Feeling Lost? 5 Ways to Rescue Your Restaurant

Uncategorized Mar 03, 2017

When you opened your restaurant you had big dreams and a plan. Then there was a change in the market and perhaps your plan went astray. It happens. Actually, it happens all the time. Many restaurant owners get stuck during those challenges. They lose their faith and become prey to self-doubt.

Then comes the friendly advice from a “friend” (even though they have never owned a business themselves). Out of desperation, you listen. You add this and that, hoping to revive your brand. It might get a few new customers in the door, however the more you stray away from your original brand identity, the more customers you lose. It becomes a very turbulent ride. Welcome to the slow death of your restaurant brand.

So, what’s an owner to do? Here are 5 powerful tips to get you back on track.


First you need to be honest with yourself. You also need to take personal accountability for where you brand is now. It’s easy to point the finger and place blame.

  • There...
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Why Your Restaurant Should Abandon Coupons and Embrace Loyalty Programs

Uncategorized Mar 02, 2017

When business is slow, many restaurants turn to discounts and coupons in order to get more people through the door. However, discounting is rarely an effective strategy for developing regular customers, and can even end up hurting your business. We spoke to Donald Burns (aka The Restaurant Coach™) to learn why loyalty programs are a much wiser path to success than giving away your product.

CREDIBLY: What’s the main problem with a restaurant using coupons to attract customers?

DONALD BURNS: I find that people who use coupons are loyal only to the coupon. They’re not loyal to the restaurant or the brand, they’re only loyal to the deal they can get. I use this example a lot: Have you ever gone to Apple and gotten a steal on iPhones? Never. Why is that? They think their product is so good that it’s worth every penny. Their price is tied to their reputation. When you discount your product you devalue your brand.

Is there any scenario for a restaurant owner...

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5 Common Challenges for Bar and Restaurant Owners

Uncategorized Mar 02, 2017

Let’s say you’re running consistent profit margins each month and seats are usually full. Business is good. But maybe your bar or restaurant concept seems a little stuck. It’s not growing anymore, and you’re not quite sure how to get that momentum going again.

Hovering at a standstill and not being able to understand why is a terrible feeling. You know something about your restaurant isn’t working—you’re just not sure what it might be.

There are several reasons why businesses get stuck in these stagnant periods. And, when you’ve worked with restaurants long enough (like I have), you start to see patterns: patterns of success, and patterns of failure.

Sometimes you just need better quality questions to identify these challenges and give you the spark you need to get back on track.

Here are five common challenges that often send bars and restaurants down the wrong path.


In this industry,...

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How To Become a Badass Leader

leadership Feb 03, 2017

Originally posted on Foodable TV Network on November 22, 2016

By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert

When the topic comes up about, most people will easily say they are a leader. The cold, hard truth is most are not. They simply like the concept of being a leader and the sound of it. (Come on, leader sound much more dynamic than being a manager.)

But leadership is not a title. It’s poetry in motion. It’s integrity. It’s all action. Everyone can be a leader. This bears repeating: Everyone can be a leader in your restaurant.

Leadership is, at its core, about taking personal accountability. It’s about doing exactly what you say you are going to do with no excuses. As soon as you start playing the excuse game, you have dropped from being a leader to being a victim. While we talk about being a true leader at our restaurants and businesses, few actually are.

Let’s explore how that happens. If you want to really become a leader, then be the best version you...

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3 Reasons Why Your Restaurant Plan Isn't Working

Uncategorized Jan 31, 2017

Originally posted on Toast Restaurant Management Blog by Donald Burns 12/6/2016

All good restaurateurs make a restaurant plan - but what happens when that plan isn't working out?

When you open a new restaurant, people will flock to check out your new venture. You'll have visions of grandeur about your restaurant being everyone's new favorite place.

Then, the people slowly stop coming back and sales start to drop. Doubt sets in.

If you have ever owned, managed, or even thought of opening a restaurant, you need to accept that doubt will pop up when things get tough. The critics in your head love to make an appearance when things don't go as planned.

That’s life, and as tough as it is to hear, there is a huge obstacle in the way of getting your restaurant to where you want it to be. That obstacle looks back at you every morning in the mirror.

