Summary: Your Restaurant Sucks! by Donald Burns
Summary: Your Restaurant Sucks! by Donald Burns

Summary: Your Restaurant Sucks! by Donald Burns

Why some restaurant teams just don’t work

Mixed messages: Communication issues account for most restaurant problems. It’s either complete lack of communication or miscommunication.

No plan: If you were dropped off in the wild, you would pull out your map to plot a course back to town. Your map and course become your plan and your guide. Without them, you’re just wandering aimlessly.

Hidden agenda: Humans tend to be focused on self-preservation. This doesn’t mean we’re evil. It’s just that survival is hardwired into our DNA. Your restaurant versus the one across the street. A human flaw is that we feel we need to fight against each other to survive.

No defined roles: It’s fundamental yet shocking to find that many restaurant staff don’t know clearly what their job is or worse what they think is quite different than the owner has environed.

Team chemistry: There are personalities treat that tend to work well together and then there’re are some that like oil and water that never mix each other. Knowing how to put together a team that can work together is like creating a delicate recipe.


A Straightforward Approach to Building a Better Team

Be a true leader that attracts true talent: If you think you’re a leader, answer these questions:

  1.     How many books have you read this month?
  2.     How many times have you worked out?
  3.     Did you make your   bed this morning?

What does this have to do with being a leader? Well, a lot. How you do anything is how you do everything. Even making the bed shows commitment to a simple yet profound task.

Give them room to grow: Humans are wired to evolve. If you do not provide growth a d learning opportunity to do so, do not be surprised if they seek them at another restaurant across the street.

Be grateful and thankful: There’s nothing as powerful as saying ‘thank you’. People want appreciation and connection. At our core, people are social creatures. We came together to live in communities and cities we build.


Finding the Right Chef for Your Concept

Check social media: Social media has a wealth of information available with just a few clicks. Also don’t forget to Google your way through.

Call real references: Of course, people only give references who give them a positive feedback. So, make sure you dig deeper. Instead of asking ‘Was Chef Smith dependable?’, ask ‘What was the best dish he has made? What was the worst?’

Check for business skills: A lot of chefs can cook their best but very few can lead a team and know how to make money. Culinary talent without business acumen is a real problem you want to be aware of.  Profit isn’t a dirty word. Make sure to give them plenty of details about your brand and then see what they develop. You want a chef that understands your brand and can create a menu that cents and does not take away from your identity.

Check flavor dynamics: You need to taste their food to see if they can truly back up their resume. It’s also a great opportunity to check how they work.


Why your staff hates your manager

You went out of your way to find and recruit a great manager. They have experience and excellent references. They did all the ring things during the interview – polite, well groomed and well prepared. But two months later, things haven’t turned out the way you wanted to. Why?

  1.     Their skills are no better than the rest.
  2.     They’re hypocrites.
  3.     They play favorite sand politics.
  4.     They gossip… a lot.
  5.     They’re negative.
  6.     They’re lazy.
  7.     They’re terrible at communicating.
  8.     They’re a drunk or an addict.
  9.     They play the blame game.


Psychology of Menu Design

An entire book can be written on the psychology of menu design and engineering. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s focus on three simple mind tricks:

Mind trick #1 Anchoring

Have you ever been to a high-end statehouse and seen this on the menu?


The restaurant sells very PB&J with a bottle of expensive champagne; however, they sell quite a lot of the chilled mixed seafood platters. Anchoring works when you put the most expensive item on the top. Every item appears after that looks like a much better value.

Mind trick #2 The One Point Font Change


The text size for most entrees on this example is 16 points. This restaurant’s number one best-seller is the brown sugar-cured beef tenderloin. There, the text size is 17 points. A one-point font change causes the brain to take a second look. That second look often leads to a second impression and that’s all it takes.

Mind trick #3 The Bold Word

Our eyes focus on the words we can find easily. Make you menu easy for your guests to find and they’ll buy. Another cool technique is to take out the comma between ingredients and instead use the plus sign. Most of us have been conditioned to know that + means addition or bonus.

Here’s a bonus tip. All menus are great when we’re looking at them under the bright lights of an office. This is always the case when you take it to the dimmed ambience of most restaurants. So, make sure you take the menu into your dining environment and read it under real-world circumstances. You might just be shocked at the difference.


3 Ingredients of A Successful Menu

Try to include these three ingredients if you want your menu to make as much impact as possible.

Ingredient #1 Approachable

Keep it in English. Remember if they don’t know what they’re looking at, chances of them ordering it drop dramatically.

Ingredient #2 Containable

Many restaurants make the mistake of designing extensive menus that they can’t execute consistently. Up until the guests take that first bite of your dish, you have only talkeds a good game.

Ingredient #3 Profitable

With modern tech, there’s no excuse because you can’t monitor your transactions. In order for you to profit from your restaurant, you need to know cost for every plate on the menu. There’s no way around it.


10 Commandments of Restaurant Branding
Commandment #1 Always protect your brand

Before adding anything to your menu, make sure it fits your brand. Before hiring anyone, make sure they fit your culture. If you want better results, you need to ask better questions in everything you do.

Commandment #2 Brands without value or service don’t last.

Your brands need to be other-focused. Too many restaurants run on what’s easiest for the owners and employees and no on what’s best for the others.

Commandment #3 Never de-value your brand.

Remember the words of the Joker in the Dark Knight, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free. When you get on the discount train, chances are you’re setting yourself up for a commodity.

Commandment #4 Your brand needs a good story.

People love a good story. Great brands embrace and tell a story to everyone. Who doesn’t know Apple started in Job’s garage? Is your meatloaf recipe handed down from your great great grandmother? Make sure your guests know about it. Stories convey the human element of a brand.

Commandment #5 Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither is a great restaurant.

It takes a while (may be longer than you think) to build a brand. That’s where most owners fail. They expect everyone to fall in love with their brand right way. Truth is very few brands, if any, are overnight sensations.

Commandment #6 Your brand must stand for ‘something’.

Brands that have a cause and a purpose connects with customers quickly. People like people who are just like them. Consider the restaurant that allows dogs and has an outdoor patio. It instantly appeals to a group of dog owners.

Commandment #7 consistency is how greet brands thrive.

Inconsistency is the slow death of many businesses. If you allow an attitude of indifference to grow with your service team, don’t be shocked when they treat your customers with the same malevolent behavior.

Commandment #8 Your brand must trigger emotions.

Restaurant brands can press a wide array of emotional hot buttons – romance, adventure or contemporary. A small intimate restaurant could say ‘Our restaurant was voted number one most romantic views of the city.”

Commandment #9 Your brand must explain the ‘why’.

Makerere love to throw out the word Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Most restaurants can somewhat describe what and how they do to stand out from the market. But great restaurants can connect at the emotional level of why.

Here’s how Chipotle does it. ‘We believe that food should not only be fresh, it should not contain hormones antibiotics or GMOs. We believe your food should be prepared in front of you so you can see our commitment to using fresh, local and sustainable products. We also make a damn great burrito.’

Commandment #10 If you don’t stand out, you become the crowd.

Having a great story often explains your big ‘why’. Connect with the emotional side of people and deliver what you promise in a consistent and customer-focused manner. If you follow these commandments, you’ll find your restaurant on the other side of the crowd.