The restaurant industry accounts for over $580 billion in annual revenue. In the United States, there are nearly one million operating restaurants providing approximately thirteen million jobs. (Parsa, Gregory, and Terry, 2011). Dunn and Bradstreet, a prestigious risk management company, states that the restaurant industry has one of the highest business failure rates among the retail and service industries (Parsa et al., 2011). In a 2003 American Express advertisement, ninety percent of restaurants fail in their first year of operation (Parsa et al., 2011). The coined “ninety percent” statistic was tossed around carelessly for several years and still is by websites such as startupresorces.biz. In 2005, the statistic was debunked by Cornell University research revealing a considerably more realistic figure between twenty five and thirty percent failure rates among first year independent restaurants (Parsa, Self, Njite, and King, 2005). According to restaurant consultant Brandon O’Dell (2008), failures seem to take place due to the lack of unique selling points, excessively large menus, poor pricing strategies, the lack of feasibility studies, and negotiating deficiencies. The restaurant industry is viewed as a competitive field. Annually, 40,000 Americans lose their jobs to restaurant failure and countless experienced and inexperienced owners delve into the red (Parsa et al., 2011). A strong draw to the business remains for hopeful restaurateurs and there are some very prosperous consulting firms in the United States that can help give owners a sturdier approach. These firms are helping restaurants form a business-minded approach, create new progressive concepts, design innovative profit maximizing strategies, open new locations, and operate effectively in day to day operations. It is the consultants’ fingers that are on the pulse of the industry.
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the growing field of restaurant consulting. The competitive nature of the restaurant business grows with the further need to cater to a market with increasing demands for sophistication, creativity, and healthy fare. Business consulting consists of over 4,500 firms and 75 billion dollars in revenue; the hospitality field is looking to take a piece of that pie (Gordon, 2008). This paper will educate the reader on information about the proficiencies and skills needed to become a consultant while providing a thorough description of what a consultant does. The future of the industry is discussed along with reasons for using consultants. My research will illustrate the ins and outs of the career through interviews, statistics, scholarly articles, established firms, websites, and textbooks. The following text will present hard facts in a clear and organized manner that conveys what I have learned about the field of restaurant consulting. According to Aaron D. Allen, acclaimed restaurant consultant, “Once the restaurant industry gets in your blood, it’s impossible to think about doing anything else.” (2009). Aaron’s passion for the industry is set into motion by recognizing the product and the pieces that it is trying to promote. While one of Allen’s firms, Global Restaurant Consulting, believes advice varies from operation to operation, there are different parts of the whole his teams uses during most consultation processes. Immediately after the paperwork is signed the team goes to work on concept development. Each team consists of an employee representing marketing strategies, research, training, public relations, and design (Allen, 2009). In the initial meeting the team dives into brand personality and positioning (Allen, 2009). Allen suggests brand personality should consist of the same unique traits that make celebrities stand out from the other six billion people on the planet (2009). RESTAURANT CONSULTANT