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In today’s video, we are talking about restaurant standards and the lack of professionalism that comes if standards are set too low. Restaurant owners, operators, and managers – this one’s for you! Watch now!

To learn more please either watch the video above, read the transcript or listen to the podcast below.

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Read the Video Transcript by Clicking Here...


Does your restaurant suffer from a total lack of professionalism? I want to start today with one of my favorite quotes, “Hospital corners on beds save lives in the battlefield.” I am not exactly sure which general said that but it was a modern American general. How does teaching a new recruit how to fold a hospital corner on a bed save lives on the battlefield? The answer is very simple: it’s standards and being able to follow directions.

If I’m on the battlefield and there’s a guy that’s never been able to make his bed properly, wake up on time, or do the simple things that were taught in his first 6-8 weeks in basic training then how am I supposed to trust him? How will I trust that he cleans his weapon properly and will not malfunction when firing? How am I supposed to trust that he paid close enough attention during the briefing that he knows what the plan is and will he actually do what he’s supposed to do? I don’t want that person as a partner in the battlefield because that person can risk my life. 

I also love this quote: “No detail is too small in your restaurant.”

The reason I bring this up is when I engage with a new client, one of the first things I ask them to do is create a list of everything that frustrates or angers them. It’s funny because 80-90% of people really struggle with this, only come back with one or two things on their paper, and then I’ll have to probe to get further information. It’s not because there aren’t things that frustrate them, it’s because they self-edit. They were about to write something down and think “I know how to solve that, I’m not going to write it down.”  I encourage you to make a list, write everything down that frustrates you, and don’t self-edit.

A couple weeks ago I got a list from someone who had 74 items on it! I love that this person did not self-edit and they wrote everything down. Half of them were the same problem in different words but there’s subtlety to them, there’s messages to those words so don’t edit. Here’s a few of the things that this person wrote down:

  1. When walking into work, I see staff chit-chatting and lost, instead of worrying about orders. Too much chit-chatting causes orders to be delayed. 
  2. Everything is slow, there’s no urgency. They don’t do the work until I put pressure on them or push them.
  3. Work is assigned but then not taken seriously. 
  4. Staff comes in late often, staff is absent often. 
  5. There is a general lack of professionalism.

Any of that sound familiar? I take these list of items and we put them in buckets of similarity of how we’re going to solve that problem. 

Lack of professionalism

Now, I want to talk about the general lack of professionalism. It goes back to the quote about hospital beds and what I said about no detail is too small to ignore. If your standards are not set so high, everybody on your team will literally scrape their elbows to get under the bar that you set. If your bar is only set low, they’re going to go lower. So if your bar is set so high, even when they go right at the bar they’re still exceeding expectations and are still being as professional as possible – that’s what we need to do. 

You need to set your standards so high and maintain those standards. But all too often I hear this list of frustrations, then I look at the actions that ownership is taking. It’s no wonder people come in late because there’s no repercussions. It’s no wonder people are just chit-chatting because there’s no one there managing them actively. It’s no wonder orders are late because there’s no one there expediting and pushing them along. The standards aren’t set. When I see this list I guarantee you people are out of uniform, the restaurant is dirty, there’s no spec sheets, recipe sheets, checklists or preplists. If there are checklists you’re probably photocopying old ones. 

This might sound a little bit off topic but I have no respect for Major League Baseball and I don’t watch it. I have no respect for football and I don’t watch it because there’s no standards in those leagues anymore. They’re not role models, half of these guys are terrible human beings off the field. I like watching the Yankees because their ownership employs standards. None of the Yankees have their shirt open, big gold chains hanging out, long hair off to the side, beards that aren’t trimmed. No way! If you want to play for the Yankees, you have a tight hair cut, clean shaven and you put on the uniform properly.

You want to work in this restaurant? You put on a uniform properly. You want to be a part of this team? We have standards here. “Hospital corners on beds save lives on the battlefield.” If there is a lack of professionalism in your restaurant, it’s due to an utter lack of standards and maintaining of those standards. Raise your standards and you will absolutely raise the professionalism in your restaurant. Raise the standard on the smallest thing like a clean T-shirt and people start coming in on time. Raise the standard on the simplest things like following a recipe and people will stop calling in sick.

You may not see that correlation yet and you may think it’s hard to get there – it is! We’re talking about shifting a culture dramatically and it’s gonna take time. The worst football team in the league doesn’t become the best next year, it takes three or four years, but you’re in this for the long haul, aren’t you? 

Let’s get started on the work, let’s raise the standards and increase the professionalism. Get rid of this terrible behavior of not wearing uniforms, standing around and coming in late. Let’s raise our standards, our expectations of our staff, and create a great professional environment where you and your team can thrive. No detail is too small to ignore. “Hospital corners on beds save lives on the battlefield.”

Your Next Step

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