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13 Aug 2015

The Shortsighted Restaurant Owner

The media has been covering a story of restaurant owner banning children under 7 year of age from dining in his restaurant in the last couple weeks. This has attracted numerous media in mainstream, online, podcast and of course, a Social Media outburst. As it appears, the general review of this business decision has been favourable due to its “point of different” and “boldness” in marketing.

I don’t think so.

Here’s the long story short:

Chef and restaurant owner runs a fine-dining venue in country Queensland for over a decade. Skilful at his food as he should, the restaurant has good traffic and favourable reviews for the food quality and monopoly in upmarket dining around the remote area.

After three incidents in one day with misbehaving kids and a dramatic confrontation with one parent group, which led to a social media dog fight, the owner announced on their Facebook Page that the restaurant will no longer welcome children under 7 years of age into the restaurant, citing “our guests’ wishes to dine in a calm atmosphere”.

In one of the interviews, the owner went on and talked about because of this incident, the restaurant is now so busy that he is doing two people’s job, but has been taking 4.5 month holidays every year. He also elaborated that he is used to being bold to customers and has had similar confrontation episodes in the past.

Clearly he’s enjoying the hype and the apparent profit that this incident has brought to his business.

Sadly I can only see this business going bust, and when it does, these will be the lessons to partake:

1. Brand hurting marketing hype

Despite the recent hype, I reckon this restaurant is in terrible shape in terms of branding. Media coverage fades, people forget, but the attitude stays forever in the integrity of the business.

The fundamental integrity of “food” to his business is now far gone, unless the owner wants to start branding his business around the idea of arrogance, anger or “no BS” attitude – that means writing blogs, renaming his dishes, putting on the Gorden Ramsey face at all times.

His restaurant is no longer fine-dining; people no longer come for the food, they come for the drama. Not a place you want to be that draws you away from your original focus.

” Give the lady what she wants.” Marshall Field

2. Think Value-Add to win in business

I am a big believer of how much you gain in business relies on how much value you bring to customers. As Dave Ramsey brilliantly puts it, people don’t hand you money for your service, they give you a “certificate of appreciation” in a satisfied transaction.

Good food is one value, but the true value of eating out in a fine dining restaurant is the quality time spent with your significant ones. Fine-dining sells EXPERIENCE, and family is a huge part of that. Now the restaurant has decided to take that away.

I would image even families with older kids would now think twice before booking, because the apparent impression with this restaurant now is that “they don’t value families”.

Demonstrating this kind of attitudes to customers speaks a lot about the attitudes of this business, it’s self-serving – “my food”, “my restaurant”, “get these kids and distractions out of my way”.

When you don’t add full value to customers, you don’t prosper in business.

3. Just a highly-paid day job

In the podcast interview I mentioned earlier, the business owner explained that he is extremely busy and basically filling in for two people. He doesn’t have time to train, nor can he find anyone skilful enough to suit the role. In light of that, the money he earns does allow him to shut his doors for 4.5 months and go on an extended holiday.

I have very little respect for business owners who pride themselves in trading time for money. There is no security around this. The 4 months holidays won’t last as the chef ages or injuries himself by continuing to fulfil two people’s role. He has done a great job in buying himself a highly paid day job but there is no scalability.

Sadly this applies to so many skill-based businesses that I come across everyday.

4. Target Audience is strategic not accidental

There are a lot of comments about what this restaurant has done is standing up to filter their customer base, hence defining their Target Audience. Fair point and I am a big fan of saying no to the people you don’t want to sell to.

Though it’s about how you say no.

Having a specific target audience is awesome for businesses, in fact the nicher you are the better. But it’s about planning and execution, not randomly being put into the filtering process by an incident such as this.

There is no strategic value behind what the restaurant has positioned itself into, and I don’t foresee any follow up plans in leveraging this for marketing.

“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” A Man of Wisdom

I invite you to agree or argue with me below or check out for more controversial opinions on www.alexlau.guru

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