Friday, December 5, 2014

Small restaurants

     Free daily tips, information and advice for people in small business
     from experience--been there, done that in several small operations.

     Small restaurants and cafes can go through difficult times. They are among the first businesses to feel the pinch in bad economic times.

     They can become neighborhood gathering places and this can be the bedrock on which these operations grow and expand. 

     Kick-starting small restaurants and cafes to the next level takes careful planning. You don't want to mess with the success you already have, but you need more customers.

     Example: Bob decided to add music. He contacted a local Irish music group and found that several members played traditional Irish musical instruments--they got together to practice and this presented them with a problem. Bob offered them exposure at his small restaurant on Sunday afternoons--no payment was involved. Soon, the word spread and a house full of new customers arrived. They came on Sunday afternoons, and they came on other days as well.

     To solve your own problem, think outside the box. Sometimes, by solving someone else's problem, you solve your own.

     Example: Jackie took an approach that involved her love of different cuisines. Her cafe sat less than 50 people. She was busy at breakfast and lunch, but there was little dinner traffic. She decided to add an International Night on Thursday evenings. She offered a Jamaican night, a Casablanca night, and a Tex-Mex night. By that third week, every seat in the cafe was filled with diners clamoring for more. The idea has generated traffic not otherwise possible, and people are referring others.

     Every idea you try might not work. And what works for one place might not work in another. But you never give up.

     Example: Frank wanted to expand his restaurant to become the "go-to" place for parties and gatherings. He began putting out the word to organizations, companies, and other groups. Everyone, it seemed, needed a place to hold small gatherings, and he had a large room off the main dining area. Frank could serve up food at a nominal price for big gatherings. As word spread, other people wanted to hold other events at Frank's restaurant. Soon, the place was booked most nights (and some daytime events) with private parties, corporate meetings, birthday celebrations, retirement events, reunions and the like. 

     You never know where an idea for change will lead you. But you stay on top of your game by thinking through and testing every idea that holds promise.

     Owners of small restaurants and cafes can expand the business by making use of downtime and unused space. And, if you are clever about it, it won't mean a large outlay of expansion money. Work with what you have to grow the business. And remember, when you add excitement, the word spreads in the community and referrals come in.

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