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

Is the Silver Tsunami the Exciting Time for Your Next Phase in Life?

What’s your plan as the “Silver Tsunami” hits? We can figure that out together when I speak at the Texas Restaurant Show on Sunday, July 14. What’s the “Silver Tsunami”? It’s the mass sell-off (or reimagining) of great companies that were started by baby boomers in the 70s, 80s, 90s and even the beginning of this century. These owners … Continued

Improve Your Restaurants and Your Life On Summer Vacation 2024

I have never heard any of my clients (or anyone I know) say, “I took too many vacations this year and my business really suffered.” What I have heard:  Your Summer Vacation Season 2024 This week marks the kickoff for summer vacation season, and, if my own block is an indicator, a lot of people … Continued

Top 10 Ways Successful Restaurant Owners Flourish Now

Restaurant Owners Success Club is a connected group of multi-unit restaurant owners who meet with me virtually to gain from my overview of what is happening in the industry, learn things to do now, compare notes on revenue and employee retention trends, and dive deeply and share stories on topics that make an impact.   The … Continued

How Top Restaurant Operators Improve Revenue and Profit in a Soft Market

You can improve restaurant revenue and net operating income in any economy – even in 2024’s “flat market.”  One way I make this happen is to always look for people I call “caring, friendly whistleblowers.” They have great ideas that exist outside of the status quo – ideas that challenge the status quo in a loving way. … Continued

What Successful Restaurant Growth Looks Like Now

In your heart, you know when your restaurants could be better.  And right now, I’m seeing a ton of opportunity for improvement out there. In the past few weeks, I have sat in restaurants where I felt warmly welcomed, checked on, and delighted – where I had fun and was thanked sincerely.  I’ve been to … Continued

For Fast Casual Restaurant Success Focus on These Two Things Now

Here in Texas, a lot of people ask me why Café Express – which you can argue invented fast casual in 1984 – only operates four units when it used to be 15 or more and had aspirations of 100. It’s simple: They didn’t keep up, either on culinary, branding, atmosphere, or service. On the … Continued

Lifting Restaurant Profits by Double Digits in Full-Service

The market and the economy will not do your work for you this year.  So you’ll just have to do it yourself. While guests are continuing to dine out less often, there’s good news to be found in the demographics most of my clients serve: When people go to restaurants, they want what they want.  … Continued

Codify Restaurant Ownership Style to Imprint Your Unique Culture

Culture dictates behavior, but it also allows what I call “codifying ownership.” This means that, even in your absence, your restaurants feel like you want them to feel – so you’re able to open more units without killing what made the first ones special. Plus, you get a ton of personal freedom and flexibility. Learning … Continued

Avoid Pitfalls of Restaurant Expansion by Planning in Advance

Maybe you already have multiple units and you’re embarking into multi-city. Or maybe, in addition to multi-city, you’re adding a second concept. Either way, if you want to sleep better, plan and organize and import knowledge from the best restaurant companies in America – and do that work in advance, not after you open all those restaurants. … Continued

How to Adjust to the Restaurant Dining Habits of the Next Generation

The oldest Gen Z diners are celebrating their 27th birthdays this year. If you haven’t started to understand their behavior or adapt to their dining needs, you’d better start now. Generation Z, our first generation of digital natives, will be going through high schools only a few more years before Generation Alpha arrives. This weekend, … Continued

How to Use Spring Break to Strengthen Your Restaurants

Wow! Next week’s calendar says, “Texas Spring Break” already.  That means the time for owners of successful independent restaurant companies to get out and enjoy the success they have earned is NOW – not when they retire or sell (if they ever do). Last month, I met a restaurateur who has five units and had … Continued

How To Wake Up Your Restaurant Brand and Increase Guest Count

When guests think about your restaurants, do they end up feeling sleepy because your brand looks tired? Independent restaurant groups that lack the focus or wherewithal to update brands fall behind their competition. One of my clients told me, “Things changed so much in the last few years, we have simply not kept up.” It’s the … Continued

Why You Miss the Biggest Hidden Opportunities in Your Restaurants

“Don’t bother to look over there; that’s all fine!” I’ve heard that from many clients who had brought me in to address specific issues. When I start roaming and nosing around their restaurants to find other opportunities to address, they try to shut me down – feeling I am wasting time and effort. That is, … Continued

How to Find the Guests Your Restaurants Deserve

If you tell yourself that your restaurants appeal to everyone aged 4-74 – or anything similar to that – that is wrong. If you tell yourself that you compete with all restaurants – wrong again.   One of my clients was telling me these things, and it was only by going beyond that kind of thinking that … Continued

How to Claim Personal Freedom Beyond Your Restaurant Walls

I was having a drink with one of my clients and we were talking about the roles he and his wife were taking in their own business—which was very successful by any measure. They were working a lot. A lot. And seemingly forever. “We’ve decided we will work like dogs until we turn 50. Then … Continued

The Five Best Things I Told You This Year…and Why

2023 gave us steep interest rate increases, a shortage of experienced workers, and breaking the record type summer heat.  But there’s one more thing 2023 provided: clarity on where to focus so we can build and grow successful independent companies like the ones that you own and I work with. I’ve selected five especially popular or meaningful … Continued

How to Conquer My 3 Stages of Restaurant Business Growth

For my best clients, it doesn’t matter what curveballs life throws at them. They stay on a strong growth curve regardless—remaining in control of their destiny and putting the right information to work. And when you do that, great things happen, like jumping from 5 units to 21, or reinvigorating revenue at a brand that … Continued

My Four Ingredients to Breakthrough 2024 Restaurant Success

Lately, I’ve worked with my clients so much on their 2024 plans that, in my mind, I’m already there. So I’m constantly surprised when I see a date that says 2023. It feels like something from the past. Adopt the same attitude and put maximum energy into planning for a breakthrough. Positively approach changes for … Continued

Never Play the Victim, Instead Develop Your Restaurant Business

Every restaurant closing or personnel change has a backstory you never read about in a magazine. So much goes unsaid and unprinted. As an insider, I know. You may, too. Challenges in the Restaurant Industry I have heard a lot of talk and read a lot of texts lately about Brian Reinhart’s D Magazine article, … Continued

