Embrace The Suck Blog

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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Here's Why Your Restaurant is Killing You Slowly

goal setting leadership Feb 16, 2018

It’s the same story. Next week (next month) things are going to be different! You are going to make those changes you have been endlessly talking about. You make a declaration to the world that you are going to really do it and now you mean it. Again.

Here’s the question: why wait?

Maybe it’s not the right time? Truth is that time doesn’t wait to be convenient, it just keeps ticking away.

You need to pull a few things together first?


Like what?

This stalling excuse is just a fancy version of the “I’ll do it tomorrow” classic. The only thing is that then tomorrow gets busy (because that’s life) and you pull that classic back out and say “tomorrow”... again.

Let’s look at some of those changes many want to make and are holding back to implement:

Market More

The longer you wait to up your marketing game the harder it is to play the game. More and more new restaurants open every day and that is competition. They...

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The Number One Element Missing in Restaurant Leadership

leadership Feb 16, 2018

Wow! You made it. You’re a leader in your restaurant. Well, that might be what your business card says or how you see yourself. The truth is often quite the opposite. We tend to think that being a leader is about the title or even tenure. Nothing is further from the reality that many people are not the leader they think they are.

There are a few elements that come along with the title of being a leader. Some are well known and a few are those intangibles that make a leader truly stand out. In the restaurant industry today there is plenty of mediocrity floating around. If you want to be a leader in your restaurant, then you must aim for outstanding.


Many leaders are really great at reading and understanding others. People skills are often seen as a trait of a leader. It’s true. You do need to be able to relate to others and inspire them to take action and grow.

The other side of the coin that many miss is self-awareness. Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu once...

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Have You Heard This Joke?

core values leadership Feb 15, 2018

So, a core value walks into a bar. There should be a witty joke here. There isn't. The real joke is the number of restaurants and bars that don't know what their core values are. Not knowing your core values is so wrong that it should actually be criminal. Maybe, your restaurant or bar is in the same predicament of struggling with why you need to know something that seems so trivial. Sit down, we need to have a heart to heart.

Core Values Are A Beacon

If you don't have a sense of who you are as a brand, why would anyone want to work for you? If you said, "for a job". Okay, you might have that one. How about this question instead, "why would they stay with your brand?" Now, we have a topic of conversation.

Yes, most people need to work. Most people like getting a paycheck. Most also like to be around people who are like themselves. Like attracts like and your core values send that message out to the world. When you know them it is like a powerful light cutting through the night. When...

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The Real Reason Your Time Management Sucks

If you are not driving a car or have a chef knife in your hand at this very moment, then do this: look at either your watch or a clock near you. Notice the time. Now, stop time. You can't. See that is the thing about time, it never stops.

The key to understanding time management is that you don't manage time, you manage attention. You probably hear this statement quote often: Time is money.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, however, it's not. Money is money. You can always make more money. You can't create more time. Your attention is the real currency. What you focus on is where your energy goes. Energy and attention is the how the most successful people in the world get stuff done. We all have the same number of hours each day. The difference between those that get want they want in their life and their business is how they use their 24.

Secret of an Italian Economist

Vilfredo Pareto was a man that recognized a very unusual pattern in his garden. 80% of the peas were produced by...

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