Saturday, June 14, 2014

Restaurant Consulting, NYC | Why the Right Restaurant Culture is Crucial to your Success | 4Q Consulting, LLC

Why the Right Restaurant Culture is Crucial to your Success

Wherever people live or work together, a culture develops. This is defined as “the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that [a group of people] accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation.”1   Restaurants, like any other business, engender “Organizational Culture” – a culture specific to that group, which describes everything from its approach to customer service to the shorthand jargon that develops among members.

Your organizational culture is crucial for delivering the right impression to your customers, and your customers get a taste of what your business is all about every time they interact with your staff (see: Employees are Your First Customers – Happy Employees Part 1).  It is important to carefully seed and nurture a culture that defines the restaurant’s priorities, but also allows for some traits to develop organically from your staff.   

In our blog 4 Reasons Why Your Restaurant Needs an Employee Handbook, we discussed the handbook as a central document to your business. It is where you should define and codify the values that make up your restaurant’s culture, which are imparted to employees during on-boarding, as well as the ongoing training sessions.

Here are four reasons why you need to create and promote the right culture in your restaurant:

Culture Encourages Professionalism – By communicating expected behaviors, actions and values to all employees, you define what your culture is and how they participate within it while in the workplace; By encouraging those behaviors, actions and values to meet your standards (whatever they may be), you create a “Culture of Professionalism”. Managers and supervisors must reinforce the culture and lead by example, not by the philosophy of “Do as I say, not as I do", as we discussed in Follow the Leader. They must live and breathe your mission and values and tend this culture of professionalism in your restaurant - complimenting positive behaviors and correcting negative ones.   

Restaurants, large and small, that promote a culture of professionalism, without being stodgy, have employees with high levels of loyalty toward the company.  This type of business culture increases productivity, work quality and employee retention.

Culture Reduces Employee Turnover – The restaurant industry is known for its high turnover rates. Generally speaking, many food and beverage industry employees aren't looking to make a career out of tending bar, waiting tables or seating restaurant patrons. However, employees with high job satisfaction tend to remain with their employers longer, thus reducing turnover. Studies have shown that a well-defined and actively maintained company culture is associated with high job satisfaction.  Businesses can lower turnover rates by fostering a culture that values open communication, provides adequate training, and rewards employees for a job well done. By retaining employees, companies save resources recruiting and training a constant flow of employees; they build a higher caliber workforce that positively affects product quality, lowers operating costs and increases the bottom line.

Culture Increases Consistency – By lowering your turnover rate of employees, your increasingly experienced staff becomes a well-oiled machine that improves consistency within your operation. In Consistency is King, we discussed that daily vigilance to the standards you set are crucial in order to ward off possible problems that can impact costs or revenues: poor communication, order errors, kitchen errors, bad customer experiences, etc. Creating a culture of “Being the Best” consistently also leads to and reinforces your “Culture of Professionalism”.

Culture Improves Your P&L – As we examined in Restaurants Know Thyself, when your culture is defined, your restaurant has a distinct identity.   A well-defined culture increases both your top-line sales and your bottom line profits. When you have less employee turnover, you have a professional, experienced staff that works well together that creates a more consistent product and less waste – which improves your operating costs.  You build a repeat clientele that comes back time and again to visit their favorite server and to eat their favorite dish.  A successful restaurant has return customers at the core of it business, because repeat customers will attract new business and word-of-mouth advertising is the most efficient way to grow top line sales. 

Creating and nurturing the right culture in your restaurant allows you to take care of your employees who will in turn take care of your guests.  As a business owner, it is your job to be sure that your team has the tools it needs: Strive to be the best boss to your staff; hire only the best employees (with the right attitude) and enable them to be awesome through excellent training, to give the best customer service; have the highest possible sanitation standards; buy only the freshest ingredients; offer the best food and the best service. Be mindful of being consistent in all these things so that customers have the same good experience time and time again.

As seen in Employees are your First Customers, happy employees are engaged, exceed expectations and become brand ambassadors for your restaurant.  Your restaurant will become a business people want to work for, vendors will want to do business with and the place where many want to eat – again and again.

Don’t know where to begin?  Ask yourself, do you have the proper written procedures and operational guidelines in place to be as successful as possible?  4Q Consulting can develop customized branding and marketing plans, and operational guidelines to meet your needs. Email us today for a free business consultation at

All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2014-2015.