Building a strong Culture is one of the hardest things that you can do as a leader of a Restaurant, but it is also one of the most important things that you will do as a Leader in your Restaurant. Building a great Restaurant Culture can have a significant impact on employee turnover and most importantly, on the bottom line. Your competitors can copy your Menus, your recipes, your process and your ingredients, but the one thing that they can’t copy is your Culture and that is why Culture is a critical component in the strategy for your Restaurant.
We attended the Building your Business by building your Culture session at the 2015 NRA Show to find some tips from Jim Knight from People Forward and John Kelly from White Castle Systems.
What is a Restaurant Culture?
The definition I like best for Culture is ‘the way things are done around here’. A Restaurant Culture includes the vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, mission and habits. The Leader has a huge influence on the Culture of the Restaurant, both by living the core values and encouraging them in the team.
How do you build a strong Restaurant Culture
The first step is to define the culture. It will be the underpinning of your Restaurant’s strategy and form an important part of the hiring and firing policy. Work out what your Core Values are. These are the values that you are looking for in your job applicants, what you want to encourage in your team and show to your customers. Great values can make a big difference to customer experience by making it similar each time and replicable, by having people who share those values delivering the experience.
If you are starting a new Restaurant, you have a clean slate to work with, but if you have an existing team whose culture you are trying to change, it can be a lot more difficult.
To change the Culture, it is really important to communicate the reason that you are changing the culture. Usually it is because the Restaurant is struggling and you need to improve productivity and/or customer experience. One of the great quotes from Jim Knight was “If you don’t like change, you’re going to hate Extinction”. It is important to Communicate, Communicate and Communicate your messaging around the culture.
A great idea was creating your culture communication in a visual medium rather than with words means that it cuts across language barriers and also is more inclusive of people with learning disabilities.
Creating Alignment in your team
Pins, company dollars, profit share, recognition are all ways of creating alignment with your team. Alignment means that they will be doing what you want them to do, not because you told them to do it, but because they want to do it.
Every one at Hard Rock gets a Rolex watch at 10 years, gets a diamond upgrade at 20 and at 25 years they get at trip around the world to anywhere there is a Hard Rock. Once they have been in the company for a few years, they are generally there for the long haul.
Just saying Thank You a little more often.
A great book to read on Culture is Tony Hsieh’s “Delivering Happiness”, where he talks about how he changed the culture in Zappos. Zappos is famous for offering new hires money to leave the company. This ensures that only people who really want to work at Zappos are there.
Nick Sarillos book “A slice of the pie” is a great book that shows how Culture can be implemented and words in a single location Restaurant. It is really important to remember that if you aren’t driving the culture of your Restaurant, then the people working in your Restaurant will be driving the culture and you might not like where they are driving to.