Good Morning! A little different post today. I am sharing a link to a blog that was written by Seth Godin that is a good follow up to my post about productivity. It is a good reminder that we need to be leading and working up as much as possible. Keep setting the bar high and raising our standards. Don’t let under achievers pull down an entire organization! I hope you enjoy his short post.
When we look at busy restaurants, we immediately say to ourselves that they picked a great location. There most certainly are great sites out there, but I have seen great restaurants succeed in even a poor location. If you have a great location, your chances of success are higher but your chances to put out a mediocre experience also increases. A good location can make a mediocre operation look good just as a poor location can make a mediocre operation look bad. The amazing thing to see is when a great operation can take a poor location and turn it into a huge success. Last week we discussed how productivity was one leading indicator of a restaurants success. Today I want to look at a few more factors.
- One thing that can help make this reality is to have a passion brand. Restaurants that offer exceptional food and service create loyal, raving fans. These fans will go to the ends of the earth to tell everyone they can about your business. In poor locations this type of engagement can lead to incredible success. At the same time, if you do not go above and beyond to create and appreciate these loyal, raving fans they will stop going out of their way to support your company. We see this a lot when a new store opens to enormous success, and then they never reach that level of achievement in the future. I believe that if you are running a tip top operation and building your fan base that by the third year your sales should be able to exceed your first year’s sales. Ask each manager to fill out a paper with 20 guest names and details, see how many struggle and see how many list 30.
- Another key ingredient in building your fan base is to be entrenched in the local community. Spend as much time as you can building long term ROI with as many people in the area as you can. Take the opportunity to donate whenever possible. My current goal as an owner is to spend at least 5 hours per month marketing my company in the community. This can be as simple as wearing your company polo and always having some coupons to hand out to people that you meet. You would be amazed how times per day I am stopped by someone when they see my Culver’s shirt to talk to me about our store. Talk about a passion brand! This should even be a standard practice among your management team. Every manager should spend at least one hour per week working in the dining room. This is the best way to start to create those long term relationships needed to succeed.
- Present and engaged. These are the two words describe a successful restaurant. You have to have a present and engaged owner and management team to be successful. The people that spend the most time at the business need to be the face of the company. They are the ones that will set the standards, when the owner & managers are present and engaged the details matter. The details are what separate the good from the great. It was a quote by Jon Taffer, the host of bar rescue that summed it up in one sentence. “There are no such things as poor locations; there are merely bad owners, operators & managers.” One comment that I tell every new restaurant team is that we should be able to look back at the end of the year and say that we did everything we possibly could to retain every guest that visited our restaurant.
I wanted to take a moment to touch on an operational theory about productivity. At Culver’s we measure productivity in terms of how many guest experiences (transactions) we have compared to how many team member hours we have scheduled. Productivity is an interesting metric that can tell an even deeper story than your actual labor cost. The term comes the base word productive which means being able to produce. One of the synonyms of productive is fruitful.
- One of the most dangerous threats to a company is low productivity. Low productivity hurts team morale, guest service, and overall profitability. People often say that a slow restaurant is harder to manage because they have limited resources. From my personal experience I can say that the real secret to this statement is optimal productivity. I have seen slow restaurants that are not productive that become a nightmare. I have seen slow restaurants that are highly productive become a success. I have also seen busy restaurants with low productivity have more operational issues than slower units. I think that the busy restaurant may have a greater chance to fall victim to this than a slower unit because it can fly under the radar. A busier restaurant can over schedule and it doesn’t stand out at quickly as a slower unit. Below are a few main causes of low productivity.
- To Many Team Members In The Building. If you have too many team members and managers in the building people have a tendency to not feel responsible for getting the job done. Most people believe that it is not their responsibility to get something done. someone else will take care of it. Having too many team members in the building makes everyone feel that they are not required to work to their fullest potential. Then when the time comes and they need to work a little harder they either cannot handle it or feel resentful.
- Poor Training. This follows the line of having too many team members in the building. If there are too many workers the training is often sub par. If you normally have only 3 or 4 people for 4 stations everyone knows that they need to train the new person really well. If you have 5 or 6 people for 4 stations the tendency is to put less effort and emphasis on training. The level of urgency is lacking during the entire training process. When the level of urgency is missing during training, this can spill over to how the team member views the job.
- Not Holding High Standards. If there is inadequate training, this often leads to not being able to achieve high standards. Once our standards are lowered we again lose the sense of urgency need to perform when it gets busy. Short cuts are the crutch used by improperly trained team members when they cannot keep up. When there are too many team members it is also for a lot of finger pointing when the standards are not met. The most common answer is that they were not trained correctly.
- Poor Communication. Poor communication by both team members and managers leads to reduced productivity. You need to be intentional and over communicate so everyone is on the same page. As mentioned before if there is a void of communication it will be filled with gossip. Gossip is an absolute productivity killer. Spending a couple of hours communicating the right things to the right people can multiply 10X when it comes to those people being more productive.
