Coyle Hits the NRA Show: Day 1 Highlights

Coyle Hospitality Group attended the National Restaurant Association Show this weekend in Chicago at McCormick Place. Our team members–including our President, Managing Director, and Restaurant Specialist–spent the weekend getting the scoop on the newest innovations, hottest trends, and upcoming strategies in the restaurant industry. In this three-part series, Coyle will summarize and highlight key takeaways from each day of the event, presenting you with everything you need to know from the show.

Coyle got off to a great start at this year’s National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel show (“NRA Show”). Day 1 was filled with energy and excitement as Coyle joined 58,000 other restaurant professionals to learn, explore, and experience everything the show had to offer. With over 1,800 exhibitor’s this year, there was never a dull moment.

The diversity amongst the attendees and exhibitors was astounding, as the crowd included a wide variety of restaurant operators, distributors, vendors, chefs, and others who are passionate about hospitality. Even former President Bill Clinton made an appearance, although his keynote speech was delayed due to weather. Only one thing can bind together so many different types of people–their mutual love of food!

Educational sessions were also in abundance this year–with topics such as social media, sustainability, and menu trends–and there really was something for everyone.  Coyle kicked off this year’s educational series by attending seminars addressing three separate issues that are crucial to the daily life of anyone in the restaurant business:

  • How to increase your restaurant’s bottom line through better talent management
  • Addressing consumer needs and guest decision making
  • How to decrease costs without compromising service or value

The first seminar of the day was The ABC’s of Improving Profits Through Employee Engagement, with Donna Herbel (Director, Field Training) and Toni Quist (Chief People Officer) of Perkins and Marie Calendars, Inc. What a great way to jump-start Coyle’s learning experience by tackling the two key issues that keep many restaurant operators up at night: how do we engage our employees, and how do I increase my profits? Employee engagement and this subsequent improvement to the bottom line can be achieved by following 12 measurable steps. Herbel and Quist estimate that by following these steps, restaurateurs can help engage employees and see an estimated $25,000-$30,000 increase in their bottom line. Engaged employees are “fully involved in and enthusiastic about their work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests.”

By following these 12 steps, restaurant operators will not only see happier employees, they will start to see greater employee-guest engagement. Also important to remember, the cost of hiring new employees is higher than the cost of retaining them. So, if you keep your employees empowered and happy, they will help drive you to larger profits and higher guest satisfaction.

In the second session of the day, Understanding the Key Dining Needs Driving Consumer Decision-Making, with Chris Startt (Director of Foodservice Marketing) and Chris Elsbury (Director of Foodservice & On-Premise Insights) of Coca Cola, we dove into the motives behind dining out and determined what impacts people’s decision-making. The restaurant industry is growing more difficult and complex, so it is more important than ever to know what your guest wants. Startt and Elsbury explained the concept of DINE (Diner Insights, Needs, and Experiences) and addressed the key trends and attributes that guests consider when weighing their dining options.

Cleanliness and Safety have continued to emerge as important factors in the minds of guests. They want to know they are being served safe, clean, and fresh food. In addition, with the increase in options available and the high level of competition, value is also more important now than ever before.

The second thing to consider is why guests dine out. What is the occasion, and how do you address guest needs? When serving your guests, take their mindsets into consideration. Date Night guests want a relaxing atmosphere and positive messaging, and they do not want to be rushed. On the other hand, Fast and Affordable diners want quick, easy meals and are all about functionality. By knowing your guests and the purpose of their visits, you can turn insights into action and come up with a solution to better cater to those needs, ultimately improving retention and increasing demand.

The last session of the day was Lowering Costs Without Compromising Quality or Service, with Janet Erickson of Del Taco LLC, Dean Gordan of Jack in the Box, David Parsley of Brinker International, Sam Stanovitch of the National Restaurant Association, and Mark Eganhouse.  How do we decrease costs without compromising quality? With continuously increasing prices, supply chain professionals will be challenged in 2012. The solution? The NRA has formed a group to help manage costs without compromising solutions, encourage networking, and help suppliers build relationships. Building supplier relationships is key because you want them to care about you and your business. Another method towards improving supply chain management costs it to conduct regular audits. Remember to keep track of where you are spending money and focus your energies on where you are spending the most. Diligently tracking your spending, negotiating terms, and potentially decreasing frequency of deliveries will help increase efficiency and ultimately decrease costs.

So that’s a wrap for Day 1! Coyle will be back tomorrow with a recap of the events and highlights that summarize Day 2.

© 2024 Coyle Hospitality Group. Reproduction of any material without written authorization is strictly prohibited.

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