The financial environment has been a rollercoaster for everyone, and it has been quite the ride. From nationwide business closures to record breaking cost of goods, the list of challenges that restaurants are facing has never been more daunting.
While many large chains and successful businesses have found sustainable solutions in reducing operating hours or closing low performing locations, local and smaller restaurants are dealing with unique issues. These combinations of ingredients are creating dishes that can be tough to swallow.
Post-Pandemic Financial Woes and Budgets
Since 2020, Americans have been tightening their budgets and their spending. The increase in products, goods, and services, along with the national inflation rate staying elevated, has become more visible over the years.
While consumers want to go out and enjoy dining like they used to, it is not as feasible as it was. Each year, it has continued. 82% of meals and snacks in American homes are now prepared at home as reported by TSG Wealth Management.
Many restaurants are leaning on their reserve funds, savings, or taking out more loans in an effort to make a dent in their operating cost debt. Food costs and appliance prices continue to skyrocket. However, as we’ve seen with other companies, breaking points have been reached.
5.6 businesses per day are closing up permanently in 2023, according to The Drinks Business. This presents a massive challenge for BBQ restaurants trying to maintain a local spot and survive the economic season we’re in.
A Lack of Creativity and Innovation
Because business owners and diners alike are navigating a tough financial market, the space to take creative risks and try new approaches has fallen to the wayside. Gone are the days of weekly and monthly menu changes, in favor of a more predictable menu that performs reliably.
More restaurants are choosing to limit their menus to combat the financial issues they are facing, ensuring their operating costs do not continue to outweigh their capacity for profit.
Alternatively, taking a small risk and investing in a few ingredients that are adaptable and can be used in a myriad of new dishes may be a step in the right direction. Consumers are looking for high value dining experiences, and offering a new item or wider range of choices can not only capture their attention, but entice them to return and try a new favorite.
Maintaining Rock Star Staff and a Profitable Business
Outside of the financial and customer obstacles that BBQ restaurants face today, taking care with staff is another powerful ally in the road to success. Invest in them like you invest in your restaurant appliances.
Retaining employees feels impossible in a competitive job market with turnover rates at explosively high levels. Toast published that more than 3 out of 4 employees are expected to exit their restaurant job. For owners, this number is staggering.
Investing time and a little of your budget to ask your team what helps them feel valued and what they need to make ends meet at home can do wonders. Fight the stress and strain of rehiring and employee burnout by holding team meetings and collaborative discussions. Understanding the dynamics within your back of house can provide insights that keep a sustainable and reliable team holding up your business.
Location, Location, Location
While this challenge is admittedly the most difficult to resolve, the address of your business can often be a make it or break it aspect altogether. Since the pandemic, many people have moved to entirely different states, or hopped counties, in an effort to save more money or take on a better job opportunity. Smaller towns and cities are enjoying an influx of new residents, making locals harder to find than before. Capturing your community’s attention may need a rework.
One of the best ways to drive eyes on your BBQ restaurant is to collaborate with local news, papers, and social media. Tell your story, and show off your dishes, with your best photos and videos that are tagged at your nearest city.
Utilize your niche and most popular dishes or sides to get potential customer’s taste buds excited. Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms are powerful forms of marketing that can reach more people than a sign on the street.