Welcome to the Surrender News/Blog.  Get the latest news, trends, tips and information to help you succeed and thrive in the workplace.

Stop Restaurant Franchising Dreams from Becoming Nightmares

Restaurateurs often contact me, thrilled they have one or two promising-looking units. In their mind they have made a fantastic leap toward having a national group of franchisees that provides them incredible mailbox money with lots of zeros they no longer have to work for. Sure, their franchising dream looks attractive, but even if you … Continued

How Top Restaurants Avoid Shackling Managers with Tasks

Are you and your organization clear on the difference between task and management? Last week, I had three similar conversations with three different clients – all of whom own restaurants and companies anyone would envy. It was like a hazy art film where, no matter where I went, I heard the same voices repeating the … Continued

OK Xers, OK Millennials – Let’s Build the Strongest Restaurant Companies

Compared to where restaurateurs from my generation were when they were in their 30s and 40s, today’s restaurateurs at that age are crushing it! When I work with them, I convince them to move with higher velocity and take advantage of all their ideas, experiences, information, and possibilities. That contrasts with my general advice when … Continued

Why Data Fails in Verifying True Restaurant Success

If the only way you prove your restaurant’s continued success and competitive advantage comes through using data, that’s perilous.    That’s because the most important things in our industry are hard to measure: Culture Morale Guest happiness Service Sure, we have spent a lot of time creating metrics for each of these topics – honestly, … Continued

Leaving Your Restaurant Comfort Zone to Achieve Success

The thing about procrastinators, commitment-phobes, and last-minute people? They don’t know what they are missing. Many of my clients – successful owners of independent restaurant companies – take more than their time in making decisions. Some of them simply hate to make decisions, because making a final decision eliminates all those other amazing options they … Continued

Three Proven Accountability Rules That Raise Restaurant Performance

Your grill cook – the person who prepares that steak exactly to temperature – has a better sense of balance on the grill than you do on accountability in your restaurant. To the visionaries who start their organizations and become the successful multi-unit independent restaurateurs that I work with, accountability does not usually come naturally. … Continued

Restaurateurs: Own Today Like You’re Selling Tomorrow

Always run your restaurants like you are planning to sell them. When someone sells their house, they prepare it to appeal to buyers. They touch up chipping paint, clean stains off the hardwood floors, and plant the nicest flowers in the front yard. That cracked toilet in the third bathroom nobody ever uses? Replaced. The … Continued

How Top Owners Channel Their Inner Salesperson to Create Great Restaurants

Today’s worker has less than zero interest in hearing what their boss wants them to do without context. Smart people sell their decision and ideas.    If you don’t identify as a great salesperson but you want breakthrough results in your dining rooms, you must become a great salesperson. My best clients know this. Whatever exciting idea … Continued

Three Signs Your Restaurant Is Not Unique Enough to Stand Out

“Believe me: I’m extremely aware that I compete with everyone in my segment—and most of the people in the other segments, too!” I often hear those words from people like you: successful owners of multi-unit independent restaurant companies. They live their lives as if everyone competes with them. So a burger concept owner thinks his company competes … Continued

Restaurateur’s 30 Hour Work Week Challenge

If you worked a 30-hour week, what would you do with the extra 10 or 20 hours you just gave yourself?  “Oh, I have a big list – can’t wait to be there. And I’m thinking about calling Matthew so I can be there sooner.”  “Nothing comes to mind, so I’m thinking about not reading … Continued

Making Great Kids and Outstanding Restaurants with the 7 Habits

My second-grade daughter – and all the second-graders in the Dallas Independent School District – are spending time learning the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When Stephen Covey’s book first came out in 1989, it was revolutionary, cutting-edge thought about how to live your life. I used 7 Habits in my business, taking my nightclub management teams … Continued

10 Ways Restaurateurs Give Themselves a Raise

When was the last time you gave yourself a raise? The one you earned for increased performance. I meet a lot of well-known restaurateurs who proudly and confidently identify their businesses as “great.” They’re so great that, at first, they don’t even know why they are talking to me – someone who works to improve … Continued

Proven Method Makes Your Restaurant Team Embrace Change

A friend of mine told me she would enjoy moving every year. Wow! I had not heard that one before. But she abandoned that dream, realizing her kids need a stable home.   I remembered this when my daughter asked me, “Is this our forever house?” She wanted know that her roots—the ones she had … Continued

