Richard Weil 4:57
So the original individuals Started it had a Cracker Barrel background. And essentially, if you thought about it during one of the recessions had left Cracker Barrel, he had a human resource background and believed that there was an opportunity to help restaurants with turnarounds. And that was the premise of it is to help them come and be a problem solver to help them figure out a way and thought processes and systems to get through things. And then individual who’s still the president of our company, who I purchased the company from a few years ago, has remained on with us, he bought that company, the original National Restaurant Consultants about 12 years ago. And then I started with the company about 10 years ago. And the whole belief behind Natural Restaurant Consultants is that we are a solutions based company we help concept. So we will help brand new restaurants, we will help them concept we can do systems of supply chain, restaurant design, interior design, we can then network our vast network if you would have resources, which goes all the way from SBA funding into real estate architect general contracting, not just in the Colorado market, but throughout the United States. And we’ll help people go from A to Z to get to a restaurant open then, about the other half of our business is centered around turnarounds or problem solving, working with restaurants, finding solutions to help them be successful. And of course, during COVID during the pandemic, we did seven months of pro bono work 100% From March of 2020 through September of 2020. We didn’t do any Billings. We did everything pro bono for restaurants who ever call this, we wanted to help them. We weren’t traveling necessarily. And we really did very limited travel. But we were helping people through zoom calls or phone calls or texts or whatever, to help them get through this. So we help people get their PPP round one PPP round to their RF money, we helped restaurants get their PPP, loans forgiven, we help people get their economic injury, disaster loans. We did whatever we could to help people survive. That included writing a protocol last March and early April we republished in, I believe it was about seven or eight different national publications, on protocols for how to deal with the pandemic, with to go orders, cashless, touchless, payments, social media, how to gain, how to stay at the top of the mind awareness, if you would, with clients, I mean, with their clients with their guests, and not to disappear. And we know a lot of restaurants did disappear. And we understand why and how some restaurant concepts just didn’t travel well. And when we were locked down so heavily from mid March to really first of June, across most of the country. Some restaurants, they just their food, just you know, if you were deep fried breaded food, it just didn’t travel real well. I mean, it was very difficult. And so we did have a lot of people go away, because again, they either got, I would say totally scared freak out. And we’re not able to pivot. And then a lot of restaurants were pivoting. We have had a restaurant example in Laguna Beach, California that basically turned themselves into a deli. And they did wholesale business out of their restaurant in the second floor, they turned their dining room into a small grocery store. And they bought products from their distributor, like whole chickens like lamb, rack, Alam, et cetera. And they basically went on social media and their community and they survived it. We also help people negotiate with their landlords and with their bank loans, and those are the things that we did to help people stay and to stay relevant and to survive. So we’ve done a lot of pivoting last year and three quarters or so.
Chad Franzen 9:02
Sure. It sounds like you gave some great advice and you gave it to them pro bono. That’s That’s incredible. did you How did you know? How much kind of rewiring did it take for you guys to know what to do? In terms of how to help them?
Richard Weil 9:18
Well, first, we did a lot of research. I mean, our group of six, I have to commend our entire team because we sat there right after the shutdown and we got on a phone we did our own zoom call. We brainstormed and said how do we help people survive this? How do we stay relevant for not just our customers but for anybody who needs help? And so we did a lot of research. We did a lot of reading on the CDC. We got involved with health departments. We read a lot and each one of our folks had an assignment. They they basically Did their own if you would thesis on either supply chain sanitation touchless, cashless social media, we have a co branding partner that we utilize called top line management, who happens to be in Broomfield, Colorado. And we got him involved. His name is Brian Devine, we got Brian involved. And we started a weekly blog video, not like this where it’s an hour long you’re doing, we do an eight to 10 minute video every Wednesday. And we’re doing our 146 recording today 146 recording. So we did them every day for about four months. And we went to once a week. And we wanted to keep relevant as to what that topic was. And we ended up getting several 1000 people following us. And over the course of the year and a half year, almost two years, we’ve we know that we’re well into the four or 500,000 people that have followed and watched our videos that in by itself, provided people hope. And I think that was the thing that was our message. How do we become relevant for the foodservice operator and provide them hope because people were panic. And they still are? I mean, people are still very concerned. There’s no more gifts out there in terms of money from the government. And I don’t foresee that there’s, there’s the consumer wants to dine out. And of course, some of them have to wear masks, some of them have to show a COVID card, etc. Or a pandemic vaccination card, if you would, there’s still that concern. So how do we give them hope? And that’s really been the message how do we provide hope? And what do we still need to do to provide that hope? And we’re doing that lots of research, we spent hours on it,
Chad Franzen 11:50
how has the strategic decision in terms of National Restaurant Consultants to offer services pro bono for that amount of time, kind of worked out for you, you know, over the course of time?
