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Have you ever heard the analogy of a brand being compared to a sponge, in that it absorbs anything and everything around it; no matter if it’s good, bad, ugly or indifferent? If you have, you’ve probably read Scott Bedburry’s A New Brand World, which we discussed in our last blog post, The Essence of Branding in your Restaurant. Through Bedburry’s sponge comparison, everything matters. It’s critical to note that if your brand soaks up the good, the bad and the ugly, then by consequence you must take accountability in protecting your brand whenever possible, and you must also commit to present your brand in the best light at all times.

Have you stayed true to your brand? Are you consciously presenting it in the best light and forbidding it from being watered down by every Joe Blow who has an “outstanding recommendation” for your joint? While everything matters when it comes to the finer aspects of your brand, the same goes for the ways in which you measure your brand’s equity. Everything. Matters. Here are RSI Partner and Strategic Development Officer, Matt Vannini’s, top 6 ways to measure your brand’s equity:

1. RISK AND SAFETY:

You hear it all the time. Safety is job one. That’s certainly no joke in the restaurant industry. Look what happened to companies like Chipotle’. Safety isn’t just food safety, it’s worker safety as well. Do you have line checks that measure your food temperatures, do you perform preventative maintenance on your equipment? Do your employees have their Food and Bar certifications? Is your BOH Serv-Safe trained?

2. MENU:

How does your menu support the brand? I was in a restaurant a month ago that said (on the menu) they were known for their fish and chips. So what did I do, ordered the fish and chips…. Guess what… I was told that we only do them at dinner. We’ve all been there. Someone makes a rash decision based on one or two guests who yelp the restaurant or submit a negative comment card. For those of you who’ve listed to my podcasts, you know how I feel about Yelp and Yelpers. Do not make decisions by what you read on Yelp alone. Ever! Hear me? Ever! A year from now I’m hoping that sending in bush league yelp review gets someone 15 hours of community service working in a restaurant.

3. VENDOR PARTNERS:

How do your vendor partners support your brand? Why do you have a red bull chiller or a Jäger Machine in your Gastropub? I hope the Seahawk, Bronco or God forbid Patriot tickets you got for placing that Peach, Apricot Schnapps in the middle of your back bar was worth it. Your vendor partners need to support you as well as hold you accountable when you forgot who you are. They need to consistently perform the legwork that you simply don’t have time to do. They are either with you – or against you. Showing up, only to sell you some crap tequila so they can get a trip to Jalisco Mexico is an insult to you, your team and your guest. Don’t fall for it.

4. PEOPLE AND VALUES:

I have been having a lot of conversations regarding how hard it’s been to hire because there’s not “good people” looking for jobs. I learned a phrase years ago from my mentor Mark Eggen. Hire for attitude, train for skill. The best organizations demonstrate this ability day in, day out. Just look at Chick Fillet or Disney. What the independents often lack is a training program of any kind. Do you have a training program? Is it current? Does it set the standard for your team members and effectively communicate your brand. You can’t measure your team members without first measuring your ability to train them. Once established are your team members wearing the appropriate uniform, are they positive and engaging to the guest. How are you educating them on the latest wines, liquors and culinary trends and how are they communicating them to the guest.

5. ORGANIZATION AND EFFICIENCIES:

I personally love this one and it’s most often overlooked. You need to measure your ability to keep the hot stuff hot and the cold stuff cold. What’s your average ticket time? If you’re downtown and you can’t process lunch guests in 30 minutes, you may need to rethink your menu. How often are you going on a wait? Why? Is your sales team trying to seat and buss their own tables? Is it because you have too many six tops and nothing but two tops dining? Don’t ever forget, your ability to produce a product and get it to the guest is why you’re in the businesses. Your ability to do so consistently is a measure of your brand.

6. DECOR AND CLEANLINESS:

Anyone will tell you that most people judge a restaurant by the cleanliness of the bathrooms. More buying decisions are made while looking for a clean towel than you’d ever imagine. By the way: Why are you showing golf or curling on your TV in the dining room of your Farm to Table restaurant? Why do you have a TV in the dining room in the first place? It’s time to check yourself when your restaurant starts to look like the guys from American Pickers are going to make a surprise visit. My personal check on cleanliness – chair legs – dirty chair legs usually mean you’re not paying attention to the little things. Oh yeah and light bulbs that are out. That’s just sloppy.

Do you have BOH and FOH checklists? When was the last time you performed left wall management. That’s where you start on the wall to your left and go top to bottom hugging that left wall throughout your entire restaurant making notes. When was the last time you walked around the outside of your restaurant (including the dumpster) and checked whether the hard work and effort you’re putting forth inside is matched by the exterior of the restaurant?

Just in case you haven’t gotten the point. All of these unmeasured items cost you money. Either in repair and maintenance costs or in lost guests. If you have any form of bonus program for your managers or key employees we suggest that a Brand Equity Review be performed at least quarterly and at least 40% of the eligible bonus be held pending the score of the review. We’ve got a great tool that we’ve put together for you to measure your brand equity. Check it out during our next Webcast at the end of August, and you can request it from your RSI Operations Specialist or our RSI Marketing Department.