Restaurateurs Take Advantage of the Freedom You’ve Earned

Are you working hard this holiday season – feeling the frustrated pull of your family asking you to peel a few days here or there so everyone can be together? Or are you more like many of my clients, who have structured their business so that trusted and responsible people are able to run it … Continued

The Best Ways Restaurants Activate and Retain Excellent Management

I can’t make it through a single day without someone talking to me about how much they need to hire or develop more talented managers.  On many days it’s multiple someones. One nice part of our business right now that can help? Clarity. We know what people want in order to stick around and work … Continued

How Restaurant Owners Take Control of Their Customizable Life

Live your own life, not someone else’s. Customize your life. You have the power to do that.  Most people who don’t feel they have that option would be shocked that you don’t choose to take advantage of it.   Do This Now  I can hear you laughing when I say that our industry is stable … Continued

How To Create the Clear 2024 Roadmap You Deserve

I have seen more than one organization head into a new year with a comprehensive targeted annual plan but then – once the first quarter starts – forget it completely and just start reacting to whatever’s right in front of them. It’s like one of those amnesia movies where the protagonist wakes up and fails … Continued

Improve Your Restaurants Big Time by Taking a Buyer’s Perspective

If you want to really improve your restaurants and your restaurant company, act like you just bought it.  Instead of looking at it like the founder, developer, and shepherd you have been for years (or decades), look at everything with new eyes. When I begin working with new clients, I observe, learn, and respectfully question … Continued

How to Take Action and Power to Boost Restaurant Guest Count

The most important number for your restaurants – the one you need to look at every shift, day, week, and accounting period – isn’t on your P&L. That number? Guest count. I only have a few clients who have positive comp guest counts. Those brands connected with their guests during the pandemic in a unique … Continued

How To Find Your Restaurant’s Focus and True Calling

If I asked you, “What kind of company do you own and operate?” how would you answer?  Would you say, “A restaurant company”? Maybe if you’re a wise guy, but it doesn’t give me or you a whole lot to work with.  It reminds me of when I ask my daughter what happened in school … Continued

How the Best Successful Restaurateurs Don’t Just Go It Alone

For many of my most successful clients, it might have been several years – or even several decades – since they’ve worked in a company that wasn’t their own. That can result in a lack of perspective that holds them back. And sometimes, “It’s lonely at the top” is more than just a saying. The … Continued

As Guest Habits Return, Focus on Independent Restaurant Strengths

In the history-spanning and never-ending competition between chain restaurants and independents, the conditions for independents today look more favorable than at any time since before the pandemic. Why? Because chains can’t create the memorable and authentic experiences the independents can. And those are the experiences customers want. Chain restaurants’ advantages – those attained through capitalization, … Continued

How to Nail Enrolling and Retaining Talented Restaurant Management

Everyone at the recent Texas Restaurant Show in Houston produced by the Texas Restaurant Association wanted to know how to find, keep, and grow managers.  Why? Because it’s vital – especially when operators are forced to fish out of a talent pool that’s even shallower than the kiddie pool at the resort you visit this summer.  I was … Continued

How to Use Your Superpowers to Solve Recurring Restaurant Problems 

Part of our DNA can also become a dilemma.  In the dining room, we have the superpower of peripheral vision: a hyper-awareness when a guest is in peril.  At Brinker International, they call it “GWAP” (guest with a problem). Over time, we learn how to correct the problem without that guest – or the team … Continued

Give Your Restaurant Business More When You Get Away This Summer

One of the most important and underrated aspects of success? Your ability to get away.  Even before we start working together, my clients tend to already be successful beyond their wildest dreams. Together, however, we make their businesses and lives even better.  Birth of the American Vacation The Puritans were not big on vacations. Idle time … Continued

Restaurateurs – Know How to Show Up and Create Fantastic Results 

The most successful restaurant owners I know use three different methods to move initiatives forward. Which one to use? That’s the question. Figuring out the answer to that question demonstrates a leader’s greatest value, since everyone and every issue has its own set of requirements, talents, disciplines, and demands. The best leaders customize their methodology … Continued

Top 2 Ways Smart Restaurant Operators Make Sure Growth Pays Off 

A funny thing happened on the way to the maybe-going-to-be-a-recession: Our business stabilized.  My clients focus on growth again, the smell of fresh paint and carpet glue is in the air and new staffs learn in training classes. With calm soft openings being as current as a vintage concert T-shirt, guests are lining up for … Continued

Top Restaurateurs Put Talent in the Right Spot: Everywhere

Multi-unit restaurant company owners face two current compounding realities: a shortage of management talent and the need to grow multi-unit talent for the future. You must know how to excel when fighting both of these challenges. If you watched Ted Lasso last week, you learned a lot about “Total Football” – a fluid system in which any … Continued

When Your Restaurant Journey Requires New Approaches

You’d think that – when I start working with successful multi-unit restaurant companies looking to improve – matching their strengths with what they need would be easy.  But experience tells me that thinking differently, along with new approaches, not old ones, make for successful growth.  Just like the people who establish a concept are not … Continued

Restaurateurs Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Losing Guest Focus

Once, at a client’s weekly operations meeting, I waited and waited to hear someone speak the word “guest.” I heard about production, maintenance, organization, policies, personnel, money, and training. Surely, one of the 10 experienced managers at this mature, legacy-brand, high-volume unit would talk about something they had done for a guest, something they had … Continued

How Top Restaurateurs Look Back to Q1 and Ahead to the Future

Take a look back all the way back to the beginning of the year. With the first quarter just ending, my best clients take stock of what they’ve achieved. Then, they adjust to ensure they have a great 2023 – no matter how they started the year. Did you exceed plan? Did you fail to … Continued

To Understand Restaurant Success, Look to the Future

Where do you go for advice on building confidence, concepts, loyalty, professionalism, and taking smart risks? You go back to high school.  The Texas ProStart High School Competition Recently, as part of a team of 25 restaurant industry leaders, I continued my streak of judging critical thinking skills at the annual Texas ProStart statewide competition … Continued

