My Turn: Resaurant Systems

Systems….. Everyone talks about them, but only a few truly develop them and then execute them well. If you want your restaurant to succeed, whether you operate one store or a large chain, you better start writing down and executing your systems. If you don’t have systems to write down, then it may already be too late.

I hear a lot of one store operators or GMs talk about how their shop just doesn’t run well without them there. They say it with a sense of pride, because in their mind, they are the only person in the world that could possibly run their restaurant. There is no way that the hourly employee they hired could possibly prep basil or close down the drawer like they can. Well, to me, that is the first sign that there are no consistently applied systems in place. Even worse, the owner or GM will never be able to leave the store without getting phone calls from employees, or worst yet, go on vacation and actually enjoy it.

I frequently joke with my team and franchise owners that a correctly run store is like the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. He wakes up every day to the same alarm clock, sees the same events and people every day, and repeats this process day in and day out. Just like our friend Bill, we should come into the store and do the same things, the same way, at the same time. Sure, there are some curve balls thrown at us, like on a Friday night when the cooler goes down, but even those rare situations should have a system in place to manage and fix the problem.

For a time, Bill Murray despises the monotony of every day being repeated exactly as the day before. He goes through a stint where he kills himself in various ways in hopes that he doesn’t wake up to the same day again. Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone? Eventually though, he embraces the situation and, in fact, starts creating systems day in and day out at which he becomes really good. By the end of the movie, his whole day consists of him becoming the town hero and getting the girl of his dreams.

I know it is not easy, but it is imperative that we embrace and create this monotony in our industry. We must create systems that allow us to become the town hero to our team and to our customers. If you have systems in place that anyone can execute, you’ll likely find your presence less critical, allowing you some time away from the store, or better yet, the time to open another one.

I believe strongly that whether your business card says owner/operator/ dough thrower/accountant/prep king/ etc., that without your operations being systematically applied day in and day out, your restaurant’s health, as well as your own will deteriorate quickly. Say what you will about big box chains, good or bad, but the reason they are growing is that they have a system in place that an average person, in an average location can execute and make money doing it.

Building those systems and getting buy in for them is not an easy task, but you have to be the one to drive them. Do it for your employees. Do it for the success of your restaurant. Do it to be the town hero.