Comment: Focus on long-term success

Duncan Fraser-Smith discusses whether restaurants are setting themselves up for success

Opinion, Columnists

In the race to opening a new outlet… are we forgetting to set it up for success? I have recently attended several restaurant openings throughout the region, and it occurred to me how differently prepared these operations were for what is the biggest day of their existence: the launch.

From concept creation through to designing, building, recruiting and then trials... all lead to this one day where you put everything you have out for the world to see. A direct reflection of your ideas, open for scrutiny by the dining public, presented on the cutlery, crockery and glassware you selected, and delivered on your operational promise.

The reason I raise this is because I have witnessed both extremes over the last several weeks and this is a huge concern to me.

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What all this boils down to is the definition of preparedness for opening an outlet. A true reflection of the potential success of an operation is marked by the way the outlet opens its doors to the public for the first time. Do the staff know the menu, do they understand your USP, and are you in a position to deliver it with ease?

One particular example of this was a recent restaurant I went to in its second week of operations. This particular outlet has a large focus on selected beverages available by the glass — its USP — and upon arriving and receiving a significant list to choose from, our party was informed that they do not have stock in place at this stage and as such can only offer a very limited selection. They also had a signature beverage, which was upsold to the table, only to be told that the ingredients to make it were not available.

Now, I understand the investment that goes into developing and delivering food and beverage operations. I am also a firm believer that we should all set ourselves up for success from day one. However, as I have mentioned in previous articles, there must be investment to ensure that when you do open your doors, your marketing is out in the field and people are building expectations of what they will be experiencing, and you are in the best possible position to deliver it.

If you are marketing yourself on a particular USP and that USP is delayed you should consider delaying the opening. Guests will have a huge expectation on your USP, and if it is not available then their first impressions and potential negative word-of-mouth will have a direct impact on the success of your business.

Invest in your staff training, take an extra week to have them on board so that they truly understand the product and how to deliver it. In the end they are your in-house sales force and given the investment you have made in the product, an additional week’s investment in staff training could go along way to a great launch.

Many restaurant developers are very good at setting themselves up for success. I only wish that all restaurant developers take the above into consideration as buying an additional couple of days for opening can make all the difference to a successful launch.

Duncan Fraser-Smith is the founder of The Cutting Edge Agency which specialises in developing and creation of benchmark F&B concepts through conceptualisation and training, as well as sourcing and partnering with international brands and high profile chefs to successfully establish their presence in the Middle East. Visit www.thecuttingedgeagency.com

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