Consulting in the restaurant business: is it really important?

In my life I have opened and closed many restaurants. I have made many mistakes and failed several times. That is why I am writing these articles today, which are intended to help my “dear colleagues” in avoiding to repeat the same mistakes I did.

Because if you don’t understand, you either won’t act or you will act badly, while if you understand, you can generate extra revenue directly proportional to the investment made.
The assumption is simple: we live in a digital society where people are interconnected and spend so much time online, on smartphones, tablets and personal computers. This is where you should amplify your restaurant’s presence to intercept an audience in line with your proposition.

In here, “amplify” means to advertise, because as you know advertising is the soul of commerce, only in a digital world it is different from what you are used to. Therefore, if you have a restaurant (or a Hotel), you have to be present where 90% of yours are and advertise otherwise your business is at risk of extinction. No ifs or buts.

I am Giancarlo De Leonardo, former Restaurateur and Hotelier, founder of Caro Collega, a club of enlightened entrepreneurs in the Ho.Re.Ca. sector who have realized that they can generate extra turnover thanks to the opportunities inherent in digital marketing.

In the following article I will tell you how I self-sabotaged myself for too many years losing time, family, money, and peace of mind. Of course, at the end I will give you the recipe to prevent all this happening to you, as well.

In this article

Consulting in catering: a self-sabotage

A degree in Economics and Business, a Pub near Piazza Venezia, a Music Club among the most important ones in Italy, the management of one of the oldest Sports Clubs in Rome, an online Tour Operator, a tourist destination in Costa Smeralda, a few restaurant openings abroad, a path in the world of innovative start-ups, a Club of Enlightened Entrepreneurs.

What can be the common thread that unites these experiences? Certainly, I have had a life full of satisfactions but also failures. That happens when you don’t have time to reflect, or rather, you think you don’t. People who have had much busier and more hectic lives than mine have been successful because they focused on important aspects and not on less significant things.

When I was a restaurateur, in fact, I found myself serving as a waiter, a porter, a dishwasher, a cook, a manager, a purchasing manager, a personnel manager, and so on. I have been in every role except the one that I consider to be the most important today: the marketing manager, that is, the person who should be in charge of filling all the available tables and chairs every day at lunch and dinner.

Italy, however, has for many years enjoyed the unfair competitive advantage I mentioned in a previous article: 4.000 km of coastline, natural and artistic beauty, history and architecture, and an enogastronomic heritage that the whole world envies us.

Opening a restaurant or hotel has always been the dream of many Italians and mine too, because it meant being in contact with people and earning a lot of money.

At least until the late 1990s.

Catering consulting and the digital revolution

Then, thanks to the digital revolution, the world changed: information began to flow fast, all countries began to advertise, low-cost airlines opened flights to cities that no one knew about, and the result was that Italy competed with the world.

And I was self-sabotaging. I kept thinking that everything had to be the same as before. Whenever a consultant or digital marketer showed up, I thought he was going to “rip me off”. Of course, in some cases that was true. I have met many boasters. But being paralyzed without doing advanced digital marketing activities compromised the outcome of my activities.

If I write these articles and at the age of 50, I have taken to making videos for TikTok and Instagram where I divulge in “ospitalese” the principles of digital marketing for Restaurants and Hotels it’s because I want to prevent you from doing the same mistakes that, sooner rather than later, would bring you to fail or to sell out your business.

caro collega

Why do you need a digital consultant?

Actually, I already answered you in the previous paragraph: if your day as a typical restaurateur is made up of hours spent grocery shopping, being a waiter or a cook, talking to staff or suppliers, managing reservations and customer relations, how do you also deal with digital marketing?

Because I remind you that digital marketing activities are all those activities that allow you to intercept an audience interested in your offer, an audience that is on Google or the other search engines, on social media like Facebook and Instagram, on Entertainment platforms like YouTube and TikTok, or on specific channels like TripAdvisor, Yelp or The Fork.

If I could go back, to the years when I was doing the same job as you, such an investment would be the first thing I would do since it would allow me to bill much more. It is no coincidence that one of the prerogatives of investments made on digital marketing activities is that every euro invested will bring you a return on investment of at least 3/5 times. Basically, if you invest in 12 months 30, you will bill at least 100!

Chicken, Chicken, Chicken! I have been a damn Chicken for too many years. Countless years where I should have surrounded myself with a Digital Dream Team that would have helped me perform and bill much more.

Article written by Giancarlo De Leonardo, former hotelier and restaurateur, founder of Caro Collega