Let’s get this out of the way: the real reason your traffic is dipping is not because people are dining out less.
In fact the National Restaurant Association predicts that by year end 2017, Americans will have spend $799 billion eating out, while in 2010 we only spent $586 billion.
In addition, for the first time ever in history, Americans are spending more at bars and restaurants than on groceries.
So, in general, people are eating out more often than usual. If your restaurant traffic is dipping, something else must be to blame.
Let’s talk about what that might be.
1. The Modern Restaurant Problem
I agree – there is a problem plaguing restaurants. In fact, restaurants in general are no better off now than they were 5 or 10 years ago. I see it in my restaurant consulting practice all the time…really good restaurants are struggling with really low numbers.
If you ask any restaurant consultant, they will all tell you the same thing – Good is Not Good Enough Anymore.
I heard Tony Robbins describe this effect on business today better than anybody else. He states that your business will be rewarded 1 step below the quality of its operation.
- Good restaurants are getting poor results
- Great restaurants get good results
- Excellent restaurants get great results
The odd part is that even though there is a level above Excellent, those restaurants don’t get excellent results, they get everything.
2. The Idea of “Mastery”
To quote another hero, Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell’s character in Talladega Nights) says “If you’re not first, you’re last.”
For restaurants, this simply means that the best ones get everything.
These restaurants are not just busy, they are slammed 7 days a week. They are the ones getting so much free media that they would never consider spending a penny on marketing.
What does it mean to the be the best? To me, it’s simple…mastery. You are either mastering or dabbling.
3. Expectation Economy
What caused all this chaos to happen? How come restaurants that were once very good and consistently busy are not anymore?
Every industry has a media outlet to thank for the new economy or poor results. In our industry, we can thank Food Network.
I call this economy the “Expectation Economy.” The food network brought the best from all over the world into our living rooms. I grew up on it, it inspired me and an entire generation to cook. And not just to cook, but to cook with ingredients that were never available at our local grocery stores before.