Richard Weil 12:03
Well, we think it’s, it’s paying off and it’s paid off in this last half of 21. We’re busy, we’re busy. Pretty much all of our consultants are, are about as busy as they can or want to be. We can always be busier, it’s it’s we’re never going to refuse a conversation, we’re not picking and choosing, we’re happy to help anybody still. But we we believe that all that work is paying off as far as word of mouth references. We’ve come up with new and different ways to do social media. We’ve increased our list if you would have email contacts, and we’re we’re getting our message out to more people. And we’re doing an electronic letter out at least once a week. And of course, our video and then we do a blog. So I think it’s all the above have helped to stay, if you would the top of the mind, at the top of the mind or at least referrals, references, things like that.
Chad Franzen 13:08
What are so in terms of what you guys do? What are some of the most common stumbling blocks for new restaurant tours, I’m sure people start out with a good idea. Maybe they’ve been a chef, maybe they’ve had certain experiences that they think will work out. Or there’s some kind of common elements that are often overlooked or a stumbling blocks for new restaurant tours?
Richard Weil 13:25
Well, first and foremost, with any customer or any client that is looking to start a concept, if they’ve not ever been in the restaurant business, which a lot of them haven’t, because those are the people that call us they need the help. First thing that we say don’t go read the E Myth. Go read the E Myth or E Myth revisited. Because it’ll talk about being an entrepreneur. And all those reasons why maybe they aren’t really cut out to be an entrepreneur, they have great ideas, they have fun idea, a cool idea, but going to that next level of being an entrepreneur, and then we asked him to read Who Moved My Cheese. Because if they’re going to move into the restaurant space, that’s a big change in their life. And so we really, almost don’t say that’s required reading, we really give him suggested reading because they’re not long. But the first thing and foremost if they’re willing to go read that. And then they come back to us and say, Well, I fit that bill. I’m in that mode. And we interview the clients pretty extensively. That first hour, hour and a half. We spent a good amount of time just really trying to get in their head to see if that makes sense. Now if it’s an existing chef with an existing idea, they’re usually a little further along. But sometimes they think they know more. Or they’ve got all the answers and unfortunately until it’s too late. They think that they’ve got all the culinary answers great. They do. They think they have all the operations, answers. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Or they have a friend who helps somebody who helps somebody with a website or social media. And they’ve got all these friends and they want to take shortcuts in terms of saving money, saving dollars and not doing the business plan. So the first thing is, they need to do a business plan, whether they have it in their mind or not, and a one through five year financial forecast. Because if you don’t, if you don’t set a roadmap in place in our industry, you’re going to become one of those statistics in the first three years. It’s highly probable, you are not going to survive past three years. And we’ve even gone as far with potential prospects and said, Give me $50,000. And I’ll save you half a million. And we’re kidding, of course. But it wakes people up to say what, yeah, cut us a check for 50,000, we’ll save you a half a million dollars, we wish you the best. And what do you mean? Well, you don’t have a viable concept, in all likelihood, and your probability for success is not very high. And therefore, you really should rethink this. And we’re trying to be good, good citizens with you, and being open and honest and transparent. Maybe you shouldn’t do this. We’re polite about it. We’re polite about it. But the answer is, sometimes not everybody’s cut out to do it. And so we actually have given that information to clients. And I hate to say this, but we’re right in the middle of doing that right now with one of our clients right now. We’ve done their financial forecasts, we’ve done their business plan, and we’re in the middle of saying to them, might not be the best idea for you all to go forward. And it’s a hard conversation. But it’s the right conversation, because you’d rather see people not take their life savings or sign personal guarantees and have their house as collateral, or worse, their kids college education tied into a 401k. And all of a sudden, somebody loses three, four or $500,000. And they’re ruined, because they thought that this was going to be a great idea. It’s a tough business. As you know, our industry is tough, it’s hard enough, you know, the SpotOn people have got a good product are one of your sponsors, I noticed that and obviously, I’m aware of it, we’ve got a few of our clients that are on the spot on program. And on the system, excuse me, their POS system, they’ve got a great touchless cashless system, and they’ve got a good system that interacts with all of the third party delivery people, that’s great. What happens is you get these new entrepreneurs in there, and they sit there and say, 18, 20, 23%, I gotta pay these people. They don’t necessarily always understand the whole ramification of that. And what the benefit of having the right point of sale system and right merchant services. So walking people through this, one of the first questions that we always want people to understand is being the least cost and the least cost solution isn’t always the best solution. There’s a reason why it’s the least cost solution. Maybe you want an aspen tree to plant that’s really like a li a weed, versus a big ol Strong Oak or maple. Well, that Maples gonna last 3040 years and then ask the trees only got single roots. And yeah, it’ll spread out. But boy, one strong wind and that baby’s down. And so it’s, it’s things like that little anecdotes that we’re kind. But we’re honest with people. And this is not an industry for the faint at heart, because it’ll eat you alive as far as your time.
