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, and
2. How you master culture will determine your restaurant company’s results.

One way or the other, you will prove this when we recover from the pandemic this year.

Happy Anniversary!

2021 marks the 30th anniversary year of Surrender, my consulting career, and my life’s work to help owners of successful independent restaurant companies.

30 years!

An entire generation.

Over that time, I have collaborated with so many fantastically talented restaurateurs – filling in the blanks in their organizations and restaurants, creating a platform for growth, increasing the results from their restaurants and their net worth, and giving them the flexible life they have earned.

Top Two Elements of Generational Change in Restaurants

1. Professionalization

30 years ago the independent restaurant world felt like the Wild West.

A lot of big characters – and they often acted spontaneously.

Today, we still see a lot of big characters.

But top independent restaurant companies have become professionalized.

Some of that has resulted from technology; some from adopting techniques from the best restaurant companies in America.

Like Whole Foods founder John Mackey said about selling his company to Amazon and staying on to work for them: “We are a little more data driven than we used to be,” and, “as opposed to acting from the gut, Amazon says, ‘Show us the data.’”

I’ll put that down as an understatement.

If you want to make your company better, examine where it has professionalized and where it needs to become more professional.

2. Culture Drives Everything

In general, the idea of a corporate culture only dates back to 1951.

70 years ago.

Before that, not even in the conversation.

Still, it took its sweet time to permeate independent restaurant companies – another change we’ve seen in this past generation.

The big advance? Now we see culture as all-encompassing: influencing what our guests buy, what our employees choose, what our brand means, and who we do business with.  

If your actual culture goes out of sync with your aspirational culture, success will be hard to come by, and will be limited.

This will intensify for the rest of your career because, in the future, people will continue to be more sensitive about associating themselves with jobs, products, and organizations they believe in. 

You Must Perfect Both

A professionalized restaurant with a mediocre culture executes – but inspires and excites no one.

An organization with an outstanding culture that is not professional won’t be able to reach its potential.

You owe it to yourself to work on both.  

Over to you.

As the year begins, and now that we exist in the planning range for the end of the pandemic, what will you do to fully professionalize your organization and create a vibrant culture?