This might be a hard pill to swallow for some. However, if you truly want to excel in this industry and reach your potential, then grab a...

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From Restaurant Manager to Restaurant Leader: 10 Vital Steps

leadership Jan 31, 2017

Originally on Toast Restaurant Management Blog by Donald Burns on 11/4/15

Congratulations, you got the promotion! Whether that's because of your hard work, discipline and tenacity, or because in a heated battle the previous restaurant manager walked out, you are now in charge.

However, chances are, no one really trained you on how to be an effective restaurant manager. Many people in this predicament fall back on modeling the behavior of past managers they have worked with… good and bad. 

Act like those terrible managers from your past and you become like them. There is a better way. There should be a higher standard for restaurant managers to contribute to the culture of your restaurant and to lead the staff to higher goals of service, output, and positivity. 

Here are 10 steps to making the shift not only into management, but into leadership.

1. Take personal accountability.
From this day forward, you are responsible for the results you get. That’s...

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Are Your Running Your Restaurant Or Is It Running You?

Uncategorized Jan 29, 2017

Originally posted on Foodable TV Network November 7, 2016

By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert

When your restaurant is running like a world championship team, everything is amazing. All the training, all the hard work, all the time fine-tuning your team and brand are paying off. You’re communicating, working together for a shared vision and mission. It’s a thing of pure beauty to see a restaurant running at its potential and reaching for more. A recipe for success.

Unfortunately, most restaurants are operating on the other side of this equation. There is no shared vision or mission. The team has formed small teams within the team and they are constantly bickering with each other. The standards have dropped, the guest now gets inconsistent food, and your online reviews are hot and cold. A recipe for failure.

The common thread in this bad recipe is lack of vision and poor leadership. When things are going great, it is easy to be motivated and be in love with your...

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Why Is Your Restaurant Stuck? Brand Drift and Mental Quicksand

Uncategorized Jan 29, 2017

Originally posted on Foodable TV Network on December 6, 2016

By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert

We tend to think of restaurants as brick-and-mortar objects. Restaurants are actually a living thing. Born from an idea and given life by people. Just like any living thing, there is a cycle of growth and development. Your restaurant is a reflection of you. Your actions and attitude have a profound impact on your restaurant.

When things are good, you’re on top of the world. When things go bad, they tend to pull us down into the pit of despair. As human beings, we tend to let our successes define us. It’s actually in our challenges that we find our strengths. All restaurants will experience a challenge. It’s a natural ebb and flow in business. You cannot have all sunshiny days. It’s during the rainy days that things tend to grow.

When you find your restaurant is stuck, there are a few key steps you must take:

Own it. You must be aware of your current...

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Why Your Restaurant Management Needs a Tune-UP

This post orginally appeared on Foodable TV Network, August 25, 2016

By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert

Things move quickly in the restaurant industry, seemingly changing overnight. Faster and better seems to be the key for a lot of up-and-coming concepts. Adaptability ranks right up there with consistency for top-performing brands. If you don’t have your finger on the pulse of the consumer, you will quickly find yourself left behind. Improvements in technology and state-of-the-art equipment pushes our industry forward into the future. Yet, what about management techniques? Why has the industry not put in the same energy into improving its management skills?

If you read the current headlines, they say that restaurant turnover is high and the prospects to fill those openings are low. Maybe it’s because we cling to outdated management styles that our current workforce (Millennials) have a difficult time understanding or accepting. Times are changing. Let’s...

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The 7 Things Your Service Team Might Be Screwing Up!

There are some things you just never forget. Your first kiss, your first car, an amazing movie and horrible service. Great service can sometimes be an elusive creature, much like Bigfoot. Incredible service not only is comprised of the mechanical aspects like serving from the left and clearing from the right, it also contains the human element. That's called hospitality. When you combine the mechanical and human together it creates that synergy that today's customers have come to expect.

Here's the real secret to amazing service… It has to be constantly managed and monitored. I'm a big believer that incredible service teams are orchestrated and guided like a well-choreographed ballet.

I eat out to restaurants around 260 times a year. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly. When you dine out that much you tend to see patterns in behavior. At this point, I can read the team dynamics much like Neo can read the matrix.

Here's my short list of the 7 things your service team...

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