Oct. 2, 2020

The Recipe for Success in the Restaurant Industry

Failure. 

So many emotions come up even as I write the word. To me, it means financial instability, low self-esteem, and a bruised ego. It can also mean opportunity, new beginnings, and fresh starts. 


I think the word feels even heavier in the context of the hospitality industry. Restaurants, bars, and clubs have such a high failure rate. We can blame the razor-thin margins. We can blame the fluctuating economy. The fact remains that some will sink and some will swim. 


What does it take to become a success in today’s world? 

To what do successful entrepreneurs owe their good fortune? 

Does good fortune come into it at all? Or is success and failure all down to the individual? 


I have spoken to many incredible entrepreneurs to understand the strategies behind their successful hospitality businesses. Combining all their great advice, here is my personal recipe for success.

 

Marinating in Mentorship

Many of the folks I spoke to on The Full Comp Podcast credited their winning formula to amazing mentors. It fascinated me to learn that a great mentor doesn’t need to be the most decorated person in my industry; they just need to be the person that is best equipped to help me at that moment.

David Meltzer, international best-selling author, podcaster, and entrepreneur, told me,


“I have found the best way to be successful is to find people who sit in the situation I want to be in. I try to be as specific as possible. I’ll have a mentor for sleep. I’ll have a mentor for my relationship with money. Why should I pay the dummy tax?” 

Chef Jet Tila even mentioned that business books served as a kind of proactive mentorship for him alongside his real-world connections. Look where he is now!


This inspires me to take a broader view of mentorship. Beyond my incredible coach, Josh Holtzman, and my industry circle, there are many wonderful people to learn from.


A Cup of USP

They say that the market is oversaturated. There are so many restaurants, bars, and clubs all competing for the same footfall. But is that really true? 


Through my discussions with industry experts, I am starting to believe that every establishment has its own story, audience, and market. 


Jill Sandin, half of the highly accomplished JS2 PR firm, revealed, “clients who do extremely well in business all understand who they are in the market place. They are not trying to be all things to all people. They know what they are good at, who their customer is and they all have a really interesting story to tell”.


Digging deep to uncover what my core story is and where I shine in this industry might just be the key to greater success.

 

An Excellent Team to Taste

I have always invested in excellent people. To me, my team is the life-blood of my business. Without having a high-quality group of talent, all else fails in my opinion.


David Meltzer advises, “we must have a desire to be what we must be. As a team, we want to provide the best service, collaborate together, and create together.”


I could not agree more. Having a team that aligns with my values and is passionate through and through makes all the difference to the product I create.

 

Sprinkle in Word of Mouth 

As an industry, we put so much emphasis on marketing. Your business is only a business if people know about it, right? 


Folks like Sabato Sagaria, Chief Restaurant Officer of Union Square Hospitality Group, showed me that we have a unique benefit in the hospitality industry. 

People want to share how amazing you are! 
Websites like Yelp enable customers to leave honest reviews. Beyond that, who hasn’t been asked a friend for restaurant recommendations for a special night? 


Word of mouth is such a powerful force for growth - and it’s completely free!


Sabato leveraged the recommendation train for his restaurant in a super creative way.


“We kinda made it into a game. We would say “how do we make our guests say WTF?”. That means how do we make our guests say Wow That’s Fantastic,” he recalled, “We wanted our staff to create those WTF moments and it made that competitiveness come out restaurant to restaurant.”


Sabato made delighting customers a fun goal for staff. This fed into creating a solid service-led culture. As more and more patrons came away happy, the better the reviews became.

 

I am incredibly grateful to have so many great minds in my network. I will be mixing up these ingredients into my own recipe to create my future successes. I hope it was helpful for you too.