WE WORK WITH YOU
We work with you to understand what your concept needs to do for you and then collaborate to create the business of your dreams while ensuring that it delivers your expectation.
You have an idea that you think will resonate with your target audience and you seek to bring it to market. Our first step is to create a financial model that explains how much your restaurant concept will cost to bring to life and then how it will perform once it is open. A big chunk of restaurant concept development occurs during the financial modeling phase, but there are plenty of things to consider.
Creating a restaurant concept by linking together steps in sequential order is short-sighted. It doesn’t balance the brand offering or allow for adjustments. Adjusting one element will affect the other elements…like a mobile that goes off balance when one of it’s charms is altered. Opening a full-service burger restaurant in Texas, for instance, might make sense…until you decide you’d rather to go to Montana where there is no tip credit, forcing your labor model higher and torpedoing the presumed profits. Does it mean you need to stay in Texas? No, you just need to adjust the model for, say, fast casual… stripping away table service… which affects your menu, management, hours of operations, size and location assumptions.
Our philosophy is that you should spend your money only on things that will get you more money. Whether trying to borrow money, impress a landlord, or add to your portfolio, you will need to clarify how much it will cost, what business you will be in, how it will make money…and how much it will make. No one (no one) will fund your project without a Profit Model and, if you’ve never done this before, the chances that you’ll be able to whip up accurate financials are pretty slim.
Once your concept is defined by your Profit Model, it’s time to write about it. This includes concept brand narratives, market research, competitive analysis, brand filter and operating practices, so your investors and stakeholders fully understand your idea. Our philosophy is that you should spend your money only on things that will get you more money.
When it’s time to pitch your project to potential stakeholders, a Concept Book just might be the difference between YES and NO. Our Concept Books bring your pitch to life on large format, glossy bound booklets that showcase the vibe and feel of the concept through imagery and narrative. We do a preliminary layout, show touchpoints, graphically treat financials, generate sample menu layouts, and inject aspirational imagery.
Once the concept has been articulated through Phase 1, Phase 2 gets the project moving toward hiring management. This is where we find your location, create timelines, design the space, create menus and then finally hire your management team. By the end of Phase 2 you should begin transitioning your opening process to your management team. We’ll get you there!
We are your agents, confidants, allies, and protectors. We have no conflict of interest because our role is purely to protect you. When a broker shows you their inventory and tries to pass off bad ingress/egress or a one-sided lease agreement, we can be in your corner to separate stars from black holes. As always, we recommend hiring an attorney before signing a lease, but we can help you see through most bad ideas with our only ulterior motive being your success (so you can rave about us later).
TIMELINE / CRITICAL TASKS
Like any project, once you have funding, it’s important to stay on track. Our “warboard” will organized your tasks for the duration of the project in order to map resources and establish important project milestones. We’ll also create a Critical Task List for your team to use as opening day approaches so there is no idle time or double work.
Shortly after you sign your lease, you will be under the gun to get the business open. Landlords often offer a grace period but, at some point, rent will be due. Before you can start construction, the space must be designed, including the kitchen. We create high level menus that will drive your kitchen layout and equipment selections, so you don’t accidentally build a Mexican restaurant engine for your Italian restaurant.
Interior designers are amazingly creative but often overlook design related to time-and-motion efficiency. Kitchen designers are often paid by equipment manufacturers so they have incentive to bloat your kitchen with equipment. Both designers view themselves as the tip of the spear. We control the design process to ensure that your project will operate profitably while making sure it delivers on your brand promises.
With financials, site selection, menu structure and design out of the way, construction can begin. Once it does there are hundreds of small decisions that need to be made about how you will execute your brand. By pulling all of your guest experience decisions through your brand filter, we ensure that your concept stays crisp and easy to understand. Everything from sequence of service, lighting, and employee safety, to merchandising (retail), menu conveyance, website, receiving and trash removal – must be thought through and defined. Poor decisions during this phase and your investment and hard work land in a business that confuses your audience.
Some restaurant owners think they can hire a good chef and then think no more about their menus. This is dangerous because: A) the talent that can carefully craft a profitable menu is usually well beyond the pay range of the talent that it takes to maintain existing recipes and B) the business is at the mercy of talented individuals who may or may not write anything down. We say, outsource menu engineering …to craft menus that deliver target profit margins, spread the workload among stations, feature industrialized recipes with accurate yields, and can be executed by an affordable staff. It’s easier to find people who can execute what they’re taught than to find affordable creative talent that will stay put.
CRAFT COCKTAIL PROGRAM
Satisfying consumer enthusiasm for great cocktails is no longer an option for restaurants offering a bar. The days of Sour, Margarita or Bloody Mary mixes coming from a bottle are over. Fresh squeezed juices, house-made shrubs, infused syrups and hand-crafted specialty spirits have become the rule, not the exception…and the average server-turned-bartender cannot drive your program. Like any good menu, your cocktail menu must be engineered to deliver your brand. Let us create your inaugural and seasonal menus so you can focus your team on execution and consistency.
