We are in holiday mode and it is time to travel. Traveling is one of the things we enjoy the most, whether it is a couple hour drive away or to a foreign country. When we travel to a different town, we enjoy visiting small businesses to see what new things we can learn from them. Most recently we visited a small restaurant that only sold craft burgers, beer, and homemade desserts. We sat at the kitchen table and watched two cooks and a chef owner prepare all the hot items in front of us on a custom designed grill/smoker and a set of double fryers. A small ledge off the bar where we were eating served as the expediting area. The bar was laid out in such a way that the walk-in cooler was directly on the other side of the wall from the tap handles. No need to run lines or lose a bartender for a half hour when a keg kicks. It was obvious that every inch of that space was considered during the design layout stage.
When was the last time you were in a different town and visited a business similar to yours? Do you avoid those places? Why? What is there to fear? Maybe they are doing something a little better or using a better product than you. Good! Use it to your advantage!
When we travel outside our comfort zones, we learn new things. What we learn might be good, it might be bad, or it could just be ugly. If you are unable or unwilling to leave your establishment to gather new information, consider sending your staff out as secret shoppers. You might want to even consider a friend or family member you can trust to do some investigating for you. Prepare them with a list of things you want to know, provide them with some spending money, and compensate them with a gift card to your establishment.
You have to remain relevant, you need new information, you need to learn new things. If what you have just read resonates with you, consider contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org to help strengthen your business.
Lisa Andrus, PhD