5 Qualities You Need to Succeed in the Restaurant Industry

By Andrew Carlson, Foodable Industry Expert

Working in restaurants isn’t for everybody. There are many sleepless nights, headaches, and times when all you want to do is just shut the business down. 

There are times when you walk into the restaurant thinking it will be a regular day but suddenly, the walk-in stops working and the soda machine is spraying everywhere. In the midst of the chaos, the health inspector decides to walk in right at that moment. 

Like I said, there will be times when the world seems against you and it depends on who you are that makes a difference between having a successful business and well, not having a business at all. 

Here are 5 qualities that you need to succeed in the restaurant industry. 

1. Determination

Determination is one of the qualities needed to succeed in any aspect of life. When I first moved to New Orleans, I didn’t know anybody and had zero connections. I went with less than $1,000 in my pocket but I had one thing on my mind: to make it work. 

I walked into every restaurant that I walked by to try to find a job. All I knew is that I didn’t have a lot of money, I had to pay rent next month, and I wasn’t going back to where my parents lived. That just wasn’t an option. 

I didn’t ask for the managers. I asked for the owners and pitched why I would be a better fit than anyone else who walked through their doors. I was turned away from many restaurants because I had just moved into town and they’ve been burned before. 

Day in and day out, I hit the streets and kept walking to different restaurants. Eventually, I landed a position at a hidden gem that was a neighborhood favorite. The owner was hesitant but they needed assistance because they were swamped every single day. 

When I asked them why they hired me, they said it boiled down to my determination. Most people only filled out an application and might reach out once. But it was the restaurant near my apartment so I would go eat there. I became part of the community. I showed them that I cared and that I was determined to be one of them. 

Determination will get you further when all else seems lost. Even in the darkest times, if you can muster up the determination to make it work and dig yourself out of the hole, you’ll achieve your goals because that shows that nothing can stop you from achieving what you want to achieve.

“If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.” – Les Brown

2. Vision

In the Lion King, Rafiki tells Simba to “look beyond what you see.” The trouble is, most people who want to open a restaurant see only the restaurant. But what is it that you want to do with the restaurant that will make it become a neighborhood staple for years to come? 

What makes your establishment different than all of the other ones that are opening this year? Why should your customers keep coming to you instead of the new shiny object that’s opening down the street? 

Steve Jobs had a vision of the smartphone long before he was able to bring it to fruition. He also didn’t know how to do that so through his determination, he hired a team of people that could help him bring his vision to life. 

That’s what you need to do in order to succeed. If you don’t know how to do something, you hire the people that will help you bring it to life. It’s the people with a vision of a better life for the community that will succeed instead of the people who have a vision to make money. Because the moment they aren’t making money, they’ll look for something else that will bring them money. 

3. Execution

“Ready, Fire, Aim!” is one of the quotes that one of my mentors told me when it came to making things happen. Most people never take the shot because they take too long to get ready and then aim at the target. 

The person who can execute on a plan faster than anyone else will succeed quicker. They might make more mistakes but they make adjustments the minute that they fail. 

When I managed restaurants, the one thing that helped me hit my numbers was that I wasn’t afraid to execute. If I knew that I wasn’t hitting my numbers, I would start going out into the neighborhood and nurture the relationships that I had in the neighborhood. 

I would also create partnerships with nearby businesses that would bring in people during slower periods as well as marketing campaigns to bring in more guests. Then we would nurture the customers in the restaurant who would end up spending more because we were focusing on their needs. 

We were launching on all cylinders. I knew that I had to justify why we were still around and had to create an experience within the restaurant that the customers’ haven’t had before in order to keep their interest.

What I could have done was try one of those aspects and hoped for the best but I knew that in order to keep my job, I had to increase revenue. Otherwise, they would find someone who could do what they needed me to do. 

4. Discipline

Businesses are created every single day and a lot of those businesses will never see a single dollar of sales. How is that possible? 

In order to succeed, you need to have the discipline to do what needs to get done. It’s easy when things aren’t going your way to just throw your hand up in the air and stop trying. It’s easy to stay in bed. It’s easy to just complain that the world is against you and nothing will work.

It takes discipline to get up. It takes discipline to do the work. It takes discipline to do whatever it takes. 

Want to see an increase in revenue? It takes discipline to show up and train your staff. It takes discipline to show up for your customers and nurture those relationships. It takes discipline to tell your friends that they can’t have a free meal and if they were a real friend, they would actually pay their tab.  

Nothing will pay off until you have the discipline to do the work.

5. Coachable

The last quality that you need in order to succeed in the restaurant industry is that you need to be coachable. You need to be able to listen to those that know more than you. You need to be able to listen when you made a mistake and need assistance to get out. 

There’s a quote that says, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” because you should always be looking at leveling up in your business and in your life. If you aren’t striving to achieve more, you’re doing yourself and your team a disservice. 

The biggest benefit from being coachable is to learn from the mistakes that others have made so you don’t make those mistakes in your own business. 

There are times when you are so close to the problem that you cannot see a single solution. But with the help of an outside perspective, they could pull numerous solutions where there once weren’t any. 

When you can put your ego aside and get help – that’s the trait of a successful person. Ask any successful business person out there if they have a coach, 99% of the time, they have someone on their team. 

In order to succeed in the restaurant industry, you need to become a different person. Every stage of your life requires a different version of yourself. Are you ready to step up?