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Guy Turland shares 5 tips for restaurant business growth

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A smiling face and friendly greeting. The smell of freshly baked croissants. A brekkie burrito ready to grab and go. That’s the experience awaiting customers of north Bondi’s celebrated restaurant, The Depot.

After 15 years serving the community in one of Australia’s most iconic beachside locations, chef and co-owner Guy Turland knows how to make a restaurant feel like a second home. The Depot’s community connectedness and ability to evolve continually have set it up for sustainable long-term growth.

What started in 2007 as a hole in the wall café quickly became renowned for its simple and nutritious whole foods inspired by the laidback, sun-drenched essence of Bondi Beach.

A keen surfer, author and Bondi Harvest Youtube cooking sensation, Guy has a reputation for keeping it real. His mantras include “Eat well” and “Smiles are free”. It’s this humanity and an abundance of positivity that set the scene for The Depot’s success.

We spoke with Guy about why he gets up in the morning, thinking like a customer and restaurant business growth.

1. Community connection

Putting the hospitable back into hospitality is at the core of The Depot’s success. The restaurant has a strong following and many customers have been there from the start.

“Our customers are why we get up in the morning and go to work,” says Guy. We see familiar faces every day, watch each other’s kids grow up, witness people coming together, and support each other through tough times. That’s why we are in the industry.”

Guy believes it’s important to remember that connection is a two-way street. If you want the community to support your business, you need to offer more than food and beverages.

“Staying afloat in difficult times like lockdowns is about connecting with customers to let them know you’re still open and here to support them. While it’s challenging for Hospo at the moment, people at home are also doing it tough. A good meal, coffee, and a friendly face is the highlight of many people’s day. Part of being in Hospo is giving of yourself to every person that walks in. Hopefully, in return, they buy something.”

Having a solid community connection delivers in spades. When The Depot submitted a DA to council for a new location in early 2021, Waverley Council said they had never seen so many supportive submissions for a DA.

110765622. Know what customers need

Casual conversations provide a goldmine of valuable insights that guide The Depot’s menus and operations.

“Meeting customer needs is about grassroots, one-on-one conversations. When someone walks in, we find out how they are, whether they liked the lamb shank, and if there is anything else they’d like us to do. We genuinely want to know what will keep their family happy at the end of the day. You can see the appreciation in their eyes and patronage. It means a lot,” said Guy.

Reconfiguring the entire restaurant to face the street makes ordering and pick-up easy for customers.

“The biggest thing you can do for your customer is to make them feel safe. We do everything we can to protect our customers and staff, using HungryHungry to enable contactless ordering via our branded website or a QR code on-site and low-contact collection.”

“We now know that take away will always be part of our trade because that’s what our customers want. It is possible for a takeaway offering and a dine-in experience to exist simultaneously without damaging each other,” Guy explains.

3. Embrace social media

One of the key restaurant trends to emerge over recent years is the importance of developing a loyal social media following. The Depot’s curated Instagram feed is a mouth-watering feast of delectable breakfasts, homemade pastries, rainbow bowls, friendly faces and Depot Dinners ready to pick up and heat at home.

“Embracing social media and new tools is essential to keeping your head afloat and adapting to this crazy new environment,” says Guy.

With more than 5,500 followers, Insta is a crucial channel for sharing opening hours, menu changes, new creations and epic projects like the in-house mushroom farm. The tone is relaxed and friendly, beautifully reinforcing the brand message, like the post: “Slinging out delicious coffee and greeting you with a cheeky morning Howdy”.

The Depot’s HungryHungry online ordering link features on their Instagram profile, a direct line to deliciousness and a direct call to action. Customers can click the link and order immediately from the convenience of their device.

4. Mix up the menu

128560326_4159467574080721_4826505462689648313_nAs demand for grab and go soared, The Depot removed menu items that didn’t box well for takeaway and offered more options suitable for

dining on the move to comply with lockdown restrictions.

“You have to think like a customer and work out how to solve their problems,” Guy says.

“We started doing wholesome brekky burritos and are now making around 150 every weekend. Customers can grab one and eat it while walking, so they get to enjoy a delicious meal and some fresh air.”

Expanding the menu to include pre-made dinners customers can heat at home was a hit. A simple yet delicious menu, including their signature harissa crusted slow-cooked lamb shoulder, is now available to order online and collect

A collaboration with in-house bakery @textbookpatisserie tempts the taste buds with danishes, pastries and luxury sweets. The patisserie’s famous weekend croissant specials, endless variety and unique creations (like chocolate, raspberry and almond croissants) keep customers coming back for more.

5. Get on board with tech

Guy’s approach to doing business is equal parts “nice guy” and savvy strategist. He sees technology as an enabler that drives efficiencies and says HungryHungry has transformed The Depot operations.

“The HungryHungry dashboard allows us to quickly identify what’s selling at what cost and opportunities for improvement. Integration with our POS makes everything super easy. We can change the menu once and it updates across the board.”

The Depot imports HungryHungry data into Mailchimp to keep customers in the loop and share exciting menu news. The next step is to test the HungryHungry direct text messaging functionality to give customers a friendly tap on the shoulder and invite them back for a coffee.

Viewing your relationship with customers as an exchange rather than a transaction is the key to setting your restaurant or café up for sustainable business growth. The Depot is proof that putting the hospitable back into Hospo is a healthy recipe for success.

“The equation is easy. If someone walks away feeling they got more than what they paid for, had a good experience, and the café or restaurant feels like their second home, they will come back,” says Guy.

Want to set your business up for future success? HungryHungry can help.