Top Restaurateurs Know to Step Outside Their Comfort Zones

When the company you own remains the only one you where you have ever served in a leadership position, it can be like going to the same vacation spot every year and having no idea what the rest of the world looks like. You remain uninformed. Much of the work I do with my clients … Continued

To Stay Relevant, You Must Update Your Restaurants Now

Chains beat independents on a cycle of refreshing their concepts, décor packages, signage, logos, menu design, and offerings. Unfortunately, independents who ought to go big tend to go small. The consequences? Results that are obviously insufficient. Don’t let the chains beat you.  Investing in upgrades activates your guests, enticing them to visit your dining room … Continued

How Top Restaurant Owners Enjoy Freedom They Have Earned

For a large part of their days, restaurant owners try to figure out ways to give hourlies and managers more flexible lives. That’s just part of the world now: offering flexible scheduling for hourlies and groundbreaking benefit packages for managers. When you do this quality people want to work with you, and feel happy to … Continued

Win the Restaurant Talent War by Offering Innovative Benefits

When you found out that KFC had formed a partnership with the online Western Governors University to offer employees 100% paid tuition to earn a college degree, you probably rolled your eyes as an independent restaurant operator. Or maybe the shock was so big, you simply choked. But KFC is simply following the lead of … Continued

How to Retain Talented Restaurant Managers by Making Vision Reality

Have you driven by any of those restaurants with expensive dark and empty dining rooms, waiting a little longer to open – because their management team has not been fully populated?  Finding great restaurant managers has always been a challenge. These days, though, many owners I talk to feel like that challenge is becoming more … Continued

Restaurateurs Make Sure Marketing Leads to Exceeding Forecast Revenue

Sought-after young restaurant brands can brag that they don’t even have to advertise. When I hear that claim I smile – because I know, one day, they will start advertising. They inevitably cool off. Someone else will own the hot new brand that everyone loves to be Insta-ing about. The most recent examples of this? Shake … Continued

The Five Best Things I Told Restaurateurs This Year…and Why

I’ve gone back and chosen five especially popular or meaningful posts from 2022 – a year of adjustment to new challenges and, on the whole, a successful year for the restaurants I work with.     My clients and my readers told me that these messages turned out to be the ones that most helped them and … Continued

How Amazing Restaurant Leadership Development Creates Success Stories in 2023

When you spend your whole day dealing with rising costs and a soft market, leadership development might be the last thing on your schedule.  That’s a huge mistake.  Why? Because leadership development applies to everything you do in operations.  Restaurants really live in the branding business, while operations exists in the leadership development business.  Matthew’s … Continued

2022’s Top 5 Multi-Unit Restaurant Initiatives

Last week, Restaurantowner.com asked me to do a webinar on 2022’s five most valuable multi-location initiatives. You can view the webinar here.  In a hurry? Short attention span? Read this summary of my message.  Over to you. Which one of this Top 5 offers the most benefit to you and your organization? How will you start?

Why Restaurateurs Never Trade Long-Term Vision for Short-Term Fears

If you’re feeling stuck, frozen, or worried about what happens next in the economy, you’re in danger of succumbing to short-term fears. Don’t do it! Stay focused on the big picture. Continue to build your company to support your long-term vision.   Win the Marathon During the summer restaurants were concerned when sales declined 5-10% … Continued

How Restaurant Owners Stay on Top While Everyone Else Handles the Numbers

Top restaurateurs spend less of their precious time knowing their organization’s numbers and more time ensuring that the people who run their restaurants have financial acuity. They develop people who tell them (their boss) about prideful action undertaken to provide great guest experiences, loyal and talented employees, and numbers that meet or exceed budget. The … Continued

Why Today’s Young Restaurateurs Start With Strategy

Why do entrepreneurs in the incubation stage understand the need for strategy more than many successful owners of independent multi-unit restaurant companies?  Recently I spoke at the DEC@Redbird part of The DEC Network in Dallas, which is dedicated to delivering access to resources, education, and guidance to give a boost to those small businesses and startups who might benefit from them.  … Continued

Top Restaurants Strengthen Culture by Asking Tough Questions

People can work for years creating a healthy culture in their restaurants – then one false move destroys it all. On a recent Monday morning, Texas Rangers President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels called a press conference to announce he was firing his direct report: manager Chris Woodward.  Two days later, Ray Davis, the normally reclusive team … Continued

Only 3 Worthwhile Places to Look When Developing a Healthy Restaurant Business

Do your guests smile, feel happy, enjoy their meals, and tell their friends about that? Do your financial statements appear predictable and healthy – making you proud? Does your culture deeply permeate your restaurants every unit, every shift, every table, every time? Do your people demonstrably improve – doing things today that they couldn’t do … Continued

How Top Restaurants Move From Observation To Results

By the time I start working with most of my clients, they’re already successful – making more money than they’d ever imagined. The reason they’ve brought me in, though, is that they know there’s an opportunity for so much more.   What the Airport Reminded Me Recently I was waiting for baggage at Denver International … Continued

How Restaurants Get the Results They Ask For

A lot of restaurateurs forget to ask for the results they want – then feel puzzled when they don’t get those results. If you suffer from lack of specificity, learn to ask “why” over and over. Borrow a three-year-old or remember when you raised a three-year-old. You want people to develop managers, boost service, comb … Continued

These Three Restaurant Fundamentals Ensure Guest Happiness in Uncertain Times

We live in uncertain times – in a maybe-recession, maybe-not recession, maybe-shallow recession.  In the big cities where most of my clients operate, restaurants experience softer sales. Guests are spending, but that spending happens while on vacation in France, Spain, the Bahamas, Florida, Colorado, California, Galveston, the Gulf Shores, or Padre Island.  When school goes … Continued

Overcome the Shallow Talent Pool by Taking This Action Now

Right now, the kiddie pool in the hotel your family visits this summer is deeper than the management pool in the restaurant industry. Every few days I have a conversation where one of my clients complains that the management talent in their organization is not prepared to operate up to standards.  Owners are frustrated about … Continued

