Restaurant Doctor Hospitality Resources

Real-Time Research

Every month, I conduct a survey among subscribers to my weekly Electronic House Call E-letter, asking a few questions about items of interest to independent restaurateurs.

A complimentary copy of the survey results are sent to everyone who participates ... but others have asked for access to the information as well. Never one to deny a restaurateur looking for additional resources, the survey results are now available to non-participants -- in most cases, for just $1 per finished page (of small type!)

This is the straight feedback from operators just like yourself from all over the world on the topics they are most interested in. There is nothing like this anywhere else in the industry.

I present the comments roughly as they were submitted ... with minimal editing. I do try to correct the most obvious typos but you will still find a few scattered about. Such is life.

The trick now is to see what you can do with this information. It certainly will provide some research as you consider various policies and practices. I hope you will download these survey results, print them out, share them with your senior staff and use them to trigger a discussion on how you can elevate your own operating efforts.

These surveys will download automatically once your order is completed. Please contact me if you have any trouble dowloading the files.

January 2005 - Operational Concerns Survey ($2)
What is on operators' minds as the new year dawns ... and what do they plan to do about it? (PDF)

February 2005 - Listening Survey ($5)
This survey looks at the amount of one-on-one time that restaurant workers are receiving and contains lots of interesting responses to my Perpetual Question ("What did you learn from your staff today?") -- a clinic in itself. (PDF)

March 2005 - Service Ideas Survey I ($10)
We have often discussed what the word "service" means in the context of the hospitality industry. Now hear how other restaurants define it -- to themselves and to their service staff. (PDF)

April 2005 - Training Survey I ($9)
This ranked high on the list of operators concerns for the year, so we look at training in more depth -- what are people doing for various positions, how much time are they spending ... and how well is it working? (PDF)

May 2005 - Personal Time Survey ($1)
Time away from the business is essential to maintain your competitive edge ... but it is often difficult to come by. This survey looks at how much (or how little) down time operators are getting on a semi-regular basis. (PDF)

June 2005 - WOW Ideas Survey ($24)
The world does not need one more place to eat. To keep from being lost in the crowd, you have to stand out in the minds of your guests. This survey looks at the WOW factor and how people are creating that in their restaurants. (PDF)

July 2005 - Midyear Goals Survey ($2)
Halfway through the year is a good time to re-examine goals and priorities. This survey looks at how the first half of the year went and what operators hope to accomplish in the remaining six months. (PDF)

August 2005 - Cell Phones Survey ($8)
Since virtually everyone under the age of 30 carries a cell phone (and a good majority of those over 30 as well!), it creates new issues for restaurateurs. This month we look at what those issues are and how operators are dealing with them. (PDF)

September 2005 - Gasoline Survey ($4)
The rising price of gasoline causes ripples throughout the economy. This survey explores the impact that rising gasoline prices have on daily restaurant operations and how operators are adjusting. (PDF)

October 2005 - Personal Appearance Survey ($12)
Tattoos. Piercings. Shaved heads. Blue hair. Exposed midriffs. Pants hanging low. What is going on with kids today? How can you put these people in front of your more conservative customers? What policies do others have as it relates to personal appearance? (PDF)

November 2005 - Price Increase Survey ($7)
Restaurateurs are perpetually engaged in the struggle to manage prices. (This generally means figuring out how and when to raise them!) This month we look at the good, the bad and the ugly on price increases. (PDF)

December 2005 - General Interests Survey ($1)I regularly ask for suggestions for future survey topics. This month operators rank their interests and tell me what subjects they want to explore in the 2006 surveys. (PDF)

January 2006 - Service Ideas Survey II ($13)
What WOWed your guests last year will not have the same impact this year. This month looks at memorable customer service and what it takes to make -- and keep -- your operation distinct in the minds of the market. (PDF)

February 2006 - Training Survey II ($13)
Training is the ultimate competitive advantage. This month looks training -- what it is, how it is done and how well it has worked as a point of difference in market. (PDF)

March 2006 - Incentives and Motivation Survey ($15)
93 operators share their experience of what is working for them (and what isn't) when it comes to encouraging their FOH and BOH staffs to perform. (PDF)

April 2006 - Marketing Best Practices Survey($14)
93 operators share their ideas on marketing ideas that worked, those that didn't and the coolest sales-building ideas they have run into in their travels. (PDF)

May 2006 - Rewards and Recognition Survey ($7)
How do you recognize and reward your staff? What is working, what bombed ... and why? The answers to these questions are critical to the operator who wants to develop and keep a top-level crew. (PDF)

June 2006 - Recruiting Best Practices Survey ($10)
How are you attracting the sort of workers you want? What is working? What failed miserably? What clever ideas do you have up your sleeve to help keep your shifts full? Forty-five operators from South Philly to South Africa tell all. (PDF)