- Working Down. As an owner of multiple restaurants the number one things that frustrates me the most is when I see our managers / leaders working down. There are times during the day when you need to pitch in and help out but so many times our managers end up working down way more than necessary. Working down is a direct result of low productivity. You end up doing tasks for others that they should be able to handle. The result of working down is usually working more hours. The answer to improve productivity is never to simply work more hours. The answer is to be intentional and get more of your team to work up.
- Busy Is Bad. All of the above causes of poor productivity can lead to the mindset of busy is bad. Once your team develops this mindset the shift is lost before it even begins. Your team will start to manage the store down to a lower level of sales thinking that they will not have to work as hard. The reality is that as the sales fall you need to work even harder than before. Do whatever you need to do to foster the right mindset that it is great to be busy. I hope we are super busy tonight. Are you ready for a busy day?
- How To Improve Productivity:
- 1. Have the right mindset and get everyone excited to be busy. As you think so shall you be.
- 2. Schedule the minimum amount of people needed for the shift. The way to know if you have the right amount is if you feel a slight pinch point at your peak times but feel steady during the slow times. If you have been overstaffed for a while this transition may be rough at first.
- 3. Get the most out of your training hours. It is important to let people fail a little bit during their training. They need to realize how much work is required out of them when on a station. Make sure that the trainer acts like a coach, not a fellow player.
- 4. Communication. Use your shift goals, jump starts, one on ones, training tools, certification sheets, check lists and any other means needed to communicate the plan to everyone. Make sure that the plan and expectations are clear.
- 5. If you see it say. As we have talked about in other posts, praise and coach at all times.
- All of these tips will lead to your team working up more than they are working down. Working up is the ultimate form of optimal productivity. The closer the level of productivity in the store is to optimal the more fruitful and less stressed we will be.
I am always amazed how annoying it is to sit in a wobbly chair. The cause of a wobbly chair is often that one leg is slightly shorter than the rest. Following up on last week’s post, we have a few options with how we want to deal with the chair. The easiest choice is to do nothing, let the chair be wobbly. When others sit in the chair, you can make an excuse for why the chair is wobbly. You can say that it is a good chair or you can say that you have had the chair for a long time. The next easiest choice is to cut the other three legs off to make all of the legs even. This choice is typically what happens in our education system in America; we teach down so that the one student doesn’t feel left out. In doing so, we end up bringing everyone else down in the process. The people that make the tough choice and make things happen realize that they need to do everything they can to build the short leg up so that it reaches its full potential and the chair becomes stable.
- As leaders and managers, it is our job to make sure that we create a culture of learning and accountability. This is how you can help reduce the number of wobbly team members you have on your team. Sometimes people are merely in the wrong chair, and by placing them in a different position, they no longer wobble. There is the occasional time when you simply have the wrong chair on the team, and you need to get rid of it as fast as you can so that other good chairs don’t start to wobble in the process. Keeping the wrong team member around isn’t fair to anyone. The great team members will start to underperform and may even start to look for a new team. The wobbly team member that you do not coach along the way will go to their next team and have no clue why they do not fit in. By creating a culture of learning, it lets everyone know that it is ok to make mistakes and ask questions. Creating a culture of learning leads to constant feedback. Regular feedback creates accountability. Accountability leads to consistency. Consistency is what transforms good teams into great teams.
- Five steps to help foster a culture of learning:
- 1. The first phase of the process as mentioned many times on my blog is to build relationships. Once you have a stable relationship and people know and feel that you care about them they will buy into the process. If you want this method to work even when you are not in the building, you have to have the level of trust that is built through relationships.
- 2. Set daily shift goals. Make sure that everyone on the team knows what they should be doing. Clear, constant communication is paramount. Gossip is what usually fills the void when there is a lack of communication.
- 3. Provide regular feedback. Both positive and constructive. Try to give the positive feedback in public and the helpful comments in private. If you see it, say it! If you see something, either good or bad, make sure to speak up. What you quietly allow becomes what becomes the rule of your command. Remember the 5 to 1 rule when it comes to feedback. For every one time, you need to coach someone you should try to give them five compliments before coaching them again.
- 4. Learn and teach one thing every day. This goes to having the right mindset as a leader. As a leader, you should always have a goal to learn one new thing and teach at least one person one new thing every day. This helps you develop the mindset of learning vs. a simply a mindset of accountability. The simple phrase “let me show you how ____” goes a long way to help build the relationship and thus create the culture of learning that we are trying to achieve.
- 5. Never lose sight of the big picture. Always remind everyone on the team of the “why” and the ultimate goal or vision of the team. People don’t get burnt out from doing something; they get burnt out when they forget why they are doing it in the first place.
- The most important part of these five steps is that every leader on the team must do their part in following all five steps. It takes the entire management team working as one to create this type of culture.