Biggest Concept Refresh Mistakes Restaurants Make

You live your restaurant brand – treating it as your precious, much-loved baby. 

To you, every tiny change and improvement you make to your restaurant is obvious, just like parents notice their kids changing every few days when they are young.

Unfortunately, what is great parenting turns out to be a trap for a restaurant owner.  

Your Guests Are Not Paying Attention

Your guests do not wake up every morning wondering what’s changed at your restaurant.

They live their lives.

I trust it won’t hurt your feelings to acknowledge that they don’t think about you.

So, when you go small, current guests, lapsed guests, and guests you want to attract for the first time may not even notice.

Not going big enough in your refresh – just like the president says about the recovery plan – would be a big mistake.

How Independents Keep Up with Chain Competition

Right now, the competition between chains and independents is tilting decidedly in favor of the chains – just like I wrote about here.

In the past year, I’ve walked through a lot of eerie empty or half-empty restaurants.

Their outdated colors, patterns, lighting, and menu items expose their need for a 21st-century update. 

I have also talked to lots of independent multi-unit restaurant company owners who have not updated their branding in 20 years. Others have failed to redefine and reactivate their culture in 10 years – or haven’t really looked at their menus in 5 years.

How Will You Look After the Honeymoon?

Top operators look at how they’ll show up post-pandemic, in their quest to stabilize and dominate their segments.

More people are starting to dine out again, we’re all ready to bask in the glow of a brief honeymoon period – but, when that time is over, the big winners will be those that refreshed what needed attention in all aspects of the business.

As cash flow comes back, or you find you have put aside PPP or EIDL dollars that you did not need to survive, or you look at restaurant relief funds inside the American Rescue Plan, think of refreshing your brand and your restaurants.

That means an open-minded, top-to-bottom review – involving vested insiders and clear-thinking outsiders – of your branding, culture, design, hiring, logo, menu, marketing, operations, and technology.

Plus, a look at the education and training practices supporting all those.

As an independent owner, you don’t have a choice.

Over to you. What will you review in your organization that really needs a refresh, and when will you start on that?