Do These 18 Things to Become a Better Restaurant/Bar Owner

By Nick FosbergJune 232024

There are always things that we can do to improve in ourselves. There are things that we tend to forget about from being so busy working in our business and even working on our business.

So no matter how successful you are, there are always things that we can do to be better as an owner, a manager or operator, and to give a better experience to our customers. So let’s dive into the 18 Things to Become a Better Restaurant and Bar Owner.

#1 – Make Personal Time

I hear from so many clients, so many different people, that they’re just working like dogs in the business, 50 or 60 hours a week. And that can be very frustrating, tiresome, and then that reflects on your employees. That also probably reflects on your customers as well and even family life.

So it’s always good to make some personal time for your family. Get away from the business. Even if you feel like you’re not making as much as you want and you need to save on payroll, it’s going to be better for you to pay that money and get away and focus, and come back as a new person by spending time with your family.Go out boating, go out with the guys, go golfing, just anything you can do to relax and get away from the chaos of owning a bar and owning a restaurant. Doing this is going to make you a better bar or restaurant owner.

Go out boating, go out with the guys, go golfing, just anything you can do to relax and get away from the chaos of owning a bar and owning a restaurant. Doing this is going to make you a better bar or restaurant owner.

#2 – Break Away From
Negative People

That’s pretty common. Obviously, you want to surround yourself with positivity. Be around positive people who are trying to better their lives. When you surround yourself with people like that, it motivates you and drives you to want to be more successful, especially if these people are more successful than you.

The one thing that I’ve learned through a mentor of mine, Brian Kurtz, who used to work with Agora – they do 3 to 5 million dollars a year in sales from direct mail.

But he always says if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. What he means by that is there is always something to learn, and surround yourself with those people who know more than you, because it’s going to drive you more and give you more motivation to be more successful. And even if it’s not more successful, maybe you’ll be happier with yourself and your life.

If you’re looking to surround yourself with successful bar and restaurant owners from around the country who want to help, here’s a great place.

#3 – Get Sleep

This is a big one. Obviously, if you’re drained all the time from working so much, getting some sleep is obviously going to give you a lot more energy to work in your business and just make you feel better about yourself.

#4 – Learn New Technologies

This is really important in today’s age, because technology has taken over. Smartphones, iPads, and all this stuff is what everybody’s growing up with these days. We probably won’t even have pens ten years from now.

Even if you’re at a point in your life where you’re just like, I don’t want to learn new technology and there’s nothing sexy to me about learning new technology, hire someone to, because it’s important for you to be ahead of the game or at least in line with where everything is going, because your customers are now adapting to technology.
And the way to market to them is now digital marketing. The newspaper and everything else, yes. But if you really want to get the best bang for your buck, you need to learn the technical ways of getting to your customers. And overall, you’re going to get a higher ROI marketing that way than you will using the old school strategies that you might have been used to five or ten years ago.

#5 – Read Books
and Educate Yourself

This is very, very important. You want to keep educating yourself. And two of the books that I tell all my clients to make sure that they read are:

One, The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. That’s all about systemizing your business. It talks a lot about McDonald’s, the start of McDonald’s, and how it’s grown into this multibillion-dollar company. And there are so many of them, and they’re all just systemized. And that’s what you need to do with your business.

That’s fortunately what I’ve been able to do with both of my bars. I’m rarely at either of them. I spend a couple of hours a week on the marketing side, the promotional side, working with my managers and making sure that things are getting done. That book taught me a lot about how to systemize my business, and it’s taught me a lot about how to do as much as I do with Bar Restaurant Success as well.

Another one, Think and Grow Rich, which is by Napoleon Hill, is a great book. Just by the title, it makes you think. And when you think the way that you need to think, that Napoleon Hill talks about here, it’s going to help you grow rich and be smarter and think about what you need to do with your life to retire and be where you want to be at a certain age for early retirement. So make sure you read books, educate yourself, and these are two that I definitely suggest that you read.

If you’re looking to stay ahead of the competition with new technologies, new marketing strategies, new promotions – BARS Inner Circle is your answer.

#6 – Work With Mentors

One thing that I’m doing at the time of me doing this video – next week or in a week and a half, I have Donald Burns, the restaurant coach coming out. And I have him coming in to systematize my whole kitchen and get our food costs and all that stuff down. We’ve done that stuff before in the past and kind of lost track with it. Again, I’m not there that often, but I know systems are what work. You’ve really got to know your numbers, and I don’t want to go through learning all that shit. I don’t like that kind of stuff. I don’t want to know the prep sheets and all that kind of stuff. That’s not what I’m into. I like doing the marketing side of things. So what I do is I outsource that. And I went to Donald, and now he comes in for two or three days to get everything in order and get my managers doing everything. And it’s an investment up front, but it’s going to save me a lot more money over time.

