After 30 years in this industry I have seen a lot. The good, the bad and the ugly! It’s time we shine some light on a few big myths that are out there and expose them to a little truth.
The restaurant business has a lot of misconceptions and urban myths that run like wild fire through the industry. There are quite a few more myths then these, however this is as good as place to start.
Myth #1: It’s Hard To Find Good Employees
It’s easy to point the blame on something else.
I hear this all the time, ALL THE TIME.
“I can’t find good help”…
It is just so easy to take this myth and hold onto it. In business and in life your perception is projection. Or “what you think becomes your reality”. It is so true in looking for employees in the restaurant industry. If you think all employees are bad, that is just what you will get. Granted, you do have to dig to find the gold nuggets out there, however there are ways you can make sure you are getting a better selection.
1. Hire for attitude first, then experience. You can train most people to do the mechanics of the job, however it is very hard to change a person’s attitude or behavior. That takes a lot more time and some practice in NLP.
2. Never hire on the spot. Desperate times do not call for panic hiring. Hey, I have done it early in my career as a manager and it never worked out. Take your time and really get to know the person you want to spend time with your most treasured asset, your guests.
3. Use a behavioral survey. There are quite a few on the market, Myers-Briggs and DISC are very popular. I like the ProScan Survey for the restaurant industry because it measures not only the four cornerstone behavioral traits that everyone has in different degrees, it also measures kinetic energy, which is a big plus in this business. You might be able to get pass me in a few interviews, however the ProScan will tell me how you will react to stress, communicate, lead, approach tasks and how you will fit on my team. I really love it so much that I even got certified to use it in my consulting practice.
Myth #2: Good Food Will Make Up For Bad Service
I would not bet on this.
I have also heard this the other way, that good service will make up for bad food.
Reality check. In today’s economy and competitive market, you cannot afford bad anything.Guests are very guarded with their discretionary income these days and I understand why. There are so many new restaurants that guests today will give you one chance to make a positive impression. If you catch the blunder while they are there, you have a chance to show them it was a fluke and to ask them for another opportunity. It you miss that, you have lost them. That is why is it so important to establish high standards and train, train and train. A lot of my clients think that they train a staff member just once and that is it. Training is a never ending process. You don’t go to the gym one time and now you are fit for life. You do not train a staff member just once, you invest in training them and that investment pays off in how they treat your guests and in the product they produce.
Myth #3: Discounts and Coupons Drive Business
Be very careful about the discount train.
When you are desperate for business, everyone will try to convince you that THEIR discount program will save you. If you believe that, I also have some very nice swap land to sell you too.
Discount programs sound good only because of two things:
A. They promise more people in the door, however it’s only customers looking for a bargain.
B. You do not have a yearly marketing plan. In my 30 years in the restaurant industry, I have only come across 6% of restaurants that have ANY kind of marketing plan at all and only 2% are yearly plans. Most are only a few months out if that. Marketing is like air….you need air to live. You need a restaurant marketing plan for your restaurant to survive.
Discounts are internal bleeding that most operators do not even look at. $50,000 to $100,000 taken off the table due to discount, could be better used in SO many different ways.
Myth #4: Vendors Cannot Be Trusted
Look in the mirror before you judge
The restaurant industry is really about relationships. We create memories for guests. We develop relationships will out team that is responsible for those memories. We have to develop a trusted relationship with our vendors too.
Now are there vendors out there that have no morals and will rip you off, yes.
Should you be doing business with them, NO.
Developing a relationship takes work on both sides.
You need to make a profit, well so does your vendor. They deserve to earn a living just like you. I think sometimes we forget that. You need to cultivate a vendor relationship that is built on trust and honesty. You want a consistent product and a fair price. Your vendor what to know that they can rely on you to order from them so they can move perishable product. That is a relationship. It works for both parties involved. I have seen clients drop vendors for a $5 price increase in tomatoes. Come one, talk to your vendor….ask questions. The markets do go up and down all the time and you need to develop a good vendor relationship because these people are wired into what the market is doing and can really help you save money in the long run. That makes for a good vendor relationship. Open. honest and communication.
Myth #5: The Customer is Always Right
This one take a little to explain
The customer is not always right. However, the customer is always the customer and it is okay for the customer to be wrong.
This quote is said to be from legendary restauranteur, Richard Melman. Melman runs the Chicago based restaurant company called Lettuce Entertain You.
It has some truth to it. When I owned restaurants I demanded that my staff be professional and respect the guests. That goes for the guests as well. I have had to ask a few guests to leave for talking rudely to one of my team. Ensure your guests are being respected and in return protect your team from guests who do not respect them. Sometimes things happen in the restaurant business, drinks get spilled and food gets over cooked. We are human and no human is 100% perfect. However, when a guest over reacts in rage and yells and screams at a member of your team, it is time to draw the line.