Consultants offer that extra hand, guidance and expertise that a business needs to find success. And in the restaurant business, there are restaurant consultants that can mentor your restaurant to success.
It takes a lot of for a restaurant to say:
Hey, we’re in trouble and could use some help to get our business on the path to financial success.
We want more from our business. It's running well, but I need a restaurant consultant to bring it to the next level.
Every restaurant is different, and the reason a restaurant needs a consultant will also be different. Some hire restaurant consulting firms to help them grow their business. Others hire them to market the business, add new dishes or figure out how to get out of their comfort zone.
A business may be doing well, but if it’s not growing, it’s not time to be comfortable.
Markets shift and change all the time, and if you stay comfortable for too long, this can be bad for long-term business. Instead, you want to continue adding new customers, dishes and menu items.
But a restaurant consultant will often be reluctant to work with a restaurant owner that is content with their business. Why? Change is hard to implement when the owner doesn’t see any fault in their operation.
It's better to want more than to be content because that’s what restaurant and bar consultants are all about: helping a business do better.
As an owner, you need to understand that you want more out of your business. If you continue to do much of the same, day after day, you won’t be able to grow and receive more. You need to be willing to implement change in your business.
There is a lot of faith that needs to be put into the consultant to allow them to do their job properly. Only the owner that genuinely wants more for his establishment is willing to make changes.
Once you’ve decided to hire a restaurant business consultant, your next step is choosing the right consultant for the job.
How to Find the Perfect Consultant for Your Restaurant
You want the best for your business, and the consultant should also want the best for your business. One of the biggest mistakes a restaurant owner will make is settling for average. A consultant is paid to help you run your business better, and this means bringing something new and exciting to the table.
This leads to our first piece of advice: Turn away consultants if they don’t meet your expectations.
There are a lot of restaurant consulting companies, so don’t settle for someone that you don’t feel can bring your restaurant to that next level.
Send any consultant away that fails to meet your expectations, even if this is after the initial meeting.
There should be no fear on your part to say: Hey, this isn’t going to work.
Research Your Consultant
If you’re reading this, you have the Internet. You should be using the Internet to do your own research into a potential consultant. This means doing more than a basic two-minute search on the consultant.
What I recommend is that you:
Search out the person’s LinkedIn page to see what others are saying and how long the person has been in the business.
Scour the person’s social media pages to see what they’re saying about their results and clients. You don’t want to work with a negative person, so if all they have to say about their clients is negative, you may also want to pass the consultant over.
Reviews may or may not be present for the consultant, but if they’re available, read through them and see what others are saying about their services.
You'll also want to take a look at any of the consultant’s websites or online assets to see if they have a portfolio or client list for restaurants that they have worked with in the past.
If you’re not doing your own research, you may be putting your restaurant in the hands of a consultant that doesn’t have the know-how and skill to help you grow your business.
First Meeting Filled with Questions
You’ve scoured through all of the top restaurant business consultants, and now you want to meet with this person – the person who will change your business. But you need to control the entire meeting and start with asking about the person’s real-world experience.
If the consultant is not able to provide any real-world examples, then you’re not working with a consultant who’s credible.
You need a consultant that has:
Real world experience
Portfolio of clients
A consultant that has or had a very successful restaurant may suffice, too. I find that a consultant that has been an owner will better understand the pressure and problems that a restaurant owner is having.
Don’t be afraid to ask for past results because that’s what really matters.
Results should be statistical and easy to visualize. A few examples of the results we’re talking about are:
I worked with X company helping them increase their customer base by 20% over an 8-month period.
I worked with X restaurant, helping the owner come up with new dishes that added 10% to their revenue in six months.
Quantifiable results are the results that really matter.
And don’t be afraid to ask what the consultant’s biggest failures are either. You need to know when a consultant has succeeded and failed. If a failure has yet to come, this is good, but if a failure has happened in the past, it’s important to know what happened and how the consultant learned from the experience.
You're hiring a consultant, so treat your first interview as you would a meeting with any potential employee.
You wouldn’t hire a chef to run your kitchen if they had no experience or credentials, so don’t hire a consultant that can’t provide the real-world experience your restaurant needs to find success.
Personality Matches are Also Very Important
You need to be on the same page as your consultant, and this will determine much of your success. There are times when you’ll work with a consultant that doesn’t meet your personality match.
And while this consultant may be able to provide results, the entire experience will be difficult for all parties involved.
You need to find a consultant that has a personality that matches yours – whatever that may be. You need to be able to:
Discuss serious issues
Be fully transparent with the consultant
Get to know the person who is going to help you find more success in the restaurant business. This is going to be a long-term business relationship, so if you don’t find that the consultant is a good match, dismiss him or her.
You must also do your part, too.
This means being able to be honest and open with the consultant. There's no faster way to failure than to keep secrets from your consultant and not be honest. Your entire business relationship revolves around you being honest and not keeping secrets.
Otherwise, your experience with restaurant consulting services will be a complete failure.
Ask About the Process and Systems the Consultant Will Use
You have a general idea of what restaurant consultants do, but what can you expect from your consultant? Will the consultant help you implement the changes you recommend, or will the consultant be taking full control?
A consultant should come in with a game plan, and this may include systems and solutions that they’ve successfully used in the past.
The consultant should have deliverables on what changes have been made, what success you’re having and what direction your business will be taking going forward.
You need to work closely with your consultant to achieve the results that your business wants.
You’ve reached your goals, and you’re now at the point where you’re ready to end your relationship with your consultant. But there is one final thing that you’ll need from a consultant.
Before parting ways, you need to have a system in place that you know how to run.
The consultant should train you on how to build from the system in place, operate properly and continue to have success. Training and a full understanding of the steps to move forward with are your “parting gift.”
A consultant can teach you a lot about your business and how to grow a successful business. Using the tips above, you’ll be able to find a consultant that fits your company culture and becomes an integral part of your restaurant’s success.