The Summit Club

Restaurant Team Coaching Program. 

The Summit Club is my signature restaurant coaching program which has helped hundreds of restaurants break free from where they were at and take them to 10X levels and beyond!

“Every famous athlete, every famous performer has somebody who is a coach… to give them perspective. One thing others are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps!” - Eric Schmidt

This team coaching program involves The Leadership Triad: The Owner, The General Manager, and The Chef (adjustments to The Triad can be made according to your concept). You get everything included in The Inner Circle Club, PLUS:

- Monthly Online Workshops

-  A signed hardcover edition of my book: Your Restaurant Sucks! Embrace the suck. Unleash your restaurant. Become outstanding. *The hardcover version is an exclusive to members of The Restaurant Coach™ University

-  Weekly coaching video calls for each member of your team with me personally.

-  Access to my private project management tool where I share exclusive content not found on The Restaurant Coach™ University. Shhhhh....

-  Email and Text access to me 5 days a week.

In The Summit Club we’ll explore my restaurant coaching model based on what I have found are The 10 Core Competencies of Restaurant Excellence™.

Just like building a house, your foundation is everything. The same is true of your restaurant. A solid foundation is the cornerstone of your business and your foundation is built upon two things: core values and brand identity. Without a solid foundation, you are just building a business like a house of cards.


Competency 1: Core Values & 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, nightclub or bar. It's a beacon that sends a vibe to those who 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.

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’re probably struggling and searching 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.

We have seen first-hand the main reason that restaurants get off track. They are out of congruency with their core values. Here is where you have to be honest and I realize that is not easy at times. Of course, we all have an image of how we wish to be seen in the world. The question to ask is…is that really you? Are you a family style restaurant, is sustainability important to you? These are the questions that a core value assessment will help you answer. You really need to know who you are and what you want your business to stand for. I pull out my core values worksheet every day to make sure that I am in line with what my core values are. It guides me when I have tough decisions and keeps me true to what I hold close.

We’ll also explore what I call The Why Formula.

Competency 2: Brand Identity.

What is in a brand? Everything! The number two reason I see restaurants fail is brand dilution. You start with an idea, a dream, a vision of what your restaurant will be. Along the way you take some friendly advice from this person or that person (neither have actually ever owned their own restaurant) and before you know it…your restaurant has changed. It takes tremendous courage to follow your own path. It takes even more courage to stay committed to your brand identity! I was very fortunate to work for 5 years with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and the one thing I learned more than anything was to ALWAYS PROTECT THE BRAND. If you are not sure what your restaurant is, how do you expect your customers to know?

“50% of restaurants that open this year, will close within 3 years.”


Competency 3: The Menu

Your menu is your number one marketing tool. It is the one thing you know that all guests are going to see and read, yet often menu design and engineering is a second thought. The menu sets the tone for your brand promise: what you are offering the customer in exchange for currency. Menus need to incorporate form, function and cost.

Competency 4: The Team

As an owner, operator & manager who you select to interact with your guests could not be more important. Creating a culture and a team that can carry out your business vision and reach your goals all comes down to this…who you select. I like to incorporate a behavioral survey called ProScan to increase the probability of getting only the very best for your business. You’ll learn the basics of behavioral theory and learn how to motivate, inspire and lead your team to a better business.

Competency 5: Systems

This is the mechanics of your business. Setting up systems, manuals, policies and procedures. It’s the tools your team needs to run the restaurant without you having to be there 24/7. This is a key step towards getting you from working in your restaurant to working on building your restaurant. The majority of operators never get past this phase and get trapped working in their business therefore it never has a chance to really see dramatic growth. This is what really separates the under a million gross sales from those that do a million + in revenue.


Competency 6: Marketing

You can have the greatest restaurant in the world, yet if no one knows about it your business will not survive. You need to develop a 12-month marketing campaign that allows you to keep your business name in the market. Plus, you learn how to leverage the power of social media to dominate your market and stand out.

As a 38-year veteran of the restaurant industry, I have noted it is sad how many restaurant owners do not have a cohesive marketing plan. When a lot of restaurants have financial issues, the first thing they cut in the budget is marketing! Big mistake. Contrary to popular opinion, a well-designed and consistently implemented marketing plan is a huge contribution to the bottom line. Understand the cycle of marketing, social media, web presence and customer loyalty programs this is the frame for my Restaurant Marketing System™.

Competency 7: Profitability

This is the art of making money in the restaurant business. It is the financial part, behind operations. Most restaurant operators are adept at running the operations of a restaurant, very few know how to make profit in the restaurant business. Theoretical food cost vs. actual food costs. Controlling labor and managing your P&L is our focus here. You’ll learn the intricate details behind purchasing and building successful vendor partnerships.

There are quite a few restaurants that struggle with one or more issues here and coaching could get them on the path to profits.

Competency 8: Strategy or MAP (Massive Action Plan)

“Everyone has a plan, until you get hit!” – Mike Tyson

The restaurant industry changes so fast these days that even if you do have a plan to evolve and stay ahead chances are you will find your brand soon far behind the competition. Business plans are great for getting bank financing, yet they provide little value as to how you run your business. A Massive Action Plan or MAP is a flexible guide that we use like a real map would be if you were navigating uncharted territory.

