they are in Survival mode.

We have learned to read puzzling P&Ls that look nothing like the ones we’d seen before – separating real losses from cash flow losses, and making new observations from the data.

Companies enter a phase of being cash flow neutral (or even making a profit) when they take PPP forgiveness into account, and travel on a trajectory to break even without government money.

Which feels amazing – and even exciting under the circumstances.

Some, when they include PPP forgiveness, have actually increased profits.  

What I Hear

Owners say things like, “All my restaurants have become one giant experiment.”

“When people finally go back to work at the office my lunch (or weekday breakfast) will come back.”

But there’s one thought they can’t shake: “The biggest lesson I have learned in the past 120 days? Everything can change in an instant.”

Their fears remain:

  • When PPP funds run out, will revenue continue to rise so it takes the place of government money?
  • If there’s an evil second wave, what could be big enough to reverse the progress being made?
  • What happens if I experience a significant COVID-19 outbreak amongst my staff?

No one will forget about these kinds of questions until long after this crisis ends.

Count Yourself as Alive – and Stabilize

By conquering your fear, you will move forward to success.

The absolute best use of your energy and effort right now involves my three keys to stabilization:

  1. Supercharge your brand by acting quickly and creatively to new guest, vendor, community, government, and employee behavior as it evolves
  2. Expose and repair existing weaknesses in your business
  3. Continuously install safety measures to protect employees and guests

Over to you. Are you echoing top operators? Do you have a comprehensive plan installed in your business for all three of these items?