Restaurateurs This is the Most Important Thing to Do on Labor Day

It’s Labor Day – the holiday dedicated to the American worker. Many people don’t think about the meaning of the day (if they ever knew it in the first place). And that’s what happens to a lot of our holidays. They morph into days of general relaxation and fun. They lose their meaning. And they … Continued

Mistake-proof Your Restaurant’s Move to a New City

When your restaurant concept goes to a new city, you typically go with mega excitement and hella-aggressive confidence. That’s because you know you have something special – like when you bought that gift you knew your partner was going to love. With their first bites, locals will swoon and realize your brand’s superiority. And you have a … Continued

Alert!  Restaurateurs You’re Missing a Step in Your Steps of Service

Using your steps of service strategically to send your guests the right message gives your restaurants a massive competitive edge. My best clients add an element in their steps of service that drives guest engagement, satisfaction, and frequency – and thus revenue. So why do most restaurants miss this opportunity and simply allow their steps … Continued

Restaurant Owners – Don’t Ignore the Signpost to Your Freedom

When you reach a certain level of success, it’s OK to run that victory lap and settle in to being an owner, not an operator. One multi-unit owner I know has done this so well they consider their job “playing restaurateur.”  Be more like them. This transformation is critical for professional restaurant group owners; unfortunately, … Continued

The Surprising Truth About Restaurant Culture

Last week I ran my Ultimate Restaurant Culture Workshop at Texas Restaurant Marketplace in Houston, the second largest gathering of industry professionals in the country. I took attendees through the same process I use with my clients to identify, document, and systematize culture—tools we use to literally scale culture so it remains pure as my … Continued

Top Things Professional Restaurateurs Refuse to Compromise On

For successful restaurateurs, there was a grueling period at the beginning when they really did have to work all the time. The most debilitating mistake people make? They don’t even notice when that time ends, so they keep running that schedule out of habit. Life is full of compromise. If you marry, have a family, … Continued

Join Industry Leaders This Weekend in Houston

If you are anybody in our business in and around Texas, your usual mid-July habit is to head to Texas Restaurant Marketplace. That is where you’ll see new products and hear a wide range of speakers (including me) present new ideas about how to operate your company. Or you might even learn the most by … Continued

Why Top Restaurateurs Focus on Making More at Their Best Locations

Underperforming locations? They’re facts of life in the growth of any brand.  And sometimes they’re just born that way. That’s because site selection has become more science than art, but still has some artistic qualities – and can create a maternity ward for underperforming stores. Then, when owners feed those locations, there’s pain. Nobody lulls … Continued

Meet Me in Houston and Learn Secrets to Make Your Culture Boost Profits

In the past I have proven why culture provides 100% of your profits. That’s a lot. I constantly work with my clients – successful owners of independent restaurant companies – to define their culture in a permanent way. This lets them direct the behavior of their people (i.e., everybody) who serve guests and the people … Continued

When (and When Not to) Grow Your Restaurant Group

Proof of concept. Knowing your restaurant brand has legs – that its single-unit economics can be repeated and repeated and repeated – is like that can’t-fail feeling Hillary Clinton felt the night before the election.   In the end, proof of concept doesn’t prove that success will follow, because no concept has permanent proof. That’s … Continued

How Top Restaurants Increase Revenue in Any Market Condition

Many restaurateurs sleepwalk through writing their budget every year – forecasting menu price growth, inflation, or market growth as a revenue target. The best ones choose to wake up, and do a lot better than that. Revenue can always go up – faster than you expect. Recently, a well-respected restaurant group came to me with … Continued

Why Top Restaurateurs Know There is No Shame in Getting Better

You already know about the missing pieces in your organization. You experience nagging discomfort like a pebble in your running shoe or worse, a self-critical voice that hounds you about addressing them. This will impact you especially if you have a lot of pride in what you have accomplished. Before working with me, some of … Continued

Smart Restaurateurs’ Guide to Hiring Your First Operations Director

Most of my clients guide teams in their multi-unit organizations through their next stage of growth, management development, concept development, branding, or culture. However, a few still are hands-on operators of their own restaurants. When that changes – when we improve everything by hiring the right director of operations  and I educate this new owner/operator … Continued

Top 10 Ways Restaurants Retain Managers

In over 30 years in this business I have never seen anything like it. Restaurant managers. The shortage. Last week I heard about a new restaurant that opened two months late: Everything was ready to go—but there were no managers. You Can’t Order the GM Robot on Amazon…Yet The hamburger-flipping robot may be here, but … Continued

