Winning Playbook: The 6 Ps of Running a Successful Restaurant

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“Success,” says Gary Brackett, president and CEO of Indiana-based Brackett Restaurant Group, “leaves clues.”

Brackett believes that people who succeed in business leverage the experiences and templates left behind by people who found success before them. Each successful person achieves their own success by putting their own spin on said templates.

This belief led to Brackett rising from walk-on at Rutgers University to defensive captain and MVP. It then led to him going from undrafted free agent for the Indianapolis Colts to captain of their Super Bowl-winning team.

From there, Brackett translated his experiences and successes as an NFL champion to becoming an entrepreneur, motivational speaker and philanthropist. The Brackett Restaurant Group has developed a compelling and successful portfolio. It includes the Stacked Pickle brand of casual dining neighborhood bars and restaurants with 9 units throughout Indiana, and high-end steakhouse CharBlue in downtown Indianapolis.

Bracket told 2019 Nightclub & Bar Show attendees that he gained firsthand operator experience through the opening and failure of his first restaurant, Georgia Reese’s. He didn’t dwell on his failure. Instead, it inspired him to look back to the time in his life when he was operating at his highest level—his time in the NFL.

Brackett realized he needed a resource that helped him throughout his professional football career, a playbook that would help him develop a winning game plan. The playbook Brackett created consists of what he calls “the 6 Ps”: People, Product, Place, Procedure, Promotion and Profit.


Brackett places an emphasis on hiring, training and retention. As we’ve explained many times, these three elements operate in conjunction with one another.

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You want to put the best team together that you possibly can, which means active recruitment. You won’t attract top talent without training your team in a manner that tells them you care about their careers because word gets out. If word gets out that you’re the type of operator who invests in their team’s careers, you’ll improve your retention rate, which also leads to attracting top new recruits. When you hire the best recruits, you need to prove that you’re committed to training and retaining them.


How can you succeed with the products you’re offering if you’re not tracking their performance? Brackett focuses on his restaurants’ product mix and conducts sales analyses. His question to other operators is simple but important: “Do you know your movers?”


Clichés are clichés for a reason: they’re not original but many contain wisdom. Brackett embraces a cliché famously tied to our industry: Location, location, location. He’s so committed to this section of his playbook that he conducts market analysis when searching for a new unit’s location.


Operators who eschew procedure make their jobs exponentially more difficult. Advances in technology couple with smart business practices exist to make ownership and operation less stressful.

Check this out: Bar Marketing and Promotions Ideas Essential to Your Business

This section of Brackett’s playbook contains cloud-based systems; intranet; the use of opening and closing checklists; secret shoppers to ensure standards are being met and team members are on their toes, and nightly, weekly and monthly recaps.


Along with “location, location, location,” Brackett shared an old adage with Nightclub & Bar Show attendees that goes something like this: “I know half of my marketing works, I just don’t know which it is.”

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That old marketing quote is, thankfully, no longer relevant. Technology has given us the tools to track which marketing efforts work and which fail to provide ROI. This allows operators to more confidently enter into strategic partnerships, make media buys, and engage in digital marketing because the results can be tracked. When marketing efforts can be analyzed, operators can be nimble and make changes rather than blindly throwing away money.


There are operators who recoil in disgust or horror at the very thought of using accounting systems. Many would rather outsource the tasks of analyzing financial statements, paying bills and payroll, and conducting audits to a professional accountant.

However, that’s a lot of trust to place in someone who technically knows how to steal from you and your business. Learn how to use accounting systems and conduct weekly, monthly and yearly financial reviews.

Check this out: Protect Your Money: Why You Must Have Regular Month-end Evaluations

Brackett’s playbook isn’t complex. However, it represents Brackett’s own spin on success in the hospitality industry. It may just give you the edge you need over your competition.

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