Restaurant owners often see other restaurateurs as competitors, but I’d like to rethink this perspective. Other restaurateurs are also your colleagues. Who better understands the challenges you face? Other restaurant owners can be great contacts to put you in touch with new industry connections, to help generate new marketing ideas, and to share your passion for food and beverage.
Consider joint marketing efforts with other establishments in your area. In the Rochester area, several landmark restaurants developed a loose association for joint marketing of their destination restaurants. At least one group of Western New York restaurants formed a buying cooperative to leverage their buying power to get better prices from vendors.
One website discussing effective cost-cutting measures for restaurants suggests that purchasing co-operatives can reduce food costs 10-15%. The key is to focus on your 5-10 highest volume items. Savings on these items will yield savings without the excessive administrative costs of micromanaging purchasing for hundreds of items.
There are also industry professional associations that can offer a great way to connect with other restauranteurs. There are dozens of such organizations, including:
- National Restaurant Associations
- New York State Restaurant Association
- National Bartenders Association
- American Institute of Wine and Food
- American Culinary Federation
- Women Chefs and Restaurateurs
- International Franchise Association
- National Bar and Restaurant Management Association
Get out and meet other restaurant owners. You will find them a great resource as you operate and grow your eatery.