6 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2020

Image: Illus_man / Shutterstock

Like it or not, the New Year is coming! You need a better plan if you want to make 2020 the best year ever for your restaurant or bar.

Right now, you’re most likely making big plans and promises to yourself that 2020 is going to be your year. You’re going to finally stop playing small and conquer your market.

Yeah, I know you made those same promises at the beginning of this year too. This next year is going to be different, right?

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Not so fast.

The bigger your goals, the bigger and more badass your plan must be to achieve them. That’s the thing most fail to do—write down a plan and act on it each day to see if they’re moving closer to hitting those targets.

Restaurant success isn’t rocket science, it’s people science. Once you understand that (and more importantly, yourself) you’ll be on your way to finally breaking free from where you are now.

Here are six steps you must take to set up your restaurant or bar for massive success in the New Year.

1. Drop the drama.

Okay, let’s rephrase that: You need to drop your addiction to drama. Right now, you most likely have some drama going on in your business that you need to eliminate. If you continue to allow it to take up energy and affect your culture, you’re guilty of being addicted to drama.

Some people just like drama because it makes their own lives seem better in comparison. I swear that’s the reason reality TV is so popular.

When you allow the drama creatures to run loose in your culture, they do what they do best—stir up drama, duh. Why not cut the drama and the negativity it brings out of your culture? The A-players on your team will appreciate it. Your guests will appreciate it. Your bank account will appreciate it, too.

You see, drama costs you more than you realize:

  • Low productivity
  • Increased turnover
  • Negative online reviews
  • Theft
  • Waste

That’s the problem with any addiction—it costs you more than you realize.

So, why do I say you’re addicted to drama? Well, if you have drama creatures running around your business and you haven’t gotten rid of them, you must be addicted to the havoc they cause. You could counter and say you’re trying to be a nice person and give them a chance…but come on, let’s get real—you like it or you wouldn’t tolerate it.

Give this a read: These 8 Steps Will Help You Fix Your Bar or Restaurant

Remember that what you put up with, you end up with.

2. Become obsessed.

Notice that says obsessed, not possessed! What’s the difference? When you’re obsessed it’s an internal fire that lives within you. When you’re possessed you’re a crazy maniac that yells, screams, and blames others for everything. Which one will get you the restaurant and bar you want?

Being possessed will get you reality TV show ratings—it won’t build a team that wants to be verbally abused.

To become obsessed, you must connect with two key elements: your core values and your mission (or your “why”). These two are your compass and map in the world. Without them, you’ll become lost and confused as to who you are and where you’re going.

I recommend that you sit down today and clarify (that means write that shit down) what exactly your three to five driving core values are and what your mission (or why) is. With your mission, try to make it concise like a Tweet. If you can’t tell someone your mission with clarity in a Tweet, you really need to work on defining and refining it.

Once you have those two keys, carry them with you and start preaching! Yes, your duty as a leader is to preach your core values and mission to everyone. Those two elements are the cultural glue, so to speak, of your business, and without them your culture will never stick together.

3. Be the example.

Your restaurant or bar reflects your habits. Now, let’s be honest: You have some good habits and you have some bad habits. If you’re running a successful business, odds are you have more good habits than bad habits. If your business is struggling... Well, you know where this is leading.

Your habits are nothing more than your (subconscious) actions. Sure, you might say the right things and tell the staff how to work and behave, but it’s your actions they model. Checklists are important but telling everyone over and over to use them when you don’t practice what you preach is poor communication. Granted, you made the checklists and know them like the back of your hand—that’s not the point. The point is your staff sees you not using checklists and takes away the message that they must be as important as you claim. Your bad habit sets a bad example for the staff.

Bad habits are blind spots and if you don’t acknowledge them, they can become a real hindrance to your growth and the growth of your business. To overcome this potential obstacle, you need to find a confidant that will call you out on your bad habits.

Give this a read: 4 Steps to Regain Control of Your Bar or Restaurant

Find an executive coach, get a mentor, or find someone you trust to tell you the hard truth you need to hear. Is it easy? Hell no. No one wants to be told about their bad habits. Your subconscious works hard to keep them hidden! But facing and eliminating your bad habits is the best move to set you up for long-term success.

