Why Common Sense Is a Myth in the Restaurant Business
Do you ever walk into your restaurant and think to yourself, who's the idiot not doing their job? It’s so simple, it just takes common sense, right? While it’s frustrating when people don’t do the job you want them to do, I want to share with you why common sense is a myth in the restaurant business.
Let me start off by saying most restaurant owners suffer from a disease I call common-sense-itis. It's an ugly disease. It's the never-ending headache that you have from repeatedly banging your head against a brick wall every time you enter your restaurant and the work isn’t being done right.
Let me give you an example. Way back when I first started coaching and I was doing some consulting, I visited John and Judy, owners of a restaurant called Nero’s in Nashville, Tennessee. (They have since sold the business.) That consult was a big learning opportunity. I had my team of coaches with me, and one of my coaches was taking Judy around the restaurant and every time she said this is what they were supposed to do, they didn't do this, they didn't do this. And she started getting pissed off. The last straw was when they went outside and the outside patio looked shut down. It was bright and sunny out.
They went to the manager checklist and saw the manager checked off the patio. Judy was ready to go off. We did some further digging and discovered that when the manager came into open in the morning and did the walkthrough, it was cloudy and looked like it was going to rain, so they didn’t open the patio for seating.
The manager did their job as far as the expectation on the checklist. But that taught me as a restaurant coach and consultant the importance of being specific and clear in our expectations. There is no such thing as common sense. You cannot assume someone will understand next steps you have in your own head. You literally have to put every step on the checklist. For example, “Go to WeatherChannel.com and find out what the weather is. Plan the day according to the weather and check it periodically at these specific times and make adjustments.”
For example, have you ever walked into a restaurant and at dusk it gets too bright? If you’re a restaurant that deals with the sun coming in on your guests, you want to make sure it’s never a problem for them. Since the time for sunset changes every single day, you can’t assign adjustments by time. Instead, part of the instructions should include finding out what time the sun sets each day on WeatherChannel.com and then assign the times to adjust the blinds for that day according to times that day. If it's cloudy, these are the rules to follow.
You need to be specific and clear because there is no such thing as common sense.
Before you go crazy on me, I’m not telling you to be this specific because your employees or manager are dumb. I’m telling you this because you want them to do it your way. You can’t expect them to read your mind.
The cure to common-sense-itis is a two-step process that's so simple. But first, let me define common sense: it’s the knowledge and expectations that are the common experience in a group.
Think about your restaurant team. It's diverse in age, education, race, culture, sexual preference, where they grew up and the list goes on. Everyone has a very different experience growing up and going through their life. You can't expect everyone in your restaurant to have your experiences.
Common sense ain't so common because our experiences aren't.
The cure to common-sense-itis is very simple.
First, define and train your standards, your systems, your process, your way.
Second, hold everyone accountable to those standards. That's the magic piece.
If you don't want to feel like you’re talking to idiots and beating your head against the wall, follow these two steps. Your restaurant will run smoother and you’ll be a lot less frustrated.
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