Get out of your bubble

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 to help strengthen your business.

Lisa Andrus, PhD





Remain Consistent

When it comes to the longevity and ultimate success of a small to moderately sized business in the hospitality industry, owners would argue any of two dozen different aspects that are most important and key to their individual success.  However, I would argue that the work consistency, while not thought of often is one of the main drivers to their success, referrals, and a cult like following.

Would that quaint little bakery downtown have been able to withstand decades on razor thin margins if their bread didn’t raise consistently and their cinnamon rolls did not create sugar highs and cavities?  Without the consistent home baked products and owner’s toothy smile, Wonder Bread and Little Debbie would have put this home-town staple out of business years ago.

Years ago with the purchase of restaurant and bar we discovered there was a policy that states: ‘after 10:00 pm if there are 2 or fewer customers the bartender is able to call last call at their discretion and close for the evening.’  This policy is rather interesting.

What makes one bartenders’ propensity to stay open different from another?  Is it the perceived value of tips they could earn?  Being able to spend time with a loved one?  Perhaps one’s love of sleep or even need for socialization?  All of these are considerable factors in someone closing or not.

Now, let’s assume the opposite position.  You are out with your girlfriends on a holiday weekend, no one has to go to work in the morning and you decide it is time for a change in scenery.  However, when you show up to your chosen venue it is closed at 10:30 pm because of the discretion of that evening’s closing bartender.  Will this ever be considered as a viable option after 10:30 pm for your party again?  Will the fact that they are closed be shared to friends, neighbors, co-workers and family?  Answers: no, yes.

Interestingly, this topic came to mind as I attempted to patronize a small business in rural eastern Tennessee.  I had been in communication with the owner for several weeks about a product that was being brought into stock.  I was excited to view this product and potentially make a substantial cash purchase (several thousand dollars). Upon re-arranging my schedule to arrive at their web-posted, opening time on a Saturday, I found a hand-written note stating:  ‘Sorry, closed for the day!’  Immediately I thought about how I hoped the owners were enjoying a well-deserved day off with their children.  Then I reflected back on the scenarios above, and just how much they missed out on that day in sales, and perhaps further from customers that were not gained as repeat customers.

The take away from this month’s nugget is to remain consistent.  Consistent not only in your product and offerings but in your hours of operation.  Your best customers are relying upon you just as much as your small business is relying upon their support.

If you think your small business could benefit from an outside lens, consider reaching out to Andrus Hospitality:

Jacob I. Fait, PhD – Contributing Author, College of Business-Dean & Hospitality Consultant

The Journey Re-Begins

A new journey begins! Today begins the new beginning of Andrus Hospitality, LLC., a company that began as a diverse hospitality company but ended up focusing solely on event management. A brief break allowed us to refocus to understand where our passions truly lie, on helping hospitality businesses flourish! We are back and ready to help you simplify, refocus and gain that momentum to keep going!

We look forward to hearing from you and how we can help you.

Lisa and Jake

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton