When you run a restaurant, you are in the relationship business. Relationships are the heart of your business and keep your business thriving. And when relationships cease, the pain is immediately felt.

Investing in relationships is critical – on every level – from interactions with partners and landlords to communication with staff, vendors, and customers. With a focus on relationships, you are investing in areas that go well beyond finance and ensuring trust and an intentional eye on added value regardless of economic conditions (or despite them).

While industry challenges are improving on many levels, McKinsey predicts that restaurants will continue to experience some “margin pressure” related to “higher commodity costs, labor shortages, and limits on what stressed customers are willing to pay.” For many, financial concerns may result in consumers bypassing restaurants – unless some added value can further justify the cost.

So, how do we add value without raising prices?

Perhaps the most impactful “value add” comes from:

  • Leading an engaged and high-performing staff.
  • Establishing solid working relationships between restaurant management and vendors.
  • Engaging with customers and building loyalty.

All of the above put relationships at the heart of your business.

But much like personal relationships, business relationships aren’t always easy – particularly in the restaurant industry where churn (of customers, employees and vendors) is like plaque to an artery. It is in the best interest of everyone you serve if you make building relationships a high priority. Focusing on individual needs and hopes for the future can be difficult in the hustle of the day, so how do you ensure your relationships are thriving and mutually beneficial?

It all starts with people.

Forbes recommends acknowledging that “servers value the opportunity to interact with a wide range of guests” and “often form close relationships with peers.” Remember peers can mean your vendors and your customers – it’s not just your employees. Providing opportunities to encourage teamwork and foster relationships across the board can help build value.

And, when staff members feel appreciated, they are more likely to be productive and motivated. Then in turn they are incentivized to invest in your business’s relationships. This is value creation without a cash requirement. Customers will appreciate this and it can grow in any economy.

Final Thoughts

The old saying is true – you get more with sugar than spice. Despite the media’s confidence of a recession coming, no one knows. What we do know is that if troubles come and your business needs a helping hand, you will more likely get it from a happy employee, an appreciated vendor or a valued landlord. These people form the foundation of your business and, despite not showing up on your balance sheet, are assets that need nurturing and investment.

At GSS, we build relationships as well as make restaurants financially successful. Drop me a line if you’d like to discuss our services or business in general!

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