Building Sales via the Community

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Building Sales via the Community

In May 2008 I gave a presentation to the National Farmers Market Conference in Blenheim, New Zealand. One of the speakers was Johny Schwartz, the owner of Schwartz Restaurant in Christchurch. He was a motivating speaker and talked about two beliefs in his business. One was that there should be no waste and that as a “green” restaurateur he had a responsibility to reduce waste as much as possible and to use all parts of the animal, fish, vegetable or fruit whenever possible. The other aspect was on how to motivate his growing labour force. When they join they are trained in the different aspects of; for example, meat and have to handle all parts of the animal’s anatomy. Each day before opening, they sit down and eat that day’s menu so they have the confidence to advise the customer that evening. In November 2008, in a Kiwi recession, I finally had the opportunity to visit the restaurant for a meal and check if it would exceed my expectations. Linda and I tried to book for Saturday evening, but he was already sold out and we had to reserve a table for the Monday evening. The taxi driver took us away from the “swanky” part of Christchurch to one of the suburbs and left us surround by light industry factory units and Johny’s Restaurant, not the ideal place to open a restaurant. The service was exceptional; our waiter had a background of MacDonald’s and was impressed with the grounding they had provided. The advice was given with confidence. The food also exceeded our expectations and the restaurant was full on a Monday evening. The price was exceptionally reasonable; in fact we paid more the night before at our hotel restaurant. What lessons came out of this experience: Be the best at what you do – Johny mentioned that restaurants were feeling a downturn in the recession. The cheap end fast food and top end were maintaining their businesses; it was the middle that was suffering. When you’re the best you still have to offer value – In a recession you cannot get away with inflated price structures, at the same time you don’t have to discount your prices. If you’re the best the consumer will still pay a reasonable price. Link into the Community – Each patron is encouraged to donate $2 per bill to “Dine it” a New Zealand campaign organised by a select number of restaurants to help underprivileged in the community. Oh…. And finally, the wild venison with a rhubarb relish and liquorice is to die for.