Owning a restaurant is never easy. Owning several restaurants during the worst economic recession in decades is a huge challenge.
But Zane Tankel , CEO of Apple Metro Inc., which owns 34 Applebee’s restaurants in the New York area, said he was able to grow his business during the recession. In fact, he's opened 10 new restaurants since 2008.
Tankel believes that the recession presents opportunities for not just surviving, but thriving during difficult economic times. He offers BusinessNewsDaily readers a few tips on how to navigate these choppy waters.
Hire with precision . Our employees have to know the menu and be able to deliver dependable, friendly service with no exceptions. We also try to determine if the candidate will be a good fit in our overall organization. Competency is not enough if people can't get along with their peers, direct reports or supervisors.
Leverage real estate opportunities. In troubled times, revisit your lease and renegotiate. You should look for deals that may not have been priced appropriately the first time around. Also, look for new deals at more competitive rates.
Develop strong retention practices. Businesses are only as strong as the executives who run them and the support staff who keep them moving. It is important to create a stable, healthy environment that characterizes your business. For example, Apple-Metro is always quick to award hard-working and dedicated employees with incentives such as cruises to Bermuda with their spouse and an automobile-lease program for managers. This is important to keep enthusiasm and dedication to the company high while reducing turnover rates.
Team up with vendors. I mean all of them, from food suppliers to security firms, to come up with joint marketing campaigns . This cross-promotional strategy goes for other, more unrelated, businesses, too. In our case we have had great success partnering with local attractions.
Splurge to save. Capital expenditures are always painful, especially when the returns on those investments don't come for months or years. But there are ways to save a lot of money later by spending a little now and even green up your operation in the process. Three examples from our operation:
- Waterless urinals: These cut our water bills by saving us 40,000 gallons of water per year.
- LED lights: Replacing all recessed and track lighting fixtures with LEDs reduced our restaurants' power usage by 88 percent.
- On-demand (tankless) hot water heaters: They're 84 percent more energy-efficient.