Who are you?
My name is Niklas Holgersson and I work as CEO of Stars and Stripes.
Tell us about your business?
Stars and Stripes is a franchise concept with five restaurants in Sweden. The restaurants are located in Kalmar, Växjö, Vallentuna, Karlskrona and Vänersborg. Our niche is a steakhouse with both a restaurant and a bar showing sports.
Revenue has dropped between 60-75%
Since COVID-19 started to spread revenues have fallen by 60-75% and we have had to lay off a lot of staff to cut costs. The major challenge for us today is the social restrictions, which means that we cannot have as many people at the same time in the restaurants and that results in lower income. Today we receive support from the government for rents, but in July we should pay the same rent as before, and with our income loss the equation does not add up.
What should restaurants do to survive this crisis?
We restaurateurs need to change our perception and look at our restaurant as a professional business where we are in control of revenue, margins, and costs. If you look at the retail industry they know exactly what margins they have on various products. We don’t know this to the same extent, our industry is much more immature.
I think margins will be even more important in the future. It is not possible to decide a price for a dish by looking at what the restaurant down the street takes for a similar dish. You must calculate the cost of your dish, put on margin and there is your price. If the price becomes too high you need adjust the menu and the ingredients.
I also believe menus will be smaller when it comes to ingredients to make it more cost efficient. This does not mean the customer needs to experience a smaller menu with fewer dishes, but more dishes having the same ingredients.
What do you focus on right now?
Our focus is to facilitate as much as possible for customers who visit us. We use your new solution Trivec Buddy where the guests order and pay with their mobile phone and we can see that Trivec Buddy has replaced the bar. The guest sits down at a table and scan the unique QR code to get to a digital menu, where they order and pay. In the long run the bar space may not be as important as it has been, since many guests are getting used to order from the table and think it’s quite nice compared of standing in a crowded bar.
I really like digital solutions like Trivec Buddy, it makes it easier for the guest to order and pay. The personal meeting and service is still there, it’s a perfect mix of the digital and the physical world working together.
We have also launched a takeaway concept with Trivec Buddy. The idea was to start this autumn but then Corona came, and we had to change overnight!
How do you see the future?
To make it as smooth and easy for our customers as possible. The digitization goes quite fast and when you look at today's young people you understand that they do everything with their mobile phone and want a fast and easy experience. I hope of course that the personal meeting and personal service will remain side by side with the digital.
We also want to improve our customer engagement and how we take care of customers by launching a loyalty program. We want to personalize and communicate on a regular basis to our regulars and guests who visit us. I think loyalty will be very important in the future, to really understand and engage with your customers.
Other considerations I have are digitized menus based on demand. Where you have cheaper times and more expensive times to eat and drink, a bit like the airline industry when you buy tickets. This type of concept would be doable when paying with cash is gone.
Do you have any tips to give to your colleagues in the industry?
Do not turn a blind eye to digital solutions and be sure to adapt it to your business. Consider how digital solutions can fit into your dining experience. Digital tools should improve what you already have. In the future, having a physical restaurant will not be enough. And don’t forget to look at your restaurant as a professional company, and make sure you are in control of revenue, margins and costs.