Recently a successful restaurateur looked at me over the lunch table and told me that running his increasingly growing stable of much-admired restaurants was beginning to become boring. “An opening is an opening — and, in operations, you may have problems, but they tend to be the same problems.”
That made me think. Quality, service, happy guests, food cost, labor cost, hiring, raising PPA and guest counts, sanitation, handling complaints, combating competition. These are the things restaurateurs tend to think about when they identify problems. So how do you make these problems go away?
Some people will tell you that you have to have systems, checklists, training, measurement, reporting, and communication. There is some truth to that, but the best independent restaurateurs know that, when you have your management team aligned, you have already handled these issues.
The Best People Do Things For Themselves
I am not implying everything will go perfectly. That would defy human nature. But, as an independent restaurant company owner, when these problems do come up, what do you say to yourself? The name of the person who is already working on leading your team through that issue? “Someone had better get on that”? Or, even worse, “I had better get on that”?
All of my research clearly shows how the best restaurateurs benefit the most. It is not through giving people fish, not through showing people how to fish, but by learning how to identify, enroll and develop great fishing instructors. They put people in place and develop and keep them – people who do things for themselves.
To have the most personal freedom, the greatest success, and the highest net worth from your independent restaurant company, your job is not to teach people to fish; it is to identify great fishing instructors.
Here is what you can do:
- Identify the operating issues — the little things — that come up again and again.
- Draw a dotted line back to your senior team — the people in charge of the people in charge.
- Evaluate your management structure and the people who occupy those seats.
- Spend your precious time with those leaders, making improvements and adjustments where necessary.