July 2006 - Midyear Goals Survey ($1)
Halfway through the year is a good time to re-examine goals and priorities. This survey looks at how the first half of the year went and what operators hope to accomplish in the remaining six months. (PDF)

August 2006 - Staff Meals Survey ($20)
As long as you have staff, you will have to feed them. This month 107 operators told us what they are doing, how they are doing it and how well it is working for them. (PDF)

September 2006 - Economics Survey ($9)
This month looked at how people are planning to maintain their sales in the face of what appears to be another economic slowdown -- valuable information no matter what your current economic climate. (PDF)

October 2006 - First Timers and Special Occasions Survey ($4)
During the holidays, your operation is likely to be exposed to lots of people who have never dined with you before. This survey looks at what people are doing to make special occasions more special and turn first-timers into regulars. (PDF)

November 2006 - Baby Boomers Survey ($6)
The Baby Boom generation is starting to turn 60 meaning that in all likelihood, your market will be looking a lot more gray. But these are not your parents. Find out what other operators are doing to appeal to the older generation. (PDF)

January 2007 - Peerless Promotions Survey [$9]
Did you ever see a really great promotion in your travels and thought about duplicating it for your own benefit? That's the question we asked this month and the answers could put some serious cash in your pocket. (PDF)

February 2007 - Menu Survey ($6)
Never changing your menu is a recipe for boredom, but abrupt shifts in menu presentation or content can confuse your staff, kitchen crew and regular guests.This survey looks at how to balance the need to change with the human tendency to resist it. (Excel)

March 2007 - Minimum Wage Survey ($6)
We will soon have legislation in the US that raises the minimum wage significantly. This survey looks at the likely impact of a major increase in the minimum wage and how operators are going to deal with it. (PDF)

April/May 2007 - WOW Ideas Survey ($17)
Seventy-one operators from five continents contributed their best practices to this year's survey. Not all the ideas will apply to your operation, of course ... but they should definitely get you thinking in some new directions. (PDF)

June 2007 - Technology Survey ($8)
Technology has opened new possibilities for operators at all levels. This survey looks at how operators are using technology in the interests of improving operations, service and profitability ... and how satisfied they are with it. (PDF)

July 2007 - Midyear Goals Survey ($1)
Halfway through the year is a good time to re-examine goals and priorities. This survey looks at how the first half of the year went and what concerns operators in the remaining six months. (PDF)

August 2007 - Costs and Pricing Survey ($10)
Grocery prices have increased substantially and many areas have seen increases in minimum wage. This survey looks at how operators are responding to this double-whammy ... and how their changes are working for them. (PDF)

September 2007 - Training Survey III ($6)
In July, we asked about your biggest concerns for the rest of 2007. Among the more common responses was staff training, so we look at that a little more closely this month. (PDF)

October 2007 - Labor Market Survey ($4)
Everything in life has its cycles and I am starting to sense that the labor shortage we lived through several years ago is coming back. This month we take the pulse of the current labor market and see what smart operators are doing to keep their shifts filled ... with the right people. (PDF)

January 2008 - Operating Concerns for 2008 (Free!)
As another year begins, independent operators share their current concerns and suggest topics for the year's surveys. (PDF)

February 2008 - Sales Trends Survey ($5)
This month we asked operators what they have noticed about the state of their businesses ... and what they are doing about it. (PDF)

March 2008 - Sales & Service Survey ($4)
Guests only come back because they WANT to, there is nothing worse than a successful promotion for a bad experience and the need to differentiate yourself is greater than ever. This survey looks at what operators are doing to create and sustain a level of service that accomplishes all three goals. (PDF)

April 2008 - "Secret Ingredient" Survey ($3)
To stand out from the competition you must bring something unique to the market. That takes a "secret ingredient" -- a special "something" that guests can't get anywhere else. This survey looks at what operators are doing to keep themselves top-of-mind as the economy causes diners to re-think their options. (PDF)

May 2008 - "Going Green" Survey ($6)
There is a lot of press lately on environmental topics -- renewable energy, recycling, sustainable agriculture, carbon footprints, energy conservation and so it goes. This survey looks at the greening of the restaurant industry and what operators are doing to become part of it. (PDF)

June 2008 - Recession Survey ($14)
The cost of food is increasing at a rate never before seen in our industry ... at the same time that a slow economy is causing consumers to cut back their spending. This survey looks at what independent operators are doing to stay afloat in the midst of this perfect storm. (PDF)

July 2008 - Tipping Survey ($5)
The media is reporting that another casualty of the down economy is server tips ... not only because fewer people are dining but because those who are may be leaving less to the hard-working service staff. Here is what operators are noticing ... and what they are doing about it. (PDF)