Embrace The Suck Blog

This is Why You Have Problems in Your Restaurant

communication leadership Apr 04, 2018


All restaurants have them. You probably have a few, too.

It’s okay.

Having problems is actually a good thing because they signal a gap from where you currently are to where you want your restaurant to be. The thing you do not want to do is ignore them. Problems can be a gift. Ignoring them is a sure way to let them grow into a monster that can consume your business. Always better to get the monster while it is small and does not require the National Guard (a.k.a. a consultant) to be called in.

So, what problems are you facing right now?

What keeps you up at night?

Now, it doesn’t matter where your restaurant is located. The industry shares the same issues globally (I have seen this first hand as an international restaurant coach). The struggle to find talent, the need to dominate your marketing, and the rising costs of doing business all are common problems that many restaurants face today. What is a restaurant to do?

Understand the number one problem that is...

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Toxic Cultures Suck!

culture leadership Mar 31, 2018

Your restaurant's culture is the life force of your brand. It creates energy. That energy transcends and influences your staff. That trickles down to encompass the guest experience. To those on the outside looking in, it can be either a beacon or a warning sign.

A toxic culture is a symptom of a much deeper condition: the total absence of leadership. The good news is that toxic cultures can be spotted and treated. Determining how aggressive you need to be with the treatment will depend on how bad the toxicity has spread into your brand. Like cancer, toxic cultures have one mission and that is to destroy your brand one person at a time. Just like in the fight against cancer, early detection is your best chance. So, how do you spot a toxic culture? Do you have one?

Check out these warning signs and see for yourself.

1. Poor Modeling

Most restaurant managers run on principles and techniques from the 1970's. Why? Because most are just passed along from mentor to student year after year...

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Restaurant Leadership Urban Myths

leadership Mar 22, 2018

You made it to the top! You are a leader in your restaurant.

Before you get too comfortable, let’s see if your leadership game is on point. Being called a leader and being a leader are at times not one and the same. With more and more restaurants opening each year the strain on the labor pool is becoming an epidemic. We struggle to fill leadership positions. Maybe the reason is because we don’t have a clear understanding of what true leadership is?

Undeclared expectations and undefined roles are usually at the forefront of this dilemma. We need to do a better job talking about what true leadership is. There are a lot of urban myths out there about what people may think is leadership. To understand what leadership is, we first must take a look at what it is not.

Here are four common myths about restaurant leadership:

Myth #1: Leadership is a title.

Truth: Leadership is not about title at all. In fact, true leadership is available to anyone. Too many people like to pull...

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Get a Better Restaurant Today!

Do you want a better restaurant? Of course you do.

You wouldn't be reading a blog post like this if you didn't. You can have a better restaurant today.

Actually, right now.

It starts with one simple decision. Just three powerful words: raise your standards.

While it sounds simple on the surface, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. Saying you want a better restaurant and actually getting a better restaurant can be the challenge. There are a few things to get out in the open before you can make that jump to the next level.

They say that what lies between desire and results is action.

Many people think that the road to success is a fairly straight line. The reality is success is more like a winding road with peaks, valleys, a few roadblocks, detours, and an occasional sinkhole thrown in. Even Ray Kroc, the ‘founder’ of McDonald’s, was quoted as saying, “I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night.”


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Why Your Team Sucks

How we love clichés — especially when it comes to teamwork.

“There is no I in team.”

“Teamwork makes the dream work.”

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

These sayings and so many more are seen on coffee cups and motivational posters in restaurant offices everywhere. We have preached teamwork so much that the idea of teamwork has become diluted. We have poisoned our own restaurants by talking a good game that on the surface sounds wonderful. What we end up with in reality is far from the uplifting quote floating around the employee bulletin board or mentioned during pre-shift.

We have become cynical and weary when other talk about teamwork as if it is the proverbial “boy who cried wolf.” While we want teamwork, it has become elusive and hard to find in today’s restaurants. Sure, it’s easy to blame the younger generation and say they don’t know what teamwork is all about. That is an...

