Setting the Standard

One of the perks of restaurant ownership is receiving complimentary meals. After all, as the owner you are ultimately responsible for paying the vendors providing the product and the employees who serve it.

Some owners exercise this privilege in other ways such as nibbling at the fresh-baked bread or slicing off a small cut of prime rib. Or maybe they simply fill a to-go bag with steaks or fresh seafood to take home and grill for the family – or grab a bottle or two of good cabernet to enjoy with friends.

Not many would argue against these actions; in fact, this practice is commonplace among many independent restaurant operators.

But have you ever stopped to think how your employees feel about these practices? What kind of example are you setting?

Taking privilege a step further – what about the operator who “nibbles” at the cash? You know, the ones who raid the nightly deposit whenever there are excess cash receipts. Do you think these practices go unnoticed by your employees?

The reality is your actions are more likely to influence the actions of your employees far more than any written standards you lay out for them. The cliché, “do as I say, not as I do” may work for your 4-year old, but it doesn’t translate in the grownup world.

As the leader of your restaurant, your mood, character, ethics and work habits have a far reaching impact on your restaurant’s culture. If you want to be successful in creating high standards for your staff then you must be willing to set a good example by following those standards.

If one of your restaurant’s rules is to never nibble – then you and your managers must abide as well. Complimentary meals are fine – but always make sure they are rung up on the POS and accounted for in the daily report.

One restaurant owner couple I know takes a 50% discount when dining at their restaurant and then pays for the balance by credit card. Never mind that the credit card is probably paid by the restaurant; what the staff sees is that their owners are setting an example that nothing is really free.

Finally – never steal from your own restaurant. That’s one example you can’t afford for your staff to emulate.

Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”

— Albert Einstein