Customer retention, culture, and goal-setting are essential to marketing your restaurant. We believe restaurants have a unique opportunity to build relationships with their customers, which is why we asked Mike Thorp, a restaurant marketing consultant, to share what owners need to know.

3. What are 3 ways to improve a restaurant’s culture? How can an owner/chef make a difference for their team?

First and foremost, have a foundation and a set of values that everyone can be accountable to. What is the story of your restaurant? How is this communicated to the team from the top down? Does your restaurant push to rise above difficult circumstances or to merely weather the storm?

Once you have established your values and your story, everything afterward must map that. How you interview & set expectations, training, ongoing coaching, and how the top performers are evaluated.

What do you consider high performing? Hard work & initiative? Being a great teammate? Or just simply black and white results? The “all-stars” tend to be labeled this way because they perform their tasks well but do not play well with others. Enabling their behavior to continue can drive away people who have the intangibles listed above.

Managers need to seek feedback and provide a safe place for this feedbackto be given. In my experience, little problems lead to bitterness and bitterness leads to dissent. Most of the little problems were not addressed because the individuals felt that the manager was too busy and had much bigger issues on their plate to deal with.

This may not have been the fault of the manager, they may have thought having an open door policy was enough. By soliciting feedback and listening this makes the manager more approachable and interested in what is going on in the inner workings. No resolution is needed at that time but a broader picture is always positive.

The most important part is the leadership has to take ownership of the product. Blaming each other, guests, or the staff is incredibly detrimental. Understanding mistakes are going to happen and having a set of values in how to handle those mistakes is crucial.

Leaders need to take ownership of the product.

If the managers can take ownership and ask themselves what they could have done differently to help prevent the employee from making those mistakes instead of pointing fingers and putting down that individual, your culture will improve immediately.

This, of course, does not mean that people who aren’t willing to learn or grow should be allowed to make the same mistakes over and over. That is where management has determined what will be tolerated.

By living this type of extreme ownership it will allow managers to teach and show other leaders in the restaurant how to implement this into their own work, only improving the self-responsibility throughout the organization.

Thank you to Blue Light Media for featuring me. Please go check out Blue Light Media

I expand on these thoughts on my Restaurant Report Podcast here as well 

3 Ways to Improve Restaurant Culture

mike thorp