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7 Things Your Service Team Might Be Screwing Up

There are some things you just never forget. Your first kiss, your first car, an amazing movie and horrible service. Great service can sometimes be an elusive creature, much like Bigfoot. Incredible service not only is comprised of the mechanical aspects like serving from the left and clearing from the right, it also contains the human element. That's called hospitality. When you combine the mechanical and human together it creates that synergy that today's guests have come to expect.

Here's the real secret to amazing service… It has to be constantly managed and monitored. I'm a big believer that incredible service teams are orchestrated and guided like a well-choreographed ballet.

I eat out to restaurants around 260 times a year. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly. When you dine out that much you tend to see patterns in behavior. At this point, I can read the team dynamics much like Neo can read the matrix.

Here's my short list of the 7 things your service team...

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The Trouble with Teamwork

leadership teamwork Mar 08, 2018

Surely you have heard the phrase, "Teamwork makes the dream work." That saying can be seen on coffee cups and motivational poster across the globe. The problem is what happens if the team doesn't work together? 

A Failure to Communicate

It can be said that all business problems are really people problems in disguise. Those people problems arise from a common issue: communication issues. We either communicate poorly (not enough information), miscommunicate (we didn't have the right information and passed it along), or no communication (we assume they know). All three are a recipe for disaster in your restaurant and bar. 

Even if you think your communication in your business is good, you can do better. The main issue is usually your primary means to communicate. In today's technology driven world, our go-to way to communicate is via text message or email. Effective communication is formula: 7-38-55. 

7% of how we communicate is words. 38% is the tone we use when taking....

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3 Cold Hard Truths Why Most Managers Suck

communication leadership Feb 28, 2018

Here you are. Running a restaurant as a manager. How are things going? If you are like 87% of managers out there, you might feel you were a little unprepared for the role you currently are in. Watching other managers, you might have had a sense that it was easy. Maybe you thought you could do a better job than that one manager who everyone hated? Then you were thrown into management and you soon realized that management is anything but easy!

Welcome to restaurant management. It's a lot like riding a bull. You need to keep your focus or that wild animal will throw you and trample you very quickly. To be a champion bull rider takes courage and the ability to make adjustments quickly to stay centered on the back of that 1600-pound beast. Restaurant management is pretty much the same in that forces around you are constantly trying to throw you off. You just don’t want to get stepped on in the process.

How you arrived at this position doesn't really matter. Nor does the lack of...

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Promote Loyalty, Not Discounts

operations Feb 27, 2018

This was from an interview I did with Ben Goldstein at Credibly Small Business. 

When business is slow, many restaurants turn to discounts and coupons in order to get more people through the door. However, discounting is rarely an effective strategy for developing regular customers, and can even end up hurting your business. We spoke to Donald Burns (aka The Restaurant Coach™) to learn why loyalty programs are a much wiser path to success than giving away your product.

CREDIBLY: What’s the main problem with a restaurant using coupons to attract customers?

DONALD BURNS: I find that people who use coupons are loyal only to the coupon. They’re not loyal to the restaurant or the brand, they’re only loyal to the deal they can get. I use this example a lot: Have you ever gone to Apple and gotten a steal on iPhones? Never. Why is that? They think their product is so good that it’s worth every penny. Their price is tied to their reputation. When you...

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The Four Horsemen of the Restaurant Apocalypse

When you listen to people talk about their restaurant, there are subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) verbal signals that causes you to have a reaction. A negative reaction. As a consultant, you hear these words spoken and in the back of your mind you hear a voice in your head say, “wait for it”.

Usually those voices are not wrong. It could be a few months or a year. Eventually, those that throw around boasting remarks tend to be sitting down and eating the very words they were saying.

What you say is a reflection on what is really going on in that three-pound piece of gray matter nestled on the top of your body. The funny thing about the words we say to ourselves, is that when we repeat them with energy, we actually believe them!

Here are three common phrases uttered by short sighted restaurants that originate from the three cardinal sins of leadership: ego, pride, and denial.

1. "We’re (or I am) The Best" — Ego

Resting on your laurels is like sending...

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