Veteran DSR Todd Hauser of Martin Bros. Distributing and founding board member of AFDR discusses how he is managing his business through Covid-19 and beyond.
Operators have been forced to change their menus, delivery containers, operating systems, etc. in-order-to survive and operate efficiently during this trying time. Todd discusses with DSR Dave what some of his customers are doing that’s working for them.
One of his operators who has a two-sided place with a trendy, casual tapas type place on one side and fine dining/white table cloth on the other had talked with Todd, his DSR, before Covid about the need to reduce the size of his large menu to make it more manageable, simplify training, and adjust prices and processes, but he had not been able to make himself cut anything. But now after being forced to close for 3 months due to Covid-19, he realized he needed to reduce the size of his menu to prepare items better than before and make a better profit, making the menu and processes simpler and more streamlined.
The operator cut his top entrees down from about 15 to 5, went from 8 salads to 3, reduced his sandwiches to 6 from 12, and took appetizers down from 12 to 6. Since people were just happy to be able to eat out again, his goal was to execute each item really, really well so the crowd who was not going out as much would be happy and satisfied with their purchases. His business is back to about 80% of pre-Covid, yet he is actually making more money. He is keeping his menu fresh by bringing back old items for a day or weekend and trying out other things. He and his wife get their orders out faster each week and employees are more efficient at preparing the new menu.
Another operator who has three different concepts made their menus simpler and smaller, but execution is top notch and their take-out is growing. Take-out containers must be changed out to be able to deliver more variety of foods in a way that they stay crisp and not soggy, etc. Another operator has not opened his dining room yet but is at about 65% with take-out of $40 steaks that works because he purchased the right kind of packaging.
What worked two years ago for operators and DSRs is not working the same moving forward. It is a great time for DSRs to help their operators get their items priced right so they are making money, or they’ll get eaten alive. Those who’ve done this have not heard complaints from their customers. It is also a great time to suggest new products like a quality, pre-portioned frozen fish in lieu of fresh that they may not get used and go to waste, losing money. Speed-scratch items save operators time and money and there are so many great frozen products out there now to help during this time when they don’t know which help is coming back or how much business they’ll have, etc.
This is a great time to get samples in or even a different brand to better suit the purpose. Also, this is a great time to go back to prospecting some of those who had turned you down before because they loved their DSR because now they may have lost their DSR and they may rather have someone they know and can trust than just a new person that was put in that spot. If you can fill a void, you may get your foot in the door.
Diversifying your portfolio is wise too, including C-stores, pizza shops, restaurants, drive-thrus, fast food, and healthcare. Since Covid-19 if you only had family restaurants, you probably went kind of broke over the last three months.
Suggest ways to set up curbside-to-go with the right packaging if they don’t have a drive-thru and ways to utilize their own restaurant employees to deliver the food versus a Door Dash type service to ensure better and quicker delivery.