Seven Deadly Restaurant Sins
Owning and running a successful, profitable restaurant is never easy. When you break down restaurant business concepts into their lowest common denominator, you are left with the “3 P’s” - Product, People, and Process. What is served, who serves it and how it is served should tell the customer the story of who you are and what your brand is.
The Seven Deadly Restaurant Sins are behaviors that get in the way or prevent you from properly executing the “3 P’s”. The sins, if ingrained in your restaurant, can become barriers to change, growth and success.
Think of the sins as “land mines” which must be avoided in order to be successful:
Greed – Greed can often get you into trouble as a business operator. In a free market economy an operator wants to be as profitable as possible. However, operators must also financially take care of their employees by offering them a fair wage, and their customers by providing excellent customer service and a product at a price the market will bear. We have all read about famous restauranteurs who are sued for various reasons: violating wage and hour laws; not distributing tips properly; underpaying illegal immigrant staff; price gouging tourists; adding gratuities to checks subjectively. The cost of this greed, in the form of PR headaches, legal fees and loss of business is almost always greater than the few extra dollars you can collect.
Gluttony – Gluttony is nearly synonymous with greed and is defined as “one given habitually to greedy and voracious [behaviors]; withholding from the needy”. In business, gluttony can be very destructive; it is not knowing when enough is enough and profiting to the detriment of others. Your business is a citizen of the community in which is exists; it is important to have a program that gives back to the community or to your employees. In larger companies, these types of programs can help attract top employee talent. For small businesses, an out-reach program does not have to be expensive - simple, easy and workable are often best. Try donating leftover food to community kitchens, or left over raw scraps to a company that makes mulch for a community garden; volunteer time for a local cause; sponsor the local little league team. Involve your employees and get ideas from them about what is important them. You will be seen as a good corporate citizen, which will pay you back in positive PR.
Pride – Pride is a double edged sword in the restaurant business. Pride in your product and staff can be very useful to help you stand out in a crowded field, however pride can also act as a hindrance to improving your business. Pride can prevent you from being able to: recognize when you are on the wrong track; change course in time to prevent a financial downfall; react to factors in the economy – such as rising food and commodity prices. If you always look with a critical eye, you will always find ways to improve.
Sloth – Sloth is defined in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as “reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness”. Laziness in any business is the kiss of death, but especially in the restaurant industry. Once laziness sets in, standards start to slip, corners get cut and consistency of product and service becomes non-existent. The antidote to sloth is vigilance of even the smallest details. It’s the little things you decide to ignore that add up, causing your standards to decline. As we discussed in Consistency is King, “Customers should not have to spin the roulette wheel each time they visit your restaurant; they should experience the same quality of food and service every time.”
Wrath – Wrath is great anger that expresses itself in a desire to punish someone. Operators who yell, belittle and antagonize employees or customers won’t be open very long. In today’s world where anything can be posted on line and go ‘viral’ overnight, an operator must be the utmost professional and lead by example at all times. Once you have a reputation as being wrathful towards your employees, it will be very hard to recruit and keep top talent. Customers will avoid restaurants where the owner or manager has a reputation for yelling at guests. Your restaurant wouldn’t exist if not for the employees and customers, who should be treated as the valuable components of your business that they are. If something is wrong with your business, look at yourself first. The old proverb rings true here – “A fish rots from the head”.
Envy – Envy is a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, successes, and or possessions. The sin of envy in a restaurant is to covet other restaurants, to worry about what others are doing and not to focus on running your own business. It makes you take your eye off the ball in your own operation, which in turn, can cause your downfall. Owners must focus on making their restaurants the best they can be, whatever they are – if you own a hot dog stand, make it the best hot dog stand you can without being distracted by what the owner of a five star restaurant across the street is doing (or wearing, or driving). With focus, you will be much more successful.
Lust – Lust in business is often seen in conjunction with envy. To lust is to crave or desire something, often what others have. It can be a lust for power, money, or material objects and, like envy, can lead to unscrupulous behaviors. Lust can lead to not reporting all your cash income, taking kickbacks from vendors, ordering personal items through the business, and not being honest with your partners and investors about the business’s finances. Besides some of these actions being illegal, these behaviors drain resources and break the trust of those who count on you, putting obstacles in the way of building the business to the level of success it could achieve.
What all these sins have in common is that falling prey to them is shortsighted and they get in the way of flawlessly executing the “3 P’s” - People, Product and Process. The restaurant business is not brain surgery! At a basic level, restaurants should be able to provide an excellent product at a fair price through superior customer service. Avoiding the Seven Deadly Restaurant Sins puts you on the path to building a sustainable, profitable, long-term business.
Don’t know where to begin? Ask yourself, do you have the proper procedures and operational guidelines in place to help you be as successful as possible? 4Q Consulting can develop customized operational guidelines and training programs to meet your needs. Email us today for a free business consultation at www.4qconsult.com.
All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2015.
Noelle E. Ifshin, President
4Q Consulting, LLC
244 5th Avenue, Suite 1430, NY, NY 10001