Top 10 Actions That Make People Love Your Restaurant Brand

The smartest restaurateurs know that they are not in the restaurant business—they are in the branding business. According to the Forbes 2018 World’s Most Valuable Brands list, the top five brands are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon. However, these brands all experience a red-faced love/hate relationship with the general public. The same people swing wildly … Continued

How Restaurateurs Use Time in Their Dining Rooms to Stay Unbeatable

What do your experienced eyes see when you walk through your dining rooms? The staff fastidiously on task? Dreaded empty tables when you’re on a wait? Your trusted long-time expeditor making sure food does not sit in the window too long? Craving data and KPIs, do you jump on your phone to see how revenue … Continued

Proven Techniques for Growing and Retaining Restaurant Managers

A very talented general manager in one of my client companies looked like the frustration emoji when telling me, “Our weekly operations meetings, it is the same thing every week—it feels like Groundhog Day.” The issue? Getting together yielded no process to develop the people in attendance. Want your managers to stay, and your restaurants … Continued

Strategy Stops Random Restaurant Growth from Undermining You

So you’re not an Olympic gold medalist, a musician with 20 million streams, or a Pulitzer Prize winner? Still want to leave your mark? For successful owners of independent restaurant companies growth looks like something between a hobby and an obsession that they talk about it constantly. They obsess about it because, once they find … Continued

Two Essential Ways Restaurateurs Enjoy Their Time Away

Google the term “work life balance.”  You will get two billion results. That’s fast—and a reminder of why we need work/life balance. Forty years ago, when the term “work/life balance” began to pop up in our conversations, people lived in a telex, mainframe, and WATS line world. So, when people left work, they left work. Today, what … Continued

How Restaurateurs Stay Unstuck and Take Advantage of New Thinking

Most successful people are comfortable with at least some degree of uncertainty. They surround themselves with people who tell them things that, at first, may not even seem true. Other people, though—who have trouble keeping up with the market, the competition, and the changing desires of their guests—become stuck in their ways and fall behind. … Continued

Why Top Restaurateurs Triumph Over Fear and Run Open-Book Companies

We’re used to talking to management teams about store-level profit, restaurant profit, restaurant operation profit, or whatever term we use. You know, the number before occupancy, A&G, depreciation, and amortization. It’s what these people master, your bonus program may be based on, and something they can understand. And it is the wrong thing to do. … Continued

How Restaurants Protect Themselves from Competition by Demonstrating Value

What would happen if you asked a bunch of restaurateurs how they’d react if they consistently received feedback that menu prices were too high? First, you would see them shake their heads in frustration, roll their eyes in disbelief, and face-plant on their dining table as a gesture of heartfelt exasperation. Then you would get … Continued

Proven Methods to Protect Yourself from Gambling on Growth

My favorite time in the restaurant business is any period of growth. The future is exciting. Everything is possible. The smell of carpet glue and fresh paint is in the air. The chance to do it right from the beginning is intriguing and motivating. Common Threads of Restaurant Growth Right now I have clients growing … Continued

The Biggest Restaurant Company Mistakes I Have Ever Seen

“Can you believe my company? I bet you’ve never seen anything like it.” I hear that all the time. “We have things we have not addressed for years. We are successful, but we could be doing so much better.” After almost three decades advising owners of successful multi-unit independent restaurant companies, I don’t see much … Continued

What If An Employee Sent You This Text

What would your employees text you—the successful owner of an independent, multi-unit restaurant group—if they had the chance? Michael Lastoria, CEO and founder &pizza, gave every one of his 750 employees at his 35-units his cell number—and the open invitation to text him. You may have read about him last week in Nation’s Restaurant News … Continued

Your Dining Room: Don’t Work it Like a Car Salesman

Recently I had the pleasure of buying a new car. I did not have a choice—mine got totaled. (We are fine, by the way. No injuries.) Having no idea what I wanted, that meant interacting with lot of car dealers and a lot of car salespeople. Four strange things happened: Two salespeople I met gave … Continued

Read This – Then Change Your Entire 2019 Operating Plan

Whatever your dream is, my wish for you is that you get to live it. At work, at home, in your community. In that spirit, as we start a new year, here’s a gift from me – a free download. Fill out the box below to get my Toolkit for Creating a Dream Restaurant Business. Everyone … Continued