So it’s always good to work with mentors. I work with a lot of other business coaches as well. I learn from others. Again, surround yourself with people who know more than you. But there are marketing mentors out there, business growth mentors out there. There are life coaches out there. It’s always good to work with others. Don’t think that you know everything about the bar business, the restaurant business, or business in general, because things are changing at a rapid pace. So unless you’re reading five books a week and going to seminars and doing all this crazy stuff and learning more and more and more about business growth and new technology, maybe you don’t need to and you are the mentor. But I believe everybody in life needs mentors, because two heads are better than one.

#7 – Read the News

The reason why you want to read the news to become a better bar or restaurant owner is because you can tie certain events that are going on in your local area to promotions. Also, you can do a lot of grassroots marketing as far as showing up at certain events in the news.

So if there’s a local charity going on or maybe there was this horrible car crash, something like that – I’ve done tons and tons of benefits for people from watching the news where they’ve actually reached out to us to do a benefit for them.

But there have been a lot of things that I’ve found in the news, too, where I’ve reached out to certain organizations saying, “Hey, how can we help you raise more money? How can we help you make your event more successful?” And when you do that, people appreciate it because you’re there to help them. And it’s a win-win for both sides, and they also give you a lot of exposure as well for that.

So read the news, find out what’s going on in your area, and think of how you can be a part of it. How can you reach out to people and help them? Don’t always think about yourself. Think about how you can help others first, and when you do that, your business will grow much faster and you’ll be much happier in life for sure.

#8 – Talk/Engage With Customers

This is a big one. One thing I always do is take surveys to find out what your customers want, what they don’t like, and what you could do better. Hopefully you can take criticism well, and you should. But ultimately, it’s our customers who pay the bills, and you should find out from them what it is that they like, dislike, or what they would like to see you do to improve the business, or just new things that you could bring to the table. Because again, giving the customers what they want is what it’s all about. It’s not what we want.

And there are things that you can ask about: obviously promotions, specials, and how’s the service? That’s a very important one. The atmosphere – is there anything we could do to change the atmosphere? Is the music too loud? Are we playing the wrong music? And then, also ask about competition. One question I really like to ask is why do you choose one bar or restaurant over the other? And what you will see when you ask this, and I highly suggest you do this – even just send it out in an email if you need to or ask the next 50 customers that you see – but what makes you choose one bar or restaurant over the other? And you will see that it’s atmosphere, service, and cleanliness. It’s not about price. Five or 10 percent of people might say price, but most people would rather pay an extra 50 cents, a dollar, or two dollars more for a meal or a drink if they’re going to go somewhere, feel comfortable, and get good service.

#9 – Exercise

Exercise is important because you’re going to feel more energetic, and you’re also going to get more done.

I used to go to the gym around five o’clock, and I would try to do all my work during the day, but recently I started going to a trainer. #9 - Exercise

And I’ve been going at nine o’clock in the morning, and I have seen a huge, huge difference in my productivity from doing that early in the morning. I’m also going to bed earlier at night, so I’m getting up at about five in the morning. I get some work done, I go to the gym, and I come back. And I just feel a lot more energetic, especially after that hot shower, and I’ve noticed I get more done.

So if you exercise and get that going, that will also help you become a better bar or restaurant owner.

#10 – Automate & Outsource
What You Can

Don’t try to do everything in the business. The accounting, ordering, scheduling – there’s a lot of little tedious things. Accounting isn’t tedious, but if that’s very time-consuming, hand that stuff off to an accountant. Ordering – have your manager do your ordering. I don’t do any ordering. I don’t do any scheduling. All that stuff can be done by managers to take over. Your social media postings, putting stuff on Facebook and Twitter – all that stuff can be done by managers. You don’t have to do that kind of stuff.

You need to focus on growing the business, working on the business, and not working so much in the business. And that is ultimately, going to make you a better bar or restaurant owner.

In the BARS Inner Circle, we build out systems for you and with you to drive revenue and cut costs.

#11 – Accept Challenges

What you learn, put that into action, because there are always going to be challenges. There are always going to be bumps in the road. I hit them all the time, in the bar business and even in the marketing business. But when you can accept challenges, you learn from mistakes, and you learn from things that you do. And ultimately, you learn how to do things differently and become better at those things. So accepting challenges and accepting your fears is ultimately going to make you a better bar or restaurant owner as well.

#12 – Form New Partnerships

This is very important. Tanning salons, doctors’ offices, grocery stores, cleaners – who around you is also selling their service or product to others in your area? How can you work with them where they can hand out offers for your business and you can do the same thing for them?
One thing that we’re starting to do a lot of is send out email blasts for other companies, and they’re doing the same thing for us. So it’s kind of like a joint venture partnership where you’re just giving each other more exposure for free, and you’re saving a lot on marketing dollars.

Also find sponsors for certain events that you’re doing. If you’re doing this big event and you’re running it online for several weeks and you’re running Facebook ads or Pay per Click ads or whatever you’re doing, if you put that sponsor on there and you give them a ton of exposure, and if you’re capturing leads online – say you’re taking people to a lead capture page to sign up for this promotion to win something or whatever, you could have emails from that company go out three, four, five, six, seven days later with their offer to people who’ve signed up.

