Current competition for dining dollars is fierce in every market in the country and from the projections for the next two quarters nobody is claiming that it will get any better for the first two quarters of 2009.
In a conversation with my
This is jut one of the many signs that diners are becoming more conservative not only with disposable dining dollars, but also with dining attitudes. Many people I speak to refuse to go out and spent extra money on a meal as frugality sets in and slowly becomes a lifestyle. Now this is certainly contradictory to what so many of us have developed our concepts around.
When Thomas Keller launched The French Laundry and decided to charge $135.00 to $175.00 for a mega-course meal, the attitude around the country was not based on the fascination with The Frugal Gourmet. Yet today, albeit there are still people who enjoy the flavor of the big ticket tabs, the mindset within the nation is becoming one of less spend more value.
I was surprised recently while in a discussion with a restaurant owner who had unloaded one of his financially limping properties. He was dumbfounded to find the new owners were doing an extraordinary business. “All they did in the way of change was to offer a new menu”, he said. No kidding? Isn’t that what we as owners are supposed to do for a living: entice, tease, surprise, and appease, appeal and please the taste buds of our customers on a daily basis?
If we studied the trends of our demographic and continually altered our menu and offerings to fit their needs and budgets it may be easier to survive in the economic hurricane we are all experiencing.
On my flight home from the East Coast yesterday the woman next to me asked the flight attendant for a glass of water. She was informed a bottle of water is now $2.00. The passenger said she merely wanted a glass of water from the tap. The airline employee was astonished.
“You really want to drink that?” she asked. The passenger obviously said “yes” and eventually got her water, but not without haggling over the quality of the liquid in the tank.
Moments later, getting on the parking lot shuttle bus the driver asked me if I wanted a candy bar from the large bag he had next to his seat. He was actually giving out complimentary candy to the passengers.
This just proves how fouled up the world really is. The airlines won’t give you a bottle of water after paying $560.00 for a flight while the shuttle bus driver is passing out
Keep your customers in mind. Think about their needs and whether or not you are serving them. Change your menu more regularly than you have in the past. Lower some prices to let the public know you are aware of what they are going through. Adapt. Be flexible. Turn on a dime and it will turn into profits.
Have a good weekend.