Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Recessioning is Hard

Do you like going out to eat? I hate it. Well, kinda...I mean I hate going out to eat because I can never decide what I want to order and am usually disappointed with the food...with a few exceptions of course.

Why did I order this?

Even though I go through the same buyer's remorse at every restaurant, I keep going out. People point this hypocrisy out to me quite often, and I'm ok with it - ha! Since I go out to eat fairly often, I have a pretty good handle on most of the restaurants in town...and the ones that used to be here. that have since closed.

Lots of restaurants have closed over the past few years.

Everyone knows about the bad economy, and many businesses have taken a hit and closed up their doors. This has been especially true for restaurants. People have a tendency to blame the recession for this. As for me, I'm not so sure.
Restaurants that have a good product, good management, positive customer experience, manageable expenses, and a demand for their food (return customers, good word of mouth, etc) don't go under during a recession. They survive. People continue going there, because it's worth the money. People stop going to restaurants where the experience isn't worth the money anymore, because the money is now more precious than it was before.

The real problem is that restaurants who do NOT exhibit those characters can survive during a period of prosperity....when by all reasoning, they have no right to do so. It's the period of prosperity where bad restaurants seemingly "can't help but make money," and during a downturn when they suddenly aren't profitable anymore. 

Maybe you've even stopped eating somewhere because one of those qualities of a "good" restaurant isn't present. Surely you can think of some places that fit this bill.

This period of recession trims out many of the businesses that didn't have the character to make it in the first place. Think of it as a form of corporate natural selection (unless you hate which case please move along).

It's not the recession that made them unprofitable, the recession merely revealed the problem that existed the whole time: They were a bad business. Sure there are exceptions, but I'd say this holds true for a majority of the time.

This is true not just for restaurants, but for nearly all business models...

Including churches

Times have been hard for churches; in a recession, attendance goes up & giving goes down. Churches have to do more ministry with fewer resources, and many churches have closed their doors because they were no longer able to operate. But again, I don't blame the recession on this. The recession merely reveals what the truth was all along, that church was being run (in some way) irresponsibly. 

In ways that were specific to that particular congregation, it was living beyond its own means. In some way that was unnoticeable during the prosperous time, that particular church was unhealthy. But now that things are harder, it's noticeable. And unmanageable. So that church closes.

But if we're honest, just like that restaurant with under-seasoned/overpriced food and a surly wait staff, it should probably have closed a long time ago.

May it help to serve as a horrible warning for others to not go the same way.