Is Your Restaurant Culture Surviving These Challenging Times?

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Open. Close. Open. Close. For some restaurants, this has been their COVID-reality. How can a restaurant owner maintain the culture you’ve worked so hard to build in this environment? The good news: it’s not impossible! Today, I am sharing my tips for keeping your restaurant’s culture alive during these uncertain times.

I wish I had a magic spell that would just create the perfect culture in your restaurant. You’d gladly pay me almost any amount of money to wave my wand and make all of your problems disappear. So then what is the magic? It’s hard work, of course. I believe that the restaurant business isn’t hard, but what makes the restaurant business hard is doing a lot of little things really well.

YOUR CULTURE IS YOUR STANDARDS

Culture does not happen by accident. When people look at companies like Chipotle, In-N-Out, or Chick-Fil-A as shining examples of an incredible culture – it’s not by accident. When Truett Cathy was developing and growing Chick-Fil-A, he was incredibly intentional about keeping one thing at the company’s core: their standards.

So, what are your standards? What is acceptable and not acceptable to you? Are you okay with your employees not correctly wearing their masks during a shift? Do you care if your employees are on their cell phones? Or should I say, do you enforce a no cell phone policy? Do you mind if they show up a few minutes late and if they do, what do you do about it?

If your standards are so lax that you allow your employees to do these things, then you shouldn’t be surprised when a late employee bails on you. You may think one has nothing to do with the other, but, of course, it does. All of these little things are killing your culture; not instantly, but death by a thousand cuts.

  • Easy Ice
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • Day & Nite
  • McKee Foodservice Sunbelt Bakery
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • RATIONAL USA
  • RAK Porcelain
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • Epiq Global Payment Card Settlement
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • Inline Plastics
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Atosa USA
  • Imperial Dade
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units

I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve operated restaurants. I’ve made these mistakes. I know just how easy it is to do all of the things I just mentioned. But, the only way to have the restaurant that you desire is to have an amazing restaurant culture. A culture where you and your employees want to come to work, a culture of improvement and high standards, and a culture where your guests feel safe dining with you again. This will happen for you when you hold other people, and even yourself, accountable to the rules and standards.

The Navy SEALS have an expression that soldiers don’t rise to the occasion when put under pressure; they rise or fall to their average level of training. NBA star Kobe Bryant was often criticized for not passing the ball. His response was plain and simple: when his teammates start to practice as much as he did and perform at his level in practice, he would give them the ball. Until then, he knew that he was the most prepared to take the shot.

You can also think of this as ‘a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.’

So what does this mean to your restaurant? Very simply: your restaurant is only as good, excellent, strong, or successful as its weakest standard. You may think that your restaurant is incredible, and you are doing everything great, but if you’re not holding to your standards, you’re going to fall or rise to the medium level of your standards. We could even say your restaurant is only as healthy as the average of your standards.

MAINTAINING A POSITIVE RESTAURANT CULTURE

Maintaining, improving, or establishing a great culture in your restaurant starts with standards and accountability. Please don’t think of this as a huge undertaking. Instead, think of it as raising your standards on the things most important to you, one step at a time.

For example, what is your tolerance for being late? If you have a zero-tolerance policy on tardiness, then you have to enforce that. If someone comes in late, what’s their consequence? Maybe they can’t work that shift or they get taken off of a good one. Eventually, your employees will learn that they can be replaced with employees who will respect your standards.

When you raise your standards, you improve your culture.

SIMPLE STEPS FOR RAISING YOUR STANDARDS

When my clients tell me about the challenges they are having with their staff, here is the plan we put in place:

  1. Identify areas where standards are lacking, weak, or nonexistent.
  2. Set new standards, make the changes, and clearly document them.
  3. Raise the standard by holding the team accountable.
  4. Measure its success.
  5. Refine. Are we making improvements? If not, what can we tweak in the standard, system, process, or procedure to make it better?

There is no better time than now to improve your culture and raise your standards. If every time you allow a standard to be broken, you feel a gut-wrenching pain in your stomach and think ‘I know I should be enforcing that’ or ‘I know I should be doing a better job on this,’ but you don’t do anything to fix it, you are killing your culture one small cut at a time.

  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • McKee Foodservice Sunbelt Bakery
  • Epiq Global Payment Card Settlement
  • Imperial Dade
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • Easy Ice
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • RATIONAL USA
  • Atosa USA
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • RAK Porcelain
  • Day & Nite
  • Inline Plastics