Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Service and Quality are the KEYS - ALWAYS

What has the restaurant industry learned from the recession?
More than anything, the economic downturn reminded us that every guest counts, and that to attract guests, we need to excel in both food quality and customer service. While special deals and promotions might attract attention, the best way to make first-time guests into frequent guests is to provide a great experience every time. You have to be careful when it comes to discounting -- I think it will hurt the businesses that offer them and our industry as a whole if we diminish the value of our products and services. Providing great food and great service in a clean and comfortable environment has been the focus at my restaurants and it is something we will continue to do.

What's your best advice for restaurants in 2010?
As always, providing a superior guest experience is the No. 1 advice at any time. In the new year, we will start to see some signs of economic recovery, but it won't happen overnight. My best advice would be to join the National Restaurant Association and your state restaurant association to capitalize on the guidance and benefits that membership provides. While I'm now the chairman of the Association, I have been a member for many years, and it's one of the best business decisions I've ever made. The fact is that my membership has paid for itself many times over.

What leadership lesson would you like to pass on to restaurant operators?
Valuing your team is the most important leadership quality in my book. Without great people helping you, you won't get very far. Recruiting and retaining quality employees is of vital importance to every restaurant, and something I have always kept top-of-mind. The labor market is not as tight as it has been in the past several years, so we now have a greater pool of career-seekers to choose from, but that is not likely to last forever. Training and rewarding your current staff will pay off in the long run.

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