A Dream Is A Wish…

BY FRANCIS BENNETT      September 2014                                                                                                                   


September 2014                                                                                                                   

Restaurateurs are typically hands-on business activists who largely ignore the classic business-school approach to business. Most know how to draw up a financial plan and utilize an operating budget, but few restaurateurs understand the value of the strategic planning process.

 STRATEGIC PLANNING: The title alone makes us groan. But, perhaps, with a little reflection, we might see the value of strategic planning especially when we are about to open a new restaurant.

 WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? Budgeting and planning have been around since man started to use forethought as a tool to plan food gathering for winter. Strategic planning, however, only came to be when military thinkers realized that they had to figure out in advance what they were trying to accomplish by winning a battle in the first place. They realized that imagining their ultimate objective enhanced their ability to make more useful tactical decisions. Good tactics won battles, they reasoned. But good strategy won wars.

 It all became clear to the military thinkers at West Point back in the day, when they translated an old Chinese military proverb that reads:

 If you don’t know where you’re going…you’re probably not going to get there.

 WHERE ARE YOU GOING? When planning to expand your existing restaurant concept or opting to open a new restaurant, sit back and ask yourself this simple question; what is my ultimate objective? The vague desire to make money is not enough to guide you on the rocky path to success.

IMAGINE DETAILS: Let your imagination color in all the detail. Picture the location you are selecting, the food you will prepare, the employees you will hire, the customers you will serve, the decor you will design, the music in your lounge, and the exotic cocktails you will invent.

 IDENTIFY WHAT’S IMPORTANT: Select from this colorful picture of your future restaurant the details that cannot be compromised or overlooked. These are the elements of your success, and you must ensure that they become reality.

 EXECUTE THE PLAN: Plan carefully how you will make these essential details of your dream come true. Decide what must be done, and when, to ensure that each success element is realized. Make no excuses for not executing every detail. Never say, “It can’t be done”. Never say, “It was only a dream”. Never say, “It’s not that important”. Every detail that you imagined and colored in step one, above, is essential to your success. Remain passionate in the execution of your dream.

 HOLD EVERYONE ACCOUNTABLE: If your dream is to become a reality, you must hold all responsible parties accountable, including yourself! No one else sees your vision exactly. Only you can see your detailed dream in full color. However, it takes many individual contributors each doing their part to design, build, open, and operate a successful restaurant. Never lose sight of your dream. Hold each contributor responsible. That is how dreams come true.

 REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW: It is not over. It is never over. Successful restaurants are not complete the day they open. Constantly review the dream in your mind as you operate each day. Test every operating detail against your imagination. On the tenth day, if the Caesar Salad preparation isn’t what you dreamed, correct it. If your hostess isn’t greeting your guests as you pictured in your mental movie, teach her the part you want her to play. Your dream is your genius and your ultimate success. Never stop the dream from running in your mind.

 STRATEGIC PLANNING: So, the words strategic planning need not make us groan. Strategic planning is nothing more than dreaming. The only difference is that the strategic planner respects his dream and clings to it fiercely. He knows in some very deep place in his heart, that his dream is his genius and his key to success.

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