5 Key Pillars to a Successful “4 Walls” Marketing Plan
So what is “4 Walls” Marketing all about and how did it burst onto the hospitality scene?
In late ’73, early ’74, Dan Scoggin, then President of the hot and trendy TGI Friday’s was miffed with lagging and disappointing sales from his first few restaurants under the Friday’s banner, now iconic.
In order to figure out the problem, Scoggin toured those half dozen restaurants to determine firsthand what was going on with crumbling sales. He consistently heard from teams stating:
1) It’s the competition
2) It’s the economy
3) That’s just the way it is after a great opening
Interesting, we still hear this from time to time 40 years later from operators who look for an excuse on lagging sales and poor execution of the guest experience.
During those visitations and while personally monitoring food and service quality, and ambiance (lights, music and temperature levels) Scoggin determined that real bone of contention was due to sloppy execution around those initiatives (food, service, ambiance). He then tagged the name “4 Walls” and taught restaurant operators that what you focus on the most inside the “4 Walls” of your restaurant will define your successes.
If you have exceptional recipes and follow them with sound and credible training methods and in turn select only the best team members creating an ambiance that shapes that initiative, you’re on the road to success.
No need to blame the guy next door or the economy. You control that destiny every day, one shift at a time.
Many have copied or piggy-backed on Scoggin’s evolution of “4 Walls” Marketing and there are numerous tactics to call out with respect to driving revenue inside your business.
Here are 5 key pillars to a successful “4 Walls” Marketing Plan:
Food and Beverage: Innovate often to stay relevant and to excite your guest with new features. Take a good look at slower moving features (deletion strategy) and add new features that will drive new trial. Print and offer a menu that is vibrant and easy to navigate, regardless of the number of items. Whether you have 24 or 94 features, describe them well and execute recipes with a non-compromising conviction toward excellence.
Service: You should clearly understand that server knowledge is important in our business, yet we see young talent butcher the guest experience from approach to departure. Find a winning recipe for training, follow up with that execution and set the standard high. Select and develop only the top performers to train new team members. You need staff that can grow sales, simply not to accommodate or keep up with the rush. Do not panic hire because you need the help. Hiring weaker performer will only cost you in the long run and while poor performers are allowed to remain, sales will slide, while your strong performers will become disconnected.
Ambiance: This is not a given and should be addressed daily. Guests do not enjoy bright lights beaming in their face, music that is too loud or sitting in a section where temperatures are too cold or too hot. Teach and coach managers how to insure lights, music and temperatures are all set to help achieve the right feel for guests. These critical steps for success in ambience are not always easy to accomplish. Take the essential time to insure your ambiance is working for you, not against you. I can guarantee that you will not regret it.
- Simplicity wins in menu design, including all feature descriptions.
- Happy Hour and Late Night specials should be vibrant, colorful and priced to win. If you discount, insure your profit model works well.
- Develop a floor plan (sections for servers) that is part of the game plan and staff to win.
- Select additional POP (point of purchase) to assist with building sales. Too much will confuse guests. Determine what you are great at and then focus on those few things that will drive traffic.
- Your menu is your brand’s business card. Treat them with respect. Replace as needed to insure torn, tattered and dirty menus are frequently replaced. Have ample take home menus for guests.
- Always reward great execution. Hold-up and recognize team members who do it well over and over; others will follow suit.
- Target and remain diligent on strong selection of team members.
- Continuous development and training. A way of life, not a program.
- Train your trainers well. They will be one of your cornerstones for success. All great team members are not necessarily great trainers.
Remember to always look at how you execute the guest experience inside your 4 Walls.