Embrace The Suck Blog

Why Discounts Will Slowly Kill Your Restaurant

I like a good deal and I’m sure you do as well.

I have a friend who is like a bloodhound when it came to finding deals! I mean she is obsessed with getting one. I actually don’t think she has paid full retail once. LOL

Deals are everywhere and we think they drive sales and they do for a short amount of time. It’s a lot like the carrot and stick management style. Eventually, the carrot (rewards) needs to become bigger or the staff is not motivated. Conversely, if the stick (punishment) is too severe they abandon ship.

Many a restaurant owner has been left short-staffed from using the carrot and stick management theory. So, if it’s messed up and doesn’t work long term, then why do restaurants still use it? Because it’s what they have seen other restaurants do.

Human beings are great at mimicking. We have this cluster of nerves called “mirror neurons” that make us very good at watching and doing what we see others do. Monkey see monkey...

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Before You Reopen Your Restaurant...Think About Your Staff

covid leadership mindset Jul 21, 2020

We all want to get back to “normal,” whatever that means now.

Honestly, normal wasn’t very normal in the first place so, let’s look at this as a plot twist!

This time around is your opportunity to do things better than you did before. COVID-19 isn’t your fault, but how you ran your restaurant before is. Now, if that upsets you a little bit, then read on because there are a few things we must discuss. 

As the bills pile up and the PPP money runs low, you’ll want to jump back to full operating mode as soon as you can. Now, before you jump in headfirst into cloudy COVID waters, let’s have a little talk about your team.

Not All Team Members Are A-Players

This is just you and I talking here and if we are honest with each other, you know there are a few people on your team that you should have let go. Maybe you felt sorry for them or was trying to be the “nice person” and try to change them. Please write this down: It’s...

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What the Heck is a KPI and Why You Should Give a Sh*t

kpis leadership operations Apr 27, 2020

As competition gets tougher and profits seem to slip slowly away, you need to analyze your data more than ever.

In fact, the bars and restaurants that fail to capitalize on their data will find themselves in hot water. It’s been happening for a while—you just haven’t felt the heat yet.

It’s like the story of the frog placed in a stockpot in room temperature water—it doesn’t notice the danger it’s in. The heat is slowly turned up and it doesn’t do anything until it’s too late and he becomes frog soup.

That’s happening to your bar or restaurant right now. Profits are sliding away a small percent at a time until you wake up one day in panic mode. All this could’ve been avoided if you had your finger constantly on the financial pulse of your business.

That’s where tracking and adjusting to certain key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical to the modern restauranteur who wants to win the ever-changing...

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The Coronavirus Isn’t Your Fault, But How You Ran Your Restaurant Before Is!

The Coronavirus Pandemic is unlike anything we have ever experienced. Times like these bring out the best in some people and the worst in others (a shout out to all the toilet paper hoarders out there). Now, it’s easy to blame your restaurant closing down due to the Coronavirus. Don’t get all upset (not quite yet), because in many states it is mandatory that they shut down dine-in service and are only allowed takeout, delivery, or curbside options.

But how was your restaurant running before this crisis hit? Be honest.

  • Perhaps, not as well as it should have been?
  • Perhaps, you let a few standards slide?
  • Perhaps, you were not the leader you know deep down you could have been?

Okay, here’s the million-dollar question: Are you going to keep running your restaurant that way or are you willing to make the changes you know you must make to ensure that your restaurant thrives and not just survives?

If you said you’re ready to make the changes you know you must...

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The Top 10 Things Learned from Working with 1000+ Restaurants

leadership Feb 13, 2020
I keep detailed coaching notes from every client I have had over the past 11 years as The Restaurant Coach™. Some of those stories make it into my books, speaking gigs, podcasts, or just as a solid warning to new clients about what not to do! Never fear, the names have been changed to protect those that have a restaurant that sucks. 
Sidenote: If you just asked yourself the question, "Does my restaurant suck?"...chances are it might. Don't worry, read the rest of this post for ways to not have your restaurant suck! 

Working with so many diverse clients is an incredible opportunity for me to share the lessons and challenges I see in restaurants around the world. Oh, and if you think your problems are special to just apply to your restaurant, they are not. All business problems are either people problems or math problems. Get the right people to solve math problems. 

