Welcome Back to Soupfly!
Now that the 1.5 Billion dollar Powerball Fever and Frenzy is over, we can all get back to focusing on reality. (I’m assuming that you did not win. I did not win either, but I did not play, nor did I even give it a thought.)
Today, I’d like to talk to, and about, managers, owners, operators-anyone in a leadership role. If you are not in such a position, you may still do well to read on because what we discuss may prompt you to take action to better your situation. Or, it may give you some food for thought that you can use in the future if, and when, you step in to the role of a manager, owner/operator. I also hope that it will help you have a better understanding & appreciation for the role and expectations of management.
Success or Failure Always Starts at the Top
Let me start by saying that a great manager or management team (this includes the owner-if they are involved in daily operations) is absolutely one of the key factors in a restaurant’s or business’ success. As I’ve stated many times before, it all starts at the top. If the manager is motivated, engaged, involved, caring and aware of what’s going on, then it normally follows suit that the team as a whole will also be those things…motivated, engaged, etc.
Conversely, if the manager lacks energy, is completely disengaged, unaware and spends most of their time in the office, then the team is going to suffer and the customers as well. The team members who are naturally self-motivated, self starters who take initiative, will continue to do so, and they are usually the ones that managers depend upon. Your A players make you, the manager, look good. But this can only last for so long. After a period of time-even your star players, those who do care, are going to either stop caring because they see that you don’t, or they’ll keep going until one day they just can’t take it anymore and they’ll leave. The rest of the staff,-the non-A players, will do the bare minimum, not take initiative, lack energy and self-motivation, and eventually become the downfall of the organization. However, the failure of the business can be traced directly back to the manager or management team.
If you’ve been following me and/or Soupfly for any amount of time, you know that my wife, Michelle and I go out for dinner, drinks, happy hour etc. quite often. Well, this past Holiday Season it seemed that we went out considerably more than normal. Hey, it’s the holidays, right? Time to celebrate and enjoy life. We experienced dinner, happy hour etc. at at least a dozen different places. Some on the Las Vegas Strip, some in Summerlin where we live. Some upscale and others very low key and casual.
During each of those different outings I was very aware of the variety and difference of the management from one place to the next. At some of those restaurants, like Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian Churrascaria, the management presence was evident. They walked the floor, greeted and seated guests and were very involved in the service operation. The entire team exudes an overall warmth and friendliness. That is very refreshing and in itself can override any potential Soupfly that may occur. I attribute this positive energy to the management team. You staff will follow the tone that you set.
At Andiron Steak and Sea, where we dined for New Year’s Eve Masquerade dinner, as we entered we were greeted by Andrew, the manager, and the very friendly host team. Moments later, we were greeted yet again and quite exuberantly by Stephen, the G.M. Shortly after being seated, our good friend and manager, Joe, was at our tableside pouring champagne. All this attention certainly made us feel welcome. After a couple initial hiccups, (which we brought to Stephen’s attention) were ironed out, everything went smoothly from that point on. Was everything perfect? No, but it started well and ended well. And the team, led by our server, Richard (I believe that is his name) did a great job. Again, the smoothness of the service flow is due greatly to the leadership of the management team.
Restaurants like Andiron, that have a strong management team who are engaged and involved, tend to have staff that are equally engaged and who take ownership of the service they deliver. This is the type of establishment that I most enjoy going to where we are warmly welcomed but the service doesn’t end there. When a manager sets expectations of their staff, and they themselves are also involved in the execution of them, success is sure to be in their future. Or present, even.
Contrast the above examples with two other fine dining steakhouses that we dined at recently where the scene was quite the opposite. At one, no manager was present on the floor, although she was at the host stand. But even there her demeanor seemed quite aloof and uninviting. And at the other place, the manager was present on the floor but seemingly unaware and unengaging. From time to time he walked through, but never once stopped to greet or acknowledge a guest. This can be a bit annoying for the guest sometimes. It’s as if the manager is watching the room but afraid to just smile at and acknowledge his guests.
I’ve been told by more than a couple managers that they don’t need to “babysit” their staff. They say they have competent staff who know what they’re doing. That may be the case, however, being present as a manager during the operation of your business does not mean that you don’t trust your staff. On the contrary, it shows to the customer that you care. As the staff is doing their job, competently, this frees you up to be able to engage your customers and show that you appreciate their business and connect with them. As a manager, or owner/operator, wouldn’t you want to know who your customers are? Or is it just enough that they are here dining now? With so many different choices for the dining public or for that matter, any type of business, if a customer continues to feel unwelcome or unappreciated, that customer will eventually or soon take his business elsewhere. Unfortunately, at least in restaurants, many times the only time a manager makes an appearance to a guest is if there’s a complaint. That’s not the best way to meet your customers. Being a manager should mean more than putting out fires and recovering from Soupflies.
The job, expectations and responsibilities of a manager are vast and almost innumerable. Being a manager, while those not in the position may think it’s glamorous with many a perk, in reality, is very stress-filled, under appreciated, and often (until a certain level is reached) underpaid. So, I truly appreciate all that the position entails. I respect and admire those who do it well. They shine. They also empower their team to shine and it’s a beautiful thing. And this holds true in any industry, not only in the restaurant business.
Being a manager in any industry is replete with great responsibility, and with that also is great opportunity. You, as the manager-even if you are not at the top of the management totem pole at your establishment, can effect great success for your team and the business as a whole. You must, however, embrace it, the good with the challenges.
You must realize that you are a leader. So, if that be the case. The question I have for you is: Where or to what are you leading your team? Do you have a plan, a strategy to lead your team to greatness, to success in 2016? Or are you a leader without a title and you plan to lead your peers to greatness by example? The world is looking for and longing for great leaders. Customers are hoping for and expecting the companies they do business with, where they spend their hard earned money, to be led by managers and operators who truly care about their customers and engage them. If you do that it can only help your business grow and succeed. It will make your team feel more confident, your customers will like you more and you will feel great about yourself.
In 2016 let this be the year that you step into your greatness. If you are a manager, you are in this position for a reason. I applaud you, I encourage you to embrace your position and all that goes with it and choose today to lead your team to success. And I know that, to quote Joel Osteen, “You can, you will”
Thank you for Reading! I am so grateful for ALL my Soupfly Readers from around the world. I invite and welcome your comments. Please Like our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SoupFly-1438615929733655/
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God Bless and Cheers!
Elevating Service and Hospitality,
Christoff J. Weihman
Las Vegas, NV