Jon Taffer on Communication, Marketing and Consistency in Franchising
'Entrepreneur' editor-in-chief Jason Feifer sat down with 'Bar Rescue' host Jon Taffer to discuss his new book, 'The Power of Conflict,' in which he shares illuminating insights on running a business, maintaining consistency in franchising and where to put your money when it comes to marketing.
Jon Taffer knows what he's talking about when it comes to building a profitable business. During an Instagram Live discussion with Entrepreneur editor-in-chief Jason Feifer, Taffer shared crucial tips for success when it comes to franchising and leadership.
Open communication starts with self worth
Taffer’s new book, The Power of Conflict, explores the benefits of purposeful, deliberate and dignified conflict. Taffer argues that, well, arguing can be productive when approached with intention and respect, and it can pave a pathway for more open communication. As a boss and employer, Taffer explains that instilling employees with a sense of self worth is where productive communication starts and quality work ensues. Taffer believes in providing sincere validation and affirmation in employees’ contributions to the team to build up their self worth so that they have the confidence to share ideas and opinions. “The greatest ideas in my companies don't come from me,” Taffer says. “A great team makes us shine, and their self worth is what gives them the ability to do so.”
Find solutions for the long run
When Taffer opened his first Taffer’s Tavern in 2019, he constructed the franchise in part to address some ongoing challenges he faced in the restaurant industry — rising labor costs, plummeting meal prices and an in-flux economy. Unable to find employees, Taffer created an alternative solution that would eventually lead to a more efficient, cost-effective model in the long run. By essentially creating a “kitchen of the future,” Taffer utilized technology to reduce the kitchen labor burden by 50-60%, and he systemized the operation to significantly reduce training time. “We're running some of the lowest prime costs in the restaurant industry because of the labor savings that we have,” Taffer says. And his model not only saves money, but it also allows for a better customer experience. By computerizing much of the back-of-house labor, management can spend more time in the front-of-house with customers.
Marketing smartly, not expensively
When acknowledging how much most restaurants spend on marketing, Taffer explains that his company didn’t spend any money on it and rather created buzz on its own. “Sixty days before opening, we created a buzz in the market on all the windows,” Taffer says. “It was a countdown – 10 days, nine days, eight days, seven days. When we opened, there was no soft opening — we wish that there was — but we're packed on day one. We eliminated the need for that marketing expense, which picks up much of the increases in food costs and labor and other issues.”
Still, Taffer had the advantage of being a recognizable personality — not a competitive edge every brand has when looking to drop marketing costs. His advice? Start small and stay local. “If my restaurant is in Denver, the city of Denver is not my market, 10 blocks around my restaurant is my market,” Taffer says. “You can be a big deal in 10 blocks. It's hard to be a big deal in the whole city of Denver.”
Taffer believes that by really getting to know the “backyard” of your business and focusing locally, you’ll be able to reach more clusters of your target audience. “Create awareness in a more contained area,” Taffer says. “That's a far better use of money in my view.”
Maintaining quality consistency in franchising
When it comes to franchising, Taffer shared that the preparation techniques in place ensure that the food upholds its quality and consistency across locations. Still, the human factor necessary for good service will always be essential, and as Taffer says “engaged management is the answer.” Taffer remarked on his time working at Ritz-Carlton and the impact of daily team meetings and reading corporate values as a group. “Creating performance out of people comes back to not only the self worth, but gratification from achieving key objectives," he says "We want them to feel gratified and accomplished with something that's important to us." By instilling core values and engaging as a team, good service will extend throughout the business. “And there's no greater gratification than a guest smiling at you when you do well,” Taffer says.