A long-term view can help position your restaurant for success.
We are facing challenges in our economy the likes of which have not been experienced in most of our lifetimes. News stories seem to bounce from bad to worse, from hope to despair, leaving relatively rare moments of optimism and huge holes of uncertainty. This combined gloom and doom assault has paralyzed many businesses with a sense of fear for the present and the future. How can you break away from this stagnation and take advantage of opportunities to expand your business?
Wikipedia defines trench warfare as “a form of warfare where both combatants have fortified positions and fighting lines are static.” The key word here is static. By recognizing and accepting that businesses have hunkered down and that the static lines in our economy are likely to remain for the foreseeable future, you can begin to develop a path that will enable your business to move forward.
With a robust economy, success could not happen fast enough. During World War I, forward tactical advancement was often measured in feet or sometime inches; so it is in today's economic trenches. Given our current situation, it may seem that everything is happening in slow motion. Your business plan must take into consideration a reduced pace of progress. Sustainable success can best be achieved through a series of small victories.
A good insurance salesperson knows that fear is a strong motivator. Fear is an emotion that needs to be brought under control or it will lead to distress and high anxiety. This does not mean that apprehension should be abandoned, but it does mean that your success will be determined by how you deal with not only your fears, but how you handle fears of your customers and competitors. The sense of fear will begin to move from the forefront as you focus your attention on your immediate plan of action.
Everyone has heard some version of the following: Performing the same action repeatedly with the expectation of a different outcome is a definition of insanity. What may have worked for us last year, last week or even yesterday may not work in today's economic climate. Take deliberate steps to be different in your approach. Breaking from the routine will cause you to begin looking at your business with a fresher perspective.
Sudoku and crosswords can be stimulating ways to pass time. Treating your business as a puzzle to be solved can add a new dimension to your efforts. Writing down specific problems to be solved, then writing down your solutions can often lead to unexpected and creative results.
You have a story that needs to be told. One of the best ways to get that story out is through the creative use of public relations. PR does not have to be an expensive proposition. PR companies are feeling the slowdown like everyone else, and are looking for new clients like never before. Using their professional services on a per-event basis could give your business greater exposure with minimal expense. Also, remember that a well-crafted and timed press release can reward you with huge dividends.
E-mail marketing is a proven cost-effective way to get your business message in front of your database. There are many ways to take advantage of this relatively new kind of marketing such as e-mail blasts or even e-mailable video brochures. To reach a larger audience, many companies offer opted-in e-mail lists that can be quite specific for a given type of business or customer.
Even with rising postal costs, direct mail can be a very effective way to get your message out to a broad area. A number of companies offer quality mailing lists with relatively low cost. Keep in mind that when you decide to do a bulk mail, your response will nearly always be a very small percentage of the number of pieces that you mail out. Sometimes they can be a fraction of a percent, but that is often enough to justify the expense.
Staying on top of your competition is now more important than ever. Rest assured that your competitors are experiencing the same economic anxiety as you, and may be dealing with it in ways that you should be aware of. There is much that you can learn by simply observing how your competitors are changing their approach to how they do business.
Clearly, there is no single magic way out of our current economic mess. One thing is certain: Doing nothing will produce nothing and doing little will produce little!
Michael Dotson is c.e.o. of WorkSmart Media Group (www.worksmartmediagroup.com), which provides marketing assistance for small- to medium-size companies.