The major transformation restaurant owners have in working with me is the shift in their company culture. Have you heard people talk about company culture and how important it is? As a systems guy who helps restaurant owners have a life and make money, I can tell you the systems are the easy part. The part where restaurant owners have to change their company culture is the hard part of the journey, but a necessary one for success.
Implementing systems is just a giant group of tasks. While some of these tasks may be more time consuming than others, the truth is they’re just a list of projects that need to be completed. Many of these systems, or tasks, seem stupid easy. For example, let me talk about three of them.
Checklists: These are the opening and closing side work checklists. Checklists as a whole are a clipboard system.
Key item tracker: you track five to 15 items every shift to make sure they’re not stolen. It’s a clipboard system in that it’s a simple form you print off and put on a clipboard in the kitchen
Waste tracker: This clipboard system tracks food that is thrown away because of mistakes, such as incorrect preparation, incorrect orders by the front of the house, and food that spoils. It’s a proactive tool to track dumb ass mistakes so everyone can avoid making them the next day.
These three systems can technically be implemented in a day. If you do checklists to the detail I teach, that process will take weeks to months, but for the purposes of this example, you can get your first version of a checklist out and in use in just the day if you had to.
Here’s the point. The challenge isn’t getting them in place, it’s getting them used daily. That requires restaurant owners to put serious effort behind changing their company culture.
To get these things in place, to make sure they’re used daily, you must do these five things:
1. Have a manager on every shift, or some sort of supervisor. They can be an hourly supervisor, a salaried manager, or somewhere in between. Somebody must be in charge of ensuring each of these systems is being used every day. If not, the moment you stop followed up, they’re not used anymore.
2. View accountability as an opportunity to coach. Train people what their job is, how to do it, how well it should be done, and more importantly, by when. Make them demonstrate back to you that they can do it on their own without your help so they can no longer use as their excuse that they didn’t know. Then they know what their job is, the obligations to do their job, and they make a decision to do their job or not. This makes them accountable to their work. It makes them answerable for doing it or not. So we take accountability and it change it to answerability, which is a positive because you change them, changing your company culture.
3. Do not let one employee hold your company back. No longer can you let that long-term employee, family member—especially family members—stop you dead in your tracks. You’ll know who that person is because when you introduce the changes you want to make, they’ll be the ones saying things like, “Oh, no, our restaurant is different,” or “That’s too hard. We tried that and it didn’t work.” It stops you dead in your tracks. But as the leader of your business, you get to lead it forward, regardless of the naysayers.
4. Invest in education. If restaurant owners want to change their company culture, they must be willing to invest the time it takes and the money for necessary education. The most successful restaurant owners I’ve ever worked with follow the restaurant prosperity formula. They understand they don’t know what they don’t know. They are looking for ways to learn all the time. They go to trade shows, workshops, seminars, webinars, and they read trade publications. They invest in things such as coaching and courses. They go to YouTube and consume information all the time. They’re always learning because they don’t know what they don’t know. And some of those things, like coaching or workshops and seminars, require time and money to learn. But by learning, they understand. But it doesn’t matter what they know if their managers don’t also know it. Reinvest time and money to educate your managers. When your managers know they can help run the business, it’s a major change in the company culture.
5. Be consistent. It is so important that when you implement systems, even the minor three mentioned earlier, you pay attention to them on a daily basis. I often ask people, “Why do we have managers?” The answer is to ensure the process is working while allowing you the freedom to not have to be the only one who does.
When you hold people accountable and check on things every day, you are telling them this is what’s going to happen to everyone. You are changing your company culture. There’s no favoritism. It’s the same rules, the same systems, the same way every single day, no matter who you are or how long you’ve worked there.
When you train your people, when you have managers ensuring the process is working, when you are willing to hold people accountable, when you are willing to invest time, money and effort into learning and implementing systems, and you’re willing to be consistent on all fronts, you, are changing your company culture, a culture where everyone is treated fairly. A culture where systems are part of how you do things daily, where accountability isn’t a dirty word and where your company culture makes you an employer of choice.
It’s the people part that takes the time. You can put clipboard systems up in a moment. But training people and going through all this, changing your company culture, changing how you operate your restaurant, as team members change, as your managers change, your restaurant culture changes, too, and your restaurant becomes much easier to run. Your turnover rate drops like a rock, your profitability increases and, ultimately, your family gets to see you.
Remember as you work toward your goals for your restaurant that the success will come when you establish the right company culture.
David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert who teaches restaurant operators how to cut costs and increase profits with his trademark Restaurant Prosperity Formula. He’s taught thousands of restaurants how to use operational systems and create a hospitality-based company culture to skyrocket their profits.