Earlier this fall, the QSR Nation Podcast crew discussed what they think makes a restaurant owner successful, based on an article on Born2Invest.com titled: 5 Characteristics of Successful Small Restaurant Owners. Below is a recap of their discussion from podcast episode #135.
Characteristic #1 - Problem solving skills.
Problem solving skills are crucial because as an owner you need to quickly and correctly make decisions based on personnel. Whether you have a member of your waitstaff, or your cashier, or your front of the house or back of the house manager coming to you with an issue, you need to make quick and accurate decisions based on the problems specific to their role.
It’s also important that your employees have sharp problem-solving skills. For example, if a customer brings in a coupon for $1 off and your POS system doesn’t have a button to easily apply that discount, your employee at the register will need to be able to work on the fly and quickly make sure they honor the reward.
Ultimately, you can teach book smarts but you can’t teach common sense. When you’re looking at hiring new employees – regardless if you own a QSR franchise, run your own restaurant, or manage a foodservice program in a c-store or grocery store, ask situational questions in your interviews to gauge how quickly potential employees would act on their feet and solve different situations.
Characteristic #2 – Customer service savvy.
When it comes to customer service, the golden rule is still to treat others how you want to be treated. If you don’t treat your employees well, then they won’t treat your customers well. Make sure you are setting a good example for what you want everyone in your restaurant to see.
This is important because, in fact, the customer is not always right. In situations where you may disagree with the customer, you still have to act appropriately and ensure you’re not escalating the problem. Doing so shows your employees how to handle a situation correctly.
Characteristic #3 – Knowledge of restaurant marketing.
It may seem obvious, but yes, it’s important for an owner to understand restaurant marketing and which mediums to focus on. Right now, social media or any type of digital marketing is likely going to be useful considering the prevalence of smart phones. Local marketing is key as well, based on which city or town you’re located in and if there are high schools in your area for sponsorship opportunities.
Some restaurant owners say they don’t want a digital presence because they’re fearful of bad reviews, inaccurate information or a false representation of a situation. But regardless if you are participating in the digital space or not – you still have a digital presence. Google, Yelp and Facebook have already done that work for you. It’s up to you on whether or not you’re actively engaging in your digital presence and controlling the narrative.
Characteristic #4 – Deep knowledge of customer psychology.
Not everyone is going to be a marketing expert. Go out and get someone who will be the marketing expert for you.
A marketing expert can help you think through factors like colors, font styles, word choices, menu placement, advertising layouts, and more. For example, using the words “you’re invited” in a direct-mail postcard or outdoor sign is much more inclusive than using “come in” – which is more of a command.
If you’re aware of these types of customer psychology factors and the ways you use colors, words and layouts, then you’re already one step ahead of your competition. Plus, your awareness and consideration of these factors will usually dictate the type of engagement you have.
Characteristic #5 – Leadership.
Try to not only be a commanding leader, but a servant leader, too. Having a charismatic personality will help people want to learn from you and listen to you. The best leaders in the world are those that share what made them great to make the employees around them better – without fear of being replaced. The more knowledge and skills you can pass down to them, not only will make you a better leader, but will help your employees become better leaders and improve their future.
In a QSR Nation interview with Alex Maturi (Episodes #98-99), he said that if you think you’re a boss in today’s world, then you’re in trouble because you really should be a coach. With that mindset, Alex was able to increase the longevity of his team because he took the coaching and mentorship approach instead of just being a boss.
(Bonus Characteristic) – Business Literacy
Perhaps one key trait that is missing from this list is business literacy. You can be an amazing, passionate restaurant owner, a great chef, and have the best intentions in the world, but if you don’t have business literacy to understand how to keep the doors open, then no trait in this list is going to matter. Understanding the fundamentals of credits, debits, and cash flow are crucial to running a profitable restaurant that will last.
For more details on each characteristic of a successful small restaurant leader, listen to the full podcast episode (#135) at pfsbrands.com/qsr-nation-podcast.