Everyone loves to talk about how “the internet changed everything,” but few people are willing to take a hard, critical look at their own response to the monumental changes that the digital age has ushered in. Yes, the advent of the internet has changed a lot, especially in the small business world. But, as a restaurant owner, it won’t help your business to dwell on that fact or reminisce over what things were like before the World Wide Web. What can help you succeed is taking a look at some of your habits that have carried over from the pre-internet era, and taking some time to think about how you can change them. Here are 7 old habits from the pre-internet era that you should be trying hard to break.
1. Skipping Your Daily Reading
Before the internet, you may have been unexcited by restaurant trade publications, and for good reason. Once you have been in the business for a while, there may not be too much to learn from restaurant specific magazines. These days, however, there is a blog for every digital tool, every marketing technique, and everything else you could ever hope to learn. Read as much as you can; your business will thank you.
2. Relying On Your Telephone
Before the internet, your phone was the most powerful tool you had to communicate with customers and the outside world. Forget about that world. Now, digital tools and the internet can replace many of your phone’s old functions, and help your restaurant run more efficiently. Online ordering is a prime example, and moving away from phone take-out and to-go orders can literally change the way your restaurant runs – for the better.
3. Not Looking At Your Competition
Before the internet, it was hard and awkward to “scope out the competition,” and you probably weren’t at any big disadvantage if you didn’t do so. These days, however, you can use the internet to learn a whole lot about other restaurants in your area, and start levying the things that make them successful. If you are just getting started with social media and creating an online presence for your business, looking at other businesses in your area and how they handle their web presence can be invaluable.
4. Foregoing Networking
Networking can help your business grow, help you learn new things, and help you stay on top of the competition. Before the internet, you had to attend trade shows or meet with potential connections in person to network, which means you may have never given networking much thought with your busy schedule. However, sites like LinkedIn make networking a breeze. With just a few hours of time every week devoted to networking, you can learn a huge amount from the most successful restaurateurs in the world. And, in some cases, you can raise the profile of your restaurant along the way.
5. Skipping In-Person Staff Trainings
Memos, one-on-one interactions, and short announcements may have been all it took to communicate new information and train your staff in the past. But, in the era of digital tools and constantly changing technologies, it may take a lot more to keep your staff up to date on what things you want your business to pursue. Every time you introduce a new digital tool, make sure that you take the time to train your staff thoroughly on how to use it. Otherwise, you will never get as much out of your tech upgrades as you could.
6. Living in a Bubble
There is a big world out there. The internet makes it possible to explore that world from the comfort of your home or business. So, why live in a bubble? Take the time to look far and wide for new strategies for success. Look at popular restaurants in other cities around the world. Ask your questions in forums and on boards that bring experts from all around the globe together. The more you use the internet to break down spatial barriers and learn more lessons from around the globe, the better.
7. Trying To Do It All
We get it: as a small business owner, part of what makes you successful and part of what drew you to the field of owning your own business in the first place is your ability to learn new things and take on a lot of different roles. Depending on how big your restaurant was and how much business you did in the pre-internet era, you may have been able to wear every hat.
These days, there is just too much to know. There are too many tools out there that you can utilize, and using them wrong will cost you. Consult a professional when you can afford to, and you will be rewarded with much better utilization of the many digital tools the internet age has made available. Which is good for you, and good for your business.
Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.
About us and this blog
We are on a mission to help local restaurants thrive in the new digital economy. Our blog is designed to give local restaurants best practices from some of the top restaurants in the world today.