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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Be A Pillar Of The Community

As you fight through the current economic downturn, try to find simple ways to improve profits. Recent articles suggest the higher cost of living has resulted in diners who tip less and buy fewer extras (double whammy for servers). When your recently seated guests turn down bottled water or another beverage, ask them if they'd like a nice pitcher of ice water.

If you see someone more than twice a week, offer complimentary dessert. Its cheaper than a coupon war.

As a frequent traveler, I often dine alone in off season tourist locations. Since I build inventory control databases, I see these locales at their lowest traffic levels. You get a first hand view of the baseline business. The patrons are very much friends and are treated like royalty. Its not unusual to see a guest jump behind the bar and stand in when the owner takes a restroom break. In return, these friends are often offered a complimentary drink or asked to sample a new menu item.

People in these towns frequent each other's restaurants and there is a strong community feel. The cooperation is viral. When you return to the same towns years later, you will find the core network still in place. Turnover in the other spots is tremendous.

You see this type of cooperation in urban neighborhoods. There are blocks in New York's Greenwich Village or Upper West Side with this spirit. Similar treatment of loyal patrons and other restaurateurs in the neighborhood is evident.

As the folks on Wall Street abandon companies left and right due to missed earnings estimates, now is a great time for independents to focus on their loyal guests. Whether you are a single unit operator or run a growing chain, try to become a part of your community.

There are many major chains who get it. You see their names as sponsors of many charitable events.

These are times when payback comes for Little League sponsorships, your pizza served to the kids on the local swim team, and sending food to the Special Olympics. Encourage your loyal patrons to spread the word to their friends. Let everyone know you want the community to florish.


Anonymous said...

Hello there. Your comments and quite obvious suggestions are rather irritating. Any good restrauteur should always treat every guest like royalty, especially loyal regulars. As an active member of my community (I also live in the neighborhood where my store operates) I focus on donating to community events, auctions, etc. Quite frankly, sponsoring local soccer or softball teams is like throwing your money away. Sure, you mention that "
major chains sponsor many charitible events, but they can easily afford to. I get the feeling from your comments that you have perhaps never owned and operated your own independent restaurant. Get over yourself and stick to giving advice to the big corporates.

Joe Dunbar said...

I understand your focus is on communty events and auctions. Its more suited to your style. This post was inspired by a visit I paid to a local pub - packed mid-week. The walls were covered with photos of a local Special Olympics event and the pub's little league team.

You are on the money with regard to the regulars being royalty.

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