Staying profitable and popular in the fickle bar and restaurant industry, where trends come and go in the blink of an eye, is rare. But staying profitable and popular while being a trailblazing trendsetter is a truly unique accomplishment—and it doesn’t come without a price. “Success is not guaranteed in the hospitality industry,” says Billy Dec, CEO/founder of Rockit Ranch Productions, during Sunday’s BAR 16 keynote. “It takes a lot of hard work; you need to surround yourself with innovative people, and there are many roadblocks.”
Dec collaborates with his team to develop killer concepts built around award-winning cocktail innovation, standout branding and chef-driven menus. His team also motivates him to invest in cutting-edge bar programs that elevate the customer experience—and his company’s profits. “We all go into the hospitality industry to make people happy,” he says. “The question is, however, how do we do that?”
First, when opening a new concept, you need to develop a story to showcase your brand, food and cocktails. “A story of why you opened, where you opened and why you serve what you serve will make a connection with people,” Dec says. “People will seek you out and help spread your story through social media and word of mouth.”
Second, you need to continually assess your operation to ensure you’re meeting guest expectations. People are getting more educated and sophisticated about food and drink. “Your competitive advantage will erode as new operations come into the marketplace,” Dec says, “so you need to continually innovate to elevate the hospitality experience. This includes food, beverage, decor, staff uniforms, sound and virtually other every aspect of what goes into your operation.”
Dec warns, however, if you want to reinvent your brand, you need to be careful not to alienate your current and loyal customer base. “If you’ve been in business for 10 years, you must be doing something right,” he says.
Third, consumers are always looking for restaurants and bars that serve the latest and greatest food and drinks. When you look into ways to retool your menu or cocktail program, don’t replicate what others are doing. “Find inspiration from others, but don’t copy them. You need to develop unique recipes to keep one step or more ahead of the competition,” Dec says.
Finally, build good relationships with everyone you meet. “Every person you come in contact with can open a new door and lead to success,” he says. “Grab a stack of business cards and pass them out to each person you meet.”
This post is sponsored by The National Restaurant Association®