We have people that are single moms, or a husband and wife where somebody is going to keep their day job and the other one’s going to run the restaurant. And it’s going to consume them to 60 to 80 hours a week. Is that a lifestyle change that they really want for their family? Is that really what they want? And so those are the questions that we ask, right from the get go on a new concept, because it’s important.
Chad Franzen 18:57
Has there been Do you have I have a couple of example questions for you. The first one is a new client that came to you that you thought was a good fit and ready to start their own their own concept or their own restaurant? Can you give me an example of one of those that you kind of really helped guide and made an impact for?
Richard Weil 19:17
Oh, we have I prefer not to use their name if that’s okay. Yeah, we prefer, you know, this case, we really try and keep our clients out of the public eye unless, you know, unless they give us those permissions. You know, we’ve got so a new client that’s maybe only been open six months to a year we have one and I’ll say it’s back in New Hampshire, and took a while to get this thing open and of course, couldn’t get them open during COVID. New Hampshire was locked down beyond belief where they were located and it took forever to get the city to get them going and they’d been open over a year now. They got opened in June. No, we actually got him opened like end of June 1 of July of 2020. And they’re killing it. They’re doing great. And, you know, that’s because we dotted i’s and cross T’s with the operation. And the concept. And we went through all the right processes of the planning, the business plan, the one through five plan, the marketing, the social media, making sure there was a consumer for it, there was the location, the remodel, it was an existing building an old Oh, no, it was that 180 year old building, it was just terrific. And all the pieces found the place but the owner, he believed in what we were doing, with one of our consultants, our Vice President of our company out of out of the Phoenix area. This was his project. He was, he was masterful at it. He spent time in it. In fact, he even went back, he traveled on an airplane in June of 20. After some of that, planes got opened again. And he was one of like seven people on an airplane. There was no food service at the Phoenix airport, or I think he had to go through Chicago, I don’t remember. But those are the kinds of things we persevered through, and got this restaurant open. And they’re and they’re just doing huge, huge. And it’s because, again, plan the plan and work the plan. That’s one example we’ve got another one in Illinois, plan the plan and work the plan. It’s the same piece of information, same advice. So it really is the planning process and making sure you’ve got an expert around you that really understands what you’re trying to get done.
Chad Franzen 21:39
What about a client without naming them who had been struggling? You know, maybe they were freaked out that they were going to lose it. And then they consulted with you. And now that they’re kind of back on their feet? Do you have an example of a situation? I
Richard Weil 21:51
do? I do. And this is one here in the Colorado market. It’s a five, five store group here in Colorado, they’ve been around 35 years. They had to close during COVID. They didn’t, they didn’t really feel they had products that traveled well, they weren’t they never really done much to go carry out. So they literally shut it down in mid March until the second week of June we got involved, I’m proud to say not only are their numbers rebounded from 2019, we’ve been able to grow their business to where they’re doing almost 27% more sales than 2019. Forget about 2020 pre pandemic, we’ve grown their business by 25 plus percent. And that was a business that literally, I would say was within weeks away of permanently closing and you know, 125 employees out on the street without a job. So yeah, there was a lot of that. I’m gonna move here real quick, because I’m getting sunlight on me. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I’ll see what I can do here. Unfortunately, I’m taking this from a car, as you know. So let me move. That’s got to be better. Right there. Right.
Chad Franzen 23:02
Yeah, that’s good. That looks great. I just have a couple more questions for you. How important is it would you say for a new restauranteur to consult with with a consultant with a restaurant consultant?
Richard Weil 23:17
Well, if it’s a new restaurant tour, that’s basically as the business acumen that’s wonderful. They don’t have the food service and hospitality industry experience. It’s critical to put a consultant into your budget, because we become not only the safety net, but we become the experience that you need to be successful. So as these couple of examples in Illinois and New Hampshire, Arizona, we’ve got examples all over Colorado, Florida, Washington, Northern California, Southern California, you name it. We are we are the ones that really is that mine with the background noise?
