As they say, life is a marathon and not a sprint. The year 2020 has certainly proved to be just that – a marathon with many twists, turns, and, let’s be frank, several potholes. But restaurateurs and hoteliers are resilient, innovative, and above all, hospitable, and I am confident these qualities will carry us into the New Year.
However, before we reach the optimism we all hope 2021 brings, we must first navigate the fall and winter months, and the traditionally busy holiday season. With cooler temperatures fast approaching, we are challenged with the closing of our outdoor seating spaces. Coupled with the continued fifty percent cap on indoor dining and the ten person limit on indoor events, the next few months will be a challenge like most of us have never seen. I believe our survival as individual business owners and as an industry will be determined by how well we are able to innovate and adapt to these difficult circumstances.
Don’t delay preparing for what will be our most challenging season yet. The costs of goods sold and labor costs are the two largest expense categories for the hospitality industry. Finding opportunities to improve our margins even by just a couple points could be the difference between surviving and closing. There are several excellent software programs on the market that can assist in improving labor efficiency, and if you are not currently using one, I strongly recommend it. In addition, make sure your menus and recipes are accurately priced out and your actual food and beverage costs are in line with your theoretical costs. And if you are not doing an inventory and calculating your food and beverage weakly at the very least, I strongly recommend you make this change.
Now is the time to also look for innovative and diverse ways to increase revenue. I recently spoke with an operator who, after the restaurant closes for the day, is leasing their kitchen to a baker who needs commercial space. I have also seen more brands packaging their products to sell at local grocery stores. It is definitely time to think outside the box and consider ideas that you may not have in the past.
In addition, as we become more dependent on indoor sales, keep in mind those guests who may be dining indoors for the first time in months. They’ll be looking closely at your safety and sanitation procedures. As an industry, we know how to keep restaurant and hotel guests safe. Now is the time to be sure guests see us living those procedures each and every day.
While my term as Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) Chairman continues into January, this is my final Chairman’s Message for The MRLA Magazine. Honored is really the only word that describes how I feel about being entrusted as Chairman of the MRLA during this extraordinarily challenging year. I am so grateful for this Association and the dedicated team of individuals who run the day-to-day operations. To say that we are lucky to have them fighting for the industry we love is truly an understatement. But I am most grateful for the people I’ve met along my MRLA journey - so many passionate and talented individuals working hard every day to serve delicious meals and provide lodging to guests. To them I sincerely and humbly say thank you for your support, guidance, and friendship.