There is a great quote from Maya Angelou that feels all too appropriate right now, “Every storm runs out of rain.” In other words: this too shall pass.
We all know this, but sometimes it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, right? Uncertain times, such as the one we are going through right now with COVID-19, can leave people feeling helpless and hopeless. However, for others, it’s a catalyst for creativity, adaptation, and change.
If you take one thing away from this post, please let it be this: DO NOT bury your head in the sand. This is not a time to sit and do nothing. Rather, it’s the perfect time to prepare yourself for when we come out of this mess so you come out stronger and ready to prosper against adversity!
A lot of people wonder if I am nervous about these uncertain times – of course, I am. Like you, 100% of my income is directly tied to the restaurant business. But I have been preparing for something like this to happen again since the economy tanked in 2008. Was I scared back then, heck yeah! Am I scared now? Not so much.
What I learned in 2008 is that there is light at the end of the tunnel and we will bounce back. As a matter of fact, we can come out even stronger because more wealth is created in bad economies than good. More innovation happens in bad economies than good. Neighbors come together and friendships are strengthened. This is going to be a good thing if you decide to make it a good thing.
So what has this meant for the restaurant industry during the COVID-19 crisis? Until restaurants open up their dining rooms again, there have been only two options: stay open with delivery and takeout, or close. Whichever choice you made, I hope you did it quickly.
If you decided to close, that was perfectly understandable. It’s what was best for you at this moment and it’s not a failure by any means. However, just because your restaurant is closed doesn’t mean you get to do nothing.
Take this time to make any improvements in your restaurant that need making. Do your checklists, build sheets or prep sheets need updating? Have you looked at your training program lately? Time for a menu change? Are you still marketing to your customers so your brand stays top of mind and will you be ready with a marketing campaign when you reopen? Or perhaps you (or your staff) want to take this time to improve your skills or take an online continuing education class.
Set some goals and start achieving them! If you suck at bookkeeping, then get good at it, not later, but NOW! If your leadership skills need improving, then get good at it, NOW. Here are some free training videos that might help. As Tony Robbins says, “When would not be a good time.”
If you stayed open, remember this is a marathon; not a sprint. Yes, you want to get creative with your resources by offering family meal packs, daily menu specials, delivery of grocery items, supporting your community, gift card specials, etc. And, yes, you need to make sure your curbside pickup, third-party delivery and/or online ordering is set up. But please do not use all of your energy to get through this time. You want to be fresh and ready when the opportunity strikes as things clear up. You want to be ready to take advantage of the beautiful weather that comes after a terrible storm.
I love sports analogies, especially golf because it’s a passion of mine. Jack Nicklaus used to say that winning majors were the easiest to win because everybody else would crumble under the pressure they put on themselves. Well, you are playing in a major right now and it’s Championship Sunday! If you’re not able to win today, that’s okay. But stop blaming someone or something else for the loss. Find one thing you can do today to make things better, so when you are in the big game again, you will win! Remember, we are running a marathon not a sprint, and crossing the finish line at any point is a win.
At the end of the day, this is really about making the decision to believe that from all this fear and uncertainty comes growth. If you chose to close, then make sure you are improving something every day. If you stayed open, then do what you can to crush it without burning yourself out. But most of all, remember not to let this opportunity pass you by because this too shall pass.
Ryan Gromfin is an author, speaker, chef, restauranteur, and founder of therestaurantboss.com, clickbacon.com, and scalemyrestaurant.com. He is the most followed restaurant coach in the world helping Restaurant Owners and Operators increase profits, improve operations, and scale and grow their businesses.