Chad Franzen 23:56
I have? No that would be the people working on the grass right outside of me. I would think it’s past time to work on grass, but they are.
Richard Weil 24:04
I’m sorry, but okay. I didn’t mean to interrupt my thoughts. Okay. I, because I see a guy just down the street here with a blower blowing leaves. Oh, yeah. Anyway, so going going through this? It is I think it’s extremely important that somebody whether they don’t get a consultant, they get an expert. And a consultant should be an expert, people who have the references people who have proven track records that can help people with new and great ideas to figure out what is it that we need to do when we start a restaurant we have a 400, almost 450 step process seriously, of items and things that from the get go are questions that need to be answered, and action plans that need a person and a timeline that need to get completed. Now, not all 450 Steps necessarily happen in every new restaurant. Start But those questions get asked on 450. And I will tell you what it does. And there’s a client of ours down in Castle Rock, Colorado. He’s famous for saying, Well, I’m going to ask the next question. And what’s the next question? And we really, really this, this, this client, he, he’s great, because he helps you get into what’s the next question? What’s the next answer? Because there’s usually always the next question. When you’re opening a restaurant. There’s usually the next question. And in today’s world, finding staff supply chain, it’s brutal. It’s just brutal. But you know, those are things. What’s the next question? We have answers? We’re helping people get through the whole process of trying to figure out what is it that has to be done to solve the supply chain to solve the staffing issues? Because those are the number one and two crisis questions of today. And we’re helping this we’re helping restaurants get through that not that we have all the answers, because, good lord, no one’s written the book about the pandemic. Nobody’s got every chapter figured out here. And as you know, we’re seeing things like in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, where, you know, you’ve got to show a COVID card or a vaccination card. Well, I’m not here to politicize anything, I’m just here to say, what do you have to do to be smart as an operator to work through this that you don’t a get out of compliance? And be? What do you have to do to make your guests feel comfortable that you don’t upset a guest? So I think, yes, having an expert behind you, with you, and for you all the way that will help ensure that at least for the first year, and we usually stay on for a year with our clients that we help open on projects, that they set get set up for success, that they’re cash flowing positive, that they’re meeting, if they’ve got an SBA, 578505, loan, whatever, or conventional loan, we often get into the business plan where the bank says, Oh, you got an expert behind you will will approve this loan.
Chad Franzen 27:04
Hey, yeah, it’s been a great pleasure to talk to you. You’ve had some incredible insights. I have I have one more question for you. Before I ask you that question. Where can people find out more about national National Restaurant Consultants?
Richard Weil 27:16
Well, we’re on the website, you can just get National Restaurant Consultants, as as a Google or on any of the search engines. But it’s, it’s restaurantconsulting.us Is is another way to find this restaurantconsulting.us You can actually find me Richard Weil on LinkedIn, you can find National Restaurant Consultants on LinkedIn, as well as Facebook, National Restaurant Consultants on Facebook, LinkedIn, we’re on instant messenger, of course on the web, and then we do our weekly blog. So it’s just a matter. It’s easy to find us that way.
Chad Franzen 27:58
Last question for you what you mentioned some books that you recommend to your clients or their books that you have particularly enjoyed or found valuable. You know, for your own edification.
Richard Weil 28:10
Oh, well, I I do like, again, if you were the One Minute Manager, I love that book. I do like a lot of the E Myth. As I said, I do. I read three to four articles every day, from the trades, whether it be restaurant, business, restaurant institution, or nation’s restaurant news. Not to be an advertisement for those publications, but they’re very good. And I read something every day. And I think that’s the key. If you stay informed, also join your state Restaurant Association. Yes, I’m a past chairman of the Colorado Restaurant Association. I was also on the board in New Mexico, California, on the current chairman of the board of the International Food Service Executives Association. continue your education, continuing education in the industry, it takes five to eight minutes a day. It’s good relaxation, I do it between 506 and seven in the morning, I read three or four small articles every day, just one make sure my brain stays on. But more importantly, just keep in touch. And onto on top of what’s going on with the restaurant associations in the state which tied to the National Restaurant Association. It’s not about politics, it’s about surviving in your industry. It’s not about politics. Always be sure that you protect your investment and protect your wallet by being informed.
Chad Franzen 29:36
Thank you so much, Richard. It’s been a great pleasure to talk to you. You’ve got some great insights. I really appreciate your time today.
Richard Weil 29:41
My pleasure, and maybe we can reciprocate, get you on one of my weekly blogs.
Chad Franzen 29:46
That’d be awesome. Sounds great. Sounds great. Thank you so much. Get
Richard Weil 29:49
in touch. Thank you. Take care. Bye,
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