Need direction to develop a restaurant strategic plan? Give it a good SWOT. What we mean is, take the time to document your operation’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis is the basis of your strategic plan. Here are some tips to make it a good one:
- Don’t go it alone. Conduct a brainstorm session with key managers and staff who may have different perspectives than you do. They may see strengths and weaknesses you don’t recognize.
- Look at the long term. The opportunities section of your SWOT analysis should help you define where you want to be in five years. The threats section indicates roadblocks that will stop you from meeting your goals.
- Don’t set it in stone. Certain elements of your restaurant strategic plan should be implemented in your daily operations right away, while others may change as you experiment with various tactics.
- Ask for feedback, and listen to it. In sharing key ideas of the plan with others, you’ll gain new ideas that will help you consistently improve.
- Mystery shop. By understanding what your customers see when they enter your restaurant, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you are able to pinpoint areas that need improvement.
- Know your competition. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, too. Competitive advantages are out there for the taking.
- Be an effective communicator to your team. Clearly outline policies and procedures that align with your strategic plan and be certain everyone knows not only what’s expected of them, but how it benefits them.
- Monitor your long-term goals. Your strategic plan is a living document. Don’t set it and forget it. Be on the constant lookout for times you’re veering off track.
- Recognize successes. When you and your team reach milestones, give yourselves a public pat on the back. Even the smallest achievements are rewards for jobs well done.
- Rinse and repeat. Look at your strategic plan with fresh eyes throughout the year and realize it’s an on-going process that should be continuous, dynamic and even fun!
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