Complacency and parmesan cheese

I wrote this for my company marketing email, and I wanted to share it here as well.


What does parmesan cheese have to do with restaurant management?

The best part of hosting Top Restaurateurs is what I get to learn. Recent guest Tim McLoone told one of the best allegories about unmanaged restaurants I have heard, and it applies to all businesses.

It went like this:

A nice restaurant hand-grates parmesan cheese at their restaurants. They use a cloth napkin and a good, old-fashioned grader. It creates a pleasant aroma and a great customer experience.

Over time, these graters begin to break, so the staff goes looking for the crank style graters they used to use. It’s still a good customer experience, but not the one that was intended by the restaurateur.

After a while, the cranks break, so the waiters ask the kitchen for ramekins of parmesan cheese. It’s not a great customer experience, but the customers still get cheese.

The ramekins get lost, and break, and before long customers are receiving their parmesan cheese in little plastic cups.

The restaurant struggles. The staff doesn’t commit to the high level of service and experience they once did. Complacency sets in. Customers stop coming. The restaurant can no longer afford to buy the little plastic cups, or the cheese for that matter. They are out of business.

When you are not intentional about setting expectations and creating accountability systems, shortcuts will be taken, and business will suffer.

What are the areas of your business that are likely to slip if left unmanaged? What are you doing to make sure that does not happen?

The good news is it’s never too late to start doing something about it.