I recently had lunch with a good friend of mine who owns a restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, and I came away with some good business information worth sharing.
Joe’s Diner is off 17th Street down near the Port of Lauderdale and is his third such venture (all successful).
I asked a few pointed questions as they related to building a profitable business:
“What made you buy a second restaurant?”
“When deciding to buy Joes’, didn’t you wonder why it was for sale?”
“What made you so sure your investment would pay off?”
I’ll try to share his reply with you as best I can and hopefully relate his answers to your business.
“80% of people who try to start a restaurant from scratch fail. I look for a well-established restaurant and check to see if it has good people working for it. Then, I look with an objective eye to determine if I can improve on the current product.”
In my friend’s case, he saw a manager who really had it together, coupled with a good work ethic. My friend also envisioned a number of specific ways he could make the establishment more inviting.
On the first day of his new ownership, he called the staff together to introduce himself and to announce clearly that they would soon be having a lot of fun working for him. He then virtually “doubled” the salary of the manager since he knew how valuable she would prove to be if this baby was going to fly. Next, he began focusing on the details (table cloths, wall coverings, moving model railroad train) he thought would add to the comfort and ambiance of the diner.
If you knew my friend you would know he was not a rocket scientist (ex-PGA Golf Pro). But over the years he did learn the restaurant business. He knew the value of people and the need for attention to detail. He also spotted areas where he could cut needless expense while adjusting a few prices to positively affect the profitability of the venture. In other words, he paid attention and tweaked his product.
I suppose in addition to the age-old advice of location, location, location, you could add a close second as “take care of your good people.”
There was one other thing that he made a habit of and that was to get his hands dirty. As owner, he waited tables, bussed tables, filled in as cook if needed and worked the register. He is a hands-on owner and you can bet your bottom dollar that his staff (as well as his customers) recognize this and appreciate it. (Did I mention my friend is 73?)
Although this article featured my friend Dick, it as all about you. I think today’s messages are glaringly clear. Take care of your business and your business will take care of you.
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