Whether you’re launching a gourmet market, a convenience store or simply adding impulse sales to your restaurant, we can create an assortment that is profitable, unique and on-brand. We’ve run multi-million-dollar gourmet retail operations and have installed retail components in hotels and restaurants around the country. We understand ordering, inventory, merchandising, pricing, signage, and customer shopping behaviors, so let us help you bring your retail program to life.
If Phase 2 is about developing the component parts of your new machine, Phase 3 is about starting up the machine, working through the first cough and sputter, and tuning it to purr like a Ferrari.
As your management team comes on board, we pull your guiding principles and operating philosophies into a cohesive and interactive management seminar to make sure your team is singing from the same sheet of music. Your management team must coach and counsel in a way that supports your brand and they must decide to succeed as a team before being asked to manage your staff. Our Management School becomes the foundation on which you train every manager going forward…but first it needs to be created and implemented. That’s what we do.
Your service model and menus are only as good as your ability to execute them. Checklists and routines are only as good as the people that enforce them. We organize management structures for maximum efficiency while establishing areas of responsibility and accountability structures that you can manage. When a restaurant’s food, drinks and service are excellent and consistent, day in and day out, you can be sure it’s no accident. We customize systems to suit your team’s capabilities while establishing a benchmark for performance that let’s everyone know what it means to do a good job.
As Phase 3 unfolds, it is important for your fledgling management team to imprint on your hourly staff as they’re hired. Blue Orbit will work with them to refine manpower plans, develop the hiring system, schedule hiring fairs, organize materials and otherwise direct the hiring process with the management team. As with anything in Phase 3, we can do as much or as little as you need. Just be sure to hire with a plan and do it with purpose. We help you establish those protocols.
Without cash handling protocols and purchasing / invoicing discipline your business is just a shoe box – money goes in, bills go out, keep what’s left. Restaurants need organization in the back office, even more so than a retail business…because restaurants are both retail and production facilities. Weekly profit and loss statements, an open-to-buy system, invoice discipline, declining budgets and annual budgeting are all vital to running a tight ship. Additionally, forms and procedures need to be defined if they are to be communicated to your controller or office manager.
Aspiring to make great food or to deliver great service is one thing. Making it a reality is another. We create “train the trainer” programs that work from pre-opening orientation and into ongoing operations. We will write your training manuals, employee handbooks, training shells, and instill training philosophies that protect your new-hires and reduce turnover, saving you money and headache in a tight labor market. What we create for opening gets adapted for ongoing hiring and training beyond opening day.
Testing your new money-making machine is critical. You don’t want to test it on real customers if you’re not sure everything is perfect. We can help you organize and execute your mock runs to get the most out of them so when you do open, you’re confident that your guest will experience what you built your business to give them.
After opening day, it can be daunting to keep up with new operations, new customers, and new teams. Your managers will have their hands full trying to protect the guest’s first impression during the honeymoon period. Blue Orbit will stay on for several weeks in an advisory capacity to help tidy up the transition from pre-opening to post-opening. This may include production setting in the kitchen, invoice accounting protocols or re-jiggering side-work and station charts to reflect unforeseen nuances. The last thing you want to do is get it open and then fall into decline simply because your team is a little overwhelmed. Your investment is too great.
ONGOING SUPPORT / MANAGEMENT
Corporate offices exist for a reason: to provide support to operators and to hold them accountable for delivering results through systems (not through being good at winging it). Blue Orbit can serve as your corporate office by inspecting your facility, systems and financials regularly. We can provide guidance and coaching to managers while being able to spot trouble before it festers into something the guest sees. Let us know if you need regular oversight and coaching to keep your restaurant in top shape
WHAT WE DO
We support Landlords by evaluating prospective-tenants, performing in-depth assessments of existing tenants, and providing ongoing consulting services to optimize restauarant operations and profitability during management.
All of the design, management and site selection expertise in the world will not help you if you don’t put food and drinks on your menu that people prefer…and are willing to pay for.
Whether you simply need to start frying your French fries in a different fryer than your Calamari or you need to completely overhaul the brand offering, we’ll get it right and your restaurant will be on the path to profitability in no time.
WHAT WE DO
"Blue Orbit is an exceptional resource for small to large restaurants looking to grow. We have greatly enjoyed working with them."
Marta Gomez Frey, Director – Collins Small Business Development Center, Texas
"Blue Orbit is truly the best of the best. We used them to help streamline one of our restaurants and to help us implement systems for our company to continue to grow. Their #1 goal is to help you reach your goals and make your day to day life easier and more efficient. We highly recommend these guys and their personal touch!!"
