The First Step To A Better Restaurant

Do you want a better restaurant? Of course you do.

You wouldn't be reading a blog post like this if you didn't. You can have a better restaurant today.

Actually, right now.

It starts with one simple decision. Just three powerful words: raise your standards.

While it sounds simple on the surface, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. Saying you want a better restaurant and actually getting a better restaurant can be the challenge. There are a few things to get out in the open before you can make that jump to the next level.

They say that what lies between desire and results is action.

Many people think that the road to success is a fairly straight line. The reality is success is more like a winding road with peaks, valleys, a few roadblocks, detours, and an occasional sinkhole thrown in. Even Ray Kroc, the ‘founder’ of McDonald’s, was quoted as saying, “I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night.”

tough road

Understand What the Word ‘Decision’ Means

If you look to the history of words you will find that the word decision comes from the Latin word dēcīsiō which literally means “a cutting off.” So when you make a true decision you cut off any other possibilities.

Decision and commitment go hand in hand.

When you make a clear decision that you are going to raise the standards for what you tolerate in your restaurant (and in your life), things will change dramatically.

Now, don’t expect things to change overnight either. The habits and standards you’ve held onto for so many years are not going to just quietly disappear. Some things can be changed rather quickly. Others might require more of an exorcism to displace the demonic shadow they have cast upon your business.

One thing you need to be aware of is that when you try to raise the bar and raise the standards in your restaurant, it’s not like hitting the button from Staples that shouts out, “That was easy”. If change was easy, everyone would have the restaurant and life they desired. When you try to make changes, change will push back. The best thing to do is to stay committed to your decision.

You will want to give in and lower your standards back to where they were, DON’T. Raising your standards will fight internally with your comfort zone. That comfort zone you have is very much like the thermostat in your home. If you set it for 70°, the air or heat automatically turns on and off to maintain that temperature. So, expect resistance because it will happen.

Drop the Excuses

The first thing that will pop up on your quest to raise your standards will be some rather interesting excuses as to why it won’t work. Excuses are nothing more than a bunch of bad BS. You know what they call BS in coaching? Belief Systems.

When excuses pop up (and they will) you have to face them head-on for what they are.

Fear.

When you make a conscious decision to raise your standards, of course fear is going to appear and try to rationalize with you. Here’s a thing you need to understand about fear… It just needs to be recognized and respected. While danger is real, fear is a choice.

When you heading into unchartered territory, there are no signs or references for what you should do. Fear will pop up and tell you this was a bad idea. If you have never raised your standards before, this will be a quest into the unknown. Face your fears, acknowledge the warning they are trying to give you, and tell them to get back in line with all your other emotions. Tell fear to go to the back of the line.

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Take Action

Now you have a clear understanding of some of the obstacles standing between you and the restaurant you desire. Now it's time to step up and turn those words into reality.

You’re going to make three lists.

The first a list of all the things you are no longer willing to put up with in your restaurant.

Call this one: a bad restaurant.

This could include: sloppy appearance, using a cell phone during service, being late, gossiping, yelling, auctioning food off the table, name-calling, not following recipes, not doing a menu, lack of teamwork, lack of leadership, negativity, low-energy, poor communication (like asking a table “how is everything”), lack of table management, failure to clean as you go… This list could go on for quite a while.

The second list is going to be all the things that an outstanding restaurant will do. Not should do, what they will do.

It’s easier to start with a list of the things that you don’t like. Once you have that list, writing down what you do want becomes a breeze.

This list could include: opening the door for guests, refolding napkins when guest leave the table, never having to ask for a refill, writing personal thank you cards to staff and guest, taking a course to improve your leadership skills, invest in training your team, getting involved with a local charity, knowing your numbers, understanding the strength of your team, marketing consistently, building value for your guest and your team, constantly recruiting for top talent, talking about your core values….

2017 Goal

The last list is a personal one.

You need to write down who you need to be, as a leader to make that second list happen. It’s easy to sit there and say you want to be this legendary restaurant, however, you need to become the kind of person who can make that a reality.

You see, raising your standards for your restaurant is only 50% of the equation. The other half is raising your standards for yourself.

This list might include: scheduling time for self-care, investing in personal development, living your core values, leading by example, having integrity, self-discipline, controlling your emotions, appreciating your team, respecting yourself….

None of this works unless you expect more from yourself than you do from others. Throwing out blame and shame on other people is basically projecting your own unmet needs and expectations on to others. Personal accountability should be a foundational element in your life. You need to take total accountability everything that happens to you and your restaurant. This is usually the crucible that holds most people back from getting the restaurant they want.

It’s so easy to point the finger and place blame on this person, that person, or the new restaurant down the street. Take a step back. Take a breath and make this declaration: your restaurant is exactly where it is because of you.

All the good and all the bad are from the decisions you made. The beautiful thing is that you can make new decisions, new choices, and create new standards.

By Donald Burns, Industry Expert