Many people dream about owning a restaurant without really understanding what is involved! This month we sit down with Aaron Brazendale one of the owners of not one but four extremely successful restaurants to learn how easy it is!
1. You own four different restaurants; how do you manage your work-life balance?
We have experienced rapid growth (for our expectations), over the last four years, effectively opening a business from scratch each year. It was hard in the initial stages, now we have settled down and achieving a better work-life balance. Having business partners that can be at work and share the load is a great help.
2. Many people think that owning a restaurant looks fun and easy, what do you say about that?
I felt the same before going into business. Looking in from the outside everything seemed rosy! However, once you start there is no turning back. You succumb to making quick decisions, and experience financial stress that you would never imagine and the way you deal with this makes you a better owner/restaurateur. There are pro’s and con’s in every job, however, owning a restaurant and having your own business has a new level of stress that you never thought existed until you experience it!
3. What keeps you awake at night [regarding the business!]
Being in the business, I am always thinking of what is next, and there is a constant to-do list in my head. In the initial phase of start-up nearly everything relating to business would keep me up at night. However, I trained myself to switch off at the end of work and acted on things that were on my mind during the day so that I am able to have a good night’s sleep! I am somewhat risk averse so the biggest thing for me was the financial stress that business can put you under.
4. Staffing, cash flow, seasonal trade are all common challenges for the restaurant industry. How do you manage those challenges?
Once you have a year of trading under your belt, it is a lot easier to determine the common trends in the industry and the up and downs in the market. Rostering the right amount of people is a fine line because usually, we are right on with rostering however if one thing goes wrong there is the potential of a ripple effect and then lack of service, so this is a day to day battle with getting staff right. One advantage we have is having all business’s within 100m of each other, so we can call on other staff if one place is busier and vice versa.
5. How important is it to your success that you have an external partner like Andrew Pearce from Collins SBA on your side of the table [pardon the pun!]
Having an approachable and easily accessible accountant by our side has been vital, not only with our growth but also in making decisions moving forward and presenting situations to us as a group in a very structured approach. Andrew has been proactive and vital in us keeping on track and focused on a business structure and plan that is for the future and relevant in today’s economic climate.
6. One of the things that we’ve seen grow over recent years is the use of social feedback sites, for example, Google review, Trip Adviser — how have these impacted your business?
We started in business when social media gave business traction, and now the accessibility and real-time posts are more common than ever. All up we have 25,000 people on our Facebook business pages alone, then there is Instagram… having to adapt and respond on all levels of social media we found was a great effort. However, we now have a system that ‘works’. There is always a small percentage of customers you cannot please. Our motto is to have everyone leave our establishments happy and we work hard to deliver this experience.
7. Customer’s expectations seem to be growing all the time. When they experience a high level of service or similar, they expect more of other businesses too. How do you manage customer’s expectations and how do you keep lifting the bar [pardon the pun again!]
We always wanted to bring something new to Hobart. Hobart has high standards of hospitality so if you are off your game customers won’t return. There is constant research and keeping things fresh for all venues, and this again is made easy by our impressive team as they are always raising the bar to stay on top of the game.
8. What’s next on the agenda for you and the business?
We have had five big years as a group and it is now a matter of planning the next five years. We know life changes and we want to be able to get the work-life balance right so that the business is sustainable for us into the future.
9. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of either buying an existing restaurant or starting their own, who hasn’t had much experience?
If you are thinking of entering the hospitality industry be able to take criticism and say goodbye to weekends! Get as much help from others and keep asking questions because there is no right or wrong way to do things; everyone has an opinion!
Thanks for your insights and tips, Aaron. Below are the websites for each of the venues for you to check out!