Ignore Industry Statistics and Grow Your Restaurant Business

All the growth in the industry is spending growth through PPA. Guest counts are going down.

My advice to you and to my clients — successful owners of independent multi-unit restaurant groups — is to be good to yourself and forget all that. Put it out of your mind as if it does not exist.

You have probably seen the latest industry-wide statistics in the trade press. The industry had a good third quarter. Sales are up — not by a lot, but up.

When you read the fine print, however, the smile may have left your face.

We all know why national numbers are sluggish: Wage growth is lagging behind job growth, there is growing competition with grocery stores and cook-at-home kits like Blue Apron, and there are so many units continuing to open around the country.

If you conclude that inflation is driving the topline — and everything else is stuck at a time when you are building new units — you’re going to work yourself up to a lot of sleepless nights.

Why National Numbers Are Irrelevant

Fortunately, you don’t need to look at the numbers like that. Remember: The numbers are averages. Behind those numbers are brands that are doing well and brands that are deteriorating. Which one do you want to be?

Also, look at it this way: Your restaurants are not operating nationally; they operate locally, so your job is to own the block, the neighborhood, the town, and the region.

I have spent a lot of time listening to restaurateurs justifying their subpar results by comparing them to national numbers. That is a dangerous place to be — because it forces them into inaction and helplessness, even victimhood.

If you want your sales to outperform the industry (and who doesn’t want that?), realize you are in control and can raise revenue.

Set your budgets for a true sales increase beyond inflation. Create strategy and action and watch guest count and PPA — they both must be going up.

Five Most Important Areas to Focus On

  1. Audit your branding and marketing. Are you communicating about things guests (and potential guests) want?
  2. Get a true evaluation of your culture and whether you are living it every day. Adjust accordingly.
  3. Be realistic about the service levels you provide and the quality of your facilities. Then improve that.
  4. Get a delivery plan — you’ll get left behind if you don’t do this.
  5. Check your menu for both innovation and great execution on the classics. Guests want both.

In every tough market, someone’s sales are going up. The other guys are just complaining. When you make your restaurants better, you outperform the market.

Over to you… Which of the five action steps above will most impact your brand’s potential for increased revenue?