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Matt Bodnar is the author of Location Based Marketing For Restaurants: Simple, Low Cost, Easy To Use Tactics To Get Customers In The Door. Named a “Rising Restaurateur Star” by the National Restaurant Association and a “Strategy Pro” by Restaurant Hospitality Magazine, Matt is a partner at early stage investment firm Fresh Hospitality. Bodnar joined Fresh in 2011 after several years working at Goldman Sachs.

Fresh Hospitality specializes in systems to help the companies they invest in scale up their businesses faster than they would be able to on their own. They’ve developed proprietary software that helps them manage all the variables that go into creating a successful restaurant experience in different food markets. Today Fresh Hospitality has more than 150 locations over 15 different brands that they have invested in. They do $250 million annually in their portfolio.

This podcast was great! We discussed how to be successful in a fast/casual sector of the restaurant business. We also talked about Matt’s podcast The Science of Success , and the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset and why adopting a growth mindset is so important.

Here are some highlights of our conversation:

  • Coming out of the financial crisis of 2008 it became clear to the partners of Fresh Hospitality at the fast/casual sector of the restaurant business (which has an average of $10/lunch order) was much more resilient than other sectors of the restaurant business. So they chose to target that market sector.
  • Restaurant chains like Chili’s and TGI Friday’s have been squeezed out in a lot of cases while places that operate at one of the two “barbells” of the fast/casual market have won out.
  • The two barbells are restaurants that cater to healthy minded individuals and restaurants that cater to customers seeking an indulgence experience.
  • The reason that 95% of restaurants fail is because the restaurant business is a very low margin business. For every $1 you give to a restaurant $.05 of that is profit on average. That means there is very little room for error.
  • Restaurants have a lot of moving parts. With such a low profit margin, a lot of first-time restaurant enthusiasts structure their contracts for leasing business space and equipment in such a way that makes it almost impossible for them to succeed.
  • SAAS = Software as a Service
  • The Science of Success podcast began as a power point presentation that Matt was asked to give to a company CEO.
  • It’s important to push through and expand your zone of discomfort. Once you do that more opportunities will become available to you.
  • You can give people all the tools and information they need to change. In the end they have to want to change for change to take place.
  • Self-awareness is the most important quality as a predictor of success. People who are self-aware understand where they’re at and they are more able to change because they understand more about themselves and what they need to change.
  • Having a high emotional IQ is also another predictor of success because you’re less likely to offend people and it’s easier to understand how to deal with challenging situations. People are driven by their emotions and the better you can sense the emotions of the people around you, the better equipped you are to decide the best course of action in business deals and interpersonal relationships.
  • “Starve all your problems and feed all your opportunities.” — Peter Drucker
  • The ability to accept reality as it is, especially when the situation is not ideal is an important trait to have.
  • Another important trait to have in business and in life is the ability to accept responsibility for everything that goes wrong in your life. The more you accept responsibility for those things that go wrong the more control and ability you will have to alter the circumstances of your life.
  • If you can accept where you are right now and look at negative feedback as an opportunity to grow and improve, you can do and be anything you want in this life.
  • If you constantly deflect and blame others for the criticism you’re receiving you’ll remain where you are — unable to grow.

The Elements That Fresh Hospitality Look for an Investment Opportunity

  1. The restaurant has to be in the fast/casual market.
  2. The restaurant has to cater to either customers concerned with healthy eating or customers seeking an indulgent experience.
  3. The restaurant has to have raving fans locally.
  4. The founders of the restaurant have to be people of integrity. They have to be people that the partners of Fresh Hospitality can work well with and get along with.
  5. Quality ingredients are also a paramount concern. Every location that Fresh Hospitality invests in deals in fresh ingredients. (Only one brand has a freezer and that’s because they make handmade popsicles.)

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Fixed Mindset Vs. Growth Mindset

Those who have a fixed mindset are very tied to their identity. They strive to hold on to their identity and convince the world that they are awesome the way they are. These people deflect criticism because they want to stay exactly as they are.

Those who have a growth mindset strive to get better at skills they consider important. They understand that wherever they are now is simply a starting point. They take responsibility for the mistakes they make and try to learn from constructive criticism. They realize they are not perfect but they’re always striving to be better.

People fall into one of these two camps. The important thing to understand is that you can choose which camp you end up in. Science has proven, because of the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, it is possible to change the structure of your brain with your thoughts.

Links and Resources Mentioned in the Interview

Location Based Marketing For Restaurants: Simple, Low Cost, Easy To Use Tactics To Get Customers In The Door by Matt Bondar

Fresh Hospitality — a company that invests in fast/casual restaurants that fall into the indulgence category or the healthy living category.

Biscuit Love — a restaurant concept that Fresh Hospitality invested in which is on the indulgence side of the market.

I Love Juice Bar — a restaurant concept that Fresh Hospitality invested in, in the healthy eating side of the market.

Mindset by Carol Dweck — a book that delves deeply into the idea of the fixed mindset versus the growth mindset.

Influence by Robert Cialdini — a book that delves into the science of influence. Robert Cialdini gives you tactics and strategy to help you to ethically change the opinions of those around you.

Good to Great by Jim Collins — Jim Collins examines what makes a company ascend to the next level in this business book. — The Science of Success Podcast — this is a special page master for listeners of this podcast episode. It has links to episodes of the science in this podcast that were discussed in this episode as well as other resources.

Email Matt at [email protected] he personally answers every email sent to him.

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