Do you have an exit strategy for your business?

87% of business do not get sold. You will run your business differently if there is a plan to work towards. Otherwise it’s just an expensive job that will hold you hostage. The goal should be to build it up through systems, a strategic plan, and developing a team to replace you. When you’ve hit your target sales goal, then cash out while it’s at the peak. That’s when your business is attractive to potential buyers who will pay top dollar. Too many restaurants fail to have an exit strategy and try to sell when they are past their peak, yet they want the peak price. It doesn’t work unless you have the cash flow and profits to justify your asking price. No one will buy on what you think it’s worth. They buy on a multiple of your profits. They are buying a business not your labor of love so they look at it straight from the numbers side.

Competency 9: Peak Performance

What separates the good, from the great, from the outstanding? A mindset around the Japanese word, Kaizen. This philosophy is centered around constant and never-ending improvement. Restaurants get better when the people in them become better people. Getting you to become your best is the key to an outstanding restaurant. The team mimics the behavior of the leader.  Here we’ll explore the following concepts:

· Raising the Bar

· The Habit Gap™

·  Beware of Shadow Habits

·  The Recharge Model

·  Results Focused Action Principles

·  Effective Time Management for Restaurant Leaders

·  Integrity Leadership

·  The Meta Model of Communication

Competency 10: Business Balance

In the team competency, you learned how selection can make or break restaurant culture and performance. Now, we’ll dive into Psychometric testing to understand the behavior dynamics deeper and how to put people into positions on the team that play to natural strengths. This is often an area that many restaurants struggle with on a subsurface level.

· The 4 Cornerstone Behavioral Strengths

· TeamSCAN®

· The Checkmate Strategy™

· Behavioral Project Planning™

When you are building your team, you will need to take into consideration the behavioral strengths of those you surround yourself with. Well-balanced teams need people that each have one of the cornerstone behavioral strengths as their natural strengths. Too many high dominance people on the team and everyone will argue and fight about who is in charge. Too many high extroverts and everyone will want to be the star and get the spotlight shown on them. Too many high pace people and everyone avoids conflict and gives in to keep the peace. Too many high conformity team members then data and analytics drive decisions. Just like anything, too much of one behavioral trait can drown out and upset the team dynamics. Building business balance takes time and dedication to selecting the right people to be on your team.

According to Jim Collins, great companies “Start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

Understanding The 4 Cornerstone Behavioral Strengths is your first step to building a balanced team and getting the right people, in the right positions, in your restaurant. We are the most social creatures on the earth, however we’re also inherently selfish. We tend to see the world as we are, not how it is. We tend to look at people the same way. We have a natural affinity towards those that are like ourselves. When we hire for our restaurants, we gravitate towards those hard skills like experience.

If you really want to seek a better business balance, you need to start looking at those behavioral traits a little closer. Personality, desire, core values, and behavioral strengths are the real indicators of long-term success and performance. You cannot build an outstanding restaurant or brand if you surround yourself with C players or too many of one behavioral strength.

The universe seeks balance. Your restaurant needs balance also. Leveraging behavior involves understanding your people for their core behavioral strengths. When behavior is understood and integrated, restaurants can maximize their potential. The ProScan® Behavioral Survey is key to improving communication, reducing conflict, increasing productivity, and enhancing leadership within your restaurant.

The Summit Club is designed for independent restaurant owners and operators who want to take their business to the next level. To break out of the mediocre state they might be in and really develop and maximize profits and business potential.


“Donald helped us reshape our culture through coaching. That has transformed our brand, our team, and our profits to new levels. We now spend more time working on our business and enjoying being restaurant owners.”

Todd & Candy Sheets, Owners, Sno’s Seafood & Steak


“Coaching with Donald is like running your restaurant on rocket fuel!”

Shawn Shenefield, Director of Operations, Upper Crust Pizza


“Cutting edge tools, techniques, tips and straight talk from the world's leading restaurant coach. Donald is known for unique programs and methods that create dramatic results for his clients. I asked around and found that when restaurant owners or chefs need change and want massive success they called The Restaurant Coach™. I was ready, so I contacted Donald. The coaching experience has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.”

Dan Palmer, Restaurant Owner


“Donald's solid, no bullshit advice is everything we needed to kick ourselves and our business into gear. He says the things no one else dares to say and holds you firmly accountable for the ways in which your business is failing, which in the end gives you the power to make things run better than you could ever have imagined, if you're willing to put in the hard graft. His advice comes from years of experience, which we only truly realized when we started putting some of the things he said into action. The results were clear from the get-go. So, take Donald's advice, put it into action and we just know you'll see the benefits immediately. This guy knows his stuff.”

David Noble, Chef/Owner, Pallett, Hafnarfjörður, Iceland


"Once we worked out our core values with Donald, we used that as a platform to base everything on, from our menu design, hiring policy, and especially our social media which really focused our message, helping us to properly engage with our customers. He helped put together an action plan to tighten our systems and get our staff more productive. Just having Donald to bounce ideas off each week gave us the confidence to take Caravelle to the level we wanted it to be."

Zim Sutton, Caravelle, Barcelona, Spain


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