The Side Dish

Finance to Table Education for Operating Your Restaurant

My takeaways from the Restaurant Leadership Conference

restaurant leadership conferenceLeading with courage takes many different forms and can be challenging to break tradition or old habits, but it can propel us forward to become better operators and corporate citizens. This year’s Restaurant Leadership Conference (RLC) took place at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Scottsdale, Arizona from April 7 – 10 with a theme of Lead With Courage. RLC has always been a great conference for operators to attend as the breakout and general sessions are on point with expert panels and motivational speakers to take your business to the next level.

As a service provider to the industry, RLC is a great event to not only attend the sessions but also meet with clients, prospects and other service providers. I had the opportunity to attend many of the general sessions and thought I’d share some takeaways surrounding the overarching theme of Lead With Courage.

  • Embrace the importance and value of inclusion and having diverse perspectives from both men and women in management, C-suite roles, advisory boards and board of directors.
  • Understanding and starting with “why” you are doing what you are doing.
  • Aligning your priorities with your company strategy… for a franchisor that may mean your priorities are (1) your franchisees; (2) your employees; and (3) the guests of the branded stores. The trickle-down effect will be felt by all priorities.
  • Understanding the benefits of data analytics, whether it’s data from Yelp or other systems used that will help you understand your customer better or make better decisions on where to build your next location.
  • Dr. Gates, former Secretary of Defense, discussed the importance of leadership qualities including decency, courage, humor, motivation, inspiration, and last, but not least, having integrity.
  • The CEO of Yum! Brands discussed the global growth of each brand and how globalization allows the brands to grow exponentially in other global markets while the domestic market continues to be its base but lessens its dependence on the U.S. economy.
  • Staying true to your DNA is important to staying relevant and creating the culture that differentiates you from other brands.
    Not allowing technology to drive your strategy but allowing your strategy to leverage technology to provide a better experience for your customer or employees.
  • The importance of staying ahead of perceptions and not allowing others to define your brand and products.
  • Understanding how your brand will be received in new markets that are unfamiliar with you, so the launching of the brand can be tweaked to address these perceptions.
  • The IFA stressed the importance of keeping abreast of government policies and regulations impacting the restaurant industry and the story being told to support such regulations that is impacting your bottom line.

The restaurant industry is such an exciting and entrepreneurial industry that constantly evolves to overcome obstacles, embraces technology and understands its importance to our national culture as a place of gathering and celebration and providing an experience to its customers. The sessions offered by RLC provided operators with many ideas to take back with them to see how their brands can be better operated or expanded.

Next year’s Restaurant Leadership Conference is scheduled for March 22 – 25, 2020 at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.