Over the weekend I went to Los Angeles to go watch the U2 concert with some friends. Yes, THE U2 concert at the Rose Bowl with 100,000 other fans. YES, it was worth it.
We went to this place called The Counter Burger in Pasadena. They were a shoot off of another Counter Burger joint in some other part of LA. They had just opened a few weeks ago.
My experience here highlighted three “basics” that every restaurant should fundamentally do well before ever opening their doors. It reminded me immediately of us in the communications technologies world – there are key fundamental proficiencies that need to be executed well in order to expand your portfolio or market segment.
Fundamental #1: Don’t make the menu too complicated
It took (I kid you not) 15 minutes for me to put together ONE burger order. There were so many options, add-ons, specials, etc that I was in an utter state of confusion. It was like going to the Ford dealership and ordering the stock car and having about 75 accessories I could potentially add.
Lesson Learned: Make your menu of products and services easy for anyone to understand. Most importantly – pre-package 2-3 popular offers that make it easy for someone to point and go. Not everyone wants to spend 15 minutes figuring out what 5 of 25 toppings they want, and which one of 16 dressings they want on top.
Fundamental #2: Make sure your food is cooked through
One of the six in our group received their grilled chicken salad with raw chicken in the middle. She didn’t realize until she was 1/3 way through the thing and cut into the center. No one wants a salmonella warning on their restaurant bill. The reality is however that problem dishes make it through the kitchen all the time. Where did The Counter Burger make their mistake?
Lesson Learned: Make sure you have validation measures in your product roll out that checks what you’re taking to market. Your reputation is at stake with every dish that gets sent out to the dining room. Don’t let one bad egg that passes your non-existent Q/A process ruin your reputation.
Fundamental #3: Take Fraud Seriously
When paying the bill, provide a secure and verified process that everyone follows, every time. The restaurant kept our credit card accidentally at the bar. We signed and left. We received a call the next day to retrieve the card.
This kind of thing happens all the time. However, it shouldn’t. Not every restaurant employee should have access to run credit cards. Not every restaurant employee should have access to the cash drawers. I’ve seen a combination of bar staff and maitre’d posts owning that job. The same goes for any industry.
Lesson Learned: Be wary of those a company chooses to provide this kind of access to, and make sure they are well trained in standard operating protocol.
In moral of the story is this: You may say that you have a fancy burger that knocks your socks off and will keep you coming back, but if you can’t get the basics right, then you’ll never see me walking through your door.