You see, it’s not that our problems are that different. It’s the...

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The 5 Things Food Vendors Don't Want You to Know

Having worked as a consultant for a large foodservice distributor for 4 years, I learned a lot about their business. A lot of stuff they don’t want you to know! My mission is to you the independent restaurant that is trying to thrive and not just survives in today’s ultra-competitive restaurant industry. It’s my duty to give you an edge that can help you run a more profitable business.

You have a major food distributor in your market that you are probably buying from. It could be Sysco, US Foods, Performance Food Group, Ben E. Keith, Shamrock Foods, Gordon FoodService or another regional brand. One thing you have to know up front is that their business is a lot like yours: uber-competitive!

They make their money as you do. Where you are one guest at a time, they make money one case at a time. Just like you, they have overhead that kicks their ass. In restaurants, it’s usually the culinary team that eats up most of your labor budget. In foodservice,...

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The Formula For a Badass Brand!

branding operations Aug 12, 2019

I recently gave an interview for Foodable TV about how to build a brand. You can create a brand that competes or one that dominates the market. The choice is yours. Follow this formula if you want to make your brand stand out in the market!

Here are the questions and my answers from that interview:

Q: Can you explain the difference between competing and dominating the market?

A: In the restaurant market today, you probably see that the waters have changed. Easy pickings of yesterday have been replaced with a steady stream of more restaurants and bars opening in your market and taking your staff and your guest. In business strategy, there is a common theory referred to as Red Ocean and Blue Ocean strategy. In the Red Ocean, the water is saturated with intense competition in the market cannibalizes itself. You’re in a category called average. And that’s the same as being referred to as a commodity. Now, out on the horizon, water is calm, clear, and blue. There is very...

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The Best Kept Secret of Restaurant Success


The secret can be summed up in just four words: Join a Mastermind Group!

What is a Mastermind Group?

Napoleon Hill is often credited with being the originator of Mastermind Groups, but the truth is Mastermind Groups have been around much longer.

Hill had a straightforward definition:

The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.

Ben Franklin is also famous for a Mastermind Group. In 1726, despite working from early morning to late at night in his print shop, Ben Franklin organized a meeting group called The Junto. This group met every Friday evening to debate questions of morals, politics, and natural philosophy, and to exchange knowledge of business affairs.

Two questions Franklin asked the group each week were:

“Who is thriving & why?”


“How might they be emulated?”

Wow! These are brilliant questions, even for today!

Look at what is working in another restaurant...

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The One Thing All Restaurant Owners Want

Day in and day out you are dedicated to the grind. You breathe in stress and breathe out hospitality. You get knocked down one day and get back up the next. Welcome to the world of restaurants and bars. It can be a brutal lifestyle if (and it’s a very big if) you allow it to control you.

You probably can fondly remember your first job in the industry. Looking back on all that you have been through, would you offer your younger self the same path that you are on now or would you talk them into going to medical school as your parents suggested years ago?

Well, you can’t go back in time, so stop the whining and make a resolution to step up! It’s time to kiss Toto goodbye and let’s get down to business.

First off, if you are a restaurant owner, operator, or chef, you most likely want one thing: more time.

It’s understandable. When you started your restaurant, you had this dream of being the boss. You were getting away from the rat race and declared you...

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Forget Rules, Develop a Code!

Rules, rules, and more rules. Do this. Don’t do that. Does it seem like you spend most of your day like a babysitter at work telling the team more of what not to do? Welcome to management by numbers.

You’ve probably seen that list of rules in your restaurant, and each one has a number next to it.

Rule number one: be here 15 ministers before your shift.

Rule number two: be dressed and ready for your shift.

And so on down the list, they go — each one just a declaration of the proper etiquette we want from the team. No explanation, just the expectation. Well, a very vague explanation and expectation.

Rules tell people the minimum standard for what you tolerate. They lack empathy and motivation. Getting people to follow the rules is a lot like herding cats, and if you have been in leadership for any time (or read my previous post), you know that is one tough job. Motivating other with rules doesn’t work. Sure, a few will comply out of fear. Which leads us to...

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