So there are a lot of different partnership opportunities that you could do there, and then they pay you $500 bucks, or maybe they pay you $250 bucks, whatever it is. But if you can get a couple of sponsors to do that, you can get $250 or $500 here and there, $500 or $750 bucks. That can cover the costs of, for example, let’s say we’re giving away a 60-inch TV or something like that. So you can get a lot of costs covered by forming partnerships for your promotions, in exchange for extra exposure for their business.

#13 – Try New Approaches
and New Strategies

This is really important, and marketing would be by far the number one thing in which to try new approaches and new strategies.

Marketing is really one thing that can lead to major breakthroughs in your business. It was one of the things that was a major breakthrough for me when I was a struggling bar and restaurant owner. I didn’t know anything about marketing, and I reached out for help. I went to experts, and that’s what helped me double my business. And it was all from trying new approaches and new strategies.

But it’s the same thing with menu items, not just marketing. Try new menu items. Try new specials. See what people like. And again, ask your customers what they want, but don’t keep doing the same things over and over and over. People get bored with the old; they want new. When they go up to someone they haven’t seen in a while, they say, “Hey, what’s new?” Everybody wants to know what’s new. That’s why people are watching the news; they want to know what’s new, what’s going on. So keep that in mind, and that will definitely make you a better bar or restaurant owner as well.

#14 – Give Feedback to Employees,
and Listen to Feedback

How can you be better as an owner or even a manager? Ask your employees that. Send them an email or a text message. Or maybe they might be scared to answer, so put some sort of box out. Don’t make them sign their name, but you should find out really how your employees feel about you and how they think that you could be a better owner or manager. Are you not listening? Or how can you make their job easier? And I’m sure you already make their job as easy as possible, but maybe there can be some confusion. So get feedback from your employees and listen to them, and that can make you a better bar or restaurant owner.

#15 – Watch Your Competition

This is a very important one. What are they doing for promotions, their menu, their specials, their marketing? What are they doing? Are they successful? And if they are, what are the things that they’re doing that you’re not doing that maybe you can. I’m not going to say that you have to copy, but are there certain strategies or certain things that you can do differently? Or can you take something that they’re doing and make it more valuable? Can you make it more fun? Can you make it a better experience? Can you market it differently so that it’s going to gain more traction? So always watch your competition.

#16 – Go to
Industry Conferences

This is very, very important. Go to food shows, the National Restaurant Association that’s always in May in Chicago, the Nightclub and Bar Show.

You surround yourself with tons of other bar and restaurant owners. You meet a lot of new people. You find a lot of new products and services that can ultimately help you grow your business. But by going to these conferences, that’s going to help you become a better bar and restaurant owner, because it’s going to start making you think more about how to grow your business. What can you do differently? What new systems are out there? What new marketing strategies are out there that can help you grow your business?

#17 – Give Back to
the Community

That’s one that will definitely help you. Run some type of charity events. Help out other people in need, and that’s ultimately going to boost your credibility, authority, and relationships within your community. When people see that you’re giving back, you’re going to get a hell of a lot more back in return with more loyal customers and everything over the long run. So definitely focus on giving back to the community and doing charity events for people.

#18 – Find Ways to Improve
Everything in Your Business

Look around. I remember my dad taught me when I was very, very young – I couldn’t even drive – but I would go to work with him and he’d say, “One thing you do when you own a bar in the future is you need to play ‘Where’s Waldo?’” And I was like, what the hell is ‘Where’s Waldo?’ He said, “You walk around and you look at every wall and you look at every chair. You go in the bathrooms. You go in the freezer, and you find something that is wrong. There is always going to be something wrong.” I remember he would get so upset that there were little tacks in the walls from signs that the waitresses would take down, and the tacks would still be in the wall. 

But just find ways to improve anything in your business. Is there a chair that’s ripped? Is there tape on a wall? There are always things you can do. And most importantly, I think it’s the atmosphere. How can you make the atmosphere better? How can you make the service better? Because ultimately, that’s what your customers care about the most. I can guarantee it. Also the presentation of your food and beverages – how can you make things look better, taste better, and be presented better? And that can also help you become a better bar and restaurant owner.

If you’re a bar or restaurant owner who’s looking for an advantage over your competition and you believe that learning from other successful owners can lead you to faster results, click here. The BARS Inner Circle Membership is by far the most valuable and resourceful program available in the industry.

Nick Fosberg

Nick Fosberg is known as one of the highest paid, marketing and promotional consultants in the bar & restaurant industry and he owns 2 bar / restaurants in the Chicagoland area. He's famous for creating some of the highest grossing digital marketing promotions in the history of the bar & restaurant business..... without spending a penny on marketing. All done through e-mail & Facebook posts. 

Click here to get a free copy of my latest book.

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