Make Your Company Live Forever by Treating It Like It Won’t

Haruki Murakami wrote in his novel, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, “If people lived forever…they’d probably just figure, ‘Oh well, I’ve got plenty of time for that. I’ll think about it later.’” Stop operating your company with immortality in mind, like you have unlimited time to handle the issues that can make a huge difference for … Continued

Stop Worrying About Recession, Focus on Fundamentals of Success Instead

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich once said, “Economic forecasters exist to make astrologers look good.” There is no time like June 2022 to remember that. Winners exist in any economic condition. You don’t have to worry about all restaurants; just focus on yours. Then win. Whatever happens with our economy, the premium tools you use … Continued

The Senior Management Hiring Rule Smart Owners Never Break

The smartest operators know not to let their business become a clinical trial for an experienced senior chain restaurant person who works for an independent for the first time.  Instead, they leave that risk to someone else. NEVER hire senior management unless they’ve had at least one successful stint at an independent company.   This … Continued

3 Steps to Developing Powerful Restaurant Managers Now

Expecting managers to perform because, 1) You told them to, and 2) You pay them a lot, identifies as disappointing fantasy. Instead, stick to reality. And in reality, the management shortage actually looks worse this year. People have landed in their post-COVID-crisis spots in and out of the industry and don’t want to budge. And … Continued

Don’t Sell Your Restaurants – Retire in Place Instead

A lot of restaurant owners have that tired old American dream: Work your whole life, then sell your business and retire for good. When my clients figure out the high cost of selling now, many see that dream as a nightmare. You have another option. Rather than selling your company, keep it – and let … Continued

How Top Restaurants Avoid the End of Hospitality

By now, we’ve all shared the February New York Times article “Restaurants to Customers: Don’t Call Us, We Won’t Call You.” It’s about a growing trend in restaurants – of communicating only by email or text, not phone. In the article, one restaurant owner complains that, to talk to guests, “to pay someone $15 an hour or … Continued

The One Thing That Transforms Your Restaurant Company

What is one thing in your organization that, when improved, would be a breakthrough for your guests, employees, brand, and net worth? Look in the mirror – it’s you. Since you’re always quick to improve other things in your business, how long are you willing to stay the same?  Vulnerable or Cut Off? Some of … Continued

How Restaurant Owners Eliminate Frustration about Missed Opportunity

The pandemic changed what people tolerate. Today, after all they’ve lived through; owners of successful independent multi-unit restaurant companies have less tolerance for organizational blind spots. They’re not content to just let initiatives be like conversations that go on year after year with no tangible result. Companies return to investing beyond existing and future units … Continued

How Restaurants Instantly Add Two Points to Their Bottom Line

Non-cash adjustment moves the credit card processing cost away from your P&L and onto your guests’ credit or debit card – in small increments they do not mind.   Plastic-wielding guests will see this cost itemized on the guest check, or will see a reduced price if they pay with cash. On a $45 check, that … Continued

What High School Students Teach You About Getting the Best Advice

Sure, listen to your family and friends, employees, and co-owners – they love to speak up. Direct, honest communication and encouragement inspires all of us, especially when it comes from people who have nothing but our best interests truly at heart. But nothing equals advice from experienced smart people who just want you to do … Continued

How Top Restaurateurs Win With Their Own Secret Sauce

Recently I went to a KFC drive-through. If you know me well, before you fall out of your chair wondering why, know that I wanted to try their new plant-based product. I was curious about it since I’ve been watching that trend and had seen the TV ad – plus, they have a unit next … Continued

Top Restaurant Owners and the Best Practice of Leaving

One aspect of my work focuses on allowing restaurant owners to leave when they want to – getting their companies to the point where the owner’s hands-on attention isn’t relied on too much. To do this, we supercharge the time they are at work, bringing them to their point of highest use, and have other … Continued

Why Top Restaurant Companies Value Management Over Supervision

With the COVID crisis on the wane, guests are becoming open-minded about their dining choices again. Reclaiming these lost guests (and having at least 20% revenue to-go and delivery) requires your managers to continually improve. An elite group of independent restaurant company owners – each with enviable companies – talked about this recently at one … Continued

The Simple Way to Make Successful Restaurant Companies Much Better

My clients often say to me, “I’m making more money than I ever imagined.” When you’ve reached that level of success, you may feel so much gratitude that self-evaluation becomes hard. Plus, a lot of the people surrounding you may see your life as so great that there’s no need to speak candidly or find … Continued

How Restaurants Truly Activate Culture

My clients have numerous considerable competitive advantages – with their guests and employees versus their competition – that show up on the bottom line. One advantage? Their culture. My clients and I make sure their restaurants truly represent their culture to every guest, every time – and that culture governs the way they work with employees, associates, … Continued

How to Hold Restaurant People Accountable and Make Them Happy

Today, we have to live with a lot of odd pairings – such as guidelines we need to follow that might (at first) seem contradictory. An example? The need to be flexible and tolerant with our people (so they stick with us like lifelong fans of a local sports team), yet still be able to … Continued

Why Restaurant Managers Decide to Stay with You Forever

Last week I spoke to an Operations Director who had beefed up their management roster and had “one on the bench.” A heroic accomplishment in the current labor market! They also lamented that young managers too often have an attitude of, “I am doing you a favor,” as they go through their day. People read … Continued

How Top Restaurant Companies Make Current Strategy Succeed

Looking into 2022, the greatest thing top restaurant companies have going for them is that – after experiencing all those previously unimaginable things over the past two years – they have now figured out their strengths, identity, branding, and plans. The future now looks much clearer to them, even though the headlines can be distracting … Continued

The Five Best Things I Told Restaurant Owners This Year… and Why

Our strength was tested in 2021. Good news: We passed.  One of the best coping mechanisms remains laughter.   Above find my two favorite iconic pictures from 2021: The restaurant I drove by that put a hot-air balloon on the roof to attract talent, and The menu I found in my mailbox stamped with the … Continued