4. Know your numbers.

The second biggest sin in this business is not knowing your numbers. Oh, in case you were wondering, the number one sin is mediocrity. This is straight up, pure business: know your numbers or face the consequences. Those consequences include going out of business.

It totally shocks me that only five percent of bars or restaurants open today know the cost of everything on their menus down to the penny. Do you think Apple just plucked a number out of the air when deciding what to charge for their new iPhone? Of course not! They know down to the penny what every component costs, their overhead, and what margin they want to make. That’s why they’re one of the most profitable brands ever—it’s not by chance, it’s by design.

You need to get a grip so tight on your numbers that they scream for mercy! It doesn’t matter how talented you are in the kitchen or behind the bar—if you can’t make money at your craft, you’re nothing more than a soon-to-be starving artist. There are some businesspeople who don’t care about making money and hire “artists” to do whatever they want. The establishments they own and operate make up about 0.0001 percent of the industry. Everyone else needs to turn a profit, including you or you wouldn’t be here reading this.

Heed these words: Know your numbers or hire someone who can!

In 2020, the market is facing an apocalypse of oversaturation. Those who have their numbers in line and can work within a budget will most likely survive. Fail to get a grip on your numbers now and you should start writing the obituary for your business today.

5. Market like you mean it.

Most just dabble in marketing. They post some cool pictures of their food or drinks (oh, I can tell you’re a chef or mixologist by the number of food and drinks you post) and think they’ve accomplished something.

Here’s the problem: There are a lot of other bars and restaurants in your market right now posting the same boring shit that you are. Yes, your photos are beautiful. That doesn’t make me want to run down and try that cardamom-infused Paloma you just posted.

Why not start marketing like you mean it? That means focusing on three keys in 2020:

  • Story: You most likely have some pretty wicked stories to tell about your brand and your vision. You need to share those stories on video. Remember the line from Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” That’s marketing gold, baby!
  • People: Give the pretty food and drink pictures a break and switch things up with photos of people enjoying the food and drink. Post pics of your team having a great time working at your bar or restaurant. Yeah, I know that will take the focus off you, and that’s hard for some. It’s good for your brand to be deeper rather than shallow and narcissistic.
  • Emotion: We buy for emotional—not logical—reasons. Show more than just hunger. Pictures and videos can convey the deeper emotions that people crave: love, happiness, connection, family, compassion, faith, nostalgia, tradition, humor.

These are the emotions you want to tap into for marketing! They’re the stuff of which great brands are made. Watch any commercial from a major brand and if you look at it objectively, you’ll see that they are pulling on at least one emotion. Take a lesson from them and do it as well.

6. Take action.

The only thing that separates the dreamers from the doers is action. Ninety-five percent of people reading this aren’t going to act on any of my advice. We’ll be here next year at this time having the same conversation. So, the rest of this post is for that five percent who will act.

You’re going to meet resistance when you start making changes. Your team is going to rebel. Your own mind will turn against you. You’ll have doubts. You’ll have second thoughts. Power through all that.

When you commit to acting on the above items, you won’t be successful immediately. You probably won’t see big, successful changes the second or third time you make them, either. However, if you keep acting, adjusting when you’re not getting results, you’ll start to see successful change.

It’s like deciding on January 1 that you want to get in shape for the third year in a row. You go to the gym on January 2 and work out. You come home, look in the mirror, and see no change. So, you go back on the next day, come home, look in the mirror and damn it...no change.

Now, only an idiot would say that going to the gym doesn’t work and throw in the towel. Yet, you do it all the time with other things that don’t pay off as fast as you think they should. You try something new at your restaurant and after a few days nothing happens, so you give up. Then you try something new and that doesn’t work, so you give up on it. Seriously, if you would just stick to something long enough you would see some results.

Give yourself a deadline for implementing any new project or task or breaking a bad habit. Make it a reasonable deadline, too. One week is probably too short and six months might be too long. You want to push yourself without breaking yourself.

Give this a read: 8 Tips for Surviving the Coming Restaurant Apocalypse

2020 is going to be a roller coaster ride for many. Like many amusement park rides, some love it, some hate it, and some throw up after it. How you prepare now before the New Year comes will determine what kind of ride you have.

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