Embrace The Suck Blog

Think Like Your Guests to Improve Your Sales

Marketers and behavioral psychologists spend their lives trying to get inside the mind of the consumer. There are companies that spend millions of dollars annually on research to predict trends in the market. Focus groups and surveys are being used at this very minute to understand what makes restaurant guests do what they do.

I can tell you from spending more than three decades of working with restaurants and their guests, it’s actually not that complicated to understand. There are human behavior patterns that only years of observation can illuminate. At first it’s like a puzzle that you’ve never put together before; it takes time. However, the more you put the pieces of the puzzle back together, the easier it gets.

Back in the mid-’70s, John Grinder and Richard Bandler were observing the human puzzle of verbal and behavioral patterns from prominent therapists such as Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, and famed hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, and came up with a...

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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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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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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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Results! That is What You Are Paid For!

As a restaurant coach and consultant, I get paid to produce results. Nothing is more frustrating for me then to waste valuable resources. Trust me, when you are on a week long survival exercise in Iceland and you only have food for 4 days, you appreciate the resources you have......big time.

I did a consulting project recently and the so called "director of operations" was not schooled in resource allocation. For a few hours I went along with his time wasting requests and then I reminded myself what a consultant's job is: to protect the owner's investment. Sometimes we also need to protect people from themselves. In this case the owner had no background in the foodservice industry. Let's just say he had a more medical background.

Now, I'm a big believer in "support the team you play for or play for another team". Owners also need to subscribe to the belief that "if you don't trust the people you hired to do their job, hire people you do". So I had the what I call the "consultant's...

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Why You Need To Worry About Culture

 

Culture. You've heard that word before. Contrary to what some believe it's not an urban myth. Culture is the lifeblood of your restaurant and bar. It's a beacon that sends a vibe to those that like the message your culture sends out. It's like your own personal bat signal for your brand. So yes, it's a big deal.

Describe Your Culture 

Here's where we run into the problem. Culture is hard to describe because it's more of a feeling. Even now as you think about how to describe your culture, you probably struggled or searched for the right words. The part of your brain (the limbic system) that handles those messy emotions has a hard time expressing them. That part is taken over by the Neocortex, which has an easier time rationalizing what you are feeling into language.

So don't feel bad if you have a hard time describing your culture. It's common. Look at those feelings and tap into those emotions. The key to culture can be summed up in two words: core values (are you having...

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How Are You Spending Your Human Capital?

hiring operations talent Dec 28, 2017

Who you allow on your team is one of the most important decisions you make as an owner or operator. You have to safely guard whom you allow to interact with your guests. Many owners and operators overlook this detail, and it can have a monumental impact on their business.

Jim Collins, the author of the book Good to Great makes a profound statement about the importance of hiring and capitalizing on your human capital, “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” You should heed these words. Carelessly spending your human capital is a downward spiral that leads to a trail of issues for a restaurant.

Here are three tips to help you maximize your human capital:

Hire for desire over skill.

This is without a doubt the most common mistake that restaurant owners and operators make: They fall for the resume over the person. Remember, a resume tells you where a person worked, but it does not tell you how they work....

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Is Your Restaurant Brand Sending Mixed Messages?

branding operations Dec 19, 2017

Is the sea of restaurant options out there does your brand stand out? So many fail to capture the attention of their guests and just blend in with the many. The main reason is that they send mixed messages about who they are. Listen, when you are confused about who you are and what you stand for, how do you think your market will react to you? Lukewarm at best. Sure, new guests might stop in out of curiosity. If you don't deliver a solid message, they won't be back.

Let's explore some common mixed message mistakes and a 3 step plan to correct course:

Menu Confusion

Your sign out front, your website, and Yelp all say you're an Italian restaurant. Yet when guests come in and see your menu you can tell by the look on their face that they are confused. Asian Chicken Wings? Baja Fish Tacos? Bacon Wrapped Filet with French Demi Glacé? Oh, and in the corner 4 pasta dishes. Hmmm. What is going on here? You say Italian in all your marketing and when they get there, very little Italian...

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Struggling With Hiring? Here's Why!

hiring operations Dec 16, 2017

Word on the street is there is a labor shortage for restaurants and bars. They call it the war for talent. If you really look closely, the true is that is really is a war WITH talent. As an industry we have held tight to outdated management techniques like carrots and sticks. They just don’t work.

How about that old mindset that you must “break them down first, and then build them back up”? Really? When you break people down you end up with broken people. That is not smart business. You need to rethink how you think about hiring.

Asset or Liability

When you look at hiring do you view it as a necessary evil? Do you think of your team as an investment in your brand or just an expense line on your financial statements? There is a phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect. Basically, it a cognitive bias that says what we expect we tend to get just like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think your staff is lazy and incompetent? Guess what you tend to see? You got it....

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