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 that is new to me anymore.

I tell them, “Everyone thinks their company is different. In reality, they are shockingly similar to their peers. You have done many things right to get where you are—but not everything.”

When we work to make a better future, those issues dissolve.

Restaurant owners could learn from the best athletes in the world.

They are trained to forget the last play and concentrate on the play coming up.

Five Biggest Restaurant Company Mistakes

  1. “Sales are down, but it is just the market; it will self-correct.”
    There is never a time to accept declining guest counts or revenue.
    It doesn’t matter what the competition is doing or what the national averages say.
    You must be in action before a negative trend becomes worse.
  2. “What if my multi-unit managers leave?”
    Freshen and refresh your management team.
    It is great to be loyal to long-time employees, but are they staying up to date on new techniques—or resting on a lifetime achievement award?
    Change can be what really propels you forward.
  3. “This is not my perfect site, but it comes with a lot of TI (or tax abatements) and I can make money here.”
    Pick a site because it fits your criteria and the profile of your other successful sites.
    All the TI and tax abatements in the world won’t sell one meal.
    Spend money developing the right site instead of being distracted by a discount on an inferior one.
  4. “Things are crazy; the restaurant business is crazy—that is just how it is.”
    This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    If you walk around describing things as crazy, nuts, difficult, impossible, or thankless, they will be.
    Restaurants can operate smoothly without drama, so what can you do to make that true for yours?
  5. If I leave, everything won’t be run the way I want it to.
    A healthy business operates on trust, standards, and accountability.
    You have earned the right to leave when you want to.
    You owe it to yourself to set up your business so you can.

Some companies have problems year after year and do nothing about them. The cost of this is gigantic—financially, physically, and mentally.

Others realize that—when they focus on solutions, accept their imperfection, and take action—they can improve anything.

What are you going to start working on?