Ryan Pope, Owner - Gnat's Landing, St. Simons Island
"I have worked with Ray Camillo on various investments and business opportunities in the restaurant and consulting fields over the last three years and would recommend him as a top-notch consultant and analyst"
Christian Ward, EVP - YEXT, NYC
"LOOK NO FURTHER. I've worked with the skilled professionals at Blue Orbit on several restaurant projects. Several of the things I love in working with them is, they are operators so they are realistic and transparent. Feedback is a two way street with them. They commit and stay on track and they deliver a great end result."
Dianna Stoffer, Brand Manager - Intercontinental Hotels Group / Hotel Indigo, USA
"Michael Maxwell said it best when he explained the restaurant business to me as a large jigsaw puzzle. If you try to do it all at once it’s overwhelming, but if you put the most important pieces in place one at a time you end up with a beautiful final product. Blue Orbit did a masterful job of creating and opening our restaurant one piece at a time."
James Brearley, Owner - Floridays and Compass Hotel, Bradenton
"Blue Orbit has been an invaluable resource, providing solid recommendations and industry insight!"
Suzi LeBlanc, HR Director - Fifth Group Restaurants, Atlanta
"Ray Camillo has an exceptional ability to read a business, attack the challenges with appropriate resources and deliver results. He is true hospitality!"
Todd Rushing, Owner - Concentrics Restaurants, Atlanta
"I had an extravagant idea with no tools on how to execute my dream...Bellina would not be what it is today without Blue Orbit's support and coaching!"
Tal Baum, Owner - Bellina Alimentari & Oliva Restaurants, Atlanta
"Wow, what a creative, out-of-the-box thinker! 4 stars AJC, Atlanta's Top New Restaurants (Atlanta Magazine Restaurant Concept Award)...enough said!"
Ford Fry, Owner - Ford Fry Restaurants, Atlanta
"Ray is one of the most highly regarded restaurant consultants in the country. He's very organized, highly motivated and has a keen determination to make sure the job gets done right the first time"
Harold Shumacher, Owner - The Shumacher Group, Atlanta
"Our restaurants had such an AMAZING experience with Blue Orbit. We worked very closely with Michael and Matt. They were instrumental in helping us make changes to our operations, menu, and service model. You can feel how much they care about you and your business through the whole process. We loved working with them so much that we continue to check in and say HI because we miss them! We feel like we made some lifelong friends out of such a great working relationship. You will not be sorry. Contact them ASAP!"
Lina Fleihan, Owner - Ghassan's Fresh Mediterranean Eats, Greensboro
"Blue Orbit was instrumental to my success and I enthusiastically recommend them to anyone aspiring to open a restaurant of their dreams."
Beth Castro, Owner - Mae's Bakery, Atlanta
"We reached out to Blue Orbit for their expertise and help in planning our new project. We brought a big bag of dreams and ideas and they were able to help us process them all and come up with a solid business plan to make those dreams a reality, and one that would be profitable. Ray and his entire team bring many years of experience and wisdom that we found invaluable in making critical choices in developing our concepts."
Mandy and Kelvin Slater, Owners - Skyline Park & Nine Mile Station, Atlanta
"Blue Orbit performed an operations assessment and quickly identified several high impact areas that we have since addressed with great success. They never pressured me to take on more services than I needed and I regard them as a go-to resource whenever we need a fresh set of eyes and an injection of operational know-how!"
Tiffany Lach, Owner - Sola Cafe & Market, Bozeman
"We have a sign in our office to inspire us to make good decisions - in big bold letters it says WWRD?... stand for 'What Would Ray Do?'"
Carlo Rovetto, Owner - Positive Pie, Montpelier
"Ray is truly one of the best restaurant professionals I have come across. He understands the back and front of the house, has great communication skills, is visionary, and has a great sense of humor. He is a pleasure to work with and I hope to do so again in the future"
Glenna Hecht, Owner - Humanistic Consulting, Dallas
"Blue Orbit listened to me and quickly understood my goals and business, then attached it. Sales are up, costs are down, and, most importantly, my customers are happy. Ray is a true partner and an ongoing resource - like a restaurant whisperer!"
Micah Serwitz, Owner - Instead of Flowers, Atlanta
"There is no way [to put into] how much Ray and Blue Orbit changed our lives. We moved to Atlanta from Europe with a dream of running our own business and decided that a restaurant was the ideal thing for us. Ray looked at us, what we were passionate about, and guided us through the complicated process of understanding business financials. Today, 2.5 years later, we own a very successful furniture studio where we design and fabricate furniture for clients all over the South. Ray was able to see us for who we are and guide us in the right direction. Thank you!"
Chris Demant, Owner - Reclaimed by Demant, Atlanta