Why Restaurant Systems Fail

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Leadership, Operations, SMART Systems

I meet so many restaurant owners who really want to make systems work in their restaurant, yet I see failure with systems all the time. So, how can a restaurant systems guy admit that sometimes restaurant systems fail? Because I know why restaurant systems fail and it has nothing to do with the systems.

Here’s a truism. If you want systems to be successful in your restaurant:

You must have an implementor for restaurant systems to work.

You need someone who gets work done.

It doesn’t matter if you need to get control of your restaurant or just want to find a few percentage points, the journey is the same: if you implement a system for every aspect of your restaurant, you can ultimately work on your business, rather than in it. Working on your business solves the challenges most restaurant owners bring to us, such as an out of control food cost, a time clock that seems to bleed money, a management team that is not doing what you expect and getting your life back.

Here at Restaurant Systems Pro, we work with every type and size of restaurant and catering business. Some operations are so small there currently is no management team, while others are so large there are many manager/supervisor types on payroll. No matter the size of the operation, there is the same amount of work for all of them. Managers or no managers, that’s not why restaurant systems fail.

When I first started our restaurant coaching and training company in 2003, I would do everything in my power to get a restaurant owner absolutely motivated to do the work. I would cajole, cheer, scold and everything in between. It became very apparent to me after a few year years in that I would almost NEVER get an entrepreneurial restaurant owner to do the work, at least consistently. In a lot of cases, the owners themselves were why restaurant systems fail. However, I also noticed that those who got the biggest results were owners who had at least one person on their team who got things done. I named this person “The Implementor.”

Who is your implementor?

Your implementor is someone on your team, from key employee to general manager, who buys into the journey of systems. Your implementor is a key person who:

  • Has buy-in to your vision for success
  • Is loyal to you and the business
  • Has a great work ethic
  • Is willing to ask for help
  • Is engaged and asks good questions
  • Doesn’t view change as just more work, but sees the benefits of the changes
  • Is always looking for ways to do thing better

To this person, titles don’t matter, but results do. Give your implementor a task to do and you always know it gets done.

How to identify your implementor

I hear all the time, “I don’t have an implementor.” I also understand that you’ve probably tried to have managers or key employees help you in the past with mixed success. What I want to do is share with you how you can easily identify your implementor and how you can make sure they are successful. Here’s what you do: let the candidates identify themselves.

Stop looking at your people and picking who you think would be best. This works only some of the time. A better way is to let the implementor/future managers in training identify themselves without knowing they are interviewing for the job.

Post on your employee bulletin board that you are looking for people who would like to help you with special projects, such as recipe costing cards, creating checklists, setting up your inventory systems, etc. Let them come to you. Don’t try and influence the process by suggesting to certain people you want them to raise their hands and don’t write some people off, even if you think they would not be right. When they start completing the special projects, you’ll get to see if they have the skill sets and work ethic an implementor/manager in training needs. You’d be surprised at who makes the cut. It’s sometime the person you least expect.

If they don’t do a good job for you, your worst-case scenario is they just don’t do any more special projects for you. If they do a good job, you’ve identified one or more people who demonstrate they have what you are looking for in your implementor.

For those of you who have managers, you’re going to know who your implementor is within two or three weeks of starting the implementation of systems. They will quickly show you whether or not they are going to do the work and help. You’ve heard the phrase, “actions speak louder than words?” Your managers are either going to do the work or not. You’ll see what is actually accomplished because you’ll have specific tasks that need to be accomplished to move forward. Sometimes unsupportive managers are why restaurant systems fail.

Don’t waste any more time and money. Identify your implementor and get on your way to making more money, simplifying your operations, creating managers who know their job, and ultimately, get your life back.

If you would like to learn more about why restaurant systems fail, how to implement systems for your restaurant and how they can make your restaurant better in every way, read our free special report, Breaking Away from the Insanity: How to easily take control of your restaurant and make more money. Download it here. Be sure to visit our YouTube channel for more helpful restaurant business management video tips. 

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