Q: My restaurant does not produce the type of results I think it should. What needs to be done to change the culture of the business?

A: Lasting change must begin at the top. Generally, the major problem in every company is communication. The leader sets the tone and has the ability to improve communication immediately. With a lack of information, people tend to draw to the negative; making up stories, making up meaning, and forming unfounded conclusions. To get your business to the next level and affect permanent change, use these steps:

  1. Make your vision and purpose clear – it’s amazing how many leaders don’t understand where they’re going or what they are trying to create. Are you progressing toward a goal, making the world a better place, or are you drifting aimlessly? Employees crave direction. They want to know where you are going and why you’re in business. If you articulate and record your business vision and purpose, your employees will gain a necessary piece of information to buy in and commit wholeheartedly.
  2. Set clear expectations – as the leader, you have a responsibility to make your expectations crystal clear. Sit down with a piece of paper and list out your expectations and communicate them. To start simply, take the business apart and and write down your expectations for the guest experience, the employee experience, the vendor experience, the look and feel if the facility, the profitability you want to see and the progress you want toward a set of goals. You have no right to be frustrated with your team if you haven’t been explicit in stating your expectations with force and conviction. Set your expectations high and don’t make excuses as to why they can’t be met.
  3. Give the team tools to succeed – take an inventory of what tools are missing. There is a great deal of envy for the national chains when it comes to the type of tools they possess. The world has changed, and what was once only available to the giants is now available to companies at all levels. Technology is wonderful, but without much investment you can set and record Standard Operating Procedures in every area (SOPs), measure compliance to SOPs, ensure your performance assessments are current and include performance improvement goals, and provide training workshops to further knowledge.
  4. Assign more responsibility – employees want more responsibility and want their ideas heard and implemented. The answers are within the four walls to improve your business. Everyone working for you can assume more responsibility. There are common reasons delegation is shrugged off: fear of loss of control, lack of ability to train other, personal enjoyment of the task, habit, inability to find someone else to do it, reluctance cause by past failures, lack of time. While some or all of these may be true to in your business, your job as a leader is to be the best at doing the work right. You’ll be surprised at the performance of your team once they have more responsibility.
  5. Reinforce a culture of performance – Encourage and expect high performance. Put pen to paper and define what high performance for each position looks like, and make sure everyone understands the expectation of high performance. Be willing to make hard staffing decisions, and build a high performance culture. Deliver the message that you trust the character of each person but that results are verified so there is no accusation of favoritism. Don’t tolerate reasons, stories and excuses. Most importantly, provide positive feedback and catch people doing the right things so you can reinforce great performance.

Creating a company that is powerful, nimble and successful begins with a well-articulated vision, purpose and clear expectations. Regardless of the age and maturity of your business, take the time to explicitly record what you want; then, teach, train and develop the people with whom you’ve surrounded yourself to execute flawlessly on your vision. Step into greatness.

For more information on improving profitability and driving performance, contact AMP Services at rbraa@ampservices.com. Rick Braa is the co-founder of AMP Services, an accounting and consulting firm that specializes in helping companies grow profitability.