Restaurants Win When COVID Ends by Putting Uncertainty Aside Now

Remember the days leading up to the presidential election?

And the days after it?

World-championship LeBron James levels of uncertainty – like much of the year 2020.

Reminds me of a telephone negotiation I just completed. 

The person on the other end of the call said to me, “What we really need on this is certainty.”

My reaction became etched into my brain: I flat-out laughed – possibly not the most professional tone I took that day, or ever.  

“You have to understand,” I told them, “in 2020 we just don’t have certainty anymore!”

The truth, though? We have always lived in a world of uncertainty; it’s just more intense now.  
 

Don’t Fall Down the Well

 

2020 has taught us all about running our lives and businesses in uncertain times. 

And, if you know me well, you know that living with uncertainty is not my strong point. 

But I am getting better at it.

I have noticed the best, most successful restaurateurs have learned to exist in a new peak of uncertainty, while they never stop moving forward – consistently improving their restaurants and their companies.

In difficult times human beings tend to sit around and think “what if” in a repetitive pattern. 

For a while, that kind of thinking looks like healthy risk management.

Until it goes on forever and turns into a spiraling fall down a well.
 

Tomorrow’s Winners Are in Action Now

 

My best clients realize that the COVID crisis calls for making their companies and their restaurants better.

They know, in the long run, all this will pay off – with that elusive certainty.   
My clients:

  • Will open seven new units this year. Every site in the pipeline kept moving.
  • Seek new leaders, as the pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in their organizations.
  • Add new to-go menu items and processes as they slim down their focus on their dining room menus, to focus on what guests want now. 
  • Plan to take advantage of newly available second-generation space, to increase ROI and reduce development costs. 

The best operators, even on the days they start to fall down that well, see things differently.

They navigate this mess by harnessing the talent and spirit that made them successful in the first place.

I get reminded about this every day. 

My workday alternates between collaborating with people who aggressively and excitedly move forward and others who (at first) feel frozen, worried, scared, and stuck.

Over to you. What will you do to improve your company during the pandemic so it dominates your segment after this crisis?