The Daily Rail: Outback concentrating more on customer experience; should you?

August 2, 2016

Today's Special

The 5 Rings of Olympic Hell! [INFOGRAPHIC]

From the Zika Virus pandemic to political corruption to unhealthy water to a recession and rising crime rates, the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics is full of it's share of troubles.


A New Record!

Twenty-one-year-old Canadian Corey Bellemore set a new Beer Mile record at 4:34.25. The Beer Mile is a drinking race, combining running a mile and speed drinking. Every 1/4 mile, racers need to drink another 12oz beer. So this guy chugged a bear every minute and then sprinted his butt off. 

How does one celebrate winning the Beer Mile Word Classic? With another beer?

That’s a Lot of Celebrating

Rio expects there to be lots of extracurricular celebrating among it’s athletes it seems. Rio 2016 will hand out 450,000 condoms through the 17 days of games, which averages out to 45 per athlete or 2.5 per day. London only bought 150,00 for their games (to be fair, until now that was the record). CBC has a list of condoms distributed per Olympic Games dating back to Seoul in ’88. Spoiler: Atlanta was ridiculously low.


Why it’s important to you: Changes at FanDuel could mean a great promo opportunity for you.

Here’s some news from daily fantasy giant FanDuel that should be music to every sports themed operator’s ears — they are changing their focus from just about winning to using fantasy to bond with friends. (No, that isn’t as weird as you depraved souls think it is!) FanDuel is unveiling a "friends mode" that will enable users to pick a group (ideally with friends) and play daily fantasy for a season with an appointed commissioner who sets the prize money.

Now unless you skipped Marketing 101, this is a perfect opportunity as an operator to invite guests to play in a fantasy league that you create and invite them to play. Remember, it’s daily fantasy, so no trades and no huge commitment. Each player picks his team each week and they compete and connect that competition to your restaurant. You can add your own prizes, post results on your site or in your restaurant, and create as many leagues as you want. It’s a brilliant way to leverage daily fantasy in your location and make it fun for your guests. So, what are you waiting for?


Why it’s important to you: Insights from a big player like Outback Steakhouse are relevant to you.

When a company the size of Bloomin’ Brands (BBI) makes a statement about changing their focus from discount driven traffic to perfecting the guest experience, it’s an instant trend. Last Friday BBI announced they were lowering expectations for full year growth due to a 2.3% sales decline in the second quarter of 2016. CEO Liz Smith said during their earnings call on Friday, “In 2016, we began to pivot. We will reduce the over-allocation of dollars toward traditional discounting and will allocate dollars toward the customer experience.”

Smith observed that deal-driven traffic hasn’t really been materializing. Since 2010, it makes up about 22% of guests traffic, up from 16% pre-recession, but overall traffic has been declining in casual-themed restaurants for years. In fact, there have only been four months of traffic growth since May of 2012. This means that discounting is simply not working and operators need to find another path to growth.

The fact that BBI sees that path leading to improvements in the overall guests experience is a potent statement that all operators should heed. What have you done lately to really move the needle on your guests’ experience? We have seen chain operators like Applebee’s improve their commitment to showing sports on TV gain them new traffic, and watched as Buffalo Wild Wings has embraced new technology like the BuzzTime tablets. Maybe it’s time to look at your overall operation from a guest’s perspective to find those things you can change that will improve their experience in your place. If Outback is doing it, shouldn’t you at least consider it?

BRAVE [Song]

Why it’s important to you: Protecting your employees is a true sign of leadership.

A restaurant operator in Florida came to the defense of a staff member when she was mistreated by a patron for being transgendered. The guest both ranted in the restaurant and later on Facebook, complaining both about the service and the inclusive bathroom policy. Restaurant owner Leor Barak was eloquent in his rebuke of the customers behavior when he said, “We would never choose the revenue of an intolerant patron over the dignity of our employees.”

While at a base level, this story is about transgender equality, it truly transcends that specific issue and is more about our responsibility to your staff as operators. It’s hard enough to find quality people under today’s labor market conditions without them getting excoriated by any guest who wants to judge them publicly for who they are. Once you choose this person for your team, they become your responsibility for both the good and bad. If you don’t stand up for them, then how can you expect them to follow you? Sure staff can make mistakes that will cause you frustration, but when they are clearly just being themselves and they are poorly treated by a guest it’s up to you to protect them. That’s truly what being a leader is all-about.

Outback image by Mike Mozart