There is a very big difference between a well-run restaurant and one that is only average. An average restaurant can have great food and a great location, but if the employees and the leadership team are not doing a good job the restaurant will never become that very successful restaurant that wows its guests.
A well run restaurant has a clear vision and values, a focused leadership team, and engaged and loyal employees. The ultimate result is more loyal guests, increased guest counts, and greater sales and profits.
I would like to share an example of a good restaurant company that benefited from the following leadership processes and has propelled itself into becoming the premier restaurant group in its area.
Spahr’s Seafood Restaurant is a multi-unit restaurant company headquartered in Des Allemands, Louisiana. It has 3 Louisiana locations— Thibodaux, Houma, and Des Allemands. Owners Donald Spahr and Brent Roger have a clear vision for their restaurant—to be the Premier Cajun Seafood Restaurant in Southern Louisiana. Their plan includes professional development, culinary development, and business development.
We have worked with the management team and general managers to help them achieve their goals. The team goals include developing a sustainable management team with the tools for the next generation of leaders. We have worked on the alignment of each team with each other and each member’s alignment to the organizational goals. Here is how it worked.
A high performing team learns how to leverage the strengths of the individuals. Knowing one’s own strengths and those of others helps resolve conflicts and opens more meaningful communication. We have used a specialized assessment that shows each participant’s natural talents, why he or she is motivated to use them, and how he or she prefers to use them. A team that includes diverse talents and personality traits has a powerful and high performing edge. The restaurant operators, the financial executive, and the culinary executive learned to leverage their individual unique strengths to achieve the common goal of creating a great guest experience.
Everyone in the restaurant company needs to be aligned. Total alignment means great results. The entire restaurant company participated a questionnaire asking each employee’s own perspective on the following 7 categories: business results, customer and market focus, human resource focus, measurement analysis and knowledge management, leadership, process management, and strategic planning. No one was identified although the results were summarized by leadership team, shift leaders, front of the house staff, and back of the house staff. Management can learn everything from this report and Donald and his team saw opportunities to align and recalibrate the team.
The information next needed to be shared with everyone restaurant in an employee meeting. We conducted meetings immediately upon receiving results. In the meetings we pointed out where there appeared to be misalignment and asked for their input. We received two positive outcomes. First of all, the fact that we were sharing results and asking for input increased employee engagement. Secondly, the information that the employees shared about the above 7 categories proved to be valuable input. People closest to the job and the guests are the best ones to provide the most valuable input. Management recognized this and employees felt they were an important part of making Spahr’s great.
Goal Setting and Accountability
Accountability starts with the leadership team. The leadership team has defined vision and values, put them on a card and has given one to every employee. This has made clear to everyone the ideals by which they operate. Goal planning aligned goals and objective to the vision and values. And, just as important, the leadership team used the opportunity have employees who had made to suggestions to be part of the process.
Wowing the Guest – Guest Engagement
Spahr’s has always measured the guest perceptions of food and service. They have continued and enhanced the process to insure that they are the “Premier Cajun Seafood Restaurant in Southern Louisiana.” Spahr’s tagline is “Where Catfish is King” and it is clear that the guest is king.
The leadership team consists of Owners, Donald Spahr and Brent Roger, President Scott Robichaux, CFO Anh Tran, Culinary Exec Ryan Gaudet, Thibodaux GM Chris Emery, Houma GM Genevia Washington, and Des Allemands GM Chrissy Cheramie.