There are so many reasons people run restaurants. Many of us first got into the business because of passion. Maybe you once worked in restaurants and loved the people side, camaraderie of staff and customers or the high-energy. Possibly, you were a chef with a loyal following of raving fans, or you just saw an opportunity and took the plunge. But that was years ago. Are you still passionate and committed to run a top-notch operation?
I often say the restaurant business is one of a thousand details and it’s a constant daily challenge to keep all the moving parts going in the right direction. Labor is difficult, costs are rising, products are perishable, the competition is relentless, etc… This business can be all-consuming and burn-out is common at all levels. Without proper systems, suddenly all the balls in the air can begin to fall. Much like dominoes, the staff are usually the first to notice which affects morale and performance. When guests notice, they start talking and voting with their keyboards. Social media and online reviews pick up the chaos and like wildfire word begins to spread. No wonder the restaurant fall-out rate is staggering whether it’s a new or existing business.
Whether you run an independent, small regional chain or national enterprise, relevance rules. In this most competitive business, your restaurant absolutely must stay relevant with your customer, continually create new loyal customers and never stop innovating. As a former operator, I’ve always believed in the “Amusement Park Theory”… that is, every year you need a new ride to keep people coming back!
Think of the restaurant business as show business… it’s entertainment. You are not just selling food and drink, you are creating memorable experiences and hopefully lasting positive impressions. To do this well, you need great people.
Staff are the cornerstone and absolute foundation of any restaurant business. A solid hiring plan, leading by example, daily training, recognition and rewards are essential to sustained restaurant success. In the back of house your people need to have an eye for quality, talent and team chemistry. On the front side, it’s all about a true desire to serve and deliver hospitality. Your goal is for each and every staff person front and back to provide the absolute best experience with consistency to every customer. Behind the scenes this is difficult. In the customer’s eyes, it must appear seamless. Although its impossible for every experience to be perfect, the difference between an average restaurant and a great one is empowerment. If your staff are empowered to make immediate decisions to please the guest regardless of the situation, you will build loyalty and repeat business.
Now let’s talk leadership. Your restaurant business is your livelihood, but doesn’t have to be your life. You may own the place but it shouldn’t own you. If you’ve hired, trained and empowered the right people and have placed proper systems in place, you’ve not only created a powerful competitive advantage, but your future exit strategy. Your staff will respond with their loyalty and service, and customers will reward you with their business and positive reviews.