by Donald Burns, CDMP, CMEC, CHt
What happens when restaurant owners are blinded by their past successes and can’t see beyond their ego? They get beat out by those hungry for change that will move their restaurant to the next level.
These “Mediocre Restaurant Owners” (oh, I hate the word mediocre) rationalize past success as a justification for today’s complacency. Unfortunately, this resistance to change often returns to haunt them. This complacency runs through an owner’s psyche, impacting nearly every decision. Successful restaurant owners don’t rest on their laurels. Instead, they keep an eye on competitors, pursue innovation and get help when they need it.
Poor menu design is one example of a problem that hold back a restaurant. So many restaurants continue to underestimate the impact of menu design on their bottom line.
One of my favorite quotes on change is, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill
In some cases, the mediocre restaurant owner simply avoids or fears change. After all, why fix it if it isn’t broken? They worry that reinventing their (mediocre) brand identity might confuse customers and negatively impact their business. They hesitate to adopt new technology because it’s an unknown. They pour thousands into their old Yellow Pages ad because “it worked before.” As a result, they maintain the status quo rather than embracing the ideas offered by qualified professionals and business mentors.
Sometimes, the mediocre restaurant owner is just defensive. Rather than viewing negative employee and customer feedback as helpful, they are easily offended and insist upon doing things their way. Successful restaurant owners value negative feedback and utilize it as a catalyst for growth.
Seeking advice from professionals outside your realm of expertise is not a sign of weakness, but rather of strength. After all, running a restaurant requires an owner to wear many hats, and how can one reasonably expect to be an expert at everything? Unfortunately, the ego of a mediocre restaurant owner prevents them from understanding this.
As The Restaurant Coach™ my job is to save you from yourself. Sometimes the conversations get raw.
New Client: “You know I think we are fine.”
Me: “Okay, you have my attention. Why do you say your restaurant is fine?”
New Client: “Well, we do a good job. People seem happy when they leave.”
Me: “Let’s get a few things straight. First: Good restaurants don’t make it. Exceptional ones do. Second: If people were really happy they would not be tearing your business apart with bad reviews on Yelp & TripAdvisor. So we can either get a plan together to make the changes you need, not WANT but NEED or you should save yourself the pain coming and close right now.”
Moving your business forward isn’t about surrounding yourself with a team that tells you what you want to hear and massages your ego. For the mediocre restaurant owner, the truth hurts too much to acknowledge. It’s easier to simply ignore or refute it. David Ogilvy famously said, “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it.” I can tell you for certain that my best best work has been while working with clients who trusted me enough to let me coach them.
Don’t be blinded by your own success or your own ego. Don’t be afraid to seek the advice of experts, and in turn, watch your business grow more than you ever imagined. You can also choose the stay where you are, and watch successful restaurant owners — who surround themselves with a great team (I’ll talk more about how to assemble a great team in another blog post) — slowly chip away at your market share.