What Top Restaurant Owners Do on Holiday Break 2021

My clients’ activity over the next two weeks varies from taking time off with friends and family at home (or traveling), to going to a mostly empty office for some time to think – to spending mealtimes at their restaurants to greet and appreciate guests and staff. However you decide to spend special time, my … Continued

How to Build Back Guest Count in 2022 by Focusing on Uniqueness

For the best operators and smartest people, 2022 looks like a back-to-operating like a normal person year. Sure, the noise of the next variant, inflation, labor, and supply chain issues – still audible. But we have evolved in handling once-unusual and once-unthinkable scenarios. I tell my clients “Prepare to have a planful and successful year” … Continued

Success Depends on Recapturing Your Restaurant’s Guests, Not Your PPA

Stop looking at PPA. Start focusing on recovering the lost guest and guest count. If you know me well, you may be shocked that I would suggest you ever stop talking about PPA – even for one minute (or one shift). Right now, though, top operators realize 2021’s industry gains have all come from increased menu prices … Continued

How Top Restaurant Operators Adopt New Strategy to Reduce Labor Cost

With today’s decreased labor pool and increased wages, most operators think the way to manage labor is to concentrate on the cost of that labor. They are wrong.  Today’s top operators forget all about labor cost (for a while) and instead examine hours and productivity.  With escalating rates of pay (and the corresponding menu price … Continued

What Will Your Restaurant Company Look Like a Year from Now?

When things run smoothly and predictably (remember that?), it’s easy to focus on doing things the right way.  During a crisis, though – even as things become better toward the end – not so much. But, while my clients are focusing on different areas in 2022, they all have one thing in common: the goal … Continued

Six Key Takeaways for Restaurants from My “Beat the Labor Shortage” Workshop

If you missed the workshop I conducted last week, “Beat the Labor Shortage – How to Attract and Retain Talent Without Breaking the Bank,” I’m sharing six key takeaways discovered by the diverse group of owners, operators, educators, and corporate team members who collaborated with me there.   You’ve Got This: Every crisis seems insurmountable (think … Continued

Why Now Is the Time to Address PPA in Your Restaurants

During the empty-dining-room days of the pandemic, many owners of successful multi-unit restaurant companies got in the habit of dealing only with the new things directly in front of them. Those who fall into that trap now, though, are missing out on the fundamentals that make a restaurant business excel. I recently pointed out that training falls … Continued

How Multi-Concept Restaurant Operators Conquer Their Unique Challenges

Many of my clients operate more than one brand.  These operators of multi-unit, multi-concept organizations have challenges that never even show up on the radar for single-concept operators.  Still, few yearn for a simpler life. That’s just how the personalities of these owners work. These multi-concept companies evolve with a high level of creativity and … Continued

How Top Restaurants Focus on Training During Chaotic Times

Car dealers don’t have cars to sell; we’re waiting until October for the furniture and equipment we ordered back in April. And your trainers can’t find time to train. Welcome to 2021. Training and education are one of the many unanticipated down-line issues associated with the current labor shortage.   It’s making it a lot harder … Continued

How Top Restaurant Owners Enjoy Freedom Now

What did you do over the summer to take time away from your business and enjoy your success? Do you want to be able to do more of that? If so, how can you set up your company in a way to let you do that? Those three simple questions may not be on your … Continued

Three Trends Shape the Future of the Restaurant Industry

My clients in Louisiana have a before-and-after story that’s part of their constant inner dialogue: “before Hurricane Katrina (or Rita or Ike) and after it.”  But never before has there been such a nationwide, clear-cut break/delineation/before-and-after line in our industry. Now we have “before the lockdowns and after the lockdowns” – before COVID-19 and after/learning … Continued

Four Biggest Factors of Post Pandemic Restaurant Success

When Winston Churchill advocated the formation of the United Nations and the alliance between himself, Stalin, and Roosevelt, he coined “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” A year ago I told you the other side of the restaurant crisis portion of the pandemic would be a huge opportunity for restaurateurs who prepared.   … Continued

How Restaurant Owners Dominate Through Peak Confidence Now

In my Restaurant Owners Success Club last week, we spoke about how, last year, retention simply meant, “I hope I don’t lose my business.” This year it means keeping employees. One of my clients told me, “Being an owner of an independent restaurant company looks like riding a see-saw.” One month you feel down on … Continued

Meet Me This Weekend at TRA Marketplace!

At Texas Restaurant Association Marketplace this weekend – on Sunday, July 11, I will present a rapid-fire brainstorming education session: “I’m Still Standing. The Pandemic Kicked My Restaurant’s Ass.” I will be on the show floor’s Big Bend Ideas Stage at 10:30 AM on Sunday, July 11, with a great group who are coming together to share … Continued

Still Standing? Let’s Meet at TRA Marketplace!

At Texas Restaurant Association Marketplace in three weeks – on Sunday, July 11, I will present a rapid-fire brainstorming education session: “I’m Still Standing. The Pandemic Kicked My Restaurant’s Ass.” I will be on the show floor’s Big Bend Ideas stage at 10:30 AM on Sunday, July 11, with a great group who are coming together to trade … Continued

10-Point Checklist for Your New, Improved Restaurant Bonus Plan

As we put the restaurant crisis portion of the pandemic behind us, many operators are resuming bonus plans that lay dormant last year – when there was painfully little (or no) profit to share. But I see too many bonus plans out there that look like manuals for a product that doesn’t work. They’re convoluted, … Continued

Nine Boxes to Check for Restaurant Post-Crisis Unit Growth

Growth is back on the menu. As we navigate the exit lane from the restaurant crisis portion of the pandemic, my clients – owners of successful multi-unit independent restaurant groups – re-focus on their next big move. Dining rooms are opening up, revenue is increasing, moods are becoming more positive, and many still have a … Continued

New Twist to Restaurant Summer Vacation Plans 2021

I recently talked to a restaurateur who had just taken his first plane trip in 15 months – and he told me incredulously that it felt “almost like normal.” I’m taking my first one in a few weeks. Last year, the year of oddness and panic, a lot of summer vacations were canceled. Or substituted … Continued

