When it comes to restaurant management, there’s an inherent disconnect between operations and marketing.
Although their end goals are the same, the different paths they may travel to reach that destination can end up putting both factions on a rocky road. At a basic level, marketing and operations function in a circle.
For promotions, marketing creates a campaign to attract guests; operations executes the campaign and provides feedback/results to marketing. For Limited Time Offers (LTOs), the cycle is reversed with operations creating the LTO that marketing is then tasked with promoting. Considering the cyclical nature of this process, along with the natural overlap and dependence on each other for success, marketing and Operations must see each other as allies, not enemies.
To be completely aligned, operations and marketing should do their very best to understand the challenges faced by the other department. Operations teams are built to innovate and deliver good, scalable, consistent food and dining experiences, while marketing is always looking for something unique to offer new and existing guests.
Operations are tuned in to the here and now (i.e. guest feedback, current food costs, menu mix). Marketing, on the other hand, lives in the future; in a world of “what if?” When the two mindsets work in tandem, magic is possible.
Marketing has access to information that can shape operational decisions in meaningful ways, ultimately creating a better overall experience for consumers. The best marketers can detect trends in areas such as taste preferences, social chatter, and industry growth, and inform operations so that they can quickly adjust menus or server training based on that information.
Furthermore, monitoring should be a collaborative exercise between marketing and operations to ensure that the most important and meaningful metrics are gathered. Flavor partialities, protein penchants, healthy vs. indulgent proclivities, and even basic lunch or dinner preferences, can be measured over time to identify trend shifts and proactively solve potential problems before they occur.
If your restaurant already encourages an open dialogue between operations and marketing, your guests likely recognize that you offer a consistent experience with interesting menu options.
If your Operations and Marketing departments are not in regular communication, it’s time to start opening those lines and building bridges now. A marketing initiative should never leave the department without being vetted for operational feasibility. Conversely, operations should strive to keep marketing informed of the most current information and feedback, whether negative or positive.
When marketing and operations work together, it not only makes for a more harmonious work environment, but a more satisfying experience for guests.
Sean Baker has 18+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.