More with Less? Yes!

Now that the New Year is underway, the “new normal” is becoming reality. In the wake of the recession, the new normal involves a consumer who spends more cautiously and yet is ever more demanding. It also involves more stringent accountability, efficiency and productivity requirements from corporate management, not to mention fewer bodies and hands to actually do the work, as personnel resources have shrunk in most organizations.

Also part of the new normal in many companies is a new appreciation for the traffic and profit that adult beverages bring to a restaurant. And right now, those dollars are crucial to the survival and success of many a restaurant chain, multiconcept operator, hotel, cruise line or other hospitality venue.

Can we do more with less? Can we produce greater revenue from a customer base less willing to spend and with fewer employees to wow them? Well, if we survived the recession — and if you’re reading this, you have — then your next step is to not abandon the wise tactics employed to weather that storm. The other imperative is to not squander that new appreciation for the importance of drinks to the restaurant business.

In a recent issue of VIBE, top beverage consultant David Commer penned a piece about "The Value of a Beverage Director," and wisely asserts that eliminating the beverage director role is a “huge” mistake. The other big mistake, and I’ve seen some operations do this, is reduce beverage promotion programs. Without touting your beverage offerings, you can’t easily entice the guest to purchase one of the most profitable items on the menu. And finally, I’ve also seen some operations swap out recognized brands for little-known, sub-premium products in the name of cost savings. Not only does this diminish the quality of the drink, it also erodes the overall guest experience and therefore the restaurant brand.

Beverage matters to the restaurant business — to the guest, to the server, to the bottom line. Take the lessons learned and the recognition earned during this recession and put it to good use now. Promote drinks — both to your guest and to your organization — and support your beverage talent and servers. The new normal demands it.


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