Restaurants Biggest Misconception About the Labor Shortage

One of my peers in my international consulting community sent me the results of a small business owner poll taken by Alignable, the small business referral network, about reasons for the hiring shortage. It was interesting…and predictable, with unemployment presented as the #1 reason and stimulus checks as #2. But then the poll’s fatal flaw flashed … Continued

How Restaurants Prep for this Opportunity of a Lifetime

In Texas, from time to time, a bumper sticker appears that says, “Lord, grant me one more oil boom and I promise not to screw it up.” Welcome to our oil boom. Last week I dined with a group of experienced restaurateurs who I noticed walking around our private dining room in a daze. It … Continued

How To Handle This Restaurant Honeymoon – Webinar Today 4 PM CDT

Attention procrastinators! There is still time to register for the webinar “Let’s Eat – How Restaurants Should Respond as Nighttime Diners Return.” This event takes place at 4 PM CDT today. Register free here.  You will hear success stories about my clients and the plans I currently advise them to implement. See Ron Ruggless, senior … Continued

What Restaurants Can Do About the Labor Shortage

The latest release in horror movies our industry is part of – our three-pronged labor shortage disaster. When I speak with operators, our first words are usually the zeitgeist pleasantries about Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J, and our next words are always about staffing our restaurants. We’re starting to breathe out, having just evaded the COVID … Continued

How Top Restaurants Respond to Diners’ Return

The not-so-secret formula to exceeding your 2019 revenue by double digits? Getting to see friendly faces again. With capacity restrictions on your dining room removed as if by magic, you’ll see lots of customers you recognize from a long time ago.   Now that they’re vaccinated, even former guests who had been gravely concerned or … Continued

How Independent Restaurants Catch up to Chains on Technology

Chains beat the cr*p out of independents on technology during the pandemic.  You must now have a technology adoption plan that addresses three areas – guests, unit-level operations, and your office.  The only people who did not learn that in the last year, distracted themselves just coping. I used to want to take a time machine … Continued

3 Things to do Now That Your Dining Room’s at 100% Capacity

With Texas allowing 100% capacity, the honeymoon with our guests is on.   But honeymoons don’t last forever. And what about this crisis? It won’t really be over until the case load is low, we understand new post-COVID guest behavior, when the unready or hesitant guest returns – and work our way through all the … Continued

Biggest Concept Refresh Mistakes Restaurants Make

You live your restaurant brand – treating it as your precious, much-loved baby.  To you, every tiny change and improvement you make to your restaurant is obvious, just like parents notice their kids changing every few days when they are young. Unfortunately, what is great parenting turns out to be a trap for a restaurant … Continued

How Restaurateurs Feel After One Year of the Pandemic

Give yourself credit.  You made it through the past year. You will never forget it, and definitely never want to repeat anything like it. A year and a week ago yesterday, my daughter and I were at a Dallas Mavericks game, and the person who had sat in front of me for years – a … Continued

What To Do When Texas COVID Restrictions Are Rescinded on Wednesday

The great Texas Experiment begins next Wednesday. That’s when Governor Greg Abbott has announced he will rescind his statewide mask mandate and capacity limits on businesses. The governor also said, “Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain COVID.  To stay safe, Texans should continue to follow medical advice on preventing … Continued

What Chains Teach Independent Restaurant Operators During the Pandemic

During the pandemic, the pendulum swung in the battle between independent and chain restaurants – now favoring chains. Over time, supremacy has switched from one to the other – and back again. Like between Federer and Nadal Republicans and Democrats The Avengers and Thanos At the beginning of this crisis, chain restaurant companies were better … Continued

How Top Restaurateurs Prepare to Cross the Pandemic Finish Line

At breakfast before school one day last week, my eight-year-old daughter looked at me over her yogurt-covered waffles (her self-created entrée) and asked me a great question. She asked what would make COVID-19 go away. We’ve all asked the same thing. As we usher in a new administration in Washington we can see (regardless of … Continued

Plan for Recovery – with Four Permanent Restaurant Changes

We now exist in the planning range for what happens to your successful multi-unit restaurant company after the pandemic ends. Write that down on a post it note, or take a picture of it on your phone and look at it every day. Take action on this every day.  Pay Attention and Don’t Forget When … Continued

Restaurateurs – Succeed in 2021 by Stopping Routine from Becoming a Yearly Rut

If you’ve watched the most recent season of The Crown on Netflix, you probably remember the episode when Prime Minister Thatcher and her husband spent a social weekend with the royal family at Scotland’s Balmoral Castle. However, even though it was supposed to be a social weekend, Thatcher couldn’t stop working – and even declined encouragement from … Continued

Two Generational Restaurant Industry Advances You Must Be On Top Of

For the generation of restaurant companies growing up over the past 30 years, two things remain clear today that were not so evident in, say, 1991: 1. How you master professionalization, and2. How you master culture will determine your restaurant company’s results. One way or the other, you will prove this when we recover from … Continued

The Five Best Things I Told Restaurateurs This Year…and Why

I’ve gone back and chosen five especially popular or meaningful posts from this year – a year when, just like you, I’ve pivoted to help people in a different way. It’s astonishing that, if you had shown me these five subjects a year ago, I would not have known what the heck you were talking … Continued

Three Areas Top Restaurateurs Focus on During This Dark Winter

After nine months, no one wants to hear about what we’ve learned from this mess. They just want to know what to do. I can’t tell you how many times throughout this crisis I have had to quiet my brain every time I thought, “lesson learned, lesson learned, lesson learned.” That is how I am … Continued

How Top Restaurateurs Adjust to “The Spike”

Welcome to the re-beginning. Last March, we felt shock as we walked through empty dining rooms, establishing tactics and strategy as we went along. In the background we heard health authorities warn us there would be a spike “next winter” – but we sort of just filed that in the back of our minds, distracted … Continued

These Three New COVID-Era Metrics Determine 2021 Restaurant Success

At the risk of going all Winston Churchill on you, forecasting and planning for 2021 looks like “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Increased COVID cases may have a negative impact on revenue. Availability and acceptance of a vaccine may have a positive impact on revenue. Meanwhile, the regrettable truth is the … Continued

