The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 did two things. As a negative, a lot of restaurants closed forever. This devastated millions of people, their families, and supporting businesses. The pandemic also really hurt us mentally and emotionally because restaurants were one of the few places where people met socially and were cared for by other human beings.
The positive side of all of this is that it forced us restaurateurs to creatively look for solutions. In this process, we had to do things differently. As I wrote about in last week’s column, we had to do a whole mind shift. We had to look at all of the false beliefs we thought we were supposed to do to be successful.
For me personally, COVID was really rough. I had been recruited by restaurants my entire career and rarely had to seek employment. And up until the crisis, if I did apply, I always had a new gig really fast. But this time, no one in Nashville was hiring because our industry was hit really hard by bad city policy. I not only couldn’t find a job for the first time in my career, but my wife was now a stay-at-home mom with our 1-year-old son. For this reason, I started my coaching company.
So, now that I’ve shared my personal story, let me explain why I chose to coach rather than consult, and why everyone should have a coach.
A consultant is a professional who has a certain area or areas of skillset and has chosen to go out and share that skill for a price. They deliver a work for hire. For example, if you need a wine list, they will deliver a completed wine list and you will pay a price for that product. If you need someone to troubleshoot your food cost, a consultant will come in and analyze the systems you have in place and come up with a solution to get your food cost in line.
A coach is also a professional who has a certain area or areas of skillset and have chosen to help others as well. The difference is, instead of delivering a work for hire where the consultant does all of the work, the coach comes along side of you for a period of time and coaches you through the process.
When I decided to start a company to help restaurateurs not only survive but thrive way past COVID, I chose to be a coach for many reasons. The first reason is because I watched many episodes of Restaurant Impossible and Bar Rescue. While I enjoyed the shows and believe that John Taffer and Robert Irvine have incredible knowledge and talent, the restaurants they helped still closed down within a short period of time. In fact, I read that over 75 percent of these restaurants didn’t make it. To give credit to John and Robert, it was the system that failed not their expertise. They were consultants not coaches.
Almost everyone in the U.S. knows that eating right and exercising will get them in shape and when their bodies are in shape they look, feel, and produce at higher level. However, the U.S. is one of the most overweight nations in the world. Why is that? They know what to do but they don’t do it. Likewise, many restaurateurs know what to do but, it’s hard for them to prioritize those success strategies when people are calling out sick, deliveries are shorted, the plumbing is backed up, etc. A coach can help you maintain focus and teach you how to work on the business instead of just in the business. The coach can be an extra set of eyes that isn’t caught up in the craziness of the day to day.
A consultant gives you a workout plan and a diet plan and you have to do all of the hard work of executing and maintaining. A coach works more like a personal trainer. The coach comes along side of you for an extended period of time and helps you work through the process and change mindsets and habits. In other words, a consultant gives a man or woman a fish. A coach teaches a man or woman how to fish.
Every human being should have a coach. Whether you call them a mentor or coach, whether you pay them or not, everyone needs a coach. The greatest actors, singers, business owners all have coaches. Hospitality professionals need a coach as much or more than anyone. If you are in operations, when was the last time you read a non-fiction book on our industry? As restaurateurs we need to always be growing and learning. Our industry has shifted so much in the last 4 years and will continue to do so. We all need guidance. As the title of my friend Matt Rolfe’s book suggests, “You Can’t Do it Alone!” Find a coach.
Editor’s note: This is the 16th article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. The seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,’ is here. The eighth, on How to Scale Your Restaurant Business When There is Only One of You, is here. The ninth article, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Great Employees is Not Difficult, is here. The 10th, What Culture Do You Really Want at Your Restaurant?, is here. The 11th, on Your Restaurant Should Serve People, Not Product, is here. The 12th, on Don’t Let Shiny New Toys Distract Your Restaurant from What’s Most Important, is here. The the 13th, on Why Restaurant Value Shouldn’t Be Based on Price, is here. The 14th, on The Case for Hyper-Focused Menus, is here. And the 15th, This is How Your Restaurant Will Survive Beyond 3 Years, is here.