The internet offers an endless source of information for those who know where to look. But with our crazy schedules and overflow of information, it becomes difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. This is a quick guide about the different resources at hand for restaurant owners to educate themselves and discover new technologies, new processes and interesting trends.
1 – Peers and Friends
Don’t be afraid to ask around you when you have an issue you are trying to solve. Even someone who might be working in your field could provide surprisingly helpful feedback. For instance, if you are looking for a new software for your restaurant, someone might have seen what your competitors use. Or if you are wondering how to retain your good employees, someone might have faced the same issue at their workplace and can offer valuable suggestions.
2 – Employees and General Managers
Share your concerns and challenges with your employees and actively encourage them to provide suggestions. They know your operations as well as or even better than you do. You might be surprised by their contributions. And you will get bonus points for listening to them and implementing their ideas: there’s no better way to make them feel valued.
3 – Facebook Groups and Other Online Discussion Forums
There are many online forums and groups readily available, but I do have a preference for Facebook groups. I belong to a healthy number of them and love the wisdom and camaraderie among their users. Sure, you also meet the occasional trolls, but the beauty of Facebook is that they will rapidly be weeded out of the group. Those groups are great places to ask your questions to an ensemble of knowledgeable and experienced industry folks. So don’t be shy – ask away.
4 – Regional Restaurant Associations
Register for your regional restaurant association’s events. They offer educational sessions, as well as the opportunity to mingle with professionals, chefs and restaurant owners in your area. If you are outgoing and friendly, you might even find a mentor to help you navigate the complexities of restaurant ownership. Memberships are not free but might end up being well worth it when you need support from the restaurant community. Plus, it’s a great way to stay up-to-date on the new and upcoming regulations in the industry.
5 – Industry Trade Magazines and Websites
Modern Restaurant Management, Nation’s Restaurant News or, QSR Magazine among others, are great resources to discover the latest trends or to learn about current issues. They cover every aspect of managing a restaurant – from staffing challenges, to inventory management or about current trends or best technologies available. To make sure you stay up-to- date on the industry news, you can subscribe to their newsletters for free and get the latest news in your inbox every week.
6 – Technology Vendors and Distributors
Nowadays, good marketing practices entail providing valuable content to your customers. Distributors and technology vendors, who understand that principle, thrive on providing educational pieces, statistics and information that benefits their customers. So subscribe to your technology provider’s newsletter, be curious and also subscribe to the newsletters of their competitors. In terms of marketing, take a look at marketing solution providers, even if you can’t afford their services. HubSpot, for instance, has created a large library of articles to help you promote your business effectively. The best part: it’s all free.
There are other resources for information available, but the above list is a great start. Be inquisitive, ask a lot of questions and be ready to provide feedback and be part of the conversation. And try to give back as much as you take in; most of those resources can only work if they hear back from the community they serve.