Restaurants Win When COVID Ends by Putting Uncertainty Aside Now

Remember the days leading up to the presidential election? And the days after it? World-championship LeBron James levels of uncertainty – like much of the year 2020. Reminds me of a telephone negotiation I just completed.  The person on the other end of the call said to me, “What we really need on this is … Continued

Four Tools Restaurant Owners Use to Succeed Through the Pandemic

Earlier in the year, I expected to be writing by now about the lessons we learned during the COVID crisis. I mean, we knew going into this that it wasn’t going to be a sprint. We always thought it would be a marathon. But it turns out we’re in an ultra-marathon. When the COVID-19 crisis … Continued

How Top Restaurateurs Build Strong Futures with Second Generation Space

If everyone who calls me talking about taking advantage of second-generation restaurant space moves forward with their plans, I predict second-generation space will soon be in tight supply. Remember when there wasn’t any second-generation space? Not anymore. One of the tragic outcomes of this COVID-19 crisis? The number of restaurants that have been forced to … Continued

Forecasting the Next Six Months in Our Restaurant Industry

In 2020 you need all the help you can get. Here is help for you that takes next Monday at 2 PM CDT (registration link at the bottom of the page). Read below about Denny Law Group’s annual industry event, free and this year, virtual. David Denney hosts me and a panel of other experts … Continued

How Top Restaurants Protect Their Future and Connect with Lost Guests

Remember your former long-time guests? The ones you have not seen since March? Think of all their names and faces now. While they may seem like just a memory at this point, they’re more than that – they represent your life’s work…and your future profit. So surprise them; get in touch with them to revive … Continued

Why Top Owners Order To-Go from Their Own Restaurants

Restaurateurs who barely gave a thought to to-go and delivery before this year are now relying on them to help their restaurants produce any kind of revenue approaching historical norms. For that to happen, though, customers need to perceive your to-go and delivery as fast, efficient, accurate, and safe – from easy online ordering to … Continued

What to Do if Your Restaurant Gets – or Doesn’t Get – a PPP2 Loan

Qualifying for a potential PPP2 loan is critical to survival planning. Congress is working with a formula where  PPP2 loans, if they happen, reward people who could not (or did not) open after the shelter-in-place orders – or had central business district or tourist locations. Those restaurants need the help. On the flip side, qualifying … Continued

Smartest Thing Restaurateurs Can Do on Labor Day 2020

2020 has taken its place as the best year of our lifetimes to honor the American worker.  Like everything else, Labor Day has taken on the personality of what we got this year-not what we typically encounter.   With no experience to fall back on, we expect there will never be anything like it again, … Continued

Why Crisis Response Mode is Holding Your Restaurant Back

Welcome to a new phase of dealing with the pandemic. More and more lately, owners of multi-unit restaurant groups tell me about how they spend their time – and what that time yields right now.  When this all started in March, restaurateurs were shocked into action and didn’t understand that this would be a new … Continued

The Most Important Virtual Place Restaurateurs Need to Be Next Week

If you could take a time machine back to early March, you probably wouldn’t recognize yourself, your guests, or your employees. Remember that carefree childhood? The COVID-19 crisis has changed us all. We are living through one of the toughest times we will ever face (as grownups). We have new concerns, perspectives, and needs that … Continued

How Great Restaurants Stop Making Excuses, Move Beyond Wartime Footing

When a new restaurant opens: For the first few weeks, everyone runs around chaotically excusing every misstep saying, “We just opened – things happen!” After a while, though, that excuse rings hollow and gets in the way of progress. Typically three or four weeks into operations, I walk in and say, “We are not going … Continued

Three Key Factors Restaurants Have Going For Them Now

The past few weeks have been a violent wake-up alarm that ended fleeting dreams of “best-case” COVID-19 scenarios. Negativity and challenges can be overwhelming. Like me, do you have strong feelings about the missed opportunities that have made this crisis much worse than it could have been? Instead, focus on the indicators that tell you … Continued

What to Say Now To Restaurant Managers and Staff to Create Success

The COVID-19 crisis has spread chaos throughout your top line, bottom line, life’s work, savings, and future. While you think deeply about repairing those things, never forget how this has impacted the managers and staff who make your business go every day. What you say to them – and how you talk to them – … Continued

Restaurateur’s Guide to Summer Vacation 2020

You’ve just finished the weirdest July 4 of your life. In a normal year, all you would have had to deal with was Independence Day falling on a Saturday – something that wreaks havoc with your sales even in a good year. But on top of that, you have a crescendo of COVID-19 cases being … Continued

Avoid the Biggest Mistake Restaurateurs Can Make Now

At some point every day, think about your cash position and borrowing ability.   Imagine the letters C-A-S-H in red letters 12 feet high on your front lawn. I know you have a lot of things to think about (and do), like running your partitioned and socially-distanced dining rooms, studying your newly-installed curbside to-go stations, encouraging … Continued

How Restaurants Rebound by Asking Guests These Questions

The pandemic has completely changed the mindset of restaurant guests. It’s like you went to sleep on a beautiful summer night and woke up in the middle of the winter and there is frost on the ground.  The restaurant groups that listen to and react quickly to their guests during this crisis will be the … Continued

3 Most Important Keys to Stabilizing Your Restaurants

These days, owning restaurants feels like the scene in the horror movie where the most dangerous demon has been vanquished. For the first time, the protagonist sees an inkling that better days are coming. But they just can’t forget about that demon. An essential aspect of owning restaurants now has nothing to do with food, … Continued

The 4 Habits of Restaurateurs Who Will Successfully Navigate This Mess

Some of my friends were asking me about the restaurateurs who have joined my Restaurant Survival and Success Club – the group coaching offering I started to make sure restaurant owners can survive, stabilize, and dominate their segments when this mess is all over. “How will you move a bunch of inexperienced, scared, confused, challenged business … Continued

The One Thing Restaurant Owners Must Do to Survive This Crisis

Over three seasons of Ozark on Netflix, Jason Bateman’s character Marty Byrde has always seemed a minute or two from death because of his career choice to be a money launderer for a drug cartel. He actually does surprisingly well considering the situation. But you? You are not wired to live large portions of your life endlessly … Continued

Why Top Restaurateurs Must Reinvent Themselves to Survive This Crisis

Restaurants that were just doing OK (or worse) before the COVID-19 crisis will probably end up closing for good – and I don’t think we can save them. It saddens me to write that. Conversely, restaurants that entered this crisis producing great results, and had meaningful brands and culture, will dominate their segments in the … Continued

How COVID-19 Exposes Weakness in Your Restaurant Organization

COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in our society: the lack of a coordinated national health care policy, no national sick leave program, and two political tribes that don’t even see the same facts – let alone work together on solutions to our problems. Similarly, if you pay attention as you sweat out the survival of your … Continued

Do This Now to Hold on to Your Restaurant Employees and Business

During this crisis, how well you connect to your active and furloughed employees will define your culture for years.  It will make the difference between having a bonded and enthusiastic workforce rather than one that feels bitter and neglected – and then looks elsewhere for employment. The people who run to-go and delivery in your … Continued

Most Positive Thing To Do Now for the Future of Your Restaurants

When the day comes – when you can legally operate your dining room again – you’ll be relieved, exhausted, and excited. Focus on that day now. Really. Now.  The Opportunity of a Lifetime  How you re-open your restaurants will dictate how much success you experience in the future. Like everything else you have dealt with … Continued

How to Cope and Know Your Restaurant Business Will Survive

It started with the feelings we share with people around the world about the COVID-19 threat: shock, grief, disbelief, and fear. And it continued with the undercutting of our belief that working hard, staying smart, and continually improving our businesses would mean continued success. It is more than enough for anyone to handle. Every day, … Continued

How to Protect Your Restaurants in the Age of Coronavirus

In normal times, we avoid talking about safety. After all, why would we want to take guests’ mindset away from the positivity of their experience in our restaurants? But now, with no basketball games? No flights to Europe? And your college kid learning online because classrooms are closed? These are not normal times – and … Continued

The Little Known Golden Rule That Gives Restaurateurs What They Want

I have never met a restaurateur who does not want people to take more ownership, action, and responsibility. But I have met plenty who sabotage themselves every day by actively working against that goal. Many owners of successful independent multi-unit restaurant companies do not yet know how to harness the power of the people they’ve … Continued

Don’t Repeat the Biggest Mistake Made by Multi-Concept Restaurant Operators

The best way to run your second (or third of fourth) concept? Not the way you ran your first. The number one thing restaurateurs get wrong when operating multiple concepts? They superimpose their original concept’s corporate team onto their new one – when maximizing the success of each requires unique leadership, culture, and attitude. It’s … Continued

Restaurateur’s Guide to Overcoming Fear of Growth

In our industry, there’s a lot of talk about brands that grow too fast. I recently wrote about that here. Meanwhile, we don’t talk nearly as much about brands that have the opportunity to grow, but grow too slowly – or don’t grow at all. Those aren’t as prevalent as the grow-too-fast brands, but they are … Continued

Why Accountability Is the Unexpected Key Ingredient for Restaurant Growth

What is it that kills great plans? Organizations with a lack of accountability. Restaurateurs often start off with big and exciting ideas, fantastic talent, and a great grasp of what they need to grow their business. Ideas, plans, and programs become the wish/vision/dream boards of business – creating infinite possibility and the belief in a … Continued

Three Ways Restaurateurs Can Profit from a Downturn

Since the Great Recession, we’ve seen over 10 years of economic expansion. That means there are a lot of successful operators out there who have never known anything but good financial times. But they’re like the doctors who graduate from medical school without a business course – they’re missing a big piece of what they … Continued

How Much Restaurant Profit Is Enough?

“Why isn’t my restaurant making 20 percent?” I hear this plaintive cry from many frustrated restaurateurs who have heard about that number and – since they’ve heard about it – think they must be entitled to it. Some of my clients’ own restaurants make over 20 percent, or even 25 percent or more. They achieve … Continued

Three Early Warning Signs Your Restaurant Company is Growing Too Fast

You’re out over your skis – going too fast and getting ahead of yourself. You own a successful independent multi-unit restaurant group and your ability to sign leases is outpacing your organization’s ability to perform. Future projections? Dazzling. But you have zero track record at the forecasted level to support them. The Difference Between Praying … Continued

Five Essential Restaurant Predictions for the New Decade 

Welcome to the 2020s!   If you want to make outstanding business decisions, you need to know what’s coming next. So, what will we be dealing with over the next 10 years? I have a few predictions.  1. Rent and Food Delivery Expenses Will Go Down The 2010s will be remembered as the golden age … Continued

The Five Best Things I Told You This Year…and Why

I’ve gone back and chosen five especially popular or meaningful posts from this year – the ones my clients, owners of successful multi-unit independent restaurant companies, said benefited them the most.   So, as 2019 turns into 2020, take a moment to see how they apply to you and your business.  1.  The Biggest Restaurant Company … Continued

Three Roadblocks on Your Way to 10 Restaurants

My clients’ DNA must be filled with a longing for growth. At best, this growth adheres to a plan. At worst, owners act like hungry, unruly, science-fiction monsters who can never be satisfied, and grow haphazardly because of it. All of the best restaurateurs I work with – owners of successful multi-unit organizations – focus … Continued

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

Squeaky Wheels on the Fast Track

Most job descriptions are an unnecessary waste of time and are holding people back. There . . . I said it. Just like I said recently to a professor who teachers Hospitality Supervision. As you might expect, he did not agree with me. But we had a respectful conversation in front of this class. When … Continued

Even the Best-Laid Plans Can Change for the Better

Last week I wrote to you about plans. This week let’s talk about changing them. When your nav system offers a better route, take it. You ought to be putting the most emphasis where you will yield the greatest return.  Doing that means you may have to shift course when new priorities emerge, which can be hard for those … Continued