Every operator will come to a time when their strategy for creating certain outcomes stops working effectively.
Whether it’s in operations, financials, sales, or lead generation, operators need to have a strategy for changing things up when what they’ve always been doing stops working. Adapting quickly is important to keep up with today’s rapidly changing marketplace. What used to work in the past won’t necessarily work today.
Here are some steps to follow when your formula for success stops working.
1. Realize Something Must Change
Accepting full responsibility for outcomes is vital for effective course correction. However, many operators will look everywhere except the mirror when things aren’t working out the way they want. Some people will blame their competition, the economy, the government, their employees, and even the weather for their failure.
Although changing outcomes is as simple as changing one’s outlook, convincing a bar operator to do this is more difficult than it sounds. Most business owners have large egos which prevent them from realizing their own actions may be contributing to whatever failure may be occurring. Like Jon Taffer says, “You must own your failure to own your success.”
In other words, when you admit that your way of doing things may be at fault, this helps you refocus your attention on the solution.
2. Research Voraciously
You can find ideas to fix your problem everywhere. However, you must invest the time and resources to find solutions. Oftentimes, when I come across an operator who’s stuck in a problem, they have little invested in the acquisition of new ideas.
For example, their book collection may be small and they may not be able to recall the last time they travelled to a convention or seminar to learn new things. This is an indication that this operator isn’t curious enough about solving whatever problems they’re facing.
Inspiration can be found anywhere. You can get great feedback from customers, managers, and employees. The Internet is also very useful. Websites, message forums, podcasts, and books focused on any challenge available are widely available. Another great shortcut is to continually socialize with other people in your field whom you respect, so you always have someone to talk to about your problems. You must always remember that the answer to your problem is out there somewhere.
3. Plan and Schedule Your Work
Once you’ve identified a new idea that you think may work, you must plan out each step required to execute it. You must also add each step to your schedule. While it’s easy to research new ideas and get inspired, what really makes the difference is scheduling the work committing resources. Like the old saying goes, “Talk is cheap.”
I’ve sat in on many a staff meeting during which managers have brainstormed great ideas and everyone got exciting. But after these meetings nothing has gotten done because nobody made any hard commitments to actually getting the work done. To execute new ideas effectively, they must be planned, scheduled and worked on.
Whenever you get inspired to execute on a new idea or initiative, break it down into action steps and then schedule all the steps so progress is being made every day towards the end goal. You must do the work to make all new ideas a reality.
4. Change One Thing at a Time
You can see the effects of a new idea easier if you only change one part of the formula at a time. For example, if you’re testing a new menu, now is not the time to do renovations and make changes to your team. It’s much easier to gauge the success of your new initiatives if you keep most other elements the same while rolling it out.
Test your ideas like a scientist tests their theories. You want to try and keep a controlled environment so you can know with absolute certainty that any change in results is due to the new initiative. Another useful tactic is to give each idea a minimum of three months to see if they’ll work through your natural ups and downs. This will give you enough of a timeframe to see if the changes are moving any of the critical numbers of the business.
5. Not Every New Idea Will Work
You must accept the possibility that what you’re trying won’t work. In fact, most ideas that you get from books and other forms of self-education won’t work out exactly the way they’re presented—many of the ideas will flat out fail.
What separates a winner from a loser is their response to failure. Losers get upset when their new strategies fail and stop trying all new ideas. They also become more resistant to new ideas in general because every failed attempt costs money.
Winners fail at trying new ideas just as often, but instead of crying about it they just see it as another experiment that didn’t work out. Failed experiments are part of the budget. It’s perfectly fine if your new idea doesn’t work. In fact, you should celebrate when things don’t work because that’s just an indication that you’re moving closer to the solution that ultimately will solve whatever problem you’re facing. Just keep on trying new things until you find another winning formula!
Kevin is an operations consultant with over a decade of experience working directly with bar, restaurant and nightclub owners on all points of the spectrum: from family-owned single bar operations to large companies with locations on an international scale. Kevin works with them all and understands the unique challenges each kind of company faces.
He is the author of a book entitled Night Club Marketing Systems – How to Get Customers for Your Bar. He is also a regular writer for Nightclub & Bar, providing information high-level operators seek to get the extra edge in their marketing, sales and operations.
Kevin continues to write today, providing specialized information directly to nightclub, bar and restaurant owners from his workshops, newsletters and magazine articles. He is also active in the field, operating an inventory auditing practice with Sculpture Hospitality.