Q When should I schedule a makeover for my restaurant?
A With a new president taking office next year, changes to the tax code—with a potential impact on your profitability—could be on the way. To prepare, first
ensure that the financial statements you receive from your accountant are current. Next, invest in a National Restaurant Association membership—and a state association membership if available—to receive updates on any proposed laws or tax-code changes on the horizon.
Beyond that, it may be time for a makeover. Larger brands refresh every seven years or so, requiring a substantial investment in leasehold improvements. As an independent operator, you need to keep your concept fresh and exciting, too. Have you adopted new technology, such as online ordering? What about adding iPads or kiosks to better organize your kitchen and decrease customer wait time? Have you considered adding digital signage that automatically changes as you move from lunch to dinnertime, or lets you create and show specials on the fly using a back-office computer?
Have you checked out your competition lately? Visit every pizzeria within a three-mile radius of your location, observe customer experiences and take notes. Pay attention to their use of technology, their Internet presence and how easy (or difficult) it is to get key information about their stores—including menu and pricing—in a single online location.
Do you need to improve the quality of your product? Review the ads in this magazine and consult vendors on how you can take your pizzeria to the next level. Participate in PMQ’s Think Tank (thinktank.pmq.com) and ask questions about the best cutting-edge practices, such as online ordering, so you’ll know where other operators are focusing their efforts. Consult a business associate in the chain world—someone outside your geographic area—and ask what they’re doing to improve the customer experience.
Once you’ve identified changes to be made, work with your accountant on costs and pricing and collaborate with your employees to develop a rollout plan that will minimize disruption of your business and maximize the customer experience. Get buy-in from everyone and establish a go-to-market date. Above all, do not let your brand stagnate. Your customers have many dining-out options now, with more on the way. You have to be ready to evolve and grow to stay competitive!