#20: How Restaurant Owners Can Overcome Burnout

May 19, 2021 by David Scott Peters

In episode 20 of my podcast, The Restaurant Prosperity Formula, I'm talking about the number one issue that is a burden in our industry right now. You might think I’m talking about a shortage of employees, but I’m really talking about burnout. Let’s talk about what you can do to fight off the negative effects of restaurant burnout and what you need to do to leave it in your rearview mirror. I know your struggle because I see it every day with my members in my 24-week Restaurant Transformation Intensive program. They are all experiencing incredibly high sales and nobody to work. They are working their butts off in their restaurants all day every day. Now, is this shortage of employees because it's still COVID and people are fearful? Is it because we've got kids that are still home from school, so a parent – mostly moms – have to stay home? Are the 18-year-olds with no bills to pay staying home and making the same amount on unemployment as they could working? Based on the articles I’ve been reading, it's a combination of all these things. I think, though, the number one reason is the loss of flexibility. Employees, line employees, our team members, they work in hospitality for flexibility. Name any other industry other than nursing that you can give up your schedule, trade shifts to do things like go skiing or to a concert. Or need to work more hours to pay rent so you start taking on other people’s shifts. Right now everyone is working so many hours because you don't have anybody. You’re getting slaughtered and working employees who love flexibility 40, 60, 80 hours. This could push people outside of the industry. As the owner, as you get busy, you feel like you have to make sure the guest has a great experience and you also don't want to turn money away. You’re finding ways to get stuff done. This new version of tough times is piled on top of a year of a different kind of tough times and uncertainty

Restaurant burnout is real. It’s a new pandemic – or a symptom of a pandemic.

How do you know if you're suffering from this new pandemic, this disease overtaking our industry? In you, the restaurant owner, this burnout is showing up in feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. You’ve spent more than a year battling the circumstances of the pandemic and the pandemic itself. You thought the worst was behind you and now you're getting busy. But nobody wants to work! If you're in a position of burnout, where you can't find any hope, where you start to think there's no hope for your restaurant, then I am here to give you a wakeup call. I wish every day that I had a magic wand to make it all better. Believe me – it would help my business as well! But I don't.

How do you get yourself back into the right mindset while in crisis mode?

First, see the hope, know things will get better. There are things you can do to manage the restaurant and decrease the burnout for the next several weeks. Things are going to improve. The employee pool will go back up. You will be able to step back from the restaurant and not work so hard day to day.

Second, you've also got to get back to loving what you do. There are two things the most successful restaurant owners taught me about succeeding in the restaurant industry (I wrote a book about it. You can find it on Amazon).

  • They all had a passion for hospitality. They love the restaurant industry. They love the bar industry. They love catering. They loved creating memories for people. It was truly something they loved. As a successful restaurant operator, to get out of burnout, you have to reignite your passion for the industry. • The other thing they all had was persistence. They never gave up. There was never anybody who could tell them it couldn't be done. They ignored the naysayers that say they’re crazy to be in the restaurant industry.

If you're operating today, you already know you have persistence. It's not the time for you to stop. If you look at passion and persistence and you put it back into your heart, your life, you will reignite yourself.

It's why you opened your restaurant in the first place. To create memories, to have a place for your community, to make money for your family, to bring joy to your life and job opportunities for others. What is your why? Why did you open your business in the first place?

Here's the deal: when it comes to the persistence part, you're allowed to have a bad day. You can cry, you can use your bad coping mechanisms. I've been there. Give yourself permission to have a bad day and feel sorry for yourself. You’re human. But as the leader of your business, what you do the next day is what ultimately defines you. You've got to be the leader and a leader leads. So don't lead your team into the toilet. Lead them into a prosperous restaurant, a great place to work.

A brighter future is literally around the corner. It's time to put yourself in a position to be ready for it. Ignite that passion and stay persistent. Beat that burnout to death because you, my friend, are going to be prosperous again. You are going to have freedom